How do you preview UC Berkeley? Part of the problem is what they say themselves:
Consistency for Cal is the big thing Montgomery is telling his team, from doing the little things and making the extra effort on both ends of the floor.
Arizona and Colorado are easy to figure out. Oregon is becoming apparent that they were always very flawed but UC Berkeley? They don't even know what kind of team they are themselves.
One of their keys is senior Justin Cobb. Cobb shows the advantage of staying in school and is leading UC Berkeley in points and assists. He made the game winning shot over Arizona. He is doing so well as a point guard he is one of the four PAC 12 players to be a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award for the nation's best point guard.
The other finalists from the PAC 12 are Jahii Carson of ASU, TJ McConnell of Arizona, and, oh, Kyle Anderson. Anderson is not only on the Cousy watch list, he also made the:
Anderson, a 6-foot-9 guard from Fairview, N.J., is one of just six players in the country who have been named to the most updated watch lists for the Bob Cousy Award, the John R. Wooden Award and the Naismith Trophy. The other five players in that group include Iowa State's DeAndre Kane, Michigan State's Keith Appling, Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart, Connecticut's Shabazz Napier and Massachusetts' Chaz Williams.
Anderson leads all Pac-12 players in assists per game (6.8) and ranks fourth in the conference in both rebounds per game (8.7) and steals per game (1.6). He is 13th in the Pac-12 in scoring (15.4 ppg) and has compiled the conference's fifth-best assist turnover ratio (2.1).
As far as the PAC 12 Player of the Year, Anderson should be the front runner. Since Brandon Ashley has been hurt, the former leader Nick Johnson has shot 25% from the field (15-60), including a horrendous 6-34 in Arizona's two narrow defeats. Don't get me wrong, Johnson is a very good player, he is just not nearly as good or as important as Kyle Anderson.
The last time UCLA played UC Berkeley it was at Pauley during a UC Berkeley losing streak. UCLA won easily and UC Berkeley, well, they also lost that week to Just SC for Just SC's only win in conference.
The Golden Bears have won three of four following a three-game losing streak after a road sweep of the Washington schools this past weekend. They are riding a three-game home winning streak against the Bruins.
. . .Cal (17-8, 8-4 Pac-12), which began the week tied with Arizona State for third place in the Pac-12 with four of six remaining games at home in Haas Pavilion, recognizes all of the things it didn't do right in a 76-64 loss to UCLA in Los Angeles on Jan. 26. Cal can make a move by beating UCLA (20-5, 9-3).
"We're certainly going to have to play better than we did last time, there's no question about that," Montgomery said. "We were very, very poor in a lot of different areas last game. We're going to have to pay much more attention to detail, we're going to have to match their physical play, we're going to have to recover on defense. We just really had a bad weekend that weekend."
How much did UCLA have to do with that? How much of that was UC Berkeley being on the road? Did UCLA get lucky as remember David Wear had a career game in the first half? Something tells me that Monty was willing to gamble off David but paid a heavy price for it.
Which brings us to the last UCLA player note, Travis Wear. It may be too early but it seems like Travis Wear may be back to his form of last season. Since the Oregon game when he sank the game winner Travis Wear is 20-32 (5-6 from three) from the field, has 6 assists, 6 blocks, and 5 steals. He also had a season high seven rebounds against Colorado. Travis was a key to last year's PAC 12 title and right now he is looking to finally be back to that form.
On the other hand for UC Berkely a player who has never lived up to his preseason form is Jabari Bird. Bird was an all-everything recruit for UC Berkeley who played well against UCLA in the second half of the first game, but is hardly playing right now.
Bird points out a very interesting fact about UC Berkeley. By the standards of today's college teams, UC Berkeley is a very veteran. Cobbs is a senior. Their rebounding force Richard Solomon is a senior. The other starting forward David Kravish is a junior and the other starting guard is a red-shirt junior in Ricky Kreklow. Only the last guard, sophomore Tyrone Wallace, is an underclassman. All five of these guys are playing over 30 minutes a game recently. By the standards of today's college basketball, they are a very experienced team.
Which makes their inconsistency even more perplexing. However, beating WSU in overtime and UW at home during a down year may not be that impressive. Their best win, over Arizona, came as Arizona was getting over the shock of losing Brandon Ashley for the season.
The reality may be that UC Berkeley is not that good as the Arizona win may say, but they are not as bad as the Just SC loss either.
The Bruins must win this game to keep pace with Arizona and to keep their new found top 25 ranking. Speaking of inconsistent, it seems every time this year the Bruins have been ranked they have lost the next week. One thing is for sure, if the Bruins play two halves at a high level, they win this game. Of course, their inability to do that this season, has been the key reason they have not been able to stay in the top 25.
The more consistent team will win tomorrow night.