Tricks and Treats During "Halloween at Haas": Observations from Cal Men's Basketball Intra-Squad Scrimmage

Mike Montgomery unveiled his 2012-2013 squad with an open scrimmage on Halloween. - Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

The few fans in attendance at the Cal Men’s basketball intra-squad scrimmage on Halloween day were treated to a preview of the upcoming season featuring a lot of hustle and a good deal of promise and potential. Let’s take a look at what each player showed during the event, as observed by both Kodiak and myself.

BAK BAK

Kodiak: Bak Bak looked more comfortable out there. He had his moments with a nice driving layup, a soaring tip-in, and that sweet jumper from the foul line. Monty was talking to him a lot about his defensive assignments coming off of screens.

FrankCohen: Bak definitely looked quite confident throughout the scrimmage and made some impressive plays, but I'm cautious with this case in particular, as Bak has starred in pre-season scrimmages in previous years only revert back to some bad habits once the season began.

CHRISTIAN BEHRENS

Kodiak: Behrens was sporting a bulky knee brace and more defined arms. He showed off some of the nicer offensive footwork from the bigs with some drop-step and up/under fakes. He's another guy that Monty was really talking to about where to be defensively. Although brought in as a 3, he definitely looks like he'll be at the 4 spot. Hit the boards hard.

FrankCohen: Behrens really needs to work on his free throws (and shooting in general for that matter). That being said, I do like his game. He's active both defensively and offensively and knows how to throw his body around effectively. I'm not sure if he's going to contribute a lot this season, but I think he'll be quite the pleasant surprise as an upperclassman after more Monty coaching.

JUSTIN COBBS

Kodiak: No surprise here, but Cobbs is the engine that's going to drive this team. He started running the point for Blue...and Blue dominated. Then he switched teams, and it was a quick 9-1 advantage for Gold. Back to Blue, and it was 20-7 Blue. Now to be fair, he looked like he was matched up against Smith, Wallace (a true frosh), or Galvin (a true frosh walk-on) all night. So, it's not like he was facing a veteran stopper. But he was able to get wherever he wanted at will and either scored, created, or drew a foul.

FrankCohen: It's really frustrating to witness how nationally underrated Cobbs is. Last season, he was absolutely rock solid. I project him to develop into a star in his junior campaign. There aren't many holes in his game and he should finally get some national recognition. I also predict that when all is said and done, Cobbs will be in the conversation for Pac-12 Player of the Year.

ALLEN CRABBE

Kodiak: Crabbe still looks like he's content to find shots within the flow of the offense. It's a team-first attitude and unselfish. Unfortunately, it can also result in long stretches without him getting a decent look. He's going to have to find a balance between knowing when to assert himself and when to move the ball. Although late getting past screens to jump shooters a couple of times, he was tough on the glass.

FrankCohen: Crabbe wasn't too impressive during the scrimmage but I'm not too worried. He's one of the top wings in the country and a serious Pac-12 Player of the Year candidate.

GEOFFREY FRID

FrankCohen: Frid played sparingly. He didn't really stand out at all. Cal fans will likely only get to see Frid in garbage time.

GARRETT GALVIN

FrankCohen: For the most part, Galvin looked somewhat lost and overwhelmed, which is to be expected from a walk-on true freshman. However, I could see him getting some minutes as an upperclassman, as he was a talented high school player who garnered some offers.

KAHLIL JOHNSON

Kodiak: Kahlil Johnson was really impressive. For a 3/4 tweener, he looked quite comfortable playing on the wing. He did a good job sticking with Crabbe defensively. On offense, he showed a steady handle and looked like he knew where to go with the ball. It seemed like he was raining 3-pointers from everywhere throughout the scrimmage. It's hard to read much from an early scrimmage, but he sure looks like he'll earn minutes instead of red-shirting.

FrankCohen: I stated earlier in this CGB preview of the wings that I didn't believe Johnson would make any impact this season. I might have to revise this prediction after watching him in action. I agree with Kodiak, as Johnson did look quite comfortable at the wing and is a much better shooter than I gave him credit for. He looks like a player.

DAVID KRAVISH

Kodiak: Kravish looks more built and was active on the boards. He still looks more comfortable hitting short/mid range jumpers than carving space in the low block.

FrankCohen: Kravish looked good. He'll be one of the more skilled big men in the conference this season.

RICKY KREKLOW

FrankCohen: Kreklow didn't play in the scrimmage but he shot around before the game, which is an encouraging sign. The Bears need Kreklow back and healthy by the conference slate if they want to compete for a Pac-12 title.

JEFF POWERS

Kodiak: Powers was money from the 3-point line. Hard to say how much time he'll see since we need to keep Crabbe on the floor. But against the right match-up, he could be a zone-buster or a nice option to spread the floor.

FrankCohen: Powers has a chance to carve a niche on the team as a spot-up shooter. He and Johnson will provide some nice shooting off the bench.

KAILEB RODRIGUEZ

FrankCohen: Kaileb didn't really stand out during the scrimmage but he hustles and seems like a good, unselfish teammate. I don't expect him to have much of an impact this season.

BRANDON SMITH

Kodiak: Brandon Smith didn't shoot the ball particularly well from the outside, but he was strong with the ball and showed more assertiveness with driving it when he had the opening. It'll be interesting to see how many minutes he gets.

FrankCohen: Smith played at a level somewhere between his general level of play of his sophomore year and his junior year. Though he doesn't make a lot of mistakes, I don't think he'll be starting for long (if he starts at all), as freshman Tyrone Wallace looks really impressive.

RICHARD SOLOMON

Kodiak: Solomon was easily the best player in the paint defensively. Guys just couldn't post him one on one. He either forced misses, or outright blocked shots. He showed off his quickness and hops, too, by stealing an offensive board over Bak with the putback...even though Bak had good position. Still looks a bit raw offensively finishing around the paint.

FrankCohen: Solomon is an absolute force. He has really bulked up since his freshman year and is playing with a lot more physicality. He and Kravish form one of the Pac-12's top frontcourt starting tandems.

ROBERT THURMAN

Kodiak: Thurman positions himself well and does a good job on the glass. But, he needs to be set up with the ball to really be successful. If he has to back a guy down, or take an athletic defender like Solomon on the post, he struggled a bit.

FrankCohen: Thurman appears as though he has really slimmed down since last season. He is still a bit raw with his footwork, but he is definitely continuing to improve.

TYRONE WALLACE

Kodiak: Tyrone Wallace impressed. His handle was a bit high and loose, but he knocked down some outside shots and looked really athletic driving to the hoop. He's got more height than we're using to seeing at the point. If he picks up his defensive assignments, I think it'll be hard to keep him off the court.

FrankCohen: Mark it down now: Tyrone Wallace is going to be a stud. He's going to get some major minutes this season and I believe he will be a suitable replacement for Jorge Gutierrez. During the scrimmage, Wallace got a bit out of control at times early on, but he really settled down as the game progressed. He has all the tools to eventually become an all-conference selection and one of the Pac-12's top guards and should be one of the more impressive and mature freshmen out west this in the upcoming season. (I do know this report sounds very optimistic but I am quite certain the Bears have a gem in their hands with Wallace).


CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

Kodiak: It'll be interesting to see how Monty rotates his guards. Right now, it could be Smith at point with Cobbs at the 2. That would let Wallace back up either guard. But honestly, I think our best lineup is Cobbs running the point with Wallace at the 2 and only use Smith to give breathers or for foul trouble.

Crabbe, Solo, and Kravish would start in the frontcourt. Johnson, Thurman, Behrens next in the rotation. Bak and Powers might get time at the end of the half or if there's foul trouble.

Again, this is really too early to tell.

FrankCohen: I was pleasantly surprised by the performances of Wallace, Johnson and Powers in particular. I had a feeling Wallace would be quite good but he exceeded my lofty expectations. Johnson was a complete surprise...I think he and Powers can provide us with some better-than-expected depth this season. Solomon and Kravish form one of the better starting frontcourts in the conference and, if Thurman can give us some quality minutes as I expect him to, we should be competing at the top of the conference.

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