Basketball season is here, and not a moment too soon. The Golden Bears are far from a finished product, but they looked more than game at whipping helpless competition. And they'll have plenty of it served up to them to start the 2013 season.
For the first time since arriving at Berkeley, Mike Montgomery seems comfortable with playing a ten-man rotation, and the Bears didn't look utterly hopeless doing so. The starters were quite assured, particularly Justin Cobbs, who needed only six field goal attempts for his 13 points. Tyrone Wallace looked happier with his shot, although his three point shooting will be a bit of a question. Ricky Kreklow is a bigger question mark--scoring could be a problem, but defense and rebounding will be quite welcome.
There aren't many resolutions to be found with regards to post offense. Richard Solmon struggled in the post but still threw down a bunch of slams and finished with the most points of any Cal big. David Kravish used a few jump shots to gather most of his points. But it'll be okay if they can keep on grabbing boards, taking in 17 combined.
As for the newcomers, there were plenty of surprises. Jabari Bird is the name a lot of us will be watching this season, and we weren't disappointed. Bird provided the first half spark that put Humboldt State for good, scoring seven points in a quick two minute span.
However, Bird didn't have the most polished offensive game (despite nine points, Bird only shot 3-9). That honor belonged to his teammate Jordan Matthews, who had a streak of triples to take the scoring title for the game. Matthews had 15 points and nailed five long-range jumpers in a row, four of them threes. Matthews has a game that very much mirrors Allen Crabbe's, so he already seems comfortable within the confines of the offense. I wouldn't be surprised to see either of them supplant Kreklow in the rotation.
Sam Singer appears slotted in to be the backup point guard, and happily dished out a team-high five assists. He was also quite aggressive on defense. However, there is a bit of a worrying aspect with regards to free throws; he got to the line plenty (eight times), but only made one. Let's hope this was anomalous, because it's a luxury to have a point guard who can get free throws.
The other two rookies are probably going to be a little more developmental. Roger Moute a Bidas grabbed a few rebounds but didn't take a shot. Kameron Rooks is big, and did take in a bunch of rebounds, but at this point we can only expect occasional Sanders-Frison/Thurman first year-type production.
There's lots of potential and plenty of room for the improvement. Between Berkeley and Hawaii, it should be a fun first month of Monty's Bears ahead.