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Bears Cruise To 72-61 Road Win Over Denver

A disclaimer: I wasn't able to watch the entirety of this game, in part due to work and in part due to some holiday related packing. So, take everything I say with a grain of salt and add your always stellar observations in the comments. But here's what I took away from Cal's relatively comfortable win over Denver:

1. Allen Crabbe might be ready to take a big leap. We already started talking about the possibilities after he torched CSU Bakersfield and Pepperdine, but those two teams aren't anywhere near good enough to justify any conclusions. But Crabbe just dropped 20 points against a defensively solid, slow down team without relying on 3 pointers. He did it by getting to the basket and not shying away from contact.

An Allen Crabbe that can get his points in the paint and from the line in addition to jump shots? That Allen Crabbe should terrify the rest of the Pac-12.

Oh yeah, plus another 8 rebounds. Ho-hum.

2. Fears of a Kravish sophomore slump were premature. I'm not going to say that tonight's double-double means that Kravish is destined to take a major step forward in production, because the Pioneers are one of the smaller teams Cal will face. But two off games when none of his mid-range jumpers were falling caused a few fans to wonder. But last year's David Kravish was way too fundamentally sound to take a step backwards. What Cal got from Kravish today - a defensive rebound vacuum and enough of a scoring threat that teams can't ignore him - that's what Cal needs. And he'll give them at least that much.

3. Fears of a Solomon slump might not be. 9 minutes, no points, 2 rebounds? I've been an unabashed Solo homer for quite some time, and today's game seemed tailor made for a break out. Now, to be fair, Denver's style and personnel suited itself pretty well for a Thurmanator performance, but Solomon shouldn't be losing minutes to a DIII walk-on, no matter how awesome that walk-on is. Monty talked up Solomon in the off-season, and I have no reason not to believe him . . . but I'd really love to see that Solomon show up on the court. This year's team needs him as much as last year's team did.

4. Ricky Kreklow isn't Jorge Gutierrez, and it's not really fair to either player to make the comparison, but:

6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, and 10 points on 8 FTs, plus two missed 3s? That's such a sophomore year Jorge stat line.

It's a relief for the Bears to win this game because although a loss wouldn't be shocking, it would heap more pressure on Cal's tougher non-conference games. The schedule is going to get much tougher very quickly, from (hopefully!) a championship game in Anaheim*, to Wisconsin and UNLV. The Bears have successfully warmed up, and they've looked good in doing so. Soon we'll find out just how hot they can get.

*CGB will have more info on it later, but seriously. The field in Anaheim, especially on Cal's side of the bracket, is weak. Anything less than a championship game appearance would be a disappointment.