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Brandon Smith Hurt In Lackluster Exhibition Win

If the goal of an exhibition game is to reveal issues for the coaching staff to address, then Cal's 89-80 win over Division II San Francisco State was entirely successful. While Cal road the offensive firepower of Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs to a relatively comfortable win, the Bears clearly have plenty to work on.

Of bigger concern is a shoulder injury sustained by Brandon Smith midway through the 2nd half. Smith left for the locker room and returned with his shoulder heavily iced and wrapped. The fact that he remained on the bench is perhaps a good sign that the injury isn't major, but it's certainly the last thing Cal needed in a warm-up game.

There are a number of issues that Mike Montgomery will likely be unhappy about, starting with defense. 80 points is quite a bit of points to allow to anybody, and allowing 46 2nd half points won't win many games. The Golden Gators were successful in multiple ways on the offensive end - nailing open 3s, pulling down 17 total offensive rebounds, and turning the ball over just 5 times. These are all issues that Cal will have to address, and one immediately wonders how badly the Bears will miss Jorge Gutierrez, to say nothing of Harper Kamp's disciplined interior defense.

As always, another question mark is the bench. Cal's bench played about 50 minutes total and scored just 3 points, with 1 assist and 3 turnovers. (On a side note, congrats to Tyrone Wallace for his first points in a Cal uniform!) Every single Cal starter made a pretty significant dent in the stat sheet one way or another, but nobody from the bench did. Should that set off alarm bells? Well, no, probably not. Because this is kinda what we expected. This team is going to live and die with their starters, and we just need to hope that they don't burn out like they did last year.

Of course, this is an exhibition game so everything needs to be taken with the usual grain of salt. But our pre-season assumptions seem to be pretty well confirmed. Allen Crabbe can shoot, Justin Cobbs will compete for all Pac-12 at the point, Richard Solomon could do great things . . . but Cal's defense and bench could be issues.

If Brandon Smith comes out of this game no worse for wear, then we can unabashedly celebrate the most important aspect of this game: Basketball is back!