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Cal basketball: Stanfurd victory is a glorious victory

What are the biggest positives to take from beating Stanfurd? Which player impressed you the most?

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Kranz: Three huge postives:

One: Defense. For portions of the non-conference schedule (Dayton, Nevada, UCSB) it seemed like Cal had lost their identify as a rugged defensive team that defined their late season success in 2012-13. But the Bears played great defense against Creighton and it carried over against Stanford, and it's probably the biggest reason to be optimistic about Cal's chances to exceed expectations in Pac-12 play.

Two: The bench. Christian Behrens, Jeff Powers and Sam Singer provided major minutes off the bench that didn't compromise Cal on offense or defense. If they can keep that up (and maybe even start providing occasional plus contributions) then Cal will be even better off when Bird and Kreklow return.

Three: A win. Obviously. But if Cal doesn't win, the Bears are sitting at 8-5 with a trip to undefeated Oregon staring them in the face. Cal could easily have found themselves at 8-6 (0-2) needing to beat Oregon State just to keep their heads above the waterline in the race for the conference and for a tourney spot. Just as importantly, Cal won one of the (at least) five road games in which they won't be favorites in.

Avinash Kunnath: I was impressed with our flexibility in lineups and our ability to keep Stanfurd in front of us all game long. Monty generally tends to double down and utilize his main lineups for big games, but he actually opened up the bench and allowed Behrens, Powers, Singer and Rooks to see significant time. We won with Jeff Powers playing nearly half the game! Imagine that.

Player of the game: Tyrone Wallace started the game, Justin Cobbs finished it. We needed both of them.

Ruey Yen: Beating Stanfurd is always very very sweet. Last year's frustrating losses in an otherwise great season included a near brawl, started from a scrum for a loose ball between Allen Crabbe and Dwight Powell. This win at Maples is definitely a nice revenge over that.

The biggest reason for this win and what an optimist would like to believe could be a turning point (possibly, given some hopes of this at the start of the season) is the entrance of a long awaited decent bench for the Bears. Sam Singer, Jeff Powers, Kameron Rooks, and Christian Behrens played a solid 11, 22, 4, and 12 minutes respectively. And all this came in a conference game. If these guys can hold their own (when needed), Coach Montgomery will have a few more options to play with different lineups, etc. when Jabari Bird and Ricky Kreklow do eventually return from their injuries. The unexpected quality contributions from the Cal bench as a whole was much needed for this win and again necessary if the Bears hope to stay afloat (0.500 in conference play) before returning to full strength.

Scott Chong: The overall improvement in team defense was really nice to see as was the continued development of Solo/Kravish on the offensive end. I was actually most impressed with Christian Behrens. He had been mentioned by Robert Thurman last year as someone who could break out and surprise people. Behrens moved well, looked very athletic, and did a great job on defense. If he's finally healthy, this would be a great addition to our frontcourt.