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Previewing Cal MBB vs. Saint Martin’s

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The Saints go marching into Haas Pavilion.

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament-California vs Colorado
Andre Kelly and the Bears are ready to begin a new chapter.
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The California Golden Bears men’s basketball season doesn’t officially get underway until Pepperdine comes to town on November 5. However, Cal will host an exhibition against the Saint Martin’s Saints this Wednesday. New head coach Mark Fox landed several international recruits in Joel Brown (Canada), Dimitrios Klonaras (Greece), Lars Thiemann (Germany), and Kuany Kuany (Australia/South Sudan). He also secured graduate transfer Kareem South from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi as well as freshmen D.J. Thorpe and Logan Alters. However, the departures of Justice Sueing, Darius McNeill, and Connor Vanover have left some rather large shoes to fill.

Saint Martin’s head coach Aaron Landon has already seen his Saints play an exhibition against the Seattle University Redhawks last Tuesday. Seattle won that matchup by a score of 92-71. Here’s a fun fact about Saint Martin’s: former Cal player Alex Pribble was the head coach there for four years before becoming the associate head coach at SMU. The Saint Martin’s campus is located in Lacey, Washington. Indeed, many of its current players are originally from the Pacific Northwest.

Saint Martin’s

Projected lineup

#3 DeMonte Malloy - 6’3” Jr G

Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Malloy played for South Puget Sound Community College last season. He put up some gaudy numbers including 16.9 ppg and 6.9 rpg. Malloy also drained 51% of field goals and shot 40% behind the arc.

#4 CJ Jennings - 6’1” Jr G

Jennings, who has also gone by Charles, transferred from South Plains Community College in Texas. Last season, he scored 5.1 points per night to go with 2.1 rebounds.

#13 Caden Smith - 6’3” Jr G

Smith has shown good range, but the sample sizes are small. He averaged 2.1 points and 0.6 rebounds last season with the Saints. His only scoring against Seattle came from a single three-point make.

#22 John Moore - 6’2” So G

Moore grew up in Tacoma, WA and was a teammate of Malloy at South Puget Sound. He posted averages of 6.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists during 2018-19.

#32 Marky Adams - 6’9” Jr C

I’m no Twilight fan but still raised an eyebrow when noticing that Adams lists Forks, WA as his hometown. Adams made 56% of his field goals but only averaged 1.8 points and 1.5 rebounds for Saint Martin’s last season.

Key reserves

#0 Alex Schumacher - 6’3” Fr G

Schumacher distinguished himself at Skyview High in Vancouver, WA and won the 2019 Washington State Les Schwab Slam Dunk Contest. He had 12 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and three steals off the bench in last week’s exhibition.

#25 Cole Alton - 6’6’ Fr G

Alton led the team in scoring against Seattle. The Boise, Idaho native drew eight fouls and went 9-12 from the free throw line for a game total of 21 points.

#11 Logan Rooney - 6’6” Jr G/F

Rooney redshirted last season after playing a season at Butte College. He scored 7.4 points per night while pulling down 3.0 rebounds and shooting 42% from the field.

Winning strategies

1. Build team chemistry.

Exhibitions allow a lot of new faces to get into the action. Given the roster and coaching turnaround, it will be interesting to see how everyone meshes during a preseason encounter.

2. Don’t let Cole be king.

Not only did Cole Alton give Seattle fits defensively, he also made two of five attempts from behind the arc. It’s too early to know this roster very well, but it seems that Alton should be an area of focus for the Cal defense.

3. Set him up to knock them down.

Matt Bradley set a Cal freshman record for three-point percentage last season at 47.2%. However, I am certain that he can exceed 50 made threes during 2019-20 if he remains healthy.

4. Have fun out there!

Expectations may not be especially high, but the program gets to reset now that Wyking Jones is no longer in charge. Despite some growing pains to come, it should help that everyone involved in this program has made a conscious choice to arrive or stay at Cal. Everyone should be eager to make a favorable impression on The Bench and Haas faithful.

Meaningless prediction: Cal 85, Saint Martin’s 74

The game will take place at Haas Pavilion at 7:00 PM. It won’t be televised, but a live stream will be posted at the Cal Athletics website. The KGO 810 AM feed can be streamed on TuneIn radio.

Go Bears!