Berkeley, CA – This is our third view of the California Golden Bears in the last week. We came away very impressed after Cal won two hard fought games last Thursday and Saturday at Oregon and Oregon State. Justin Cobbs came up clutch in both games and was named the NetScouts Basketball National Player of the Week. It was even more impressive that the Golden Bears won both games with their star freshman, Jabari Bird, out with an ankle injury.
Bird returned to action in limited duty (two points, five assists) tonight as Cal faced a resurgent Washington Huskies squad. The Huskies, coming off some mediocre play in their non-conference slate, including a loss at home to Cal-Irvine, are starting to play much better. Washington comes into the game off a home sweep of Utah and Colorado. In the Colorado game, C.J. Wilcox took advantage of the unfortunate injury to Spencer Dinwiddie to score 31 points. One of the main factors of the game would be whether Cal could make it difficult for Wilcox to score.
Washington got off to an 8-2 lead but then Cal took control with a 28-6 run to take a 30-14 lead. They took a 13-point lead (30-17) into the halftime break, holding Wilcox to six first half points with zero made three-pointers. Cal did not let the Huskies get into the game in the second half. With Richard Solomon (13 points, 12 rebounds) and David Kravish (11 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks) dominating the glass, and getting another strong performance off the bench by Jeff Powers (12 points, 3-4 3PT) California ran away with the 82-56 win to go to 4-0 in the Pac-12. Cobbs (11 points, six assists) didn’t need to score much but he played great defense against Wilcox. Wilcox finished with 18 points but most of his points came after the game was decided.
Richard Solomon has come into his own this year. The 6’10” senior center is one of two players from a major conference (the other being Kentucky’s Julius Randle) to be averaging a double-double (12.1 ppg, 10.2 rpg). Solomon is very active and runs the floor well. He’s decent stepping out to 15-18 feet but does much of his damage in the paint. He’s a good shot-blocker (1.4 pg) but uses his length to disrupt other inside shots as well as deflect passes and generate steals (1.2 pg).
Combined with Kravish, Cal has two strong inside players in a conference where most teams (with the exception of Arizona) might have only one. Combined with the heady point guard play of Cobbs, the energy of Tyrone Wallace and the emerging Bird, Cal is the surprise team of the Pac-12 and a solid NCAA Tournament team.