Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season. We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
Even though the California Golden Bears lose leading scorer and Pac-12 Player of the Year Allen Crabbe, they return four of their five starters from last year and should one of a number of Pac-12 teams competing for another trip to the NCAA Tournament.
CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS
Last Season: T-2nd, 12-6 in Pac-12, 21-12 overall
Predicted Pac-12 Finish: 7th
Projected Depth Chart
C: David Kravish (Jr)/Kameron Rooks (Fr)
PF: Richard Solomon (Sr)/Christian Beherns (So)/Roger Moute a Bidias (Fr)
G/F: Jabari Bird (Fr)/Jeff Powers (Sr)/Khalil Johnson (So)
SG: Tyrone Wallace (So)/Ricky Kreklow (So)/Sam Singer (Fr)
PG: Justin Cobbs (Sr)/Jordan Matthews (Fr)
Gone: G/F-Allen Crabbe, PG-Brandon Smith, F/C-Robert Thurman, C-Bak Bak, PF-Kaileb Rodriguez (transfer-Sheridan College)
With Crabbe gone, the attention turns to senior point guard Justin Cobbs. He fractured a bone in his foot this off-season but is not expected to miss any time which is crucial since he will be the focal point of the offense and is the lone true point guard on the roster. Tyrone Wallace should see a larger role this season after being a valuable glue player during his freshman campaign. He is a versatile, athletic wing who can really take a step forward if he shows more consistency from downtown.
McDonald’s All-American Jabari Bird is very Crabbe-like due to his ideal size for an off guard and smooth stroke from the perimeter. While it would be unfair to expect Bird to step into Crabbe’s role right away, he has the potential to be a big-time scorer and should see heavy minutes from the get-go. Ricky Kreklow was sidelined for a good chunk of last with a broken foot but gives Cal a shooter off the bench while freshmen Jordan Matthews should be an immediate contributor since he can play either guard spot. Jeff Powers, Khalil Johnson, and Sam Singer will compete for the leftover minutes at guard.
Mike Montgomery returns his starting frontcourt of David Kravish and Richard Solomon. Kravish lacks the ideal size and strength to be a true big man but has good mobility and a nice touch around the basket. Solomon has fought through adversity during his collegiate career and brings more versatility up-front with his inside/outside game.
Depth in the middle is a concern for Cal. 7-0, 270 pound freshman Kameron Rooks adds needed size inside and a shot blocking presence but he is still a raw all-around talent. Christian Beherns played sparingly last season but will certainly see more minutes off the bench. Roger Moute a Bidias is a combo forward who might be pressed into the rotation depending on how ready Rooks is to contribute right away.
With the Pac-12 having more quality depth across the board, there are a handful of conference teams that should compete to finish in the middle of the pack and be in contention for a spot in the tourney. The California Golden Bears are definitely in that group and if they can collectively replace the scoring of Crabbe and find a solid rotation off the bench, they will be right in the mix.
Player to Watch: Tyrone Wallace
If you are looking for a Pac-12 player to make a major leap this season, watch out for Wallace. He can affect the game in a number of ways and might actually see some minutes at the one when Cobbs needs a rest. Again, improving his outside shooting will be the real key for Wallace’s development.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/25 vs. Arkansas (Maui Invitational)
11/26 vs. Syracuse/Minnesota (Maui Invitational)
11/27 vs. Gonzaga/Dayton/Baylor/Chaminade (Maui Invitational)
12/10 vs. Nevada
12/14 vs. Fresno State
12/22 at Creighton
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#44 Iowa State
#52 Boston College
#53 Ole Miss
#56 Saint Mary’s
#60 Florida Gulf Coast
#64 Florida State
#66 N.C. State
#67 Kansas State
#70 Miami FL
#72 Texas A&M
#73 Long Beach State
#76 Indiana State
#77 Georgia Tech
#84 Washington State
#86 Oregon State
#87 Louisiana Tech
#89 Wake Forest
#90 Central Florida
#95 Seton Hall
#97 George Mason
#99 Penn State
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#108 Virginia Tech
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks