What is happening in Berkeley?
Although they aren’t ranked (though they are now among “others receiving votes”), the California Golden Bears are on quite the streak, having won their last five and seven of their last eight. They sit at 18-9 (10-5 Pac-12), and, with their last three games at home, have put themselves in position to take home the regular season conference crown. When I last wrote for GGS one month ago, the Bears were coming off a ten-point loss at Colorado and looked like a team destined for a lower seed in the NIT. Now? MARCH MADNESS, BABY.
I swear, I try not to get excited, and as an
lifelong eight-year-long Cal fan, I should know better. Every time the Bears are riding high, there is a tendency for them to disappoint. This happens often enough that my friends and I toss around the phrase “TypiCAL.” Some may consider this too pessimistic, but for a school whose football team last went to the Rose Bowl when Dwight Eisenhower was president, I think it’s reasonable. That’s the thing, though — to be a Cal fan, you have to learn to enjoy the ride. And I am loving this ride.
Allen Crabbe, who has been the best player this season, has continued to be the best player on this recent upswing. The difference, however, is his game has gone up another notch. Since the upset at Arizona, he has gotten way better from the outside, and his mid-range game is much more effective. Additionally, there is a renewed intensity in his eyes.
He’s getting help, too. Justin Cobbs, who was great during the non-conference portion of the scheduled, hit a bit of a downturn when conference play started. His averages have gone up recently, and his three-pointers are now going in. He plays a bit sloppily at times, but he has been more than making up for it with the way he creates for the offense. Plus, Richard Solomon is acting like the forward we wanted him to be — attacking the basket, grabbing boards, and living up to his potential. Collectively, the team is playing like they’re on a mission.
We can’t forget about Coach Montgomery, either. He is the best coach in the conference, and his system is working to its full effect. And while some have questioned his, um, motivational tactics, these men are playing with heart. The games against the Oregon schools proved that.