The California Golden Bears kicked off the 2013-14 basketball season with a win against the Coppin State Eagles in a non-conference matchup. The final score was 83-64, with California leading almost the entire game. Overall, the Golden Bears won handily. Here’s what we learned about the California Golden Bears from the win against Coppin State, which is hopefully what we can expect for the rest of the season.
The biggest surprise of the game was the stellar performance from 6-foot-5 guard Tyrone Wallace. Wallace went 7-for-14 and scored 20 points along with seven assists and six rebounds. Most the the anticipation for California guards was surrounding Justin Cobbs and Jabari Bird, but Wallace outperformed both of them. The reason this is huge is because, as I wrote about last week, the biggest hole in the Golden Bear’s team is the one left by Allen Crabbe. Crabbe did not return for his senior year and instead entered the NBA draft. Wallace’s performance showed there is another player who may be able to help fill Crabbe’s shoes this season. The Golden Bears backcourt may be as strong this year as it was last year.
Justin Cobbs had a strong outing against the Coppin State Eagles, which was to be expected. The 6-foot-3 senior scored 16 points and had six assists. While it was assumed, no one really knew what to expect from Jabari Bird. Bird showed us it was a safe assumption. He did have a slow start to the game points-wise, but he did finish with 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Some people thought he looked a bit tentative at first; however, he found his rhythm at the end of the first half and played strong from that point on. Bird’s tentative start should be a one-time thing. Now that he’s gotten a taste of a college-level game, he knows what to expect, so we should see more strong outings from him in the future.
California’s frontcourt was dominant against Coppin State. Richard Solomon had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. David Kravish also contributed seven points, four blocks and 11 rebounds against the Eagles. Both players had above last year’s average in key stats; Kravish rebounded above his 6.9 average from the 2012-13 season and Solomon’s 10 points is above his 8.9 average from last season. Solomon’s 10 rebounds was also better than his average from last year (10 vs. 6.8). This is important because it shows the Golden Bears’ post players are going to be strong this year. In fact, they may and should be better.
Overall, last night’s game shows we can expect good things from the 2013-14 California Golden Bears men’s basketball team. I should note, however, the season is still early. We’ll get a better sense of the Golden Bears capabilities when they play the Arizona Razorbacks at the start of the Maui Invitational, which starts on Nov. 25.