BERKELEY – Now that David Kravish is big and strong enough to get the job done in the paint, the next step is to realize he is big and strong enough to get the job done in the paint.
Cal’s junior forward spent another offseason putting muscle on his 6-foot-9 frame. Kravish weighs in at 230 pounds as the Bears open the 2013-14 season tonight against Coppin State at Haas Pavilion. That has Cal hopeful he can improve on last year’s scoring output of 7.9 points per game.
Cal coach Mike Montgomery says now that Kravish has put on the added strength, he needs to add some selfishness to his game.
“He’s a reluctant hero,” Montgomery said. “He’s always looking to pass it. Sometimes he gets a rebound in the paint and looks to pass and doesn’t realize he’s three feet from the hoop and can just turn around and jump up and shoot it. Hopefully, he’ll get better at that and get more comfortable around the basket.”
Kravish’s enhanced strength is just one of many reasons the Bears are brimming with optimism as the season begins. Cal returns four of five starters from last year’s team that went 21-12 and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament. The Bears also have a top-20 recruiting class nationally, led by McDonald’s All-American Jabari Bird.
With senior Richard Solomon alongside, the Bears could have one of the more formidable frontcourts in the Pac-12 this season.
“I’m not going to get moved as easily as I was before,” Kravish said. “It will help in the post. I can take a hit from a guy and still gather myself and go up strong instead of getting pushed out as much.”
Solomon also enters the season with high expectations. Coming off what he called his “best offseason ever,” Solomon is ready to become one of Cal’s team leaders and build off the end of last year, when he had 22 points and 14 rebounds in the Bears’ loss to Syracuse in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m really excited to get back on the floor and put my whole offseason to the test,” Solomon said. “I just want to do whatever I can to help the team win. Hopefully we can get back to where we were last year and maybe a little further. Just being a senior, I have to step up and be a leader. Whatever I can do to help, I will try to do.”
The Bears begin the season with four straight home games before traveling to Hawaii for the EA Sports Maui Invitational, where they will face some of the top competition in the country. With returning All-Pac-12 point guard Justin Cobbs leading the way, Cal could return from that tournament having made a statement in the national landscape.
“We have really high expectations,” Kravish said. “We have a solid group of veterans at every position and a solid group of newcomers. Given who we have back and the mentality of these players, it’s really exciting.”