BERKELEY – The California men’s basketball team, coming off its winningest five-year stretch in more than 50 years, will debut its 2013-14 squad on Thursday, Oct, 31, when the Golden Bears meet Humboldt State in an exhibition contest at 7 p.m. at Haas Pavilion.
Cal returns four of its five starters from a 21-win team that advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament and finished second in the Pac-12 Conference a year ago. Seniors Justin Cobbs and Richard Solomon, junior David Kravish, and sophomore Tyrone Wallace lead an experienced squad this season. In all, Cal returns 61 percent of its scoring and five of its top seven scorers along with its top-two rebounders and shot blockers from last season.
“You always want to have veteran players that know how to win in this league and I think we have that,” Montgomery said. “I am excited for this season with the group that we have. It is going to be fun.”
Cobbs, a two-time All-Pac-12 selection, enters the season as the conference’s active career leader in assists with 327 in just two seasons at Cal. He was Cal’s second-leading scorer last season with a 15.1 ppg. average. Cobbs, who was named to the preseason watch list for the Bob Cousy Award that honors the nation’s best point guard, enters his third year as a Golden Bear after transferring from Minnesota following his freshman season. The senior guard finished among the Pac-12 leaders in scoring (10th, 15.1 ppg.), assists (4th, 4.8 apg.), free throw percentage (4th, .841) and assist-to-turnover ratio (6th, 1.5), and led or tied for the team lead in scoring eight times last season.
Kravish and Solomon form a solid post combo after leading the Bears in rebounding a year ago with a 6.9 rpg. and a 6.8 rpg. average, respectively. The pair blocked 100 shots combined as Kravish broke the school’s single-season record for blocks with 63 last season. Solomon became the first player in school history with at least six points, six rebounds and six blocks in a game when he posted seven points, eight rebounds and a career-high six blocks vs. Washington State. He ended the season with career-highs in points (22) and rebounds (14) against No. 16 Syracuse in Cal’s NCAA Tournament third-round game. Kravish, who ranked fifth in the Pac-12 with 1.9 blocks per game, also led the team and ranked 11th in the Pac-12 in rebounding.
After a standout freshman season where he played in all 33 games with more than 20 starts, Wallace eyes a stellar sophomore season in the backcourt for the Bears. The guard played 20 minutes or more in 30 games with pair of double-doubles on the year, including a career-high tying 16 points and a career-best 11 rebounds in the home win over Colorado.
Senior guard Jeff Powers and sophomore forwards Kahlil Johnson and Christian Behrens, and guard Garrett Galvin expect to provide solid depth for the Bears as returnees this season. All saw action last season with Powers appearing in 21 contests a year ago.
The Bears also welcome a top-20 recruiting class nationally, including McDonald’s All-American Jabari Bird and fellow former scholastic standouts Jordan Mathews, Sam Singer, Kameron Rooks and Roger Moute a Bidias. Bird, one of the highest rated scholastic student-athletes nationally in last year’s class, scored nine points and grabbed three rebounds in 13 minutes of action in the prestigious McDonald’s All-American game last spring.
Head coach Mike Montgomery begins his sixth season at the helm of the Golden Bears. Montgomery enters the 2013-14 season as the NCAA's ninth winningest active Division I head men's basketball coach with 656 career victories in 31 seasons of collegiate coaching. He owns 272 career Pac-12 victories and is just four wins shy of tying Oregon State's Slats Gill as the third-winningest coach in conference history.
“We understand what it takes to win in this league,” Cobbs said. “We have been close to a championship each of the last two years, but fell just short. This is a new season and the competitiveness has already started in practice. We want to win.”
Cal’s challenging 2013-14 schedule features eight NCAA Tournament teams from last season, highlighted by a November appearance in the prestigious Maui Invitational. Cal joins fellow 2013 NCAA Tournament teams Syracuse, Gonzaga and Minnesota, along with Baylor, Arkansas, Dayton and Chaminade Nov. 25-27 at the Lahaina Civic Center. The Bears will open tournament play against Arkansas on Nov. 25.
Cal will play 18 home games at Haas Pavilion with five home games to start the season. The regular-season opener is slated for next Friday, Nov. 8, against Coppin State of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The season-opening homestand continues with Denver (Nov. 12), Oakland (Nov. 15) and Southern Utah (Nov. 18).
Humboldt State, a member of the California Collegiate Athletic Association, is coached by Steve Kinder in his fourth year. The Lumberjacks finished 11-15 overall last season with a 7-15 mark in league play. Two of Humboldt State’s top returning guards – Austin Bryan and Ethan Dillard – will miss the 2013-14 campaign after sustaining season-ending injuries earlier this month. Bryan led the Lumberjacks in scoring last season at 12.7 ppg.
Single-game tickets are now on sale, click here to secure your seat to see the Golden Bears in action this season.