BERKELEY – The Pac-12 schedule-makers obviously didn’t know that Arizona would be ranked No. 1 in the country when Cal knocked the Wildcats from their perch Saturday night, but this is shaping up to be a pretty eventful week for the Bears.
Four days after beating the No. 1 team in the land at Haas Pavilion for the first time ever, Cal will get another extra dose of energy when it welcomes rival Stanford to Berkeley on Wednesday night at 6 p.m.
“It starts Wednesday,” Cal center Richard Solomon said. “We beat the No. 1 team, but it’s on to the next opponent, and that’s Stanford. This league is really good across the board, so we can’t really dwell on our win against Arizona. We have to move on to the next one and just focus and do what we can to win that game. Then just keep it going from there on out.”
Stanford may be the perfect opponent for the Bears to face after such an emotionally draining victory on Saturday. The Bears always have an extra bounce in their step against the Cardinal, and it should make for another high-octane atmosphere at Haas Pavilion.
Recreating the environment that existed Saturday night would be a tall order – a sellout crowd on Goldout Night against the top team in the land – but the Bears would love to see some version of Saturday night re-created more often, beginning Wednesday.
“Hopefully we can have another one of those crowds like we did the other day,” said Cal point guard Justin Cobbs, who hit the game-winning shot against Arizona with 0.9 seconds remaining. “I can’t even put into words what that felt like. I wouldn’t mind it happening again.”
Wednesday doesn’t only mark a chance for the Bears to play against their rivals, but it affords them the opportunity to build off the Arizona win. And establishing some momentum would be especially handy at this point since the victory over the Wildcats snapped a three-game losing streak.
“The timing of the win was big after us losing three straight,” Cobbs said. “We knew we needed to make a turnaround sometime soon. It was right on time. It gives us some momentum in the second half of Pac-12.”
The Bears beat Stanford 69-62 in their Pac-12 opener on Jan. 2, a victory that started an impressive three-game road win streak to begin the conference season. Cal has had some ups and downs since then, but the Bears commence the second half of Pac-12 play tied for second in the conference standings with a victory over the first-place Wildcats.
Now it’s the Bears’ job to turn their win over Arizona into the beginning of another successful stretch in Pac-12 play.
“If you’re going to be a championship-type team, if you’re going to be an NCAA-caliber team, then you’re going to have to compete every night,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said.