Oct. 20, 2011
BERKELEY - The California men's basketball team received the No. 24 ranking in the preseason ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll on Thursday, Oct. 20. The Golden Bears are one of three Pac-12 teams represented in the poll. Arizona tops the trio at No. 16 with UCLA at No. 20.
The last time Cal was picked in the preseason coaches' poll, the Bears were tabbed No. 12 in 2009. That season, the squad captured Cal's first Pac-10 title in 50 years and advanced to the NCAA tournament.
North Carolina received 30 of the coaches' 31 first-place votes and edged second-ranked Kentucky by 53 points (774 to 721) in the poll. The Tar Heels were ACC regular-season champions, last year, and finished with a 29-8 overall record.
Ohio State was ranked No. 3 and defending NCAA champion Connecticut checked in at No. 4. Syracuse held the final spot in the preseason top five. The rest of the top 10 was ranked as follows: Duke, Vanderbilt, Louisville, Memphis, and Florida.
Pittsburgh ranked No. 11 to give the Big East four teams in the top 11. The Panthers were followed by Baylor, Kansas, Wisconsin, Xavier, Arizona, Alabama, Michigan, Texas A&M, and UCLA. Marquette, Cincinnati, Gonzaga, Cal, and Missouri completed the Top 25.
Cal held its first official fall practice on Friday, Oct. 14. The Bears are coming off an 18-15 season in 2010-11 that saw them advance to the second round of the National Invitational Tournament. The Bears return four starters, led by first-team All-Pac-10 selection and team MVP senior guard Jorge Gutierrez, who paced the squad in scoring with 14.6 ppg.
Sophomore guard Allen Crabbe, the 2011 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, set the school's freshman record for three-pointers made (62). Both Gutierrez and Crabbe are on the Preseason John Wooden Award Top 50 Watch List.
Senior forward Harper Kamp and junior guard Brandon Smith are also back. The Bears will welcome returning reserves Bak Bak, Emerson Murray, Jeff Powers, Richard Solomon, and Robert Thurman, as well as 2010-11 redshirts Justin Cobbs and Alex Rossi.
New additions to the squad include freshmen forwards David Kravish (6-9, 210) and Christian Behrens (6-8, 190), as well as two freshman walk-on guards, Rob Filley (6-4, 195) and Raffi Chalian (5-11, 165).
Others receiving votes: Florida State 108, Texas 107, Michigan State 73, Temple 59, Washington 29, Butler 25, New Mexico 22, Creighton 19, Villanova 18, Purdue 17, UNLV 16, West Virginia 13, George Mason 12, Mississippi State 11, St. John's 11, Saint Mary's 5, Virginia 5, Virginia Commonwealth 4, Drexel 2, Kansas State 2, Long Beach State 2, Notre Dame 1, Brigham Young 1
Dropped from rankings: Butler 2, Virginia Commonwealth 6, Brigham Young 13, Notre Dame 14, Texas 16, Purdue 17, Florida State 19, Washington 23, Kansas State 24