While they've had a disappointing football season thus far, the Cal Bears have a shot to make some noise in the Pac 10 basketball season. The Bears haven't won a conference tittle in hoops in 50 years, but are returning a strong core of players that should make the Bears one of the better teams in the conference.
The Bears are beeing led by senior guards Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher as well as senior forward Theo Robertson, and all those guys can score the basketball. The Bears shouldn't really have an issue with their offense, as they have four players averaging double digits in points, but their one area of concern is their size. The Bears' top rebounder is averaging just 7.2 boards per game and the two guys they start at forward are both 6'6". Coach Mike Montgomery is really hoping for 7'3" center Max Zhang to come into his own and provide defense and rebounding inside the paint, but the sophomore has started the '09-'10 season very slowly, averaging just 4.5 points and 3.8 boards in 14.5 minutes per game. The Bears can run, shoot and score, but they're not going to have any serious hopes of overtaking either Washington team. The Bears have gone 6-3 in their 9 non-conference games to start the year, but have quite possibly their toughest test they'll face all year when they travel to Kansas to play the #1 ranked Kansas Jayhawks right before Christmas on December 22nd. Their first conference game will come just after the new year when they host the Stanford Cardinal.
Speaking of the Cardinal, they don't quite have the depth that Cal does, but they have a couple of starts that should keep them in contention and make them one of the more exciting teams to watch in the conference. The one player who could carry them is senior Landry Fields, who's started off the 2009-10 season on fire, averaging 23.3 ppg, 9 rpg and 3 apg through first 9 games. Sophomore shooting guard Jeremy Green is also an up-and coming player who's seen his game rise this year. Green is averaging 15 points and 4 boards per game. Like Cal, the Cardinal are a tad undersized, but unlike Cal, they aren't really a threat to out-score teams each night. I think they're going to be right around .500 this year and should finish in the middle of the Pac-10 standings. Now, I'm not much of a college basketball handicapper, so I wouldn't take my CBB picks to the bank, but I just don't see them with enough firepower to consistently be very good.