2013-14 Preview: California Bears

A dynamic freshman will be relied upon to get Cal to the NCAAs

Updated: October 23, 2013, 9:41 AM ET
By Kevin Pelton | ESPN Insider

Justin CobbsAP Photo/Mark J. TerrillCal's Justin Cobbs ranks among the Pac-12's better point guards.

California Bears

2012-13: 21-12 (12-6 Pac-12) Lost to Syracuse 66-60, NCAA tournament round of 32
In-conference offense: 1.00 point per possession (7th)
In-conference defense: 0.97 points per possession (3rd)

Hoops success is becoming commonplace at California, which certainly has not been the case historically. Last season's NCAA tournament appearance was the fourth in the past five years for the Golden Bears, who did not make the smaller tournament once in the 1970s or '80s. Ben Braun led Cal to three consecutive NCAA trips in the early 2000s, but the last time the Bears made four appearances in five years came during Pete Newell's last four seasons in Berkeley.

Projected starting lineup

Of course, success in the Pac-12 (or Pac-10) is nothing new for Cal coach Mike Montgomery. Having passed Hec Edmundson (266) in 2013, Montgomery (272) enters this season four wins shy of tying Oregon State's Slats Gill (276) for third on the conference's all-time coaching wins leaderboard. Montgomery has a chance to join Lute Olson (327) and John Wooden (304) as the third coach in Pac-12 history with 300 conference wins.

While Montgomery's 2012-13 campaign was marred by an ugly incident when he pushed star guard Allen Crabbe during a timeout, he and Crabbe quickly moved forward and the Bears got within a win of rival Stanford of tying for the Pac-12 regular-season championship. Crabbe was named Pac-12 Player of the Year -- the second consecutive Cal winner, and third in the past four years. California knocked off UNLV in the NCAA tournament round of 64 before giving Final Four-bound Syracuse its toughest test en route to Atlanta.


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