Cal coach Mike Montgomery believes Stanford's starting five might be as good as any in the Pac-12. "Their depth is an issue," he added, "not unlike a lot of us."

When the Bears (9-4) and Cardinal (9-3) meet Thursday evening at Maples Pavilion in the Pac-12 opener for both teams, neither will have the backcourt manpower it expected when the season began.

For Stanford, senior guard Aaron Bright (shoulder) is gone for the season. Cal is without junior guard Ricky Kreklow (broken hand) for at least three more weeks and freshman guard Jabari Bird (sprained ankle) for the immediate future.

How each team adjusts to its personnel losses will impact how it fares in a Pac-12 that is both stronger at the top and with fewer easy outs at the bottom of the lineup.

Coach Johnny Dawkins said the Cardinal misses Bright's leadership and experience. "As far as what we do structurally offensively," he said, "we haven't had to change."

That's because the Cardinal is running a variation of the triangle offense with 6-foot-10 forward Dwight Powell serving as primary facilitator. Dawkins compared Powell's role to that of Scottie Pippen of the Michael Jordan-led Bulls.

"It plays to his strengths," said Dawkins of Powell, who is Stanford's No. 2 scorer (14.3 points per game) and rebounder (7.7) but also its leading assist man (4.2). "He can score, but he's a willing passer."

Junior guard Chasson Randle brings the ball up court, then is freed up to score. "Why would you want to slow down one of your best scoring options?" Dawkins asked. The Cardinal hasn't, and Randle is sixth in the Pac-12 at 18.7 points per game.

Montgomery said the emphasis on eliminating hand-checking by the defense has only made Randle tougher.

"The way the rules are now, he's getting a lot of foul shots," Montgomery said. "He just drives it at you, and there's contact. He's hard to guard."

"I'm not looking for fouls. It's a matter of me just being aggressive," Randle said.

Cal's injuries will give freshman guards Jordan Mathews and Sam Singer more playing time. Senior Jeff Powers will get the chance to build on a surprise performance Saturday, when he made six 3-pointers against Furman.

Mostly, the Bears will lean on senior point guard Justin Cobbs, who must find offense for himself and his teammates.

"He needs to be a scorer for us," Montgomery said. "But it can't be one or the other way -- it's got to be both, like a good guard should do."

Cobbs saw himself as chiefly a distributor early this season but has come to understand what the team needs from him.

"It's just making the easy play," he said. "With Jabari and Ricky out, I'll take that open shot and take it with confidence."

  • Senior Chiney Ogwumike already has passed older sister Nneka on Stanford's career rebounding list and likely will overtake her in points before this season is complete.

    What the two have combined to achieve statistically is even more impressive.

    The Ogwumikes have become just the second set of siblings in Division I history to each top 2,000 career points and 1,000 rebounds. Their current numbers: Chiney has 2,079 points and 1,257 rebounds, Nneka had 2,491 points and 1,226 rebounds in a career that ended in 2012.

    The only other tandem to have jointly achieved the 2K/1K plateau: Brothers Greg Grant (2,127 points/1,003 rebounds) of Utah State and Josh Grant (2,000/1,066) of Utah.

    The Warriors' Stephen Curry of Davidson and brother Seth of Liberty/Duke, and Chuck and Wesley Person, formerly of Auburn, all were 2,000-point scorers but were short of 1,000 rebounds.

    At Oklahoma, Piedmont's Courtney Paris totaled 2,729 points and 2,034 rebounds while twin sister Ashley had the rebounds (1,064) but not enough points (1,273).

    Cheryl Miller of USC and brother Reggie of UCLA combined to score more than 5,000 points, but only big sister (2,095) had the rebounds.

    Contact Jeff Faraudo at jfaraudo@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JeffFaraudo.