For years now, Cal freshman Richard Solomon has heard about his potential.

It's a double-edged compliment he'd prefer not getting much longer.

"I want to start hearing people say, 'He's starting to get it. He's growing as a player mentally, and maturing as a player,' " Solomon said.

That day may come, but as the Golden Bears (6-5) prepare to close out their nonconference schedule tonight against Hartford (2-8) at Haas Pavilion, Solomon isn't there yet.

Coach Mike Montgomery, going for his 600th career victory tonight, said the 6-foot-9 forward is capable but has much to learn.

"He's been a kid that a dunk will carry him for 10 minutes, rather than (moving on to) the next play," Montgomery said. "He's probably not been in a situation where taking a charge and making a pass and running an offense and setting a screen ... that whole thing hasn't been part of what he's had to do over and over again.

"That's where he needs to get, where he can understand how he can fit into a team with all five people working together."

Solomon runs the floor well, is a quick jumper and has great length. He has averaged 4.3 points and 4.4 rebounds in less than 15 minutes per game.

But he has an undeveloped post-up game and, at 220 pounds, got pushed around pretty easily on defense last week by Kansas, which seemed to attack him every chance it got.


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Montgomery said Solomon has gained about 15 pounds since high school and thinks he can easily carry more. Solomon said he envisions reaching perhaps 235 at some point, and acknowledged, "Obviously, I need to get stronger."

More than that, he needs to get that holistic view of the game. And he's starting to understand that.

"When I first got here, I didn't think I was that far off. It was like, 'Oh man, there can't be that much I have to learn,' " he said. "But little did I know, there was a lot of stuff I didn't know, a lot of little things.

"I'm just always trying to get better. I can never be satisfied with where I am. Even if you are doing good, you should always want to get better."

  • Cal's strength of schedule was rated No. 1 nationally Monday by collegeRPI.com, thanks to six games against teams ranked in the computer's top 50. That will change after tonight, when the Bears face a Hartford team rated No. 316 by the RPI.

  • Hartford of the America East Conference is winless in six road games this season and just 4-35 on the road since the start of the 2008-09 season. ... Cal and Hartford are meeting for the first time. ... Hartford senior forward Morgan Sabia, who averages 14.5 points and 6.9 rebounds, is a graduate of Sir Francis Drake High in San Anselmo.

    TodAY'S game
    Hartford at Cal, 7:30 p.m.