Cal basketball fans should expect not only different personnel but a different approach next season.

Two seasons under coach Mike Montgomery produced 46 victories, the program's first Pac-10 regular-season title in 50 years and two trips to the NCAA tournament.

The page now turns after Sunday's 68-53 second-round loss to top-seeded Duke, the final curtain for four seniors who combined to score 5,782 career points for the Golden Bears.

Cal may begin to look more like Montgomery's Stanford teams from the mid-1990s. The ability to frighten opponents with three efficient perimeter shooters will be replaced with defense, rebounding and toughness.

"Maybe we head back that way again," Montgomery said.

He doesn't have a bad word to say about the departing foursome of Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher, Theo Robertson and Jamal Boykin, whom he inherited from former coach Ben Braun.

Randle was the Pac-10 Player of the Year and exits as Cal's career scoring leader and greatest 3-point and free throw shooter. Christopher is third on the career scoring list.

"We lose two first-team all-conference players, maybe our best glue guy in Theo, and a very emotional leader in Jamal," Montgomery said. "We're not going to be favored to win the league next year. We're going to have to step back and build this thing properly."


Advertisement

Change will come out of necessity. Graduation will claim players who accounted for 66 percent of the Bears' minutes and 77 percent of their points. The seniors shot 38.3 percent from 3-point range and 86.4 percent from the foul line. The returning players converted 31.6 and 57.1 percent, respectively.

And that doesn't take into account the status of sophomore forward Omondi Amoke, who started 14 games this season but was suspended indefinitely before the NCAA tournament for violation of team rules. Montgomery said there's no timetable for resolution of that situation.

Montgomery is not worried about leadership.

"We have some guys waiting in the wings that are very excited about that," he said, citing power forward Harper Kamp, guard Jorge Gutierrez "in his quiet way," and center Markhuri Sanders-Frison.

Those three also bring the toughness that Montgomery covets in his team.

"There were times we didn't practice as hard as we needed to," Montgomery said. "The seniors had a little bit of their own way doing their business."

The strength of the team will be its frontcourt. Kamp sat out this season to let his twice-repaired knee get stronger, and Sanders-Frison plans to lose more weight and get his back healthy. Also returning is 7-foot-21/4 center Max Zhang and, if he becomes academically eligible, freshman forward Bak Bak.

Filling Randle's point guard spot will be a major offseason question. Gutierrez can play the position but is valuable as a defender and has improved as a scorer. Freshman Brandon Smith also will get a chance, along with incoming freshman Gary Franklin Jr.

The Bears have signed four incoming freshmen, and Montgomery said he expects to add at least one more newcomer before next season. The team currently has one vacant scholarship.

"Freshmen will have significant roles," Montgomery confirmed.

Christopher said he expects seldom-used sophomore D.J. Seeley to blossom at his shooting guard slot.

"He hasn't gotten an opportunity to really spread his wings out there," Christopher said. "The opportunity is there now."

Allen Crabbe, whose Price High-Los Angeles team plays Friday for the state Division IV title, also figures to have a prominent role after winning the Gatorade state player of the year award.

"To his credit, he's worked very hard and he's gotten better in every phase of his game," Montgomery said of the 6-6 wing. "I hope he can stay hungry."

Kamp said expectations will remain high within the team, thanks to the seniors.

"They've set the bar for us. I thank them for that," he said. "We have talent, we have guys who are willing to work hard, we have a good freshman class coming in. There's no doubt in our minds about what we're going to be able to accomplish."

The Good
  • The Golden Bears captured their first Pac-10 regular-season title in 50 years, winning 24 games, the most since that 1960 campaign.
  • Cal beat Louisville 77-62 for its first NCAA tournament victory in seven seasons.
  • Seniors Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher, Theo Robertson and Jamal Boykin combined to average 60.3 points per game this season and totaled 5,782 points in their Cal careers.
    The Bad
  • Pac-10 losses at home to UCLA and on the road to Oregon State probably cost the Bears a higher NCAA tournament seed, which would have allowed them to avoid a difficult second-round matchup against No. 1 Duke.
  • The future of sophomore forward Omondi Amoke, expected to be a full-time starter next season, is in limbo after he was suspended indefinitely for violation of team rules.
  • Not including Amoke, Cal's returning players combined for seven individual double-figure scoring games this season. The departing seniors had 104 of them.
    The Future
  • Without their top four scorers, the Bears will have to reinvent themselves, abandoning an approach that featured excellent 3-point shooting in favor of a more defense-oriented style. There will be more emphasis on post play, but settling on a point guard will be critical. Don't expect the Bears to be favored to defend their Pac-10 title.
    -- Jeff Faraudo