Bears Rip Card in Pac-10 Finale
Stanford Recap and Pac-10 Tournament PreviewMen's basketball beat writers Ed Yevelev and Gabriel Baumgaertner break down Cal's win over Stanford and look ahead to this week's Pac-10 Tournament.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Category: Sports > Winter > Basketball (Men's)
When asked about how he felt after his team's dominating performance to end the regular season, Cal's lone senior cracked a smile and briefly pondered the question.
"I'm just trying to enjoy life," Markhuri Sanders-Frison said.
After yet another great performance in what may have been his final game at Haas Pavilion, the Cal men's basketball team's big friendly giant will probably remember this moment long after his collegiate career concludes.
Anchored by suffocating man defense and a splendid second half from freshman Allen Crabbe, the Bears thoroughly dominated both ends of the floor on Saturday night en route to a 74-55 annihilation of Stanford at Haas Pavilion. Cal (17-13, 10-8 in the Pac-10) finished the regular season tied for fourth in conference play and will face USC in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament on Thursday.
"I think finishing with 17 (wins) and 10 (in the conference) is fabulous," Bears coach Mike Montgomery said. "I know that with this group I am very pleased with what they were able to get done this far in the year."
Everybody who took the floor for the Bears seemed to stand out, but Saturday belonged to Sanders-Frison. Nicknamed "The Beast," the center turned in a ferocious physical performance, scoring 13 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and helping limit Stanford's starting frontcourt to eight combined points.
Forward Harper Kamp, who finished with 20 points, admitted that the Bears were "pretty sour" about the 14-point loss they suffered across the Bay in January. From the opening tip, it was apparent that Cal was out to prove that it was a different squad than the one that was trounced by the same Stanford team.
By applying constant pressure both on the perimeter and in the paint, the Bears manhandled the Cardinal (15-15, 7-11) to start the game. Stanford scored only four points in the opening 11:01.
A "man" team that has been forced to play a lot of zone this season, Cal was clearly excited to man up against an athletically formidable Cardinal lineup.
"We wanted to get out and jump on them like we did against UCLA," Sanders-Frison said. "That was a great game plan by the coaching staff."
Stanford's leading scorer Jeremy Green was held effectively in check in the opening minutes of the game when Cal built its lead. Though he still had 14 first half points, the junior guard only seemed to score on free throws and notably impressive individual efforts.
Freshman Dwight Powell, who torched the Bears for 20 points in January, was a non-factor, scoring only four points and struggling with the physical play of Kamp and Sanders-Frison.
"What happens is you wear people down a little bit," Montgomery said of his team's defense. "(The other team) loses their confidence and ability to go to a certain guy ... I thought our guys were pretty persistent on defense."
While the season is far from over, Montgomery lauded the team's veteran leaders - notably Sanders-Frison - on the final home game of the regular season.
"They have been spectacular," Montgomery said. "We talked with Jorge (Gutierrez), Harper and Markhuri and told them that they needed to take over this thing and they really, really did."
As for the big man? It was an emotional day, but he's not done yet.
"I'm going to play another game somewhere else," Sanders-Frison said. "The NCAA Tournament. That's where I want to play."
Gabriel Baumgaertner covers men's basketball. Contact him at [email protected]
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