Braun, Bears Need More Consistency From Tamir





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So the Campanile is bigger than the Hoover Tower.

Cal fans should try and keep that size metaphor quiet for at least tonight.

When Howard visits Haas Pavilion at 7 p.m. this evening, it will bring the bragging rights of the Washington Monument from D.C., along with some size in the paint as well.

Anchored by 6-foot-10, 270-pound center Qadir Habeeb, the Bison (1-2) will offer the the Bears (2-0) with a bit of meat down on the block.

It will be the biggest challenge inside for Cal after facing a pair of perimeter-oriented opponents in New Mexico and Cleveland State.

And judging by Cal center Amit Tamir's inability to hit close shots in the Bears' 76-68 overtime win against Cleveland State, it may be more difficult to swallow.

Tamir posted the first double-double of his career against New Mexico in Cal's season opener, hitting 5-of-13 from the field for 20 points. But the big man brought back signs of inconsistency from last year, with a 3-for-15 shooting performance against the Vikings.

"He tries to play like Shaq, you don't have to do that," Cal coach Ben Braun said. "He's got to use his post moves, not just dribble, dribble, dribble and then try and flip it in."

Touted as one of the "Big Three" by point guard A.J. Diggs, along with Joe Shipp and Brian Wethers, Tamir will need to do more than the game-high seven assists he contributed against Cleveland State.

Early in the season, Shipp, Tamir and Wethers have combined to shoot 70 percent of the team's shots. Wethers and Shipp have fared well, both shooting at a 55-percent clip.

Tamir meanwhile, has made less than a third of his shots, with a majority coming in the paint.

Defensively, Tamir and Gabriel Hughes will share the duties of facing Habeeb, Howard's NBA-sized big man.

Habeeb has averaged nearly a double-double this season and will be a test for Hughes, who has been seldom used as he returns from a back injury.

Tamir should get a majority of the time against him, while Hughes may see time against 6-foot-6 Kyle Williams, the Bison's leading scorer at 19 points per game.

Rod Benson, who hasn't appeared in a game yet this season, may get his first action and help out in the low post.

"Rod had a very good week of practice before the Cleveland State game," Braun said. "I wanted to get him some minutes, but it was hard to do in such a close game down the stretch."

While the big men are battling it out under the basket, Diggs will be looking to do his share on the offensive end.

The junior, who had a record-tying eight steals against Cleveland State, said he will focus much of his attention on the offensive end of the court.

"Actually, I think I played one of my worst games," Diggs said of Saturday's record performance. "Offense is my number one focus. I'm more worried about my offensive game than my defensive this year because defense comes naturally."

Diggs will look to improve upon his recent six-point output when he faces one of the few opponents he may be able to shoot over this season.

Howard's starting point guard, Louis Ford, measures in at 5-foot-6, three inches shorter than Cal's floor general.

The home crowd should help as well. Diggs said the crowd amps him up to a new level. If that's true, Jason Kidd's record which Diggs tied, may be Diggs' outright before Tuesday is over.

Coming off a trying road trip with two close games that shouldn't have been as tight, Braun said his team will be glad to be home and back in normal attire.

"When we got off the plane I finally realized I could start walking around in shorts again, without any hats, scarves, or gloves," he said.

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