Beating Needs to Haunt Cal

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STANFORD - Sometimes the best lessons come hard.

Imagine a teenager whose liquor got discovered under his bed. At Catholic school. By Sister Mary. During the 1950s.

Chances are, the degree of punishment that would have earned is now illegal. Maybe someone should let Mike Montgomery know.

Montgomery's Stanford basketball team administered a beating that has been outlawed in most civilized countries Saturday, dismantling Cal, 101-50.

The Bears were taken to school, and they better have paid attention in class. They learned their lessons the hard way, but that should make them that much harder to forget.

The most obvious one: One player does not upset a top-5 team.

When things started going wrong Saturday, all eyes on Cal turned toward one player. But when Sean Lampley proved incapable of performing miracles, the rest of the young Bears looked like they'd just lost their big brother.

Cal paid a stiff price for placing all its hopes on the shoulders of one man. Try 101 points.

Lampley is undoubtedly the best player on his team, but he can't knock off Stanford all on his own. To look at the rest of the Bears, though, you'd think they disagreed. Just as it has all season, Cal depended on Lampley to carry it on the offensive end of the court.

That plan worked all right early on - Lampley made a couple of tough shots to keep the Bears in a game that was over almost before it began - but it started to fall apart after the Cardinal began double- and triple-teaming the junior.

Cal coach Ben Braun laid some of the blame on Lampley himself.

"You've got to step out of your own world sometimes," Braun said of his forward. "Sean has shown the propensity to be multi-dimensional. When he is, he can help guys make plays. When you're the top gun, you've got to get other guys involved too."

Lampley did try to force shots, and ended up committing seven turnovers on the day. But his teammates had a lot to do with it - it's hard to pass out of a double-team when your teammates are standing still and watching you.

There is offensive talent aside from Lampley on the Bears. In some of Cal's biggest wins this season, Lampley has been a non-factor offensively. In their second-worst loss, he scored a career-high 29 points.

But in big situations, the rest of the team looks to him too quickly. Of course, they're young and Lampley is the lone proven veteran, but they can't afford to be freshmen right now.

That's why Saturday was so important. It really does nothing to the Bears' chances at the NCAA Tournament, besides putting an ugly mark in their win-loss tally. No one really expected Cal to go into Maples and pull of the upset (although no one expected them to lose by 51, either).

But it should show the Bears that each and every player should look inward before they look to each other, whether they're freshmen or seniors.

Of course, that's not the only lesson Cal learned. They got a chance to watch a team that played well enough to beat some NBA teams (well, the Warriors anyway). The Bears could have put forth their best effort of the season and still lost by 15.

Down the road, though, the magnitude of this loss could be helpful. It should light an inferno under Cal that will last the rest of the season, if not their careers. Each player has to remember how they felt when they heard the Stanford student section chanting "Down by 50" and "Junior College." How they felt walking off the court after the worst loss in the history in their school.

The Bears winning five of their final six games and qualifying for the NCAA Tournament is unlikely, but Saturday's experience could pay huge dividends in terms of the players' development down the road. They may not like the taste in their mouth it left, but they have to make use of it. Whatever they say now, they won't be able to forget it ever happened.

"For myself and for the rest of our players, we're not going to concern ourselves with this game," Lampley said.

That's easier said than done. The memory of a heavy blow to the head lasts longer than a light slap on the wrist, and there's little question which Cal received Saturday.


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