Despite Offensive Woes, Cal Finds Success in Year One After Lampley

Katy Klinedinst of the Daily Californian Staff contributed to this report.

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Last November, the question hanging above the Cal men's basketball team was how would it adjust to life without Sean Lampley.

The answer: a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and a tie for second place in the Pac-10.

After being viewed as a one-man show, the Bears' identity became that of a team.

No superstar.

No All-Pac-10 performers.

Just a collection of interchangeable parts. All of whom played a big role at some point in the season.

Compiling a 23-9 mark-including 17-1 at home-Cal became a defensive-minded squad. It had to, because at times the offense was shaky and shooting was streaky.

When the Bears were on, they could drain threes with regularity.

There were also the nights that the arc might as well have been 50 feet away, as was evident in their season-ending loss to Pitt.

Next season, the Bears will need to find more offensive consistency.

"This game points to things that we need to work on," Cal coach Ben Braun said following the loss. "It starts in the offseason figuring out where we need to get better. Working on explosiveness to the ball, offensive and defensive positioning, physical strength and mental toughness, commanding presence in the paint-these are all things that we'll work on"

A key to offense-building will be two wing players. Brian Wethers and Joe Shipp have the ability to create their own shots and can command attention from defenses.

Shipp and Wethers showed the ability to create off the dribble and post up this season. With continued improvement, both will contend for all-conference honors as seniors.

Dennis Gates, Solomon Hughes and Ryan Forehan-Kelly are the only players Cal loses to graduation, so things are looking up for the program.

"I've told our seniors that they've put a stamp on our program," Braun said. "They have been models for our program."

Jamal Sampson and Amit Tamir will give Cal a formidable frontcourt. Gabriel Hughes should also see more time.

"Both Amit and Jamal had solid freshman years," Braun said. "At times they definitely commanded respect on the block. Now they need to work on consistency and perserverance. It needs to happen as habit."

The point should be solid with Shantay Legans and A.J. Diggs-who might be the best defensive point guard in the Pac-10.

The addition of freshman Erik Bond, who redshirted this season and recruits Richard Midgley, David Paris and Kennedy Winston will help with depth. The trio of preps figure to make up one of the best recruiting classes in the Pac-10.

So things are looking up for the Bears.

"We're losing a couple of guys but we'll be back," Sampson said.


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