Montgomery upset with Bears' big men

Bak Bak (US Presswire)

After allowing 31 offensive rebounds in their first two games, California head coach Mike Montgomery unloads on his forwards.

BERKELEY, Calif. – Mike Montgomery is not one to sugar coat his displeasure, so it wasn't a surprise that he unloaded on his front line after Tuesday night's win over Pepperdine.

California got just 14 points from its five forwards on 6-of-22 shooting, which has Montgomery considering using a four-guard lineup at times, with numbers there bolstered by the stellar debut of Missouri transfer Ricky Kreklow.

"At last it gives us some depth on the perimeter," Montgomery said. "What we're going to have to figure out is whether we need to have those people on the floor and get into a four-out situation because right now our bigs are not producing at a level that is satisfactory.

"Do we use Jeff Powers and/or Kahlil Johnson and maybe Ricky or Allen (Crabbe) where we're playing four-out a little bit playing with more skilled guys? I don't know. That's something we're going to have to look at."

Junior Richard Solomon's six points was best among the Cal big men, but he also had three turnovers. His teammates also fumbled away several easy point blank scoring opportunities.

"Whether it is nervousness, whether it is whatever, we have got to get our bigs to start finishing around the basket better," Montgomery said.

But more troubling was success undersized Pepperdine had on the glass in the first half. Guard Atif Russell (six-foot-two) and forward Stacy Davis (six-foot-six) combined for five offensive rebounds, along with three others credited to the Waves as a team despite using only one player taller than six-foot-eight.

They created those extra opportunities simply by being more active than their Cal counterparts, which rankled Montgomery.

"We harp on it all the time. We harp at the big about you got to rebound the ball," Montgomery said. "There were occasions in the last game where they jumped once and jumped twice and we never left the ground. We never moved a muscle."

Guard Allen Crabbe was more active in the second half, totaling five of his six boards after the break, giving Montgomery another chance to fire away.

"It's a new concept," Montgomery snipped. "He actually jumped and got a rebound, whereas the bigs are not jumping. He just went up and got a rebound. That's what we're not doing."

Pepperdine finished with only 12 offensive rebounds, a dramatic improvement considering Cal State Bakersfield had 19 in the season opener. Even San Francisco State had 17 in Cal's final exhibition game.

If that doesn't change quickly, Cal could be undressed over the next three weeks, playing five games coming away from Haas Pavilion.

Their first road game of the season comes Friday night at Denver, then heading down to Anaheim for the DirecTV Classic during Thanksgiving weekend, before heading to Wisconsin on Dec. 2.

Crabbe Starting Fast
Crabbe is averaging 30 points per game, most by anyone in Division 1 that has played more than one game so far.

Dan Greenspan is the publisher of Cal Sports Digest and writes about the Pac-12 for Fox Sports Next. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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