Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bears' Bench Short; Depth Could Be a Key Factor When Cal Meets Duke Today

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bears' Bench Short; Depth Could Be a Key Factor When Cal Meets Duke Today

Article excerpt

Byline: GARRY SMITS

California made the longest trip to Jacksonville of any of the eight teams in the NCAA regional this week, left one starter home for disciplinary reasons and only six players had significant minutes Friday in the Golden Bears' opening-round victory over Louisville.

So it's understandable why depth might be coach Mike Montgomery's concern as the eighth-seeded Bears (24-10) face top-seeded Duke (30-5) today at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, 30 minutes after the conclusion of a game between Wisconsin and Cornell.

"We've had to play this way all year," Montgomery said Saturday before his team practiced. "We're always at the mercy of foul trouble. We're capable of going deeper, but [Cal's rotation] gives us the best chance to win. If I have to play five guys 40 minutes each, I'd do it."

The Bears raced past Louisville 77-62 Friday, stunning the Cardinals with their own brand of up-tempo offense. But in the process, the starters averaged more than 36 minutes each. Senior guard Jerome Randle never came out of the game, and another senior guard Patrick Christopher, was on the bench only two minutes. They combined for 38 points and 5-of-10 3-point shooting.

The only Cal substitute who had significant minutes was 7-foot-3 center Max Zhang, who played 13 minutes.

In contrast, Duke had nine players in the game at least 10 minutes in its 73-44 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and only two players were in the game longer than 30 minutes, guards Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer.

The obvious contrast is that Duke's game was never in doubt, and coach Mike Krzyzewski could afford to give his starters rest. And Krzyzewski said in tight games, his depth isn't that much better than Cal's - if at all.

"We play about seven," he said. "I don't think a team has an edge either way in that regard. Louisville has an edge. They play 11. That worked, didn't it?"

Krzyzewski said it was the quality of Cal's players, not the quantity, that concerned him. Randle and Christopher have NBA range on their 3-pointers and speed to burn. …

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