'Trey' Chic

The Golden Bears still have a few things to work on before the season opens officially on Nov. 8, but there's one piece of artillery that's always cocked and loaded: Freshman Jordan Mathews, who scored 15 points in Cal's exhibition romp over Humboldt State.

BERKELEY -- California freshman Jabari Bird missed his first two shots as a Golden Bear – both from beyond the arc – and didn't score his first points until there were 5:36 left in the first half of Thursday night's 83-61 exhibition win against Division II Humboldt State, though Bird finished with nine points, three boards and four assists, it was his freshman teammate Jordan Mathews who put on the real show.

The son of former UCLA assistant and San Francisco head coach Phil Mathews led all scorers with 15 points on 4-of-7 shooting, with all of his shots coming from beyond the three-point arc.

"The gun's always loaded with Jordan," said Bears head coach Mike Montgomery. "He'll thrive because he's ready to shoot. He knows how to get his shoulders square to the basket and shoot it. That's one thing that others are still trying to figure out."

Apart from Mathews, the rest of the team shot 4-for-16 from long distance.

"Coming away from the basket is not natural for a lot of kids who have not done much of that. He just knows how to get his shoulders square and shoot the ball," Montgomery said. "He's been the one guy who has consistently shot the ball, game-in and game-out. He's a natural scorer and he doesn't have a conscience. He missed a couple early and it kind of surprises you a little bit, but then he makes the first one and it felt like he'd make every one. Jabari is still getting his feet wet, but he is certainly a spectacular athlete who is going to be really good and make plays."

Like Bird, Mathews started out rather chilly, going 0-for-2 from the floor in the first half, as the Bears went a combined 3-for-11 from three-point land. After the break, though, Mathews caught fire, hitting four straight treys in a span of 2:38 in the second half to put Cal up, 74-42.

"That's one of the things I definitely take pride in," Mathews said. "The coaches encourage me and tell me to take open shots, and that's how I'm going to contribute to our team this year. So, if that's what I have to do to help us win, then I'll definitely do that."

Mathews added two boards, one assist and one block to his 15 points in 18 minutes.

Bird, for his part, got hot after hitting two free throws, hoisting up a long three, and then just 30 seconds after that, pulling down a defensive board, working the give-and-go with Justin Cobbs for a breakaway dunk and then sprinting back down the floor to tally a two-handed block.

"Honestly, it was a dive on the floor for a loose ball that got me going, got my energy up, got me into the game a little bit more, and got me an assist to Richard [Solomon]," Bird said. "That got me pumped up. The free throw definitely helped my rhythm, shooting-wise."

It was Cobbs who was the steadying hand as the Bears looked sloppy at times in transition, with six turnovers in the first half and 15 overall, and it was also Cobbs who got the scoring going, tallying the first four points of the game and finishing with 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting, with five boards and three assists in 22 minutes.

In the second half, the Bears went through a stretch where they shot the ball just twice in the span of 1:46, while the Lumberjacks went on an 8-0 run, shooting 3-for-6 with two three-pointers, three offensive rebounds and a defensive rebound, before Cobbs broke the spell with 14:25 to go, hitting a three to start a 7-0 run.

"We've got a lot of work to do. There's no question," Montgomery said. "We've got a lot of little things. We've got eight new players out there, and frankly some of them get nervous."

When Cobbs wasn't running the point, true freshman Sam Singer took the helm, moving Cobbs or Tyrone Wallace to the two-guard spot. Singer ran the point effectively, with a team-high five assists and just one turnover, adding a steal and going 2-for-4 from the floor for five points, but had a dismal night at the free-throw line, going 1-for-8 including an airball.

"Sam, there's no way Sam should go 1-for-7 [sic] from the line," Montgomery said. "He's a much better shooter than that."

Free-throw shooting was an issue across the board for Cal, as the Bears went 17-for-33 from the charity stripe.

"What I'm challenging them to do is play hard," Montgomery said. "I think that, as a group, the freshmen have a no-baggage approach. They just play. I'm trying to say to them that we've got to have a standard for how we play the game. There will be times that we play as hard as we can that we don't win. We can't pick and choose when we want to play hard. I think we're a ways away from that mentality, but that's what we're trying to do, is come in with that thought process in mind."

David Kravish was arguably the strongest and most consistent Cal performer, finishing with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting and 2-of-2 from the free-throw line, with eight rebounds, one assist and one steal in 19 minutes.

All five true freshman got time on the floor in the exhibition, with Kameron Rooks falling victim two hard-luck bounces on his first two low-post shots of the night, but finally getting on the board, finishing with three points and six rebounds on 10 minutes of work.

"Some of them are going to have to be major-minutes guys or major contributors as time goes on," Montgomery said. "Some of those kids are going to be our better shooters, but they're also going to make some mistakes defensively that a veteran kid might not make. We expect that. We're short a big. Kameron can come in some if there's another real big guy he can play against. He's going to have trouble chasing smaller players around."

Rooks looked a bit tentative at times, but showed a well-rounded – if developmental – game. Rooks was not, however the first big option after starters Solomon and Kravish. That spot went to Roger Moute a Bidias, who came in for Solomon with just under 15 minutes left in the first half. Moute a Bidias was a pleasant surprise thanks to his athleticism, and within 40 seconds of entering the game, he drew a foul and put in his first point as a Bear on a free throw. The Cameroon native finished with three rebounds and one point in 12 minutes, playing with a lot of energy.

Montgomery emptied the bench in the exhibition, with only three players (Bird, Singer and Cobbs) seeing more than 20 minutes. All five freshmen played, totaling 33 points and 16 of Cal's 57 total rebounds.

"The freshmen are going to get better as they get more experience," Montgomery said. "One of the biggest things is going to be to adjust to the way the officials call the game, based on a mandate around the hand check. I think that's going to be a big thing for everybody. I think that the officials and the players are going to have to figure out how to do that. We've just got to figure it out. We've got to know what to do and how to do it. People are going to have different interpretations early on, and I think it's going to be a little painful for everybody."

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