BERKELEY -- California head coach Cuonzo Martin reflects on Senior Night, playing Kameron Rooks and Kingsley Okoroh together and getting Roman Davis some run in the Bears' a 30-point win over Oregon State.
Opening Statement: "I thought it was a good bounce-back game for our guys. To lose a tough one on Wednesday, to come back and play the way we played, compete, I told them that I thought this was the first game where we finished a game."
Note: Cal has had notable trouble finishing games. On Wednesday, the Bears led No. 6 Oregon by 16, but lost on a three-pointer at the buzzer.
Stanford led the Bears by as many as six when the two rivals met on Jan. 29, but Cal got out to a lead as large as 15, with 2:18 to go, before hanging on for a 77-66 win. In the Bears' second game against the Cardinal, they got out to a lead of 12, before losing 73-68.
Before that, Cal had led Utah by 14, but needed double overtime to win. The Bears led by 22 against Wyoming before allowing the Cowboys to get within five. Against UC Irvine on Nov. 16, Cal led by as many as 13, but needed overtime to finally put the Anteaters away. The Bears also had trouble handling Cal Poly on Dec. 18.
Opening Statement Continued: "We had a lead, played well, finished the game. We didn't get consumed with the atmosphere, or what the score was, trying to get a couple baskets here and there. I thought we finished it. This time of the season, it's never too late. It's a good sign for us."
Did you want to take frustration out on somebody after Oregon loss: "I thought we [were] -- I don't know if a step slow is the right term -- in the first five minutes of the game. But, once we kind of got settled in -- I thought we missed some easy shots early -- we just settled in and played, tightened the screws up, defensively. Like I told our guys, we lost to a good team, learned from it, move forward. As painful as it is, you can't get it back. It's tough. It's tough. We need to do what we need to do right now to win this ballgame and move forward. We did that."
Cal is now a full game ahead of Utah for the fourth seed in the Pac-12. How important is the first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament: "I think it's important, if you're trying to win your conference tournament. Not that it's impossible, but when you're talking fresh legs, they give you the best chance to win games, and that's why it's important. For us, it's the games that are presented, and we have to win ballgames. It's as simple as that."
Note: Teams outside of the top four seeds in the Pac-12 Tournament have won three out of 21 conference tournaments in the Pac-10/12. Teams outside of the top four seeds have a collective record of 66-112 in conference tournament history. Should the Bears lose to Utah on Thurs., March 2 at the Huntsman Center, they would likely enter the Tournament as the No. 5 seed. Historically, No. 5 seeds are 11-18 (.379), and have won just one conference tournament title.
In the case that Cal loses to both Utah and Colorado, and the Utes sweep the Bears and Stanford, and USC sweeps the Arizona schools, Cal would slip to the sixth seed. Teams in the sixth slot are 14-17 in conference tournament history (.452), and have won two conference titles.
On playing Roman Davis, who had not played since Feb. 8, and had played just 23 minutes all year, after Martin said Davis would be Ivan Rabb's main backup at the four: "His last two weeks have been very impressive. He's worked extremely hard. I said it at halftime of last game, I said, 'We have to get Roman in the fold.' This was on Wednesday night, I said it at halftime, and we didn't play him. [We played him] because of the work he's put in, in practice. He's a competitive guy. He and Dontae [Coleman] are very competitive, high energy, they accept challenges. There are still things they have to learn, like we all do, but I just felt like he's earned it."
On the in-and-out rotation of Kingsley Okoroh (25 minutes, 8 points, 5 rebounds) and Kameron Rooks (17 minutes, 6 points, 5 rebounds), and them playing together for six minutes in the second half: "Those two guys, we try to go two and a half, three minutes, max. Now, if they're in foul trouble, that's something different, but two and a half, three, in and out, in and out, just fresh legs. We feel like both of those guys are 20-minute guys, when they're at their best. Foul trouble, things like that, take place, but no rhyme or reason, just trying to keep [Rooks's] legs fresh."
How do you think they did when they were on the court together: "Good job. They compete in practice, but they play well with each other. [They're] some of the few guys I've ever been around that they compete and battle against each other, but they want to see each other be successful. One is not upset if the other guy starts. Even though they're both competitive, they want to see each other [be] successful. That's why King turned the ball over trying to throw it to Kam. I think that's a good thing. They play well together, because they understand and they communicate well."
On getting all five seniors -- Grant Mullins, Sam Singer, Roger Moute a Bidias, Stephen Domingo and Jabari Bird -- on the court together: "For me, senior night is, I used to be emotional, the first couple years. You felt like they were leaving the earth, as seniors, and you'd never see them again. You understand it's just part of life. They're still part of your family, and they'll be a part of your life; they're just moving on. Senior night for me is those guys having a great time, and saying farewell to our fans, and our fans saying, 'We appreciate everything you've done for our program, on and off the court.'"
Note: Singer went 7-for-7 in 13 second-half minutes, and will head to Israel in July to play for the United States in the 20th World Maccabiah Games.
A former five-star, McDonald's All-American, Bird could not stay healthy over his career in Berkeley. Be it due to ankles, feet, backs or otherwise, he always had one broken wing, and instead of soaring, he fluttered around in circles.
Earlier this season, musing on his 1,000th point, he said, "It should be more like 1,200." With his father, former Bear Carl Bird, in the stands -- as he always has been, for every game in his four-year career -- Bird had three momentum-swinging dunks.
Bird -- who had shot 50% (41-for-82) over his last six games, and averaged 17.8 points per game -- went just 3-for-13, but was given a standing ovation as he left the court with 2:28 to go. He re-entered for the final seconds.
Quick hook on players with fouls early in the game: "Nothing intentional. I think, when Grant had two, I took him out, but I think we played Grant with three fouls. I know that if Ivan gets his first, we try to take him out, but nothing specific."
Got down 14-7 early, but then went on a 32-12 run. What happened to change the momentum: "Just me simply saying, 'Lock in. Let's not allow this to continue, because all of the sudden, it becomes a ballgame. So, let's focus on the defensive side of the ball, getting stops, transition defense, stopping the ball.' They made two three-pointers early, and it was more our breakdowns, so, 'Let's correct these things and move forward.'"
Last things he's looking to put together in the final week of the regular season: "That's who we are. I think our biggest issues are the things that have been all season -- take care of the basketball on the offensive side. I think we're a good defensive team, but when you're giving up, in some games, 16-20 points off of turnovers, it's hard to beat good teams like that. We've got to take care of the basketball. I think that's our biggest issue, offensively. We make free throws when we need to; we're not a great free-throw shooting team, but we make them when we need to, and when the right guy's shooting them. I think that's the biggest thing. We have to gain from our bench -- scoring, rebounding, defending -- we can't drop off when we go to the bench, because when we're playing against good teams, you have to [get something]."
Any reason for not playing Domingo until the second half? Was he hurt? "He's fine."
- Singer tied his season high with 14 points, shooting a perfect 7-for-7 from the floor. It was his first double-digit game since scoring 10 against Arizona State at home on Jan. 1. Singer also scored 14 in the opener against South Dakota State. He fell one point shy of his career-best 15 against Eastern Washington on Dec. 19, 2014.
- Bird came into the game shooting 50% over his last six contests, but went just 3-of-12 in his final regular-season home game. He scored six points to raise his career total to 1,164, which moves him up one spot on Cal's all-time list to 32nd place.
- With 9 rebounds, Rabb moved up to 13th on the program's single-season rebound list, now with 277. Against the Beavers, he passed Leon Powe's 2005-06 total of 273 boards.
- After falling behind, 14-7, Cal closed the first half on a 32-12 run and led, 39-26, at the break.
- Cal outscored Oregon State, 24-4, in points off turnovers and 13-0 on second-chance points. The Bears also had 46 points in the paint -- more than the Beavers scored all night.
- The Bears shot 60.9 percent from the floor in the second half (14-23 FG), after starting 7-of-23 in the first.