Perimeter Game Remains Bears' Strength

On Wednesday night, the Bears depended on set plays early, looking for high percentage shots close to the basket. But all that did was give them a 40-36 lead just one minute into the second half. With the game too close for comfort, the Bears decided to just open it up. Nearly six minutes in, the Bears went to their familiar fast-paced, look-for-the-open-three offense...

"I know that we were perimeter oriented. We'll go small at times. We are going to rely on shooting the ball, but I'm just hoping to get some of the other areas better so that we can be more complete.

We're constantly striving on the offense to become a more complete team and make that a bigger priority. I think our guys feel like we can outscore some people and sometimes that gets in the back of our mind. Sometimes we lose our focus a little bit when we're shooting the ball really well. I think we've got to just try to play complete games and make people play to our standards. "

That was California Head Coach Mike Montgomery, in his first weekly press conference before the Bears tipped off the 2009-2010 regular season against Murray State.

While California enters its second season under Montgomery with high expectations, Montgomery has his own expectations, too: to learn his system, to become a more balanced team. That means depending on sets, instead of movement. That means reacting to a defense, instead of simply looking for the open man.

On Wednesday night, the Bears depended on set plays early, looking for high percentage shots close to the basket. But all that did was give them a 40-36 lead just one minute into the second half.

With the game too close for comfort, the Bears decided to just open it up. Nearly six minutes in, the Bears went to their familiar fast-paced, look-for-the-open-three offense.

Patrick Christopher jumpshot. Patrick Christopher 3. Theo Robertson 3. Theo Robertson 3.

And just like that, a quick 11-0 run put the Bears up 61-44, igniting a second half spark which culminated in a 95-61 California win in front of 7,541 at Haas Pavilion.

In that second half, California outscored Detroit 55-29, shooting 55.6% from 3-point range and 54.8% from the field. That 11-0 run upped the pace, and the Bears simply refused to ease off of the pedal.

So why focus so much on being balanced?

Last year, the Bears led the nation in 3-point shooting at 43% en route to the NCAA Tournament. This year, the Bears return all three of their primary three-point specialists and scorers: guards Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher, and forward Theo Robertson.

Last year, the Bears struggled to get consistent interior play. This year, center Markhuri Sanders-Frison is a first-year starter after transferring from the JUCO ranks. This year, top backup big man Harper Kamp has been out recovering from knee surgery.

Great perimeter play can open up everything for the guys in the post. Great perimeter play can set up Montgomery's offense. Great perimeter play is a necessary first step to become a complete, all-around team.

And on this night, great perimeter play instigated a dominant second-half rally en route to a blowout.

"It's a process of figuring out who we are and what we do best," Montgomery said.

With all due respect, Coach, the answer is obvious.

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