A year after advancing into the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the Bears seem likely to earn a place in the NIT. A school official said Cal expects to be told Sunday night that it will host a first-round game Tuesday or Wednesday.
The Bears have made six appearances in the NIT, compiling an 11-5 record and winning the championship in 1999. Cal most recently appeared in the event in 2008, beating New Mexico in the opening round at home before losing at Ohio State in coach Ben Braun's final game before being fired.
Cal coach Mike Montgomery also has some history in the NIT, having guided his 1991 Stanford team to the championship.
The Bears would enter the postseason in good health but hampered by the depth issue they've battled all season. Montgomery uses primarily a six-man rotation with freshman F Richard Solomon the only reserve who sees substantial playing time.
Cal has been an efficient offensive club for much of the Pac-10 schedule, featuring a veteran frontcourt duo in junior Harper Kamp and senior Markhuri Sanders-Frison. Junior G Jorge Gutierrez earned spots on the all-Pac-10 first team and defensive unit, and G Allen Crabbe was voted Pac-10 Freshman of the Year.
The Bears are a bit undersized and don't boast great quickness. Both things were evident in the Pac-10 tournament loss to USC, which took away Cal's inside scoring game and used three guards to run the Bears silly.
The Bears suffered a recruiting setback when City College of San Francisco combo guard De'End Parker withdrew his commitment and announced he would sign this spring with UCLA. But Cal did get a verbal commitment from 6-8 F Christian Behrens of Tahoma High School in suburban Seattle.
--Freshman G Allen Crabbe scored 21 points in the Pac-10 quarterfinal loss, 13 of them in the second half. He is averaging 22.5 ppg over the past four games since becoming healthy after a concussion he sustained Feb. 10 at Washington.
--Junior G Jorge Gutierrez, a first-team all-Pac-10 selection, struggled all game against the Trojans on March 10. He shot 2-for-10 and equaled his season low with four points. He also had six of Cal's 16 turnovers.
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