The College Basketball Notebook

December 10, 2010 7:32 AM

A New Top Dog In California

SDStateHoops.jpgThere's a new top dog in the state of California college basketball these days. It's not UCLA, who made three straight Final Fours from 2006-08. It's not Stanford or Cal, who've had their moments in the sun. The new king of Golden State hoops is San Diego State, and the 15th-ranked Aztecs solidified that with a resounding 77-57 win over Cal on Wednesday night. SD State bagged ten treys, while Cal blanked from behind the arc. Between the three-pointer and taking good care of the ball, the Aztecs overcame rebounding and free-throw advantages held by the Golden Bears.

The win over Cal comes on top of victories over West Coast Conference powers Gonzaga and St. Mary's and San Diego State should coast into the January 5 opening of Mountain West play undefeated. This team's meal ticket is forward Kahwi Leonard, who had 20 points in Wednesday's win. Leonard is supported on the front line by Malcolm Thomas who helps clean up the glass, and Billy White who chips in additional scoring. D.J. Gay runs the offense and all that's left is for sophomore guards Chase Tarbey or James Rahon to step up and be a steady running mate for Gay. It's been a long time since Steve Fischer--head coach of Michigan's infamous "Fab Five" in the early 1990s--has been in the spotlight, but it looks like this year's team will get him there.

Cal won the Pac-10 last year and has considerable rebuilding to do this time around. The Bears have also lost decisively to Boston College & Notre Dame, but we can't overlook a very good win over Temple, one that looks even more impressive now that the Owls have beaten Georgetown and Maryland in quick succession. Head coach Mike Montgomery, who also won big at Stanford, is working with a core three of guard Jorge Guiterrez, a good scorer who hit 19 in the loss to SD State. Montgomery also has forward Harper Kamp and a respectable post man in Makuri Sanders-Frison. I would expect Cal to be a season-long factor in the Pac-10 race.

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Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in college football ,game analysis in the NFL. and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.

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