For all of the other issues facing Cal junior Markhuri Sanders-Frison — that he's undersized at 6-foot-7 for a center, that he was sick for two weeks in late November — one stands out from the rest:
Through the Bears' first 11 games, Sanders-Frison averaged one foul every 41/2 minutes he was on the floor. That's too many.
On Wednesday night against UC Santa Barbara, after getting some advice from teammate Jerome Randle, Sanders-Frison played a season-high 24 minutes, and the other numbers fell into place. He had seven points, 10 rebounds and three assists — all career bests — and the Bears beat the Gauchos 87-66.
"Me and 'Rome spoke before the game and he said I over-help (on defense)," Sanders-Frison said. "I need to focus on trying to stay on the court and help, but not help too much.
"It was great game for me. It helped my confidence out a lot going into the Pac-10 season."
The Bears open conference play Saturday at home against Stanford and coach Mike Montgomery said his message to Sanders-Frison and Max Zhang is simple: Rebound.
"(They) really don't have to do much else," he said.
"It was kind of exciting," Montgomery said. "We weren't perfect offensively, (but) boy, were we defending and hustling."
The man of the hour was then-freshman guard Jorge Gutierrez, who contributed 10 points, eight rebounds and five steals — all of it after Stanford had forged a 47-25 lead with 41/2 minutes left in the first half.
Currently averaging 19.3 points per game, Randle needs only to score at a 13.7 clip over the next 20 contests — the minimum he would play, assuming 18 in the Pac-10, one in the Pac-10 tournament and one more postseason game — to pass Lamond Murray (1,688 points) for second place. If he remains healthy, that seems a safe bet.
To break Sean Lampley's nine-year-old school record of 1,776 points, Randle would need to average 18.1 points over the next 20 games. Not a lock, but possible.