The new aggressiveness Allen Crabbe has shown his Cal basketball teammates in practice this summer has translated nicely to Europe.
The Golden Bears hope it helps them make a push for the Pac-12 Conference title this winter.
"It's him finally getting comfortable and understanding, 'We're going to put the ball in your hands. You have to score. You have to help us win,' " Cal guard Justin Cobbs said before the team left Berkeley on Aug. 12 for its 11-day international tour.
Crabbe gave fans in Stockholm a look at his assertive side, averaging 21 points in two exhibition victories last week.
The games that count don't begin for a few more months. Crabbe, a 6-foot-6 guard, already knows what he wants to achieve: "Pac-12 champions, get to the tournament, make an NCAA run. I think we're that good."
The Bears will be the league's most experienced team, featuring seniors Jorge Gutierrez and Harper Kamp. Crabbe's offensive talents can elevate the team.
"We expect him to be more aggressive, more physical, more confident in all the things he can do," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. "We're projecting him to be one of the better players in the conference."
At the start of his freshman season last year, Crabbe often passed up shots, deferring to his teammates. He averaged just 8.5 points in Cal's first 13 games, then scored at a 16.8 clip over his final 18. He is the Pac-12's leading returning scorer in conference games.
Kamp said Crabbe's greater confidence is evident. "He knows how good of a player he is, and he had a whole season to kind of show everybody that, show himself that," Kamp said.
Not even a surgically repaired nose and protective mask is slowing Crabbe. He broke his nose in two places during tryouts for the USA under-19 national team in late June and plans to make the mask part of his game-day uniform this season. "I don't want to go through that again," Crabbe said.
Crabbe used his 210-pound body to set a screen for teammate Richard Solomon at the USA camp when Patric Young, a 6-9, 245-pound power forward from Florida, forced his way through, leading with his elbows.
"It pushed my nose and my nasal passages all over," Crabbe said. "At first I didn't even know it was broken. Then I moved my hand from my nose, and my nose started leaking."
Crabbe said the incident won't make him timid on the court. He worked this offseason to add a midrange game to his 3-point shooting prowess, uncomfortable with the "catch-and-shoot" label some put on him.
He understands he will be the target of opposing defenses.
"I'm always up for a challenge, but we've got other key players, too. I'm not going to be the only one they need to focus on," Crabbe said. "We have experience now. It's not, 'What do I do?' Everybody knows their role now."