The Cal Bears are going to miss senior center Markhuri Sanders-Frison.
They're going to miss his ability to throw his weight around on the court, deliver unvarnished verbal encouragement in the heat of the moment and make that left-handed jump hook shot that everyone knows is coming but no one can stop.
They'll miss his mile-wide smiles and his fearsome glares. "He can be scary," junior teammate Harper Kamp said.
At 6-foot-7, 265 pounds, there is nothing delicate or subtle about Sanders-Frison, who will play his final scheduled home game Saturday against Stanford. He's a man of big appetites and big dreams.
Asked recently about the Bears' postseason hopes, he provided an almost poetic answer. "We want to aim for the stars and land on the clouds."
At home in Portland, Ore., Sanders-Frison was the second-oldest of eight children and adept at blocking out the competition at the dinner table. "They were very excited when I left," he said, laughing.
But the Bears will miss him.
"He's a ton of fun to play with," Kamp said. "He's very unselfish on the floor, he's a smart player, and he's just tough."
"He's a very good leader, a vocal guy," said junior guard Jorge Gutierrez, a leader of far fewer words.
Sanders-Frison joined the Bears before the 2009-10 season as a transfer from South Plains Junior College in Texas. "He's been a great teammate, and he was from the get-go," coach Mike Montgomery said.
This year he's become a better and more efficient scorer than anyone envisioned. Averaging 11.1 points and a team-best 7.2 rebounds, Sanders-Frison leads the Pac-10 in field-goal accuracy at 61.1 percent. Over the past four games, he's at nearly 73 percent.
"I think he's a really skilled post guy," said USC coach Kevin O'Neill, who watched Sanders-Frison go for 35 points in two games against the Trojans. "He's a legitimate post player, not just in our league, but nationwide."
Sanders-Frison has accomplished all of it despite battling weight issues, injuries and fouls. He dropped more than 30 pounds last summer, helping relieve pain caused last year by three bulging disks in his back. This season he's combated plantar fasciitis in both feet but missed just one game.
Kamp, who has dealt with his own knee problems, said Sanders-Frison copes through perseverance. "He's real steady," Kamp said. "He knows if he just keeps working, that the pain will probably go away."
One thing Sanders-Frison never has escaped is his tendency to foul. He has collected 113 personal fouls and fouled out of 11 games -- in both cases more than any player on the 73 teams comprising the nation's six major conferences.
Even so, he's playing about 28 minutes per game in the Pac-10, banging opponents in the key and turning to the right to release his effective little hook shot.
"No matter how hard you try, you're not going to stop him. Everyone wants to and everyone tries," Kamp said. "It's not easy to stop because he's just strong-willed."
"Like grandma has her special recipe, that's my specialty -- the left-hand hook shot," Sanders-Frison said. "That's my baby, my best friend."
Depending on whether Cal hosts an NIT game, Saturday could be Sanders-Frison's last hurrah at Haas Pavilion. He said it's crazy how fast his time in Berkeley flew by.
"This has passed my expectations. It's been a great chapter in my life," he said. "I've grown a lot. I just love the people here."
Stanford (15-14, 7-10 Pac-10) at Cal (16-13, 9-8), 4 p.m., CSNCA