The California Golden Bears men's basketball team is generating the type of fruit fly preseason buzz that comes with a team that is unspectacular, filled with solid but not elite talent. You hear a few quick zips, then things go quiet again and you start pondering the UCLAs and Arizonas of the world.
I know that the UCLA Bruins have better big men; Josh Smith, Reeves Nelson and the Wear twins can all score and make up a deeper front line than any in the league. The Washington Huskies bring in Tony Wroten, while Arizona brings in Josiah Turner, and both teams return solid supporting casts to play alongside their athletic freshman studs. But Cal is quietly a dangerous team with a deep bench and a bevy of scoring talent. While Washington, Washington State, Stanford, USC, Colorado and Oregon all losing their top scorers, and UCLA losing two of its top three scorers, Cal returns its top three scorers in the Pac 12.
That being said, it should be a far more competitive conference race than the lackluster 2009-10 race that saw Cal hoops win their first Pac-10 title in nearly half a century. UCLA will have a deep frontcourt that will be difficult for an undersized team like the Bears. Both Arizona and Washington will have a bevy of young and talented individuals that will try to offset the losses of their premier players.
Cal might have a deep squad this season, but they are far from locks to win any conference title, and it's hard to call them the favorites off the bat. Still, as the season grows closer, expect the buzzing to grow louder and more frequent.
For more on Cal basketball, go to the California Golden Blogs.