In preparation for their preseason exhibition trip to Australia in less than two weeks, the Bears took to the hardcourt for their first full practice of the preseason today in the RSF practice facility.
"We had good energy and guys were playing hard," said Cal head coach Cuonzo Martin. "The intensity was good at both ends of the floor so it was good to watch.
"We get 10 2-hour practices but we'll probably just go an hour and a half usually.
"It's much more important to get these early practices for the new guys so they can get acclimated to the team.
"I thought our veteran guys did a good job with the new guys, filling them in."
The Bears were often as shorthanded in practice as they were in games and the return of Kameron Rooks after a year away from injury, the eligibility of Georgetown transfer Stephen Domingo and the arrival of freshmen Ivan Rabb, Jaylen Brown and Roman Davis have gone a long way towards increasing the competitiveness of Cal practices.
"I think it helps a great deal," said Martin. "Not just that we have enough bodies but that they're guys that are able to play in actual games and live situations.
"I think it helps because it raises your level of competitiveness and guys' confidence level goes up.
"It just helps your total practice because guys know they are fighting for minutes. Plus you have guys playing at their natural positions instead of out of position for practices.
"We also have four or five guys that can play three or four positions.
"We have two big guys in the post. Jaylen and Ivan can post up and make plays. Tyrone can post up smaller guards. It just depends on the teams we're playing."
One of the biggest points of interest heading into preseason practice is how quickly top recruits Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb are assimilating into their new roles with the team.
"Jaylen and Ivan are obviously very talented guys," said Martin. "They play well on both ends of the floor. And as good as they are with scoring the ball and making plays, they're very unselfish.
"There will be times where Jaylen Brown will be our beast out there, so to speak. He's 6'8" and almost 230 pounds and you have to defend him in the transition because he gets the ball off the glass and is basically a guard in transition.
"Roman brings a level of toughness and he competes and he battles. The sky's the limit for him. Once he gets his strength and conditioning down, I think he'll be a tough one to deal with. He's almost 6'7" and right now, he's 185 pounds. I figure if he can get to 200 pounds, he'll create a lot of problems because of what he brings to the table. He plays hard, he rebounds and he won't let up."
Martin noted that the players that played as many as 35 minutes last season like point guard Tyrone Wallace would not need to shoulder that load this season with their deeper roster. Martin also noted that the priority would be for the team to consistently defend at a high level going forward.
With this week's installation of the new video scoreboards, Martin is excited to see the positive facilities changes taking shape.
"I'm trying not to see it till it's complete, but (media relations director) Doug(Drabek) keeps showing me videos.
"I think it's exciting for our program to have and I think it will take us to another level.
"Our fans, our administration, they've really done a good job of putting us in a position to be successful."
This will be the first trip to Australia for the staff and the players and most are excited to experience the land down under.
"I think it will give us a chance to get together and really figure out our strengths and weaknesses," said guard Jordan Mathews. "I think it's just great bonding. While we're down there, I think we'll get a lot of time to just go out and do things.
"I think the chemistry's been good. Our workouts have been really intense. We've been switching up the matchups and everybody's playing with each other and getting used to each other."
When asked how he felt about wombats, wing Jabari Bird said, "Do they have them down there? That's not cool, man," with a smile.
Bird likes the mix of new additions blending with the returning players and sees the competitive level steadily rising.
"We'll be deeper, definitely. We'll be a really deep team this year.
"Last year, we were a little undermanned and guys were breaking down. You add more talented bodies, it also raises the level of intensity in practice. That just makes you that much better.
"I just want to win. A Pac-12 title, whatever we can do."