California basketball: Crabbe eats up minutes, defenses

Bears guard gets most work in Pac-12 but still leads in scoring at 19.3 ppg
2013-02-09T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T15:33:27Z California basketball: Crabbe eats up minutes, defensesPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 09, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Allen Crabbe fell asleep on the team bus Friday from Tempe to Tucson.

You can't blame the guy for resting when he can.

Cal's junior guard leads the league in scoring, with 19.3 points a game, but also in a more grueling statistic.

He's played 89.9 percent of his possible minutes all season long, the most in the Pac-12.

Of about 5,200 Division I players, Crabbe ranks No. 21 in the stat, according to KenPom.com, and is third among major-conference players nationwide.

"There's more responsibility, because the coaches have trusted us to make plays for our team," said Crabbe, whose Golden Bears play at McKale Center on Sunday.

"I just feel like it's a wonderful opportunity that we have, and we have to take advantage of it.

"It's a blessing to play that many minutes in a Division I basketball game."

In 10 Pac-12 games, he's played 38.3 minutes per game, the most in the league.

Mike Montgomery would like for it to be different.

"We don't have a lot of choice," the Cal coach said.

Earlier this season, the first two players off the Golden Bears bench were walk-ons.

Senior guard Brandon Smith missed more than a month with a concussion before returning Jan. 24.

And forward Ricky Kreklow, a Missouri transfer expected to play major minutes, played only five games this season while battling a stress reaction in his foot. Montgomery said Friday the injury is likely season-ending.

"Allen's one of the guys that can score," Montgomery said. "We haven't had great low-post productivity. We have to have him in there, generally.

"I don't feel like we can take a 4- or 5-minute break.

"We've tried to get him out some, but it's difficult."

The 6-foot-6, 210-pounder shoots an efficient 46.9 percent from the field, and has been mentioned by league coaches all year as a promising NBA prospect. Montgomery compared him Friday to former Washington State star Klay Thompson, who is averaging 16.5 points in his second year with the Golden State Warriors.

"He shoots the ball," Montgomery said of Crabbe. "He puts the ball in the hole.

"The game of basketball, at the end of the day, isn't that complex.

"He can shoot the ball and that's a very, very valuable asset."

Montgomery said it's "hard for him to sustain" the highest level when Crabbe plays so many minutes. Opposing defenders are physical, Montgomery said, and teams focus on stopping Cal's best player.

On defense, Crabbe's often asked to guard the other team's star, and physical, wing.

On Sunday, Crabbe said, he'll likely guard Solomon Hill.

"He does everything for their team," Crabbe said of the UA senior and fellow Los Angeles native.

Crabbe focuses on keeping his body ready, often arriving to the trainers' room an hour early to have either ultrasound treatment or a heating pad placed on his knees.

"Just doing all the little things necessary so I can just push through and play and contribute for my team," he said.

Being asked to do so much cuts both ways.

In Thursday night's 66-62 loss at Arizona State, Crabbe turned the ball over twice in the last 41 seconds, both times with the Golden Bears down three and a chance to tie the game.

"For me to have two turnovers at a crucial moment in the game, it hasn't affected my confidence, but it's frustrating," he said. "I feel like I cost my team a game.

"That comes with extra responsibility.

"You make mistakes like that, and you're like, 'My teammates and my coaches trusted me to make that play, and I didn't.'"

Iron man

1.7 of 40

Minutes of rest Allen Crabbe takes, on average, in Pac-12 games so far this season. The conference's leading scorer (19.3 ppg) has played more minutes per Pac-12 game (38.3) than any other player in the league.

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