Cobbs seeks balance to break slump

Justin Cobbs (USA Today Sports)

After struggling with his shot to open conference play, California point guard Justin Cobbs looks to balance his scoring output with getting teammates involved.

BERKELEY, Calif. – From the unlikely advice department, Allen Crabbe had to dispense a little to Justin Cobbs last Saturday after the redshirt junior didn't take a shot in the first half against Washington State.

"Keep shooting the ball," Crabbe said. "I told him that last game. I was just like, ‘What are you doing?' He was trying to get the team involved, but at times I felt like he had shots and didn't take them."

Crabbe should understand his friend's predicament, having had his own well-documented issues with passive play in the pat, but Cobbs insisted his performance had nothing to do with his recent shooting slump.

Cobbs has made just 14-of-42 shots in four conference games, knocking down both of his second-half attempts from the field versus the Cougars. His points per game averaged has dropped by more than half, from 23.25 in 12 non-conference games to 10.3 in Pac-12 play.

Golden Bears head coach Mike Montgomery has been vocal in the team's need for a third scorer behind Crabbe and Cobbs. Now he needs Cobbs to reestablish himself as a reliable option.

"He needs to be a threat with his shots," Montgomery said. "He has got a really good mid-range game. We don't want him to lose confidence in his ability to score. He had a couple games last year where he had 30, so we need to have that as a possibility for him."

For his part, Cobbs said he isn't in a slump and that his lack of shots was merely the result of trying to get others involved, noting that Crabbe took only two first-half shots against Washington State.

"I don't think we're trying to make any point," Cobbs said. "I think it was us just trying to help teammates find their rhythm. We'll have no problem following suit and getting in and scoring."

"We've had both extremes, now we have to find a happy medium," Montgomery said.

It is part of a change in duties that Cobbs is still adjusting to. Last season, he could alternate between scoring and distributing with senior Jorge Gutierrez there to share the point guard position.

Now Cobbs is the man, though Montgomery has been using freshman Tyrone Wallace as the primary ball-handler in certain situations of late, trying to work Cobbs off ball screens and give him catch-and-shoot looks.

Regardless of the circumstances, Cobbs maintains he can and will regain his early-season form.

"Of course when you miss shots you're going to feel frustration," Cobbs said. "I've been putting in the work so I have confidence when I shoot a shot I feel like it is going to go in. Same shot, same form, same basket, same ball, same everything."

His main focus, however, is overcoming the sluggish start in the Pac-12 and putting together consecutive wins for the first time in nearly a month on Saturday afternoon at Stanford.

"It's not about what I like," Cobbs said. "Me and Allen have had this conversation so many times to the point where we don't care. It's all about winning. Me and Allen could both average 20 points a game, but we could be at the bottom of the conference. That's not the goal. We want to win and be an NCAA (tournament) team."

Crabbe has his own ideas on how that will happen.

"I just feel like he is going to help us win games if he scores," Crabbe said.

Dan Greenspan writes about the Pac-12 for Fox Sports Next. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan. Recommended Stories

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