We'll start with the actual team that played with desire yesterday. (As for football, an official bowl announcement will come around 1:30 PM PST, according to Okanes)
The Bears played like a team in must-win mode, and they dominated a solid Iowa State team and their star Craig Brackins. With little error after three road losses against their best opponents, and Pac-10 hoops in general taking a beating, this win was a good step in the right direction for this team and this conference. Cal did not shoot well from downtown (Randle was an uncharacteristic 0 for 7), but didn't need it thanks to timely rebounding, an attack mentality and strong defense, shutting the Cyclones down when they pulled away in the second half.
Player spotlight: This turned out to be the perfect game for (I can't believe it either) Max Zhang. What Zhang lacks on offense he made up for on defense. Although we are far away from anointing him Yao Ming Jr., when he had to face off on the future NBA prospect, Brackins had to work hard to get his 21 points, needing 19 shots to reach that mark. Zhang played close up on him, crowded his range, and forced him into difficult shots when he was on him. Big ups to Max--if he can play like that against Cole Aldrich in a few weeks we have a slight chance of making the noise.
Stars of the night: Omondi Amoke and Patrick Christopher. 25 of Cal's 51 rebounds (and 9 of their 19 offensive boards) came from Amoke and Christopher. Both guys crashed the glass and got 10 points on putbacks. Without any bigs, you love your smaller guys getting in there and putting their effort into it. Amoke was all hustle tonight, cutting baseline and hustling down boards; his performance opened up what could've been a much tighter game.
Great rebound game for Christopher after the disappearing act in Albuquerque. Christopher seemed more ready to attack the basket, and he managed to earn a few trips to the stripe (he missed some of them, but hey, it's better than nothing). For the most part he took open jumpers and 3s, and if he couldn't get them passed to the open man or put it on the floor. With another tough road test at Pacific looming, the Bears might need another big performance from him, especially if Theo's injury continues to hold him out.
Thoughts on Haas:
I need to bring hiking boots next time. Dear lord it is steep.
The atmosphere was very disappointing. The stadium was probably less than half full. Cal fans can show up and be loud (like at football games), so why not do it for basketball? In my opinion a good basketball crowd is more important than a good football crowd. Frustrating.
Thoughts on the game:
- PChris sighting! PChris sighting! After being on the lam from playing well for months, good old PChris is back.
- Jerome Randle is really, really good at basketball.
- I can’t remember Jorge having a better offensive game. He was confident with the ball, made some 3s, used headfakes effectively, and had only 1 turnover. Hopefully he keeps that up.
- Dear Max, You are 7 fucking 3. 3 rebounds is unacceptable in 20+ minutes. A guy 9 inches shorter than you grabbed 8 more rebounds. And it isn’t that he isn’t getting bounces. Its that he isn’t trying for the ball. Max frequently just watches the play and doesn’t move to the ball. Quit being so cumbersome and do something! He needs to go to the Omondi Amoke school of sticking your nose in everything. Speaking of him…
- I am officially in love with Amoke. He really is Mr. Everything. He is a great natural rebounder (if he was a few inches taller he would be unstoppable), very athletic, a heady player, and always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Amoke’s play thus far has been by far the most positive development of the year.