Just a brief thought about the officiating before talking about the game. The NBA's biggest issue for the last decade has been officiating. In the NBA though, you can get second chances; in a seven game series, things usually even themselves out, and at the very least you're given opportunities to make up for off games by reffing.
One of my biggest sticking points with college basketball other than having inferior players is that bad officiating in one game can cripple your chances at going anywhere. In March Madness, it's a death sentence. The refs decided to play it tight and Cal was on the wrong end of a lot of it. The Bears were taken out of their game with some awfully ticky-tack officiating, as Guitierrez, Kamp, Robertson and Christopher all struggled to stay on the floor. Randle got mauled on several possessions.
The refs made a clear effort to deny contact, and that hurt Jorge's physical on-the-ball defense. He had to back off after his third and fourth fouls and all of a sudden Maryland was getting to the hole at will. The fear of players fouling out seemed to weaken what had been a strong defensive effort, and the Terps took advantage.
However, that being said, Maryland played better today. Other than Randle keeping us in the first half and a brief spurt by Robertson and Christopher, the Bears couldn't manage 30 percent from downtown and were incredibly sloppy with their possessions. The rebounding issue late in the second half didn't mean much; Cal has never been a good rebounding team and we didn't expect them to rebound well today. But there were too many careless turnovers that made it feel like the Bears were playing a January game rather than a March one.
Maryland, a team that loves to run, didn't play particularly fast in their 50 point second half, but had plenty of turnovers converted into easy points. The Bears had to keep on playing an uphill battle and tried speeding the game up to keep up, which became a self-fulfilling cycle that played right into the Terps's hands. Our half court defense was pretty good; our transition D was awful. And Maryland finally got their jumpers going late, which ended all hope.
In between his brilliant moments, there were times where we saw Randle regress into Brauntastic Randle, with blind passes to nowhere; he was pretty quiet in the second half when things slipped away. Robertson led all Bears with 20 points, yet he was probably the worst of all, throwing passes into the backcourt, losing rebounds off of free throws, throwing back towards the defense, etc. Patrick Christopher continues to puzzle and frustrate. There's so much talent within him, yet he just seems to settle for less than what he's capable of. 0-7 from 3 point land just isn't going to get it done.
But we should nevertheless be very proud that our team got this far. Earlier this season we weren't expecting anything, maybe a winning season, maybe fifth place if we were lucky. To get this close to winning the Pac-10 title without a dominant big man speaks to the power of Montgomery. We have a promising core ready for a conference and tournament run next season. So there's much to be happy for.
Are you happy, or just pissed?
This is also an open thread for tonight's games; discuss those games or just talk Bears basketball. Ragnarok and CBKWit will probably have other things to cover about the game tonight or tomorrow morning. Here is the schedule (all times PST)
4:10 Minnesota vs Texas, East Region
4:10 Michigan vs Clemson, South Region
4:20 American vs Villanova, East Region, Philly
4:20 Akron vs Gonzaga, South Region
6:40 Binghamton vs Duke, East Region
6:40 Morgan State vs Oklahoma, South Region
6:50 VCU vs UCLA, East Region
6:55 W. Kentucky vs Illinois, South Region
My picks for the evening: UCLA -8.5, Minnesota +4.5, Morgan State +15.5, Akron +14