In the first part of my 2 part installment, I covered the Big 3 of Cal basketball 09-10. Here I will cover the Big 4 role players: Jamal "Art" Boykin, Harper "Token White" Kamp, Jorge " Dreamy" Gutierrez, and the one, the only, Max "Bones" Zhang (these nicknames are all awful. Come up with better ones in the comments).
The 2009-2010 Cal Basketball season has a chance to be very Sweet.
When I did a Google image search and saw this on the first page, there was no way I could pass it up.
What we got: Jamal is the head of the Hustle Trio, which includes him, Harper, and Jorge. He is the emotional leader of the team, and has been since the second he was eligible to play as a Bear. He has clearly influenced Kamp's game, which is a wonderful thing. He hustles his ass off, is the loudest cheerer on the bench, and is practically a coach on the floor. My favorite memory of him is the game at Stanford when he was a sophomore. He (a Duke transfer) did the Duke defense floor slap and yelled. Mind you, he did this in the stadium of our rival. Very ballsy and very awesome. He is going to make a great coach some day. I would not be surprised at all if he becomes our grad assistant in a year or two.
What we want: Boykin has pretty much reached his potential. I expect him to bump up his scoring and rebounding to the tune of about 1-2 a game for each this year, because of the departure of Wilkes. Not much more than that statistically. All he needs to do is keep being awesome.
I am presuming Kamp and Boykin are best friends in real life. If there was a TV show about their antics in Berkeley, I would watch it. Religiously.
What we got: Production despite injuries. One of our top 5 most important players last year, despite only averaging a 4 and 3. His statistical production was limited because of an assortment of injuries (he had knee surgery this offseason, and I think his calf was also bothering him during the season). His importance goes way way beyond stats. He did all the little things. He sets a mean screen. He agitates. He hustles. He plays like the token white guy who, while inferiorly talented, works just as hard or harder than every single other player on the court. He is a guy you need on a winning team.
What we want: Health. Just get healthy, Harper. I think he is going to really blossom this year, health provided. I could easily see him becoming a 12-8 guy. If not this year, certainly next. Otherwise, just keep doing what you do.
Keep being awesome, you two.
What we got: Raise your hand if you do not have a massive, uncontrollable man crush on Jorge Gutierrez. Hmm, I see zero hands raised. We all love Jorge. He is the number one fan favorite. If he cries, we cry. He gives 178% every time on the court. He defends the opposition's best guard (I think James Harden left for the NBA because Jorge was haunting his dreams. Y'know, that plus the millions of dollars), he gets into the head of the other team, he dives for loose balls, he looks dreamy. He was a late signee who was not recruited by any other major programs. Monty just went in and swooped him up. Then he becomes one of the most valuable freshmen in the Pac-10 (whoever didn't have him on their Pac-10 All-Freshman team has never seen him play). Pretty good for a guy who it looked like was going to be playing small time college basketball. He really does every thing you could want on the defensive end. However...
What we want: To call Jorge's offensive game 'raw' is really being generous. His offensive game is so raw, it is still a living, breathing cow. He doesn't really bring much at all to the offensive end of the floor. Sometimes, he carries the ball upcourt to give Jerome some rest. Those trips upcourt are scary, to say the least. When handling the ball, he turns it over. A lot. Sometimes he liked to push the ball upcourt, which usually lead to reactions along the lines of this from me: "Oh, please no Jorge. Slow down. You are going to turn it over... no no NOOOOOOOOOO. DAMMIT JORGE". There are 2 things he really needs to work on. And I mean really. About 6 hours a day on these 2 things would be nice: the ability to dribble without giving the other team the ball, and corner 3s. Right now, Jorge is a negative on offense (but a major major major positive on defense). If he can hit the corner 3 reliably (making about 1-3 a game), and he learns that turnovers are bad, then we will have an amazing player on our hands. Until then, we have a Jekyll and Hyde.
What we got: Not bloody much.
What we want: We want many many things from Max. We want 20 minutes a game, for one. We want an inside presence. We want to not weigh the same as a guy who is 7'3 (and that is nothing against us, but I am pretty sure Max's official weight is 140). Max, like most guys who are 7'3, has all the potential in the world. Spazzy informed us that Max is currently having a massive block party, and all of China is invited. He is rock-blocking everybody. It is good to see that he is actually producing, no matter what the level. Here are my 2 main suggestions for Max this year. One is something Monty should do, and one is something Max should do.
1) (Originally posted this as a comment in the previous post)
As soon as he gets back, Monty needs to kidnap him, knock him unconscious, leave him in the weight room (with a week’s worth of water, power bars, granola bars, etc.), lock the doors so Max can’t get out, with a note that says "I will come for you in a week. If you don’t have 25 more pounds of muscle by the time I see you next, I am making you guard Jerome in practice." (If you don't understand how that is a punishment, it is basically a non-violent way of destroying every single ankle ligament he has to the point where he can barely walk).
This is the second hit when you look up Max Zhang on Google images.
2) Get mean Max! Seriously. Just get angry. I can torrent you some DMX or something. I want to see you before games next year wearing a doo-rag, and quietly muttering to yourself "Where the hood, where the hood, where the hood at". Actually, you should take that one step further and act like DMX next year. Start barking at opponents. Growl at them. Make them scared of you. YOU ARE 7 FUCKING 3. MAKE THEM TERRIFIED OF YOU. I challenge somebody to find something more terrifying then a 7'3 Chinese man barking at you. Plus, look around the Pac-10. Look at the state of big men in particular. Now name me who the top returning big man is. Roeland Schaftenaar. No, I am not kidding. Seriously. I am not messing around. The best returning big man in the Pac-10 averaged a 10 and 4 last year. Want to know the rest of the top 5? Michael Dunigan (8 and 5), Josh Owens (7 and 4), Nikola Dragovic (9 and 4), and Matthew Bryan-Amaning (6 and 4). None of the top 3 returning leaders in rebounding averaged over 7 a game last year, and all of them are 6'8 or shorter. I personally am not going to take it as easy on you this year. You need to produce. LOOK HOW WEAK THAT IS. ONLY ONE RETURNING BIG MAN AVERAGED DOUBLE DIGITS, AND HE AVERAGED 10. The rest of the Pac-10 is literally asking you to dominate. The ball is in your court. You've got to produce.
That wraps up my look ahead. I am very excited about this coming season. Nobody in the Pac-10 scares me. It really looks like we will be the class of the Pac. Truly an exciting time to be a Cal sports fan. All hail Monty!
Keep your heads up, guys. The best is yet to come.