Cal 80, CSU Northridge 63: Golden Bears Win Free Throw Shooting Contest

At least that's what this one felt like. Cal got fouled 37 times--the refs made sure to call everything tonight--and shot 50 free throws, which is three more than the actual number of field goals they took. FITTY! Jorge Gutierrez shot 13 of 15, MarkhurI Sanders-Frison shot 7 of 10, Brandon Smith shot 5 of 8. Almost all of them were deserved, but it sure took the pace and tempo of this game away.

What's a little worrying is they missed 19 of them, which could hurt us down the road. Cal pulled away with a brief spurt in the second half, but there wasn't really much separating us from the Matadors for the first twenty-five minutes. If we'd made a few more free throws, we create distance a lot quicker and we...

Ah, what the hell. I don't know what I'm whining about. I kind of figured this stuff was going to happen. It's like complaining about a puppy doing his business on your rug when you don't take him out for a walk. I'll let the experiment breathe before I begin pontificating about the results.

After the jump, here are Kodiak's ingame/postgame thoughts (edited by me!).

 

  • Kodiak: Jorge is strong and has a quick step to penetrate.  But he still doesn't show a lot of touch around the basket.  Going to be tricky - if he gets the foul call, he's okay(especially with his improved foul shooting).  Considering our depth issues, I'm concerned about putting it on the refs to make the right charge/block call.  Jorge's physical style also makes me worry about injuries. He ended up with 18 points; I'm not sure how.
  • Avinash note: Brandon Smith is trying his hardest, although I think we'll see that he just has size limitations that'll keep him from being an effective D-I guard. On one hand, Smith is playing with the second unit, which this year isn't going to be an easy thing for him. Guys don't cut, don't move without the ball, and Smith has to overdribble and force things. His defensive effort is good though, so perhaps him and Gutierrez can make things tough for other guys and make their impact felt that way.
  • Kodiak: MSF had a nice game scoring and additionally picked up his first double-double. He showed good hustle and a nice touch around the basket. He still has his issues; I didn't see him hit any outside shots, I still don't like it when he settles for his fadeaway, and I didn't see any one on one post-ups or back downs.  But when they guards/wings can get him the ball in a good position, he was solid about finishing and shows an improved touch from the line.  Promising.  Even though he fouled out, last year there's no way he could have stayed on the court that long.
  • Harper Kamp shows off a nice passing touch, but not much of an offensive threat unless someone sets him up.  Kamp was content to play a solid game of position defense and rebounding, and helped facilitate the offense with some nice passing.  He can score if you set him up, but doesn't go out of his way looking for his shot.  I can't help think how perfect he would have been on last year's team.
  • Bak Bak didn't do a lot to stand out in this game, but Richard Solomon showed some nice energy and hustle. He was much more comfortable with his role and with playing within himself. He's used his length and athleticism to impact the game.   The difference between MSF/Kamp vs. Solomon/Bak is that split second difference between cutting off a guy from getting into the key. The first two make it happen, the latter two have their struggles defensively.
  • Allen Crabbe and Gary Franklin struggled in this one.  Crabbe had a pretty humbling game. He committed turnovers and tough fouls, and missed shots. More egregiously, his guy lit him up for at least 21 points.  He's still competing, but clearly not as aggressive, smooth, or confident as the 1st game when his shot was falling. (Avinash note: Franklin had his own struggles. He didn't really shoot well and he dribbled right into the defender a lot. Seems like he tries to make too much happen rather than run within the offense. We can expect a lot of this.)
  • Emerson Murray was up and down.  He had some TO issues, but also makes plays that the other guys can't because of his athleticism (Avinash note: I was really impressed with one possession where he took the ball, handled it all ninety feet, and never lost his dribble despite getting defended by three different Matadors). He didn't do anything amazing with it, but it's a flash of what I hope to see in the future). I'm surprised we didn't see Alex Rossi to help break their zone. I'm assuming injury or illness.

Kodiak: Well, we said that this year's offense would be a weird mix of sweet three's and ugly hustle plays.  Tonight was more of the ugly grit-it-out vintage. There isn't much outside shooting to speak of.    But, it's a W. The pessimist Old Blue in me says that this reminds me of the game against Cal Poly with Leon Powe, Dominic McGuire, Ubaka, and Kately - we had superior athletes, but they actually knew how to play ball.

We continue to have struggles with dribble penetration and fighting through screens have let CSN light it up from the outside. It's still concerning how we consistently let a guy or guys get hot from deep.  I really like how even with our backups in, we don't see any of the "pass the ball around the perimeter, then hoist it up at the end" offense.  Guys have an idea of what they want to do.  It doesn't always work that way, but the ball movement and passing continue to improve.

However, there's some comfort in the fact that after making adjustments, we were able to shut that down.  There was really nice improvement in breaking the press, but that was undone by too many turnovers trying to work it  in against the zone. In the first half, there were too many turnovers off of dribbling into trouble. But the ball movement has been setting up easy baskets and open shots.  Considering how early it is, you'd have to hope that this is going to get better.  I know it's ugly at times, but I'd rather have a team that relies on crisp execution and good ball movement than being able to out-athlete guys one on one.  In Monty we trust.

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