California 74, UC Davis 62: Bak Bak Wakes Golden Bears Up

I'm pretty sure nothing epitomized that game more than Bak Bak running the court and finishing with an AND-1 layup in one of the most bizarre fastbreaks this side of...well, the 2010 Cal men's basketball team. Ladies and gents, meet our new point guard.

Unconvinced? Well, let me point you out to some fascinating stats.

  • Jorge Gutierrez turned the ball over six times. Bak turned it over zero times. Point for Bak!
  • Harper Kamp and Gutierrez shot 5 for 14 from the field. Bak was six for six, including cleaning up a Gutierrez gimmee layup miss with a putback slam and another offensive board and layup off a Kamp miss. Stars are aligning and the tsunamis are rising.
  • When Bak came into the game, the score was 21-20. By halftime, he widened the lead to 39-30, finishing proceedings with that incredible steal and layup mentioned at the start.
  • When Bak came into the game a second time, it was 47-40. When he left, the lead was up to ten.
  • Bak had six rebounds. That is approximately four rebounds higher than usual.

The revolution isn't being televised. And when it is, I'm sure this mystical Sudanese crane might disappear until the next blue moon. You won't get to witness such majesty again. Fly Bak, fly.

I combine my remaining postgame thoughts with Kodiak's after the jump.

 

Monty's pre-game thoughts emphasized his disappointment in Cal fans, which seems to be a recurring theme among our head coaches these days.  He knows it's always a slow start to basketball season, but would appreciate more fan support in the fall/winter. I'm guessing the majority of them are still standing shocked over at Memorial over the final few minutes of the Washington game.

More importantly, he's trying to teach the young guys to be more patient running the offense when their outside shots aren't falling.  Also, even when their struggling offensively, there's no excuse for letting another team outwork you.  I'm guessing he's not going to be happy with all the open transition opportunities and layups the Aggies accumulated, although in general the team defense was solid.

We started with a really nice play to start the game, as Kamp set up at the three point line and found Markhuri Sanders-Frison posting for a lay-in.  The high-low offense is probably our best half-court set, although we seem to have a lot of problems running it.  There were two turnovers trying to feed the ball to Kamp early.  Still, it was nice to see a concerted effort to pound it inside and let that set up the outside game, and we didn't settle for jump shots early on.

UC Davis had height, which allowed them to get the elevation on their jump shots, particularly Joe Harden (27 points on 11 of 19 shooting) and Mark Payne (15 shots on five of eight shooting).  We have strength and skill.  Sanders-Frison dominated their 7' frosh Mike Kurtz early and finished with a perfect five for five shooting from the field. He used his strength to get into good position.  When the guys can get him the ball, he's been money. Unfortunately, he was--surprise, surprise--in foul trouble for most of the first half and didn't play much in the second half.

Kamp forced things on offense tonight.  He's really solid except when he starts looking to create his own shot.  That just may not be his game.  Being a leader isn't always about scoring or even being the assist guy.  Sometimes, it's keeping the ball moving and setting the right screen. He did show he could move the ball well, setting up other Golden Bears with five assists. 

Indeed, we looked like such a different team when we were patient and ran the offense.  Offensively, there were also more dribble handoffs tonight, making a concerted effort to free up dribble penetration and dishing to cutters.  There were mixed results, but it's a good idea to get the young guys out of the habit of just hucking up outside shots.

Allen Crabbe may have a tentative shot, but there's nothing fragile about his confidence.  He hit a long two, then missed a defensive assignment leading to a foul and two FT's.  He bounces back with a great drive, misses, grabs the offensive board...misses.  He responds by hitting a long two, then another one.  I like the fact that he's still competing and not letting bad plays get to his head. That was pretty much the extent of Crabbe's contributions tonight points-wise (three of seven shooting, plus four rebounds and three assists).

Monty seemed to put Gary Franklin on a leash early, but eventually he got turned loose in the second half with Cal struggling to separate from UC Davis. He hoisted a contested three off the dribble and of course it went in. He racked up eight points on three jumpers and three assists in the second half, finishing as Cal's leading scorer with 13 points overall. But in general, it was very more subdued than his final two performances, and he didn't play out-of-control.

Richard Solomon has athletic gifts and height that are absolutely tantalizing.  I can't wait to see him after he gets stronger and develops a few offensive moves. His fullcourt coast-to-coast move was messy and haphazard and beautiful. Can't wait to see more.

Gutierrez struggled as primary ball-handler and re-raised all the same questions about whether he can handle the rock. It's been enough games to say that Jorge's outside shot is much improved.  That's a testament to a lot of hard work. But proper layup technique? I saw a bunch of eighth graders at halftime execute layups better than our point guard . Everytime Jorge attempts a layup, it looks like he's trying to dunk the ball. Except he can't dunk. And he misses way more than he should.

It was a pretty quiet game offensively for Brandon Smith, but he's been solid.  He was tough on defense and set us up on the offense.  He got ripped off on a no-call driving to the basket. It'd be nice to see more offensive output down the road though, because people don't respect his jump shot enough and they seem to sag inside.

Hard to say what you can take from this.  We had better athletes at each position and that was the difference.  You can't take anything away from their skill players- we never shut them down.  Nice to see some of the young players experience some success. In all honesty, we out-athleted them rather than outplaying them.  Our big guys were better, and we were performing well on defense to distance ourselves from UC Davis.  It would have been a blow out, but their senior guards were making tough baskets and knowing how to move to get easy baskets.  

Good job by Nigel Carter nailing some open jumpers. If he can do that a couple more times this season, it'll be all gravy for our team offense.

Now it's time to head on the road for the final time in 2010. Can Cal replicate this performance in Iowa State? Remains to be seen. Let's hope the Bak awakens once again.

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