The Bears will be looking to bounce back against a game Arizona St. team in the second of their three game home stand. After Joanne Boyle's comments after the loss to Stanford it will be interesting to see if the team responds to her challenges or plays below their ability again. I was pleased to see that Cal started the season with a home stand, but it would be a devastating way to start the schedule if the Bears were to fall tonight.
Arizona St.'s biggest win was an 18 point home victory over the same DePaul team that beat Stanford, an indication that ASU has the talent to play with everybody. They lost their other two games against high quality opposition and struggled to beat Oregon St. at home last week, so there's some evidence of inconsistency. Hit the jump for a quick look at the Sun Devils, and Go Bears!
In my Pac-10 preview post I wondered who would step up to fill the void left by Danielle Orsillo. So far it's clearly been Dymond Simon, a 5'5'' senior guard who returned from an injury that sidelined her for the entirety of the 2009-10 season. She's averaging 15 points per game and leads the Sun Devils in assists, and will be the primary focus for Cal's defense. She's not particularly efficient, shooting just 36.6% from the field and 22.8% from 3 point range, so Cal's goal should be clear: bother her as much as possible because she'll be taking her shots either way. Eliza Pierre will likely again draw the defensive assignment, but this time around she'll have two inches on the player she's guarding! Tenaya Watson and Kimberly Brandon are the other two main threats. Both are capable of going off if they aren't well defended, so the Bears have their work cut out for them.
Arizona St. actually has a pretty similar statistical profile to Cal: they rely on rebounding to win games, and they don't shoot the ball particularly well. Their three point shooting is particularly dire - measurably worse than Cal's even though they take more shots from behind the arc. They make up for it by turning the ball over less and getting to the free throw line more than the Bears. Based on this the game is likely to come down to the rebounding battle, and it will be imperative for DeNesha Stallworth to improve on her performance against Stanford in that regard.