Kodiak: What do we think of Cal's big men this year? Besides his mad face, how much will we miss MSF? How screwed are we if Harper Kamp's knee gives out? Is Richard Solomon ready to take the next step? Will Bak Bak finally figure things out and be more than extra set of fouls? Can we expect Robert Thurman to continue the production evidenced by the Euro trip? Is Kravish going to play or blueshirt?
NorCalNick: I'm really excited to see what Richard Solomon can do as a sophomore. The Pac-12 lost a ton of post talent from 2011 and I think he could really blossom. He showed just about every physical tool you'd want to see last year, while also showing the work ethic and humility to acknowledge his shortcomings and improve where he needs to.
With defenses likely focusing on Harper down low Solomon will likely have the chance to step up in a big way.
LeonPowe: I agree with NorCalNick. Dick Solo is going to be the real x-factor for the front court and along with Cobbs - those two and how much they can play to their potential will determine how the. 11-12 bears will be remembered. We know our Big 3 and we know the limits of the Big 3 so if we get good performances from Solomon and Cobbs we could be elite. If they don't come through, we'll be a 3 player team that makes the tourney but doesn't do anything.
NorCalNick: The bad news with losing MSF is that he was an excellent defensive rebounder, which was absolutely necessary because for all his strengths, defensive rebounding isn't Harper's forte. And in MSF's case it's a situation when your eyes and the stats agree. Markhuri was 3rd in the conference in Defensive Rebounding % and 8th in the conference in Offensive Rebounding %.
Kodiak: Besides being able to use his...bulk on the glass, MSF was underrated as a passer. Between Jorge, Kamp, and MSF, you always had three guys on the floor who knew where the ball was supposed to go. Take any one of them out, and the offense wasn't nearly as potent. This did change towards the end of the year as the younger players got up to speed. But, it's something to keep an eye on, especially when we play against teams who are adept at playing zone.
And yet, despite that lack of depth, the man-to-man defense was occasionally great. Holding UCLA to 18 points in the first half never happens if Cal plays a zone. So the questions are: 1. How foul prone is Solomon? He picked up plenty last year, but that's not surprising for a true freshmen aggressively playing limited minutes. 2. Can two bigs off the bench provide reasonable production on both ends in, say, 10-15 minutes/game? They don't need to set the world on fire, they just need to play well enough that we're not screwed if Harper or Dick Solo pick up two fouls in 10 minutes.
I don't know the answer to either question but I'm hoping we find a pleasant answer!
Avinash: Here are some discussion questions:
1. Which Pac-12 team will have the strongest set of bigs in the conference? Which Pac-12 team will have the weakest set?
2. Who will give Solomon and Kamp the most trouble in the conference on offense and/or defense?
3. What plays would you like to see run for the bigs to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses?