I have no words. Nothing we've seen from this team since the start of Pac-10 play last year would indicate that anything like this was possible. Avi compared it to Cal's 42-3 loss to Oregon, and that's an apt comparison because it was a complete destruction when everybody was expecting a close match up of even teams. Now, in basketball one result isn't nearly as important individually, but this was the type of game that makes you wonder if anything you thought about your team was true.
To start off with, let's go over the things that went right:
-Ricardo Ratliffe picked up two fouls after about 10 minutes and had to sit for a while.
That's it. Every other factor, whether or not Cal had control over it, went against the Bears. Amongst the most important:
-Cal basically has three point guards but none of them capably dealt with Missouri's ball pressure.
-Nobody could shoot the ball, particularly our two most reliable shooters. Hell, nobody could even hold onto the ball.
-Allen Crabbe had his worst game since Gary Franklin's transfer.
-The reffing was wretched, and had a notable impact on Cal's focus and style of play.
Let's get the referees out of the way now. Pac-10/12 refs are usually plenty bad, but in a kind of benign way that usually doesn't favor one team over the other. Today? It was absurdly one-sided in the first half. Missouri plays a style of defense significantly more prone to causing fouls than Cal does. Yet Cal was the team that had two players foul out around halfway through the second half. Three of the four offensive fouls in the first half were no-calls at best and blocks at worst.
The blatant homer in me wants to argue that because the fouls started when the game was still close, that Cal could have stayed with Missouri if the game had been called more fairly. But if I made that argument I'd be fooling myself to an insane degree. Cal was thoroughly outclassed in every phase of the game except rebounding.
The question becomes 'How much do we read into this game?' Was this the most randomly unlucky hiccup possible, an incredible combination of bad luck, bad match-ups and off nights? Or did we horribly overrate our Bears?
It's worth noting that Cal has almost always played horribly against this style of play under Monty. They were blown out by Missouri in a very similar style in 2009, and they have suffered similar results against Washington over the last two years. It's also worth noting that Missouri looks legit. But we all expected Cal would be playing with these type of elite teams - just yesterday I said that I didn't think Cal had any business getting blown out by anybody.
And because the Pac-12 is so bad, and because Cal's non-conference schedule doesn't have any 'name' teams left, resign yourself to a few things. The Bears will get very little - if any - recognition from the national media. This team spectacularly blew their chance to force their way into the national conversation. Even if we win the Pac-12 that will just be further 'proof' of how awful our conference is to most.
Of course, that's not necessarily a bad thing. The selection committee is objective and the Bears have certainly excelled playing under the radar in the past. But unless Cal takes it to UNLV and San Diego St. our expectations for the season will probably have to be taken down a notch or two. And what scares me the most? What if our conference is that bad, and playing mostly bad teams night after night means that we're horribly unprepared when truly good teams come to play?
For now this team has plenty to work on. Monty needs to figure out what's ailing Allen Crabbe and the rest of the team needs to re-remember how to pass and catch. 21 turnovers? Yuck. Let's hope we can look back on this game in three months and laugh.