Other than the chaotic spurts which saw the California Golden Bears cut a double digit lead to one against the USC Trojans at the beginning and end of the second half, there was very little to find solace in if you were a Cal fan. This team is on fumes. The hustle and effort of our team shows up in short periods, but the execution and energy just aren't there anymore. The team that we thought we'd see upon the transfer of Gary Franklin is finally showing up on the court, which is understandable if a little disappointing.
There is at least a good excuse, and it starts with #23. Without Allen Crabbe, Cal has no one who can stretch the floor on offense. Jeff Powers needed 10 shots to score 10 points. Jorge Gutierrez needed 13 shots to score 13 points. The inability to make an outside basket from the wings wasted two super-efficient performances by Harper Kamp (16 points on 6 of 10 shooting) & Markhuri Sanders-Frison (23 points on 10 of 15 shooting, including two clutch threes under a minute left that made Jerome Randle smile somewhere in Turkey), since the Trojan defense sagged in and the USC defense did an excellent job on the perimeter. Crabbe is our most efficient offensive player outside; taking him out of the rotation leads to things like a 6 for 25 first half shooting performance.
But the second half was lost on defense. When Cal made their first big push and cut the lead to one, the Bears zone fell apart, letting the tiny Maurice Jones dribble inside for some big layups. Then Cal let one side of the zone collapse (which happened to ALWAYS be the side Jones was on), letting Jones dropped bomb after bomb into the basket and put the game away. While the offensive struggles are understandable, the defensive struggles are starting to become baffling. We have good defenders on our team. Don't they know how to play a zone?
Cal must hope for Crabbe to come back soon if they want to play some postseason hoops. The Bears are back at .500, and unless they recover to win three of their last four, even the NIT might be out of reach.
PS: These refs suck. Again.
PPS: MSF threes. I want more of those.
PPPS: Alumni. STICK AROUND UNTIL THE END.
This is the postgame thread. Recap tomorrow.