I've said that the Golden Bears couldn't be disappointed if they ran out of steam against the Pac-10 leading Wildcats. Somehow, they manage to defy that in the process of losing, because they didn't run out of steam despite all the starters playing forty-plus minutes. Cal played their hearts out, shut down Derrick Williams, had three Cal players top 25 points...and lose. It was a great game, an instant college basketball classic, and one team had to lose. It's too bad it had to be us.
So many things you can point to in terms of winning and losing.
- Arizona bench outscoring the Cal bench 52-3. Well, I guess that wasn't a surprise, but Arizona needed every bit of those 52 points. As fun as this team is to watch, I wouldn't mind fast forwarding to next year and having a bench for once.
Jorge Gutierrez and Markhuri Sanders-Frison fouling out on questionable calls. Cancelled out the three Wildcats fouling out. The bigs defense on Derrick Williams should be noted.
Allen Crabbe nailing pull up jumpers, getting to the free throw line, tying the game in double overtime. Kid is nails. (And I'm sure he's feeling like nails are being stuck all over his body after playing about 90 minutes of Division I basketball in 48 hours.)
- Arizona (the best three point shooting team in the conference) vs. Cal (the worst three point shooting defense in the conference) went exactly as expected. I kind of wish we'd just let Williams dominate inside and forced everyone else to make contested jumpers, because those fourteen threes negated our usual free throw advantage.
- Cal not fouling Momo Jones up three in double overtime to send him in for two free throws. Love Monty, but you can't let anyone shoot a three with Arizona out of timeouts and only a few seconds left on the clock.
- Brandon Smith missed a wide-open layup that would've put Cal up one with thirty seconds left in the triple overtime. I know Smith probably had lost a little bit off his legs and he just nailed a dagger three, but he didn't have his best game and we could've used a little bit more from him.
- Kamp being unstoppable down low, giving Cal the lead over and over...but pulling up for a flat jumper to try and tie the game with 10 seconds left and a timeout on the board.
In other words, it's really hard to come up with a reason why we should be super distressed about this one. Sure, we had our chances to close out this one, but really this game was pretty much a 50-50 shot for either team throughout. It was no more than a three point game for almost all the overtimes and the final minutes of regulation, which is pretty much all you can ask for from this overmatched and thin Cal team.
It's to our credit this game was a tossup, but it's another sign that the Bears are moving in the right direction and aren't rolling over for anyone. All these close games should improve our team DNA, and if we can keep on staying competitive against the best of the conference, we could be primed to making the next big step next season.
The Bear will not quit. The Bear will not die.
Here are five questions to ponder from tonight's game before a more official update comes in this post.
1. Who is the player of the game? Why?
2. What impressed you the most about tonight's performance by the Golden Bears?
3. The play of the game was _______________.
4. What Cal needs to improve on is _____________.
5. What worries me the most going into Washington week is __________ because _____________.