The Bears face an impossible-seeming task this Saturday against Stanford. How exactly do you go about defeating a team that has won 20 straight games by an average margin of over 31 points a game? Back on January 2nd a 33 point Stanford win in Berkeley was cause for alarm amongst Cal fans, but as it turns out that's just about average for the Cardinal this year.
Of course, this time the Bears will be on the road on Stanford's senior night. The good news is that (Pac-10 tournament matchups pending) this could very well be the last time that Cal is terrorized by Jeanette Pohlen and Kayla Pedersen. The bad news is that the chance of Stanford let-down seems unlikely for a group of players that have never lost at Maples in their collegiate career.
Now, to suggest that Stanford isn't vulnerable in any way would be false. By their standards the Cardinal have had a few scares in the second half of their Pac-10 schedule, including a 10 point home win over Washington, two 14 point road wins over UCLA and USC, and an 18 point road win over Arizona State. All four games were competitive deep into the second half, an unusual occurrence for this particular Stanford outfit. Am I grasping at straws? Probably. But you have to find hope somehow.
I'll be looking for intensity, effort and fight from this team after a thoroughly demoralizing final stretch of the regular season. Things like holding their own or even winning the rebounding battle. Limiting Stanford to less than 45% shooting from the field. Forcing turnovers on defense. Anything that indicates that the players aren't afraid of Stanford, that they believe they can compete and win. If that happens to result in a competitive game, all the better. Go Bears!