But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the Pac-12, and Cal is the sun.
Yep, that's right! Cal is currently the rising sun in the Pac-12. The team to beat. At 6-2 in the Pac-12, Cal MBB is doing great this season. However, Stanford MBB is right behind at 5-3. So, if the worst case scenario occurs and Cal loses to Stanford today (and the entire earth is destroyed by an asteroid so massive not even Bruce Willis can stop it), we'd be tied with those firetruck red maniacs. The game is today at 5:30 PM and there will be a huge contingent of CGBears out there to crush it. Hope we have fun watching Cal best the Trees.
To find out more about our hated rivals, we talked with Scott Allen over at Rule Of Tree about the big game. They have all the information we need to know about Stanford. Check out our Q+A after the jump. GO BEARS!
1. The numbers indicate that there aren't necessarily any individually gifted rebounders, but as a team Stanford has been excellent at rebounding. Has rebounding been a team-wide focus? And how have teams tried to keep Stanford off the glass?
Defense and rebounding are the hallmarks of this team, which makes the Cardinal difficult to watch at times. It's not always pretty, but it's won a few games. I didn't get to see the Washington game, in which the Huskies dominated Stanford in the rebounding department, but the Cardinal has struggled against more physical and athletic teams. Stanford's best rebounders -- Josh Owens and Josh Huestis -- are 6-8 and 6-7, respectively, so a tall frontline can spell trouble when the guards aren't pitching in on the glass.
2. Stanford's offense has been incredibly balanced this year. Of Stanford's main rotation players, who do you think is most likely to come up big against Cal, and who do you think might struggle?
I'll say Josh Owens is the most likely to come up big. He's extremely efficient and so effective when he is on the floor that a lot of Stanford fans, myself included, are clamoring for Dawkins to get him more touches. It doesn't make much sense to me that Owens, who leads the Cardinal in scoring and is shooting 61% from the field, is playing only 28 minutes a game. I think Chasson Randle could struggle. He's one of the main reasons that Stanford has already matched last season's win total, but he could have a tough matchup in Gutierrez and the Haas Pavilion crowd won't make it easy on the freshman. He's also coming off a rough outing at Washington.
I'd probably put Gutierrez on Randle. Both players are capable of running the point, but Randle's the better penetrator in my opinion. Bright's cooled off a little from beyond the arc, but if he starts hot, I might switch assignments.
4. Its now year 4 of coach Dawkins tenure - what is the verdict?
I'll withhold judgment until the end of the season. Stanford has shown good improvement and is still very much alive in the Pac-12 race. The Washington trip was brutal, but I think this is a resilient group of players (4 OT win at OSU showed us that) and they can be a very good team when they're getting contributions from everyone, as they did in a blowout of Colorado. Dwight Powell and Anthony Brown haven't been 100% this season, which has contributed to the offensive struggles. Dawkins makes some head-scratching lineup decisions at times, but I think most Stanford fans would've taken a 15-5 record after 20 games before the season began.
5. The early Pac-12 schedule for the two teams seems to indicate that Cal and Stanford match up pretty differently with many opponents so far:
UCLA: Stanford squeaks past by 1 point, Cal blows them out
USC: Stanford wins relatively comfortably, Cal only seals it in the final seconds
Oregon: Stanford loses by 11, Cal wins by 17
Oregon State: 4-OT thriller Stanford win, Cal gets beaten pretty solidly, being down by as many as 16 at one point
Utah: Stanford barely wins, Cal blows 'em out
Colorado: Cal wins by 7 in a close one, Stanford blows 'em out
Washington: Cal wins a close one, Stanford loses big
Washington State: Cal loses a close one... Stanford loses big
Those seem like pretty strikingly different results against the same set of teams. Other than simply poor play on the Washington trip, what do you think these disparate results indicate about the various strengths of the two teams?
That's an interesting observation and I wish I had an interesting answer for you. It's the Pac-12 in 2012, where the only sure thing is that only one team deserves to make the NCAA Tournament. I have absolutely no idea what to expect on Sunday, so thanks for not asking for a prediction.