Cal Men's Basketball At Oregon: Previewing The Ducks

Before we dive into the Ducks, a word on Thursday's game. Cal's defense got destroyed by Oregon State. The Beavers finished with an offensive efficiency virtually identical to what Missouri put up on the Bears earlier in the year. The Beavers actually shot better than the Bears shot against UCLA, which is rather embarrassing.

So far this season, Cal's defense has been excellent, with the exception of three and a half games: Missouri, UNLV, Oregon St., and the first half against UCLA. The Bears have proven adept at shutting down teams with limited offensive attacks or mediocre athleticism. But a disturbing pattern has developed against the few teams with multiple scoring threats and/or elite athleticism.

Which brings us to Oregon. The Ducks aren't nearly as good offensively as Missouri, UNLV or Oregon St., but they have blown up on a few occasions. One of those occasions was Thursday against Stanford, when they blew the door off arguably the best defense in the conference. Devoe Joseph dropped 30 points and the Ducks were all drawing fouls and crashing the offensive glass. After watching everybody other than E.J. Singler struggle against Washington, it was an eye opening performance.

I'm not worried about Cal's ability to score against Oregon's suspect defense - the Bears will almost certainly score enough points to win. But my fear is that the game turns into another shoot-out, and that the Ducks get into a rhythm in front of a vocal home crowd. It's all about what kind of defensive effort the Bears bring to Matt Court.

Roster Analysis

Point Guard Garrett Sim
Guard Devoe Joseph
Guard Johnathan Loyd OR Forward Jeremy Jacob
Forward E.J. Singler
Center Tony Woods OR Forward Olu Ashaolu

Dana Altman hasn't been particularly consistent with his starting lineup, and Garrett Sim and E.J. Singler are the only players to start every game they they've been eligible for. Needless to say, Minnesota transfer Joseph has worked his way into the starting lineup after becoming eligible. If Oregon wants to start big they'll go with some combination of Woods, Ashaolu and Jacob for the final two spots, and if they want to go small they'll send in Loyd, who is basically another point guard alongside Sim.

Like most Pac-12 teams this year, Oregon is a perimeter oriented team. Singler, Sim and Joseph are the only three players on the team averaging double digits and with above-average offensive efficiencies, but all three have been excellent this year, making up for shortcomings in the rest of the Duck rotation. As much as we Cal fans love to bag on Sim for opening up a spot for Jorge, he's been an excellent shooter this year. Still, Singler and Joseph will likely take the majority of the shots, and it will be up to Cal to prevent them from getting the open looks from deep that they got against Stanford, while also keeping them out of the lane.

On the inside you've got 6'11'' transfer Tony Woods, who isn't a very good rebounder considering his size. His best skill is his ability to draw fouls, which is largely offset because he only shoots 55% from the line. Ashaolu and Jacob rebound about as well, explaining in part why rebounding has been a weakness for most of the season

Tempo-Free Breakdown

Kenpom sez: Cal 71, Oregon 66, 67% confidence

Chart concept 'borrowed' from Mgoblog.com. One letter equals 10 spot ranking advantage, two letters equals 100 spot ranking advantage, etc. All stats courtesy of kenpom.com.

Category

Cal Rank

Ore Rank

Advantage

Cal eFG% v. Ore Def eFG%

26

125

C

Cal Def eFG% v. Ore eFG%

82 77 O

Cal TO% v. Ore Def TO%

62

280

CCC

Cal Def TO% v. Ore TO%

211

145

O

Cal OReb% v. Ore DReb%

127

115

O

Cal DReb% v. Ore OReb%

21

255

CCC

Cal FTR v. Ore Opp FTR

200

26

OO

Cal Opp FTR v. Ore FTR

7

23

C

Cal AdjO v. Ore AdjD

22

118

C

Cal AdjD v. Ore AdjO

34

87

C

Something worth noting: Prior to Richard Solmon’s suspension, then injury, Cal was 4th in the nation in defensive rebounding. As it turns out, that domination was almost solely due to the contributions of Solomon himself (Though credit to Jorge and Allen for being good rebounders from the guard position). If Richard had played enough minutes to qualify, his D rebounding percentage would be seventh in the country.

Since his injury, Cal has allowed significantly more offensive boards – it was a problem against San Diego St., UNLV, USC, UCLA . . . heck, even UCSB had success on the glass, but they couldn’t make a basket even if they got three shots a possession, so it didn’t hurt Cal too much.

Hopefully, even if Richard gets limited minutes, Oregon is not a team equipped to take advantage of Cal’s glaring weakness. As mentioned above, Tony Woods is a mediocre rebounder on both ends considering his size, and by-and-large this is a game that Cal should be able to survive without Richard – we need him next week with Colorado rebounding machine Andre Roberson on the docket.

You might note that Oregon does a great job of getting to the line, but that Cal is pretty good at avoiding fouls. On the road, with a potentially limited rotation (no Brandon Smith, recovering Richard Solomon), the foul battle could be huge. If the Ducks get what they want and start getting the calls it could make for a long night. There's lots of pressure on Jorge and Justin Cobbs to avoid foul trouble. Expect to see Emerson Murray and Jeff Powers for a bit either way.

But most of all: PLAY DEFENSE! If we lose because Garrett Sim and Devoe Joseph nail a bunch of open 3s I'll start pulling my hair out.

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