USA TODAY Sports
When you lose at home by one point on an airball in the final seconds -- an airball! -- there are sure to be negatives you can take away from the experience. Here they are.
At the end of this post are press conference videos. Here is a sobering look at the status of Ricky Kreklow.
Cal hoops coach Mike Montgomery reports soph G Ricky Kreklow (foot) not closer to being healthy. "Kid's very discouraged," Monty said.— Jeff Faraudo (@CalBearsBANG) December 11, 2012
Sunday's 76-75 loss to UNLV at Haas Pavilion probably remains fresh in the minds of anyone who bleeds the Cal blue and gold. Yesterday, we took a look at the positives to take away from the game, notwithstanding the bitter taste of loss. Today, it's opposite day.
What are the biggest negatives from the UNLV loss? Which player needs to improve the most?
NorcalNick: UNLV's success getting offensive rebounds is certainly a concern, but Monty's teams have good defensive rebounding teams for too long for me to be concerned in the long term.
No, my biggest worry has been the sudden increase in turnovers both teamwide and from Justin Cobbs in particular. Cobbs looked so good to start the season that his mini-slump has been pretty surprising, particularly because it's been his decision making that has lapsed. I will grant that Wisconsin might end up being the most fundamentally sound defense the Bears face, and that UNLV might be the most athletic team on the schedule outside of Arizona. But most of the turnovers struck me as ill-advised passes or driving into too much traffic.
I'm encouraged that the Bears seemingly worked out their issues at halftime of the UNLV game, but they'll need to keep it up. The way Cal's offense functions, they won't be able to win games with so many turnovers.
Avinash: 13 offensive rebounds given up, 13 missed free throws. Change at least one of those two factors and Cal wins by a decent margin. Montgomery's failure to recruit a quality big man who can stay down low, body up a team's best post player, or hold his own and clear out space for the guards to gang rebound is costing us. Kravish and Solomon seem to be struggling to get their second wind after the pretty solid first shot D, and Thurman has one of the lowest rebound rates on the team. That forces Cal to go zone to save their bigs, but it also concedes even more offensive boards. As for the FTs, that can only improve with practice.
As tough a game as Brandon Smith had, he's a former walk-on playing extended minutes (a little too much for him, as his decision making gets erratic near the end of games), so I'm inclined to cut him some slack. But Justin Cobbs needs to regain control. He's had two bad performances in a row where he's forced shots, once passing up a wide open three to take a long contested two. He's thrown basketballs into traffic and spotted opponents easy transition buckets. He struggles to play in control, giving up a dozen turnovers the last two games, and it puts Cal behind the 8-ball. He needs to rein it in and learn how to play point, because he's our best option there. Putting it in Smith's hands too much is not good either.
This is on the AD and the donors, who need to upgrade the basketball facilities ASAP to improve our recruiting. If we had one quality big man recruit from the West Coast, we'd be contending for more than just a tournament bid. Instead, we are struggling to be anything more than finish top three in some of the weakest Pac-12 conferences we've ever had.
TwistNHook: Let's look at the box score.
Dick Solo, I'm happy that you had such a great offensive game. Same for Allen Crabbe. But you guys need to hit those free throws. Between the two of you, there were 7 missed free throws. Make half of those and Cal wins.
Vincent S: Crabbe missed a couple of free throws. That was kind of weird because he is usually incredibly consistent; it seemed to me that on his misses, his shooting motion was a bit more abbreviated and less smooth than normal. I also felt like I was seeing shades of last year's Brandon Smith again; on at least two occasions, I saw him lead a fast-break where we had numbers, only for him to drive out of control toward the hoop. All of these possessions did not end well, and it seemed to me that they may have killed at least two rallies (both would have given us the lead or tied the game). Monty was especially unhappy after the last one; he screamed at Brandon so loudly that I heard it across the court (while the student section was making noise).
LEastCoastBears: We continue to play rather sloppy (careless turnovers that lead to easy fast break points for the opponents) at times. More importantly, the 13 offensive boards allowed was the key to the loss (and not just on that last play). Being an optimist, I hope Kravish learned some stuff from this game.
Allen Crabbe and Tyrone Wallace