Cal Men's Basketball vs. Colorado Buffaloes Pac-12 Tourney Preview

And the redemption tour goes on. After building a late 8 point lead over the dangerous breadcrumb eaters with just four minutes to play, the Colorado Buffaloes proceeded to squander it all away. But right when it looked like Ol' Mo' was wearing garish Nike colors, Colorado's best players seized the spotlight. Carlton Brown hit a tough, twisting lay-up and Andre Roberson came up with a huge tip over two Duck defenders for the winning basket.

It's too late to argue whether the Ducks or the Buffs were the favorable match-up for our Golden Bears; it's time to grill up some bison.

The Bears and Buffs split the season series, each winning on their home court. Each game was characterized by ugly, ugly Cal offense. Was it all because of a stout Colorado defense? Or were our struggles self-imposed?

After the jump, more on the personnel and match-ups:

Personnel:

(listed in order of usage percentage)
Carlon Brown, 6'5'' senior guard
Askia Booker, 6'1'' freshman guard
Andre Roberson, 6'7'' sophomore forward
Austin Dufault, 6'9'' senior forward
Spencer Dinwiddie, 6'5'' freshman guard
Shane Harris-Tunks, 6'1'' sophomore center
Jeremy Adams, 6'5'' sophomore guard
Nate Tomlinson, 6'3'' senior guard
Sabatino Chen, 6'3'' junior guard

By now, we're well-familiar with their ridiculously athletic glass-eater, Andre Roberson. Besides having great instincts and timing for the ball, he also is a quick leaper with a non-stop motor. Just as impressive but not as noticeable, he's a tough on-ball defender, and a fantastic help defender. In many ways, it's his length and quickness that really makes their paint-denial defense work. Carlon Brown is their best offensive player and best shooter. Austin Dufault is their annoyingly solid big man who seems to play his best against us. Spencer Dinwiddie is their dynamic frosh who has improved his shooting and slashing ability since the beginning of the year.

Match-ups:

From a personnel standpoint, our personnel matches up well with theirs with the exception of Roberson. His athleticism and relentless makes him a tough cover. Otherwise, our first-string defense is quite capable of sticking with their as long as we keep focused. It gets little dicier when we go to our bench, but we've known that all year and that's the same no matter who we play.

Colorado's offense is capable of going into hibernation at any given moment, so it's important that we don't give them any extra help with points off of turnovers.

Where we've really struggled is with our offense against their defense. In the first game, we struggled making shots initially, but stayed confident in running our sets. Eventually, we were able to grind out a win. In the second game, we again struggled initially. But this time, we seemed to get frustrated and stopped trusting in our offense. Guys started doing too much. Pressing. Forcing up bad shots. And the poor shot selection + inevitable turnovers snowballed into a bad loss.

While our offense thrives when other teams make mistakes, Colorado prides itself on playing solid, fundamental defense. They are great at providing help to shut down passing lanes and stopping teams from being able to take it into the paint.

Although it looks daunting in the past two contests, this is a defense that we should be able to beat. They don't rely on freakish athletes or superior size/quickness.

We just have to stay patient. How well our guys build on the Stanfurd win and continue to trust each other will go a long way towards whether this one is another grinder, or whether we finally figure out how to solve the Buffs.

Keys:

1) Run the offense. The first, second, and perhaps even third options will probably not be open. But stay patient, force the defense to keep working, and the shots will come.

2) Stay calm and confident. Lookin' at you, Jorge. We need our emotional leader to be focused and in control.

3) Hit the open jumper. Colorado has a tried and true strategy of shutting down anything inside. We'll need to exploit their help D by hitting from the outside.

Let's do this. Go Bears!

Tip-off: 8:30pm
TV: FSN
Radio: 910 KNEW

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