Cal Men's Basketball vs. Coppin State Preview

Ezra Shaw

Despite the highest overall wins percentage in the Pac-12 during his Cal tenure, the Mike Montgomery Golden Bears seem to be perpetually underrated. Like that fall chill which creeps into the air, basketball season almost sneaks up on us. But not this year. Blow those doors open and keep them open. This might be Monty's deepest and most talented team to date. We're relying on some youth and are still looking for a reserve big man. But otherwise, there's a lot to like about our combination of experience, shooting, defense, and athleticism. Not to mention a future HoF coach who seems to get the most out of his lineup each year.

Up first are the Coppin State Eagles lead by the venerable Ron "Fang" Mitchell. Over the past twenty-seven years, he's earned several conference COY awards and engineered the biggest win Coppin State history; an upset over #2-seed South Carolina in the 1997 NCAA tournament. Last year, however, was not one of his better campaigns. After having to replace nearly his entire roster and bench, the Eagles stumbled to an 8-24 mark.

The Eagles are known for their trademark zone defense. In fact, for a young team they were surprisingly effective at closing out on shooters as well as forcing turnovers. Unfortunately for them, they also tended to give up a lot of offensive rebounds. Although Coach Mitchell likes to recruit 3-point shooters and will often play two point guards at the same time, last year's shooting and ball movement were generally sub-par.

Now that those young pups have had a year to get stronger and acclimate to Div-I ball, it'll be interesting to see if they can better embody the toughness typically seen in a Fang Mitchell team.

Projected Starters:

Charles Ieans(Sr), 6'9, 3.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg
Patrick Cole(So), 6'5, 10.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg
Michael Murray(Sr), 6'5, 210 lbs, 12.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg
Andre Armstrong(Sr), 6'3, 12.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg
Taariq Cephas(Jr), 5'10, 150 lbs, 7.7 ppg, 3.0 apg


Bench:

G Sterling Smith(So), 6'4
F Darrlyn Johnson(So), 6'7
F Zach Burnham(So), 6'7
G Collin Johnson(Sr) 6'4, 205 lbs

Named to the pre-season all-conference team, Michael Murray lead the Eagles in scoring and rebounding. He's one of the few players who shot a decent percentage inside the arc. Outside was another story as he only hit 19.6%. That didn't stop him from taking nearly a hundred threes on the year en route to honorary NRA status. Andre Armstrong, on the other hand, did his damage almost exclusively from deep. Patrick Cole was an early contributor and earned all-conference honors as a true frosh. Diminutive spark plug Taariq Cephas is more of a distributor than a shooter. However, he's capable of going off and having a big night.

Keys to the Game:

1) Play Big

We should have a size advantage inside with Solomon and Kravish. Instead of settling for contested jumpers against the zone, let's show that we can work it into our bigs and finish.

2) Take Care of the Ball

Coppin State uses a bunch of long-armed athletes to close out and shut down passing lanes in their zone. We need our young players to be smart with their ball movement and patient with our shot selection.

3) Set the Tone

Let's start the year with good habits. Come out with intensity. Hustle back on D. Box out and crash the boards. This is an opponent that a good Cal team should dominate. So let's do that.

Go Bears!

Tip-off: 9pm
TV: Pac-12 Network
Radio: http://www.calbears.com/mediaPortal/player.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=30100&type=live


CGB's MBB Preview Series:
The Bigs
The Wings
The Guards

More from California Golden Blogs:


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