Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
The California Golden Bears are playing much better now that Allen Crabbe is nailing big shots and David Kravish and Richard Solomon are finally playing their best basketball.
What has improved so far with the Bears? What needs to be fixed?
LEastCoastBears: Remember all those frustrating point blank shots that the Bears was not able to make regardless of whether it was Richard Solomon or David Kravish in deep or Tyrone Wallace, Justin Cobbs, and even sometimes Allen Crabbe from a drive? Those shots have finally fall in consistently now. From this, the perimeter guys also got better looks.
Another big improvement has been the play (both offensively and defensively) of freshman Tyrone Wallace. Wallace has finally figured out how to use his athletic ability to play effective defenses (ie. the UCLA game). Wallace also became a much player with the ball to allow Cobbs to be more of a shooter at times. His improvement and the return of Brandon Smith have helped greatly.
Last but not least, the play of Allen Crabbe in late game situation has also improved. ASU game notwithstanding, Crabbe has been clutch at key moments and his confidence is only growing. Having that "closer" has allowed the Bears to win a few games (Arizona and USC, in particularly) that the team earlier in the season probably would have lost (Harvard and UNLV).
Now if Tyrone Wallace can somehow fix his shot so he can make 3's and also those runners, then the Bears can be really dangerous to whoever that may have to face them in the postseason (preferably the NCAA rather than the NIT).
blueandgold15: The Bears have won 5 out of their last 6, and fell just a little short of making it 6 for 6 against ASU. I haven't watched all of those games, but I've caught at least a few, and I'm giving the credit to the improved play of Richard Solomon and David Kravish upfront. When those two are on - like they were against UCLA and USC, this Bears squad becomes infinitely more dangerous, simply because it is no longer Allen Crabbe and Four Other Guys [and sometimes Justin Cobbs]. With Solomon and Kravish at higher effectiveness, Cal gets two easy targets for points, two guys who create second chance buckets, and some really good interior defense.
norcalnick: Fully agree with blueandgold15 - the improvements from Kravish and Solo make everybody so much better. After getting destroyed on the glass to start conference play, Cal has generally been winning the rebounding battle. We're starting to control the paint on defense. And the bunnies are falling, along with more difficult shots.
At the same time, though, sometimes it's simple. Allen Crabbe has scored 19 points/game with an eFG% of 59%. When Allen Crabbe is red hot and Cal is playing average or better defense, this is a very difficult team to beat.
Vincent S: Communication/teamwork, resolve, and defensive intensity have all improved. This was definitely apparent in the first half of the UCLA game - seemingly every single basket came off a bullet pass to an open shooter or cutter. Bill Walton contrasted our play with our putrid ineffectiveness the last time he was here (vs. Washington), calling it the best he'd ever seen Cal play.
Cal's toughness has improved, but still needs to be fixed. While playing through contact and adjusting to inconsistent officiating has helped the Bears, they can still be frustrated (see: the middle 1/2 of the USC game). For example, for much of the game, Crabbe was getting hit on his elbow whenever he caught the ball; as a result, he had trouble making immediate decisions with full control of the ball. Only late in the second half was he able to get free enough to bury a few daggers. As teams scout out Cal, I think that things will only get worse; Montgomery will have to guide this team through the perils if we are to reach the tournament.