Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
It's crunch time. California closes out the 2012-2013 regular season with a three-game homestand. Up first, the Utah Utes, out of Salt Lake City, Utah. For further insight, we talked to JazzyUte of Block U, SBNation's Utah Utes fansite. Thanks to JazzyUte for his responses; as always, Go Bears!
1. Despite a pretty poor conference record (3-11), 5 of those losses are within 5 points or less (including the Utes' defeat to Cal back in Salt Lake City and both games to Arizona). How much better are the Utes than their record and RPI (175) would indicate?
I don't know if they're much better than their RPI. I think they've been good enough to be in games, but not good enough to win a great deal of ‘em. So, on the whole, they're still a bad team. Good teams, or even average teams, don't struggle to a 3-11 conference record. I know we've improved over the last two seasons, but the improvement has proven slow, especially compared to the overall conference. We've been lapped, even though we're running at full pace, and that is never good. Still, there is some hope - the fact we're not getting absolutely embarrassed in most our games (which was a problem last year), but at the end of the day, a loss is a loss is a loss.
2. Why have the Arizona games been that close?
Utah has been good at nearly keeping every conference game close. Much of it is because they've been a good defensive team, which helps in lowering the score and that seems to give ‘em a chance to win at the end. Unfortunately, as was the case in both Arizona games, the Utes can't seem to hit the shots when they need to - and it has cost ‘em at least two or three conference wins. It's difficult to watch, because they're going through the same problems today that they were at the beginning of the conference season, but until that changes, until Utah can finish a game - and even in some wins, they've had meltdowns at the end that nearly cost ‘em - they're going to lose like they have when they played Arizona State, Arizona, UCLA, the Oregon schools, Cal and Colorado (on the road).
3. How far do you think the Utes can go in the Pac-12 tournament?
I guess it depends on who they play in the first round. But I'd be floored if they got beyond the second round (and semi-surprised if they got out of the first).
4. Center Jason Washburn is shooting a pretty good 57.3% from the field for the season, why doesn't he take more shots?
Teams know how to defend him and it becomes increasingly difficult getting the ball inside ... at least, that's what I'd like to think.
5. What is your prediction for this game?
Utah could win ... but probably not. My hope is they keep it close. I'll say Cal 65, Utah 52.
6. Who is the #1 player on offense for the Utes?
Jarred DuBois is statistically, but can vanish when the game is on the line.
7. Who is the #1 player on defense for the Utes?
I'll go with Cedric Martin.
8. What does Utah need to do to win this game?
They need to stop turning the damn ball over ... and it'd help if they could make some shots down the stretch. But first and foremost - cut down on the turnovers.
9. What does Cal need to do to beat Utah?
Force Utah into turning the ball over and then score on those turnovers. Utah has struggled in this regard all season and it's almost always a universal problem in their defeats.
10. This is year 2 of the Larry Krystkowiak era and the Utes has already exceed the win total of last year. How much better do you expect the Utes to be next season?
I really have no idea. I'm hoping for a winning season...but we'll see.