I'm starting to get the feeling that Brittany Boyd was built for the NCAA tournament. Last year she started her NCAA career with a 15 point, 8 assist, 6 steal game. Now she has started her sophomore journey with a 21 point, 12 rebound, 9 assist show.
The stats certainly paint a picture, but I even think they might not tell you how good Boyd looked against Fresno State. The Bulldogs were only going to beat the Bears if their full court press forced turnovers. Boyd destroyed the press. She was just faster than everybody else on the court. And when she broke that press and crossed the half court line, a layup (made or assisted by Boyd) was inevitable.
Lots of point guards can pick up a few assists. Lots of point guards can initiate the offense. Lots of point guards can hit a jumper. Special point guards control the game, dictate pace, and terrify defenses. Boyd had one of those games against Fresno State.
The result was Cal's best offensive performance since hosting Kansas back in December. Cal turned the ball over 13 times in a 77 possession game. Thus, the Bears had 64 possessions that ended in a shot or a foul, and still scored 90 points. That's 1.4 points/possession, an absurd number. Gennifer Brandon, Talia Caldwell, and Reshanda Gray had a field day, shooting 19/31. They missed 12 shots and pulled down 11 offensive rebounds. Can I prove that every shot they missed turned into a Cal offensive rebound? Not without combing through the play-by-play, but that's certainly what it felt like.
So the offense was great. So great that it almost didn't matter how the defense played. Which is a good thing, because they defense wasn't nearly so great. I'm perplexed by Cal's game plan. From what I saw the Bears were trying to go under Fresno St's ball screens, and the result was that Bulldog shooters had open look after open look. You have to give some credit to the Bulldogs - they have so many shooters that there's no way that you can stop them from getting shots off. But the Bears weren't taking away anything they wanted to do on offense, or really making it any more difficult.
Luckily the Bears came back in the 2nd half with the right adjustment. They just started switching on every screen. If Fresno State was going to play a virtual 5 guard lineup, it doesn't really matter who guards who. there's going to be a mismatch somewhere. May as well switch and prevent the easy looks from 3. And as a result Fresno State shot fewer and made fewer 3s after halftime. And the Bears pulled away to win with relative comfort.
A lot of things went wrong for the Bears. Fresno State got hot from 3. Ki-Ki Moore went absolutely nuts. But they still won by double digits. It's a sign of how talented the Bears are, but also that they have weaknesses that could cause them problems if they don't come out with their best effort.
The good news is that USF did the Bears a favor by knocking off home team Texas Techin the 2nd half of the opening round double header in Lubbock. A quick glance at South Florida's schedule and statistical profile, and it looks like we're going to face another team that likes to shoot 3s, but this time they'll be better defensively and on the boards. The road will just keep getting tougher the deeper the Bears go.
Luckily, we've got Brittany Boyd.