Cal basketball: Ricky Kreklow still out, no Top 25 yet, LA trip looming

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

What impressed you the most about Cal's performance this week? Who were the players that showed you the most?

Scott Chong: We had a size advantage over UW and were able to really able to exploit it. That's not something we could have done last year. Solo and Kravish are looking very strong as an interior duo on both ends. Jeff Powers is shooting his way into cult fan favorite status. Jabari Bird looks more comfortable in the half-court set and he's showing off some passing skills not seen previously.

Ruey Yen: I am very pleasantly surprised that Jeff Powers is able to build on his great game against Oregon State and continue to be very productive for the Bears this past week against Washington (that crowd pleasing 4 point play). I am also very pleased with the development of Tyrone Wallace to be a consistent source of good all around game. In Pac-12 play, Wallace has shot 50.9% and get about 3 assists and 2+ steals per game.

Vlad Belo: I was impressed most by Cal's ability to overcome slow starts in both games and not only come back to win but turn the games into blowouts. Whether it was Monty lighting a fire under them or the leadership of veteran players like Cobbs, Solo, and Kravish, it was nice to see the Bears maintain poise and seize control of both games.

atomsareenough: Despite the slow start, we were able to eventually take care of business against two bottom-half conference teams, the kind we should beat handily. The slow starts worry me, of course, but hopefully we'll mature a bit more over the course of the year. I also liked that when we put in our bench players, the leads didn't immediately start dwindling away. It was really nice to see Jabari Bird back, and I really liked although he's clearly itching to make a difference, he's being patient enough to let the game come to him, making the smart pass, and not forcing up shots. Jabari had 8 assists, only 1 turnover, and went 3-5 from the floor in 30 minutes over his two games. I didn't get to pay too much attention, but his defensive effort looks better as well. Also, shout-out to Kam Rooks, who went 6-6 from the FT line and had a career high 8 points against Wazzu. The 3 players of the weekend though are clearly Cobbs, Solomon, and Wallace. Cobbs and Solo are obvious, but look at Wallace's line from this week: 11-18, 27 points, 6 assists, 11 rebounds, 1 turnover, great defense. Ty is shooting a high percentage and filling up the rest of the stat sheet with good numbers as well.

Nick Kranz: Nick Kranz: I suppose I was most impressed with various bench contributions - the continued plus play from Christian Behrens, more folk hero 3 point shooting from Jeff Powers, free throw mastery from Kameron Rooks, etc. Don't get me wrong, Justin Cobbs and the rest of the starting crew are great - but what they did was what we already know they can do. Because they played up to their potential, it was an easy home sweep for Cal.

What disappointed you the most about Cal's performance this week? What are your biggest concerns going forward, particularly on the USC-UCLA road trip?

Scott Chong: As encouraging as it was to beat down UW, it was discouraging to see the lack of effort against Wazzu. I hope we don't need to take another bad loss (like vs. Santa Barbara) to remind the guys about playing hard. Playing at home, 'sc is going to go off on someone. 'Could be us if we're not careful. And although the jury is still out on how good/not-good UCLA is, they have the athletes to make us pay if we're sloppy.

Ruey Yen: Sure road games are typically full of trap but I am actually somewhat confident about this trip to LA. With LA being the hometown for Cobbs and Solomon, I feel like they would want to put up a great show for the their friends and family. USC has been fairly awful this week, while the Bears could potentially have a repeat of the first half of the Wazzu game, I just do not think that there will be enough of a USC crowd in Galen to give them any kind of home advantage. I am also fairly confident that the good Cal team will show up against UCLA. If I'm concerned about any kind of a letdown game, the home game the following week against Arizona State with Arizona looming might be a trap game for the Bears.

Vlad Belo: What concerned me the most is related to what impressed me the most. Though I liked the way Cal shook off the poor starts and wrested complete control of both games, I am concerned that the team started slowly on the first place. Against better teams, the Bears may not be able to overcome slow starts like they did against UW and WSU.

atomsareenough: Coming out slow to start both games this week is obviously a concern. I don't know why we lose our focus so easily, but it's definitely a habit that can bite us. I'm sure UCLA will have our full attention, but I can see us taking 0-5 USC pretty lightly. However, they're athletic and we know Enfield likes to play fast and loose, so if they come out hot, things could get out of hand quickly before we wake up. They played Arizona tough, though the Wildcats weren't at their best that game, USC shouldn't be overlooked. Hopefully the fact that the team is making two separate trips to LA will help keep the focus on USC for the first trip and then allow us to change gears by the time we get to Westwood.

I'm not sure what to make of the Bruins, but Zach LaVine and Kyle Anderson are scary, and I'm not sure how we will match up with them. I imagine Wallace will be on LaVine, but who takes Anderson? Is Solomon quick enough to handle a 6'8" point guard?

Nick Kranz: I suppose the slow starts weren't ideal, but every game isn't going to be a 40 minute Cal run. UW and WSU were going to have runs of their own - perhaps they just happened to be isolated to the first half. Really, the only blight on the weekend was allowing Wazzu to have too much success on the offensive glass - likely impacted by David Kravish's foul trouble and Christian Behren's knee flare-up.

As for the L.A. trip? I find myself getting greedy. On one hand, you can't take any road trips for granted. On the other hand, USC is seriously reeling and I have a sneeking suspicion that the atmosphere in Galen will be a friendly one. So you have to like Cal's chances to at least get a split. But why be satisfied with just that one win? Why not beat UCLA too?

I can't decide how much UCLA scares me. They have unique players that can present matchup problems for Cal. At the same time, I think Cal's offense can exploit UCLA's defensive issues, particularly inside. Still, it's a game Cal can win, even if they're not the favorite. And how sweet would it be to sit at 7-0 with the Arizona schools coming to Berkeley?


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