Nick Kranz: So many little things, really. Nobody shot the ball particularly well. I don't think we had especially brilliant gameplans (particularly against USC). We were unlucky enough to face USC when they gave something close to an A effort.
Ricky come back!
Vincent S: We haven't been able to solve the zone. I think David Kravish and Richard Solomon have been told to avoid unnecessary fouls due to lack of big depth, and it's caused us to play more passively. I've also noticed (especially in the first half against UCLA) that our passes have gotten much less crisp - a lot of our guys have the right idea and will make a creative pass, but the pass is just off-target enough that the teammate receiving the pass has to reach a few feet to catch the pass. By the time they've recovered, the momentary advantage is gone.
Ruey Yen: The fine defense that was instrumental to Cal's early conference success was nowhere to be found on this LA trip. While you have to give some credit to the athleticism of both USC and UCLA (they do have good athletes for the most part), the defensive breakdown at times was just inexcusable. Bears allowed way too many easy buckets and momentum killing alley-oops at the worse times.
Which players underachieved? Can we just say pretty much the entire team? David Kravish is somehow still in a funk coming off that poor rebound-less showing against Wazzu the previous week. I thought he played a little bit better against UCLA than against USC but Kravish had a few key "fumbles" when the Bears desperately needed to keep scoring to get back in the game. Justin Cobbs was also uncharacteristically mediocre on this trip, turning the ball over at inopportune times.
Avinash Kunnath: Cal is two teams this year. One where Tyrone Wallace gets hot early and hits his shots, and one where Wallace builds houses for Habitat from Humanity and defenses happily settle into their zones and let Wallace constantly lay brick on brick.
When Wallace shoots over 40%, Cal is 11-1.
When he shoots under 40%, Cal is 3-5 (one of those wins being the ultra-ugly Oakland game).
The reason we struggle so mightily against zone defense this season is almost all on Wallace not being confident enough to create consistently. Facing UCLA athleticism and USC size, Wallace seemed robbed of all aggression and stumbled back on his heels, and that allowed teams to pressure Cobbs more and sit back on Kravish and Solomon and make them meet multiple bodies in the paint.
Either Wallace has to shoot better or Bird has to take his place in the starting lineup. Cal cannot keep on falling behind to start games.
What bright spots can we take going into the Arizona games? Which players performed best?
Nick Kranz: I don't want to take Richard Solomon for granted - his ability to pretty consistently put up ~10 and 10 is pretty valuable, particularly for a player that many criticized for inconsistency in the past. Would I like to see him explode with a truly dominating game? Yes, yes I would. But at the moment teams are packing the paint against us, and it's hard to get him the ball in good positions a ton.
Ruey Yen: Jabari Bird's second half against UCLA was huge for the Bears' fortune going into next week. While Jordan Mathews has had some streak of brilliance (follow by way too many plays where he did everything except finishing), Bird playing like the offensive weapon that we all believed he should be gives the Bears that extra dimension offensively. I am not saying that Bird is going to carry the Bears like Allen Crabbe did in last year's exciting road win over the Wildcats, but the Bears clearly have a better chance with Jabari Bird shooting and making those 3-pointers with regularity.
Avinash Kunnath: If you told me Cal would be 5-2 in Pac-12 play going into the Arizona games with only one half of contributions from Jabari Bird and no Ricky Kreklow, this would be me right now.
The last week kind of sucked, but it offset some of the crazy wins we got on the road the first two weeks. And now we finish up with an ideal eleven game finishing stretch, including seven games at home. If we can score some big wins this week and at the very least a split, we're right in the race for another top three finish in the conference.
This team hasn't even played its best basketball yet either. They've been good either defensively or offensively but they always seem to fall back a step in doing both at once. Let's see what happens when Kreklow (who we are really missing for his perimeter defense) returns and Bird (who showed flashes against UCLA) reasserts himself offensively. This should free up Solomon and Kravish to do more damage down low and help us return to form.
A split this week would be really nice heading into the battle with the Furd.
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