Cal basketball plagued by slow starts

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

What were the biggest concerns that you saw from last week's games? What has to be improved before our UCLA/USC homestand?

Vincent S: Slow starts have plagued the Bears the entire season, and they continue to do so here. They've bitten us @USC, vs. Arizona State, and vs. Stanford; they nearly did so against Washington State. When the competition can't take advantage, this is okay. When we play RPI top-50 teams, we can't always muster a 10+ point comeback. Assuming we make in into the field of 68, this team won't make it out of its first game unless it opens up on fire (see: vs. Arizona).

TwistNHook: Well, it is what we've seen all year long: the team's inability to put a consistent effort together. Against UW, we spotted them a solid lead before making a triumphant comeback. You might be able to do that against UW, but not UCLA. We can't let UCLA take a 12 point lead early in the game and expect to mount another furious comeback.

Leland Wong: Unfortunately, Saturday's game showed more of the primary struggle we've seen from this year's team--a slow, lethargic start. We've been able to get away with that against weaker teams and with reinvigorated second-half play, but that won't work against the SoCal schools. UCLA is one of the best teams in the conference and, somehow someway, USC already managed to beat us. Monty has to get the Bears to play motivated from the very start of the game, which shouldn't be too hard considering the challenge that UCLA presents and the revenge/don't-embarrass-us-again factors of USC (seriously, how did we let them beat us?).

Boomtho: The biggest concern that I saw was our perimeter defense. Wazzu shot 46% from 3P range (largely driven by Lacy, but still). Washington shot a poorer percentage, but I thought we got a bit lucky, as in particular Wilcox and Goss missed open looks. It's been a bit of a nagging problem all year so I'm a little pessimistic that we'll get it sorted out.

Another concern for me is the lack of bench production. Jordan Matthews has played reasonably well offensively, but besides him we're really getting nothing from our bench. There's a ton of potential in that unit, but they just haven't put it together consistently.

Reef: Focus is still surprisingly uneven. We're capable of playing with no purpose for uncomfortably long stretches. Next week our frontcourt is going to have to stepup big time: Against UCLA because that's where our biggest advantage lies, and against USC because we got manhandled last time. On this road trip Richard Solomon and David Kravish were efficient offensively, but passive defensively and on the boards. If they can play with controlled aggression and greater intensity, we can sweep this week.

I'm going to guess the team will come out fired up on Thursday. I'm looking forward to it.

Berkelium97: This is exactly what I'm afraid of. Sure, the team may be fired up on Thursday, but the game is Wednesday night.

Like the others have said, I am concerned by our woeful starts to games. We fell behind 10-19 to Washington State after the first 7 minutes and fell behind 15-27 in the first 15 minutes against Washington. We cannot do that against teams like UCLA and expect to manage another come-from-behind victory. And after the USC fiasco earlier in the season, I am also concerned about that game. Cal has shown it can beat the best (Arizona) and lose to the worst (USC). Until we find a solution to these slow starts, it seems like every game has the potential to be a repeat of the USC game.

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