Cal Women's Basketball round of 32 preview: Baylor

Odyssey Sims: Talented. Nina Davis: Also talented.

If Chiney Ogwumike isn't the best player in the country, then Baylor has their own very worthy candidate.

I believe that Brittany Boyd is one of the very best point guards in the country, and she is finally getting recognized as such. On Monday, she will face the single best point guard in the country, period.

Brittany Boyd, meet Odyssey Sims.

It's not fair to reduce Baylor to one name. Nina Davis, for example, is a freshman putting up Reshanda-Gray-esque numbers. Kim Mulkey looms over it all with her over-the-top personality. There are over qualified role players up and down the lineup.

But it's the Sims show. She is 2nd in the nation in scoring despite playing just 32 minutes/game. She's 4th in the country in usage percentage. Only four players have made more free throws than her this season. None of the players who better her in these categories are playing in this tournament - none of them are leading a top 10 team only two years removed from a national championship.

According to the stats, Boyd is a better passer, rebounder and ball thief. But those talents, important though they may be, will struggle to match a player who averages 1.31 points/shot despite taking about 22 shots a game. Baylor lost a ton of talent off of last year's best team in the country (Louisville loss notwithstanding) and this was supposed to be a transition year. But Sims kept Baylor right in the mix by totally blowing away even the most optimistic observers with her ability to score, score, score, pass, score, score.

This game sets up for the Boyd vs. Sims story line, but it's going to take contributions from every player on defense to slow her down, and contributions from every player on offense to outscore her. This is gonna be tough.

Personnel

Starters
G Odyssey Sims, Sr., 5'8''
G Niya Johnson, So., 5'8''
G Makenzie Robertson, Sr., 5'9''
F Nina Davis, Fr., 5'11''
F/C Sune Agbuke, Jr., 6'4''

Bench
G Imani Wright, Fr., 5'9''
F Kadijah Cave, Fr., 6'2''
F Kristina Higgins, So., 6'5''
G Ieshia Small, Fr., 6'0''

OK, let's talk about those non-Sims players.

I'm interested to see Davis play, because she's very undersized but is putting up stats that belie her lack of size. I'm assuming she's quick with great hands and touch to make up for the fact that she's giving up multiple inches to most of the players guarding her. I guess we'll find out on Monday night.

Sims is nominally the point guard, but Johnson actually has more assists than her and she's definitely a pass first player. Baylor is essentially running with two point guards on the floor.

Robertson is Baylor's 3 point shooting specialist, and her numbers indicate a roughly Mikayla-Lyles-esque roll on offense.

Agbuke isn't Brittany Griner, but she uses all of her size to pull down plenty of boards and block plenty of shots. She can occasionally be foul prone, although she's typically replaced in the lineup by a player one inch taller than her. Ahh, the luxuries of WBB blue bloods.

Mulkey is very willing to push her starters into heavy minutes if the game calls for it and fouls allow her - every starter played at least 30 minutes in a late season loss to West Virginia, for example. Foul trouble will likely dictate how much of the bench gets meaningful action. Small and Wright will come in for any guards that need a break, but neither will add a ton in terms of scoring either in volume or efficiency, as both are iffy shooters.

Statistical Profile

OVERALL
SHOOTING EFFICIENCY BALL CONTROL DEFENSE REB/BLK

FG%

2FG%

3FG%

eFG%

PPWS

FT%

True%

Pos/40

O-PPP

D-PPP

Floor%

TOPG

TORt

APG

A/TO

A/B%

FG%

2FG%

3FG%

TOF

OppTR

RPG

Reb%

BPG

FPG

44.2
1/37

47.5
4/52

33.6
4/87

48.2
4/60

1.04
4/57

72.8
3/72

52.8
4/55

75.7
2/78

1.089
1/4

0.801
1/12

44.4
1/6

12.4
1/19

16.1
1/6

18.7
1/5

1.505
1/3

61.0
1/67

35.6
2/14

39.3
4/26

27.6
2/20

17.4
1/75

23.0
2/71

43.6
1/2

57.0
2/11

4.2
3/55

18.6
5/153
CONFERENCE GAMES ONLY
SHOOTING EFFICIENCY BALL CONTROL DEFENSE REB/BLK

FG%

2FG%

3FG%

eFG%

PPWS

FT%

True%

Pos/40

O-PPP

D-PPP

Floor%

TOPG

TORt

APG

A/TO

A/B%

FG%

2FG%

3FG%

TOF

OppTR

RPG

Reb%

BPG

FPG

43.0
1

44.8
4

36.9
1

47.3
3

1.024
3

71.7
3

51.7
3

73.2
2

1.043
1

0.825
2

71.2
1

12.2
1

16.6
1

17.3
1

1.418
1

62.4
1

36.6
3

41.4
4

27.1
1

15.9
3

22.0
3

40.5
1

55.3
2

3.5
5

17.4
3

For an explanation of these statistics, see this link. Numbers below each stat represent national/conference rank respectively.

So. Does anybody see any weaknesses above? Baylor sports the 4th most efficient offense in the country and the 12th most efficient defense. The average game sees them with roughly a +5 turnover advantage and a +10 rebound advantage. Mostly due to Sims, the Bears draw a ton of fouls and shoot a ton of free throws.

Baylor's biggest weakness (and we're reaaaaally stretching) is shooting. Other than Sims, Baylor doesn't have a reliable 3 point shooter, and their 2 point shooting percentage is good rather than great. Baylor's losses this season have typically come when they have an off shooting night. Which also describes pretty much every team in the country other than Cal, because our Bears take it as a challenge to make as few shots as possible while still winning. Hey, whatever works, right?

Our Computer Overlords Predict

Sagarin Predictor: Baylor by 17.5

How dare you, computer overlords?! After all of the offerings we gave you all year long?!?

Reasons for optimism: Cal has only been blown out once this season, twice if you count a Stanford loss that was a bit closer than the final score indicated. This Cal team can generally keep a game close.

Reasons for pessimism: Baylor is really good and playing at home.

Keys to the Game

Somehow stay out of foul trouble.

Baylor gets to the line at a higher rate than any other team that Cal has played all season. Cal's most critical player also happens to be foul prone, and will probably be matched up against the Baylor player most likely to draw fouls. You can see why there's reason to worry.

Brittany Boyd in particular and Cal generally need to stay out of foul trouble both so that they can stay aggressive on defense, so that Cal's key players can stay on the court, and so Baylor doesn't make a killing from the line. Cal's defense will clearly need to be active and aggressive to stop such a talent offense, but they will also need to control that aggression. It's a very tough balancing act, but it will have to be made to pull the upset.

Hit shots

On the rare occasions when Cal collectively shoots well, they look so good. When Cal actually shot well for 40 minutes (well, close to 40 minutes) against Pac-12 opposition, it usually resulted in a double digit win. But it didn't happen with much consistency. Against Baylor, it simply has to happen, and even if it does that doesn't guarantee a win. It guarantees that the Bears will have a fighting chance at the end.

Stop everybody that isn't named Sims

Guess what: Odyssey Sims will score a ton of points. She does it in virtually every game, win or lose. Here are her point totals in Baylor losses this year: 47 (in 4 OTs) at Kentucky, 20 vs. UConn, 31 at Kansas, 39 vs. West Virginia. Only twice has she failed to reach at least 19 points in a competitive game.

The point is that Baylor is at their best when other players are complimenting the scoring that Sims will do regardless of everybody else. Obviously that doesn't mean letting her get her points easily, but double teams are only so effective when it allows talented secondary players to score easily.

Time to shock the WBB world, Bears.

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