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Cal @ USC 2009.01.31 Open Thread

Well.  That didn't go so well last Thursday.  Nope, not well at all.  Before we get to today's game, a quick post-mortem on the debacle at Pauley Pavilion.

First of all, my initial reaction after watching the game:
- Terrible ball handling by the Bears.  You could blame Jerome Randle (6 turnovers), but that's merely because he had the ball most often; 8 Bears had turnovers, including 4 by Theo Robertson and 3 for Jamal Boykin.  The Bruins had 16(!!!!) steals on the night, often leading to a lot of easy buckets.  Thursday night, you could consider an offensive set successful if the Bears got off a shot and the Bruins failed to start a fast break.
- For much of the game, the Bruins appeared to be operating on another level defensively.  As my wife pointed out during the game, many of their steals occured not just because of quick, tenacious hands reaching in for a steal, but because of excellent defensive positioning by the entire Bruins defense.  Everywhere the Bear ball handler wanted to go, there was a Bruin in his way, cutting off lanes, denying the path to the bucket, and that's when a second or even third Bruin pounced, trapping and stealing the ball from a confused dribbler.
- I felt like the Bruins offense, outside of super-quick Darren Collison, was actually fairly ordinary.  When the Bears got them in a half-court set, they had a pretty good chance of stopping them.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen too often.

Looking at the postgame stats, however, I was rather surprised by a few things:
- Despite all the steals, the Bruins only won the turnover battle by 4, 21 to 17.  The Bruins also only attempted 2 more field goals and 3 more free throws than the Bears.  Sure, the fast break points led to a high field goal percentage for UCLA (55%), but I expected a bigger disparity.
- Where the Bruins really won?  The rebounding battle (34 to 23) and free throws (UCLA made more FTs -- 21 -- than the Bears attempted).  You really have to had it to UCLA; 21 for 23 on free throws is absolutely fabulous.

Anyway, that game is behind us, and the Bears get another shot in LA this weekend, taking on USC tonight at the Galen Center.  Here's your broadcast info:

Cal Bears @ USC Trojans
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Galen Center, 8:30PM

TV : Fox Sports Net (Comcast SportsNet California, or DirecTV channel 698) --thanks to Rated-R Superstar for the info.
Radio : KYOU 1550 AM


Looking at Ken Pomeroy's scouting report, USC appears to do pretty much everything well, though they definitely excell defensively, especially inside the arc.  If there are weaknesses for the Bears' to exploit, it's in their defense of the 3-point shot and their pedestrain steal percentages.  If Cal is going to come out on top, I think they're going to need a big night from Robertson and Christopher on the perimeter (is it just me, or was P-Chris mostly absent on Thursday night?  Was he even playing?).

Oh, and one final note:  TwistNHook would like to apologize for not putting up an open thread for this afternoon's women's basketball game vs. USC.  He totally meant to, and then forgot.  Looks like we all missed a good one, too, as Cal's Devanei Hampton putback a missed shot with 2.2 seconds remaining to give Cal a 73-71 victory, their school record 10th-straight.  CBKWit was at the game, and will have a recap/report up soon, he promises.