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Kansas 84, Cal 69: Lack of Depth, Big Men Costs Bears

Hard to say anything too bad about this one. We were expected to lose by 14, and that's about where we ended up--eventually. Kansas is the #1 team for a reason. They have NBA blue-chippers, a solid coach, and they don't dig themselves holes. When they make mistakes, they atone for them, they hang around, and eventually they let their talent take them home. The Jayhawks did it against Michigan, and they did it against Cal; eventually they'll fall (probably in Austin), but it didn't come here.

Anyway, Cal's biggest weakness last year was depth, and it's looking like it'll be our weakness down the stretch. You want a great basketball team, you need depth, especially when you're playing the best. Right now, the Bears have a pretty good big four, maybe two good bench players, and not much else. Against the best in the nation on the road, unless you're shooting lights out, that's not going to hold out. Hard to really make a huge dent with that thin a line.

And the fact is without Harper Kamp, there is NO depth beyond Boykin on that frontline. During the crucial stretch of the game in the second half, Kansas pounded the ball inside and got the easy baskets to give them breathing room. Eventually Cal collapsed on the post, that opened up the 3 ball, the Jayhawks hit a few, ran the fastbreak and that was that. The biggest thing I noticed was Theo Robertson was playing the 4 spot at points, which is a baaaad sign.

But let's enjoy this season come Pac-10 time. This is a really good team (still ranked 8th in Pomeroy despite being 6-4), and this conference is ripe for the taking. If the Bears are as good as they showed last night, it could be a special year, depth or no depth.

Other thoughts after the jump.

  • For most of the game, the Bears tried to outscore the Jayhawks. They ran at the same pace, took quick shots, hit a lot of them, but eventually they were cracking through ice. Very happy to see them match Kansas's abilities for 25-30 minutes, but I kept on urging them to slow the ball down, keep the pace slow.
  • The guys burned out at the end. There were just too many jumpers in a game that needs to be settled at the rim. It'd have been nice to see what'd have happened if we played a little bit slower; maybe Randle and PC don't miss those 3s late in the second half...
  • Christopher did score plenty and make plenty, but those baskets he took...argh. How more low percentage can you get? Stepback fallaways are hard enough to do in the NBA. PC falls in love with that jumper and he depends on it instead of attacking. Still, 9-18 isn't much to gripe at (although the bare 4 free throw attempts merits a little more dispute)
  • I was surprised at how little Amoke played, although he probably doesn't match up well against Kansas's bigs.
  • Randle had a really bad game. The 3-9 from 3 point land is bad enough, but 7 turnovers and 0-6 from 2 point land? There were some plays that boggled me, like the long alley-oop try to Christopher and the bounce pass to Jorge. Tough passes when Cal was better off keeping it simple.
  • Boykin was probably the player of the night. Another double-double notched, and his effort inside kept Kansas's bigs stifled for a little bit. He interestingly had the highest defensive rating of the night (when he was in the game, Kansas scored at a less efficient rate).
  • Without Theo, the Bears lose this one by 30.
  • Finally, Rock Chalk Talk broke down this game statistically (thanks to help from StatSheet). Take a look at the balance between all the Kansas players as opposed to the dependence on the big 4 for Cal. Just makes the game easier when everyone on a more talented team plays less minutes.