I'm a bad witness this week - I only saw one half of one game, the second half against UCSB. Fortunately, we have a great community here at the California Golden Blogs, so I'll just lift some comments from the Utah Valley open thread. Coupled with the above photoshop (thanks again CaliforniaCMB; everyone else, if you want to submit a Cal BBall photoshop to be featured in this column, send an email to email@example.com), I have basically turned this column into a compilation of other people's work. My work here is done.
First, let's hear from Ragnarok after the jump:
Just got back from the game
Bears started sloppy (really sloppy), then asserted their superior talent towards the end of the first half and into the second. Hopefully, they get all the rust off for conference play.
My verdict on this team is that they’ll go as far as their defense will take them. When they decide to, they can play tough, even stifling defense, and when they do that, I think they can beat almost anybody (save for perhaps Kansas/Syracuse). It not only makes it much harder for the other team to score, but it also leads to easy baskets down on the offensive end. However, they just seem to take too many defensive possessions ‘off’; maybe it’s just one or two guys each time, but I saw waaaay too many wide-open, basically uncontested jump shots, and a fair number were three-balls that went in. Against a better team than Utah Valley, that’s going to hurt us.
The other kryptonite for the bears? A zone defense. Apparently, we’re going to see more zone tomorrow night vs. UCSB. Hopefully, with Theo back, Cal can start to break down/shoot over the zone.
Avinash already used PaulThomas' comment in the UCSB open thread, but who reads Avinash's posts anyways? Here's the comment again:
This was the first Cal game that I have ever attended in person
Sort of underwhelming, as competitive sports go, but eh. Various thoughts in roughly chronological order to when I thought them:
UCSB’s zone defense is odd and not a standard 2-3 look. Cal should be able to get open shots on defensive mixups, of which there were a lot.
Furman’s game plan was terrible. Luckily the Bears will not be stubbing their RPI on that particular abomination. Though I suppose UCSB isn’t much better.
Theo Robertson spent the first 8 minutes playing 1-on-5. The good thing is, the game was actually competitive despite that fact. Eventually he was joined by 4 other Golden Bears and the rout was on.
Sanders-Frison might have lost a bunch of weight since showing up, but he still has slow feet. Any kind of small lineup totally neutralizes him because he can’t guard anyone.
Brandon Smith didn’t really impact the boxscore, but he handled the ball cleanly and generally looked competent. He needs to get more aggressive about taking open shots.
Gutierrez made some nice plays including a jumpshot, but he was also badly beaten off the dribble twice and drew unnecessary fouls. Bodying guys up just for the sake of bodying them up is not "defense," it’s just a way to get the other team in the bonus.
If you are 6-7 or shorter, throwing weak shit up there against Zhang, or even Bak Bak, is idiocy.
Christopher is hurting himself by fading away unnecessarily on certain jumpers that he could be shooting straight-up-and-down.
I’m excited by Bak Bak’s upside, even though he didn’t score in this one. His athleticism is pretty evident. Just, you know, don’t overdo it on the three-pointers. And by "overdo it," I mean "shoot any."
Cal beat Utah Valley 85-51. Here's a cursory picture:
Post game thoughts
I was at the game tonight with my dad and 5 year old son, who, BTW, got a high five from PC as the players entered the arena.
- Randle and Christopher are deadly from the perimeter. Give them an open look and they will drain it.
- UCSB gave up not one, but two four-point plays? Inexcusable.
- Zhang was 1-6 from the line. Awful. Can anyone say "Hack-a-Max"?
- Did Jorge really dunk that put-back? The guy’s got some hops!
- Brandon Smith can handle the ball, not much else.
- Defensive energy elevates with Jorge in the game. There were some nice transition/fast break points scored with him in the game.
- Bak Bak showed some nice athleticism in getting his 4 points and 3 rebounds in 3 minutes of play.
- Where was Oski tonight? I know the students are on break, but c’mon guys! Golden Bear Classic with no Oski? You couldn’t find anyone to fill in?
- Even a couple dozen or so Cal Band members can rock Haas Pavilion due to the crazy-ass acoustics in there.
In conclusion, bring on the ’Furd!
Pretty much agree with that, with a few modifiers. Christopher is a streaky shooter; when he's confident and his head is in the game, he's great from outside. When he's not, he can be pretty bad offensively. Randle has that swagger that comes with being a 5'8 basketball player (plus better shooting form from the perimeter), so he's a lot more consistent than Christopher. Both were on tonight.
Brandon Smith can handle the ball, but he can also pass and he might be a better defender than Randle. He's never going to score like Jerome, but he'll be a solid 4 year player.
Props to Calnet, PaleoDan, Ragnarok, AndBears, GoldBlooded, hell even Mike Montgomery was helping out the band tonight. Way to fill in for the students while they're on break AND cling to an illusion of youth and at the same time!
The highlight of the game had to be Jorge's put-back slam. We found out that Jorge could dunk about three weeks ago when he flushed one against Iowa State on a breakaway. A breakaway, though, when you have a running start with no defense and can set your feet, is a lot different from a put-back, in traffic, without a clean running start or great timing. Jorge dunked this one with two hands, emphatically. He keeps on surprising. I am now expecting a 360 windmill slam against (5-7) ucla next week.
The dunk was even more impressive when 6'7 Markhuri Sanders-Frison had the ball alone at the rim a few minutes later, but had to lay it in with two hands because he couldn't get up to the rim. It confirmed two things I've thought this year: Markhuri can't jump and Jorge is awesome.
The game was a rout from the beginning, and as Christopher was the man with the biggest night (25 points), he was the first one pulled to a standing ovation, halfway through the second half. After stoppages of play for time outs on the floor, he was the first guy off the bench to congratulate/chest bump the Cal players in the game. This confirmed one thing I've thought for a long time: Patrick Christopher is a really nice guy.
Even with Cal leading by 20-25 points and the starters taking a seat midway through the second half, DJ Seeley didn't see the floor until there was only 3 or 4 minutes to go. He's at the end of a pretty long bench, and it's the same two reasons he hasn't played much so far in his career: effort and defense. He looks like he's moving in slow motion and doesn't seem too troubled by it. In one stretch, he turned the ball over and barely jogged back on defense as UCSB was running a fast break.
Seeley was rated about as high as Christopher out of high school (approximately 50th nationally), but while Christopher was a starter and 13+ ppg player as a sophomore, Seeley probably won't see regular playing time this year, his sophomore campaign. Seeley was also much, much higher rated than fellow sophomore Jorge Gutierrez, but Jorge has been playing major minutes from day 1, and with good reason. Watching Seeley barely jog on the court, you have to wonder if he's not connecting with the coaching staff (he was recruited by Braun) or not happy in Berkeley. I would not be surprised to see him transfer after this year. I hope he picks it up, because he's obviously a talented scorer with a sweet outside shot, but he's not going to get any minutes if he doesn't start playing defense.
"Bak looks good." That's what I wrote in my notebook after he chipped in 4 points, 2 or 3 boards and a Block Block in an athletic 3 minutes. In contrast, Max struggled and had one of his worst games of the year, looking weak and shooting only 1-6 from the free throw line. These two raw players are going to have volatile performances from game to game, since they're so inexperienced and need to gain a lot of weight. We need a lot more from Max than from Bak Bak this year, so hopefully he can build off all the minutes he's played thus far as Cal starts conference play on Saturday in Haas against STANFURD. The students aren't back in Berkeley yet, so show up this Saturday (4PM tip) to make Haas as loud as possible. The furd isn't very good (Avinash warned about Drew Shiller in an email - Randle drew 4 fouls on Shiller in about 9 minutes back in 2008), but it's a rivalry game anything can happen yada yada yada. Let's show up in force and beat those cake-eaters.