Honestly, I felt like Cal played really well, and despite how close Wazzu was able to keep this game, I would have been really surprised/angry/disappointed had Cal somehow lost this game. Randle played well. Christopher finally got some open looks (first time in weeks, it seems) and knocked down 20 points. Theo shot well. Gutierrez had a lot more surprisingly good moments than surprisingly bad (I think I'm surprised by everything Jorge does, good or bad). Wazzu is a good team, and they shot the ball pretty well, but Cal is better, and I'm glad the final score reflected that fact.
After a few quiet games in a row, Patrick Christopher busted out for 20 points to help down the Cougs Saturday night. - Image via imgs.sfgate.com
Some quick thoughts about tonight's game:
- I'm a big fan of Harper Kamp, and he was playing some great defense out there (much better defense than Jordan Wilkes, who got worked over in the post several times in a row), but what was with Kamp shooting from almost behind the arc late in the game with, like, 17 seconds left in the shot clock? AndBears even said to me, just before Kamp pulled up, "There's no way he's going to shoot that." And then he did. And to no one's surprise, it didn't go in. Again, I like Harper, but that decision to shoot puzzled me to no end.
- P-Chris has been harassed by opposing defenders for weeks now, but Wazzu made the decision to not guard him that closely (relatively speaking, at least). Christopher found a few open shots and buried his first three 3-point attempts (would have been 4, but Boykin committed a foul away from the ball just before the shot). Welcome back to the scoring column, Patrick. We've missed you.
- Though the Bears' offense was pretty ugly early on, it didn't worry me nearly as much as their lacklusted defense. You could sort of see the Bears get down after another failed offensive set (it took four trips down on offense before the Bears even hit the rim with a shot) and it carried over to their defense. Conversely, when the Bears finally did tighen up on the defensive end, forcing long jumpers from the Cougs, I noted that that success seemed to translate into more calm and less panic on offense. As much as you'd like to for analytical purposes, it's hard to separate offense from defense.
- Other than the opening of the game, I thought the Bears did a very good job of defending the Cougars' offense, keeping up the intensity throughout the possession and forcing a lot of outside jumpers. The Cougs can shoot the ball pretty well, but Cal is not a team you want to get into a jump-shooting contest with.
-People are really starting to dig Jorge Gutierrez. He has had an up and down season, but he brings a hustle and energy you can't help but admire. In fact, tonight, one person commented on the original Jorge Guttierez Is Coming To Cal story on the old Blogsome site, saying:
Jorge is one fine SEXICAN he can have this blond anytime I would do him over white boy Tyler Hansbrough!
All in all, a solid, hard-earned victory. The Bears are now 18-6, 7-4 in the conference, tied for third place. Bring on the Cardinal!