clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Golden Eagles Beat Golden Bears, Everybody Loses To The Refs

Note: This was written before I read Boomtho's postgame thoughts.  I swear.

The Bears fell in an exciting, back and for - TWEET

Sorry, let me start over.  Cal could never find an answer for Gary Flow - TWEET

OK, calm down.  As I was saying, despite Lord Nigel Carter's best eff - TWEET TWEET TWEET

Wow, it's really hard for me to get into a flow on this recap with these constant interruptions.  SBNation's imaginary refs are preventing you from enjoying my 'insight,' in much the same way that yesterday's refs fully prevented anybody who was watching from enjoying a basketball game.  A total of 53 fouls were called, meaning that on average a whistle stopped play every 45 seconds.  And that's in a game without a single intentional foul at the end of the game!  Needless to say, that's no way to play, coach, or watch a game.  Someone who missed the game might think that an 80-78 final score meant a fast-paced, back and forth thriller full of exciting offense.  That wasn't the case.  If you take away points scored from the free throw line you'd have a final score of 55-53 in favor of Southern Miss.

But this game went beyond being tightly called.  There were missed travels and missed offensive goaltends.  There were bad calls on balls knocked out of bounds.  On three different occasions the refs had to go to the monitor to decide who was fouled and/or who the foul was called on after they blew the whistle!  A Cal player and a Southern Miss player mildly collide running up the court?  Foul on Cal, or course.  Brandon Smith splits a double team?  A foul on USM, of course.  My favorite call was on a Cal defensive rebound.  A Bear (MSF, I think) grabs the ball.  From behind, a Golden Eagle knocks the ball out of his hands towards the baseline.  Jorge chases the ball, but lets it go out of bounds.  Southern Miss ball!

But did any of the shoddy umpiring have an impact beyond ruining a spectator sport?  That's harder to say.  Cal's offense was severely hampered with Harper Kamp only able to play 22 minutes.  In his limited time he fully demonstrated that he is Cal's best offensive option, going 7-7 from the field and 6-6 from the line.  If he was able to play closer to 35 minutes you'd have to like Cal's chances.  But at the same time I'm sure Southern Miss had players that sat more then they ordinarily would.  In fact, their insistence on sticking with an 8 man rotation (compared to Cal's 9) meant their fouls were spread amongst less players.  If a few more whistles went towards Flowers instead of Ayarza or Horton USM would have been done.  And Gary Flowers scored baskets on anybody who was unfortunate enough to get the assignment, so I don't want to take a win away from a team that suffered through the bad calls just as much as Cal did.

So no, I'm not at all confident in saying that Cal would have won with a reasonably called game.  But we all sure would have liked to find out what Harper could have done on the last few possession of the game, or what Cal's defense would have done if they had played without the fear of committing a foul every time down the court.

So let's take the focus away from the refs and try to figure out what this game tells us.  To start, we may have found out that Nigel Carter is Cal's best 3 point shooter.  Lord Nigel was 4-4 from deep, and only one of those came on an extremely fortuitous bounce.  With 16 points Nigel equaled his point total from the entirety of last year and made a strong case that he should be getting more minutes on the wing.  That playing time might come at the expense of Gary Franklin, who is mired in a crippling shooting funk.  Franklin played solid minutes tonight mostly because he was the only starter who didn't pick up two fouls in the first half, but he was missing shots both open and contested, and isn't making an impact on the stat sheet in other ways.

Lord Nigel Carter: Dropping 16 by day, putting on the ritz by night.

Beyond Carter's surge and Franklin's struggles, there really isn't a ton to say about this game because the entire rotation was thrown into chaos due to foul trouble.  I was a bit perplexed to not see Bak Bak get more time (only 9 minutes) with MSF and Kamp in such constant foul trouble, but Solomon had a strong start and I guess Monty wanted to stick with the hot hand.  Jorge and Brandon Smith both played well as ball handlers, though back-to-back turnovers from the usually solid Brandon Smith gave USM the chance to erase what was left of Cal's 6 point lead.

Cal's biggest weakness was rebounding trouble, and the pessimist in me says that Cal will struggle in that regard for as long as Markhuri is slowed with plantar fasciitis and tendinitis.  Even in pain he's Cal's best rebounder, but they need him to be the healthy MSF who can average 10 a game.  I won't begin to guess what the exact outlook is, but if sitting a few games means he can play pain free in conference play I think that's a move you have to make.

If we want to take the extreme long view, this game could be seen as a missed opportunity if Cal finishes just a touch below .500 and misses out on the NIT.  But for now it's just another game that we can chalk up as a learning opportunity for a young team.  When Southern Miss, San Diego St. and one solid if unspectacular invitational tournament were added to the schedule Monty probably didn't anticipate that it would turn into one of the 10 toughest schedules in the nation.  Hopefully it will pay dividends when Cal starts the Pac-10 with tough road trips to Arizona and L.A. sandwiching a visit from the best pair of teams the Pac-10 can offer in UW and WSU.