Obviously there's a lot of history that could be going down on Saturday afternoon, but all of that is uncertain. What we do know for certain is that our seniors are playing their final game at Haas Pavilion. Here's what our Golden Bears have done over their illustrious careers in gold and blue.
Patrick Christopher: 128 games, 3877 minutes, 601 field goals, 246 free throws, 148 threes, 1596 points, 479 rebounds, 221 assists, 99 steals
Jerome Randle: 126 games, 3742 minutes, 566 field goals, 365 free throws, 243 threes, 1740 points, 285 rebounds, 503 assists, 86 steals
Theo Robertson: 119 games, 3595 minutes, 418 field goals, 237 free throws, 142 threes, 1215 points, 457 rebounds, 248 assists, 83 steals
Jamal Boykin: 86 games, 2035 minutes, 345 field goals, 135 free throws, 835 points, 493 rebounds, 90 assists, 47 steals
Nikola Knezevic: 99 games, 1132 minutes, 56 field goals, 51 free throws, 184 points, 108 assists, 43 steals
Man, look at all those games. It has to make you more than a little pleased that all these Golden Bears spent four to five years earning their degrees and are now culminating their careers with a satisfying two year run of success. If there is a right way to be student-athletes, these guys have exemplified it. Kudos to their accomplishments, and I hope the Cal crowd shows up early to applaud their achievements on Senior Day.
As we get ready to think of breaking boundaries, let's not forget the guys who helped bring us to this point. Hopefully they can bring one more thing home today.
After the jump, we break down the biggest matchup of the season between the Bears and the Sun Devils.
Cal's most impressive victory this season probably came in Tempe, coming into ASU, grabbing hold of the game early in the second half, and fighting off a furious Sun Devil rally near the end. Boykin battled his old Duke buddy Eric Boateng to a standstill, and worked his way to a 25-10, playing the shadow on the baseline and receiving plenty of great passes that he converted into bigtime points as Cal broke down the matchup zone numerous times. Randle and Christopher were in strong form, and Jorge made the two biggest plays down the stretch with a three pointer that turned a one point lead into four, and drew a crucial charge with a minute left.
ASU has been rolling since then though. They've won six of seven (their lone loss at Washington, where it seems the karmic fate of every Pac-10 team except freaking Oregon to get blown out by 20+). The Sun Devils haven't been winning pretty, but they've been winning with great defensive effort and have kept every team off-balance. They're making a very strong case for a second Pac-10 at-large bid-- they have three non conference losses to BYU, Baylor and Duke, all top 25 teams, and a record that's even better than Cal's.
We aren't the only ones who have dreams of bigger things on Saturday. House of Sparky gives us the Devil POV.
This year can be different. I feel it. We are a team. One of the best teams in the nation. Not because we are more talented. Not because we can defeat the powerhouses. Frankly, we probably can't do either. But there is no school that defines team better than the Sun Devils. We have the senior leadership of a 4-year starting PG [Glasser]. We have a sharpshooting junior [Abbott] who can be electric on the floor, but isn't afraid to pass. We have a one game resurgence of a center [Boateng] whose career can be summarized as "clumsy and a disappointment." We have a European influence, in [Rihards] Kuksiks who when on fire, is ON FIRE. We have freshmen contributing serviceable minutes off the bench. We have the smarts of an NBA coaches son. This team is unselfish and hardworking and when it comes to March Madness, one man shows don't prove to win championships.
Based on the way they've played lately, I'd be very wary of overlooking them.
As always, courtesy of Pomeroy.
|Cal eFG% vs ASU def eFG%
Cal def eFG% vs ASU eFG%
|Cal TO% vs ASU def TO%
Cal def TO% vs ASU TO%
Cal OReb% vs ASU DReb%
Cal DReb% vs ASU OReb%
Cal FT rate vs ASU opp FT rate
Cal opp FT rate vs ASU FT rate
Cal AdjO vs ASU AdjD
Cal AdjD vs ASU AdjO
What should worry Cal fans the most is how their defense has dropped back to the pack as the conference season has worn on. Because we're not the most athletic team on the floor and rely mainly on hustle and energy on defense, you see a lot of scrambling as we try to stay with our man assigments. A lot of teams in the conference have gotten plenty of wide open looks against us; their biggest problem has been hitting those shots.
ASU missed their shots the first time they played us; considering their improving efficiency entering the last half of the season you can see their three point shooters (Kuksiks and Abbott) getting hot. More importantly, they do have the low post threat in Boateng that can give them much easier points than anything Cal relies on from outside.
What makes this an even dicier game is how good ASU's defense has been; only USC's has played better this season. If any team can play well against us on the road, it's the Sun Devils. They have the defense to keep this one close down the stretch; if they can do that, they just have to hope to nail some shots at crunch time to try and pull away.
If Cal wins: The Bears clinch at least a share of the Pac-10 title and would win the head-to-head matchup with the Sun Devils, thus clinching the #1 seed in the Pac-10 tournament. Cal would then win the outright conference title if they beat the Furd next Saturday.
If Cal loses: The Bears would have to win at the Farm and hope ASU loses at least once in their final homestand against USC (possible) and UCLA (highly unlikely). The #1 seed for the tourney would be a little more unclear.
Let's do it one more time seniors. Break history to make history.