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California Golden Bears Lose a Heartbreaker at the Buzzer to UCLA, 86-84

So, how in the world can Cal-UCLA basketball not be televised anywhere?  I knew our TV contracts stunk, but this is epically pathetic.  Anyhow, this recap is going to be a little like the blind lookout from the cinematic classic, "Men in Tights":  "No one goes there...right?  It's all clear...I think?"  Put your super-special-sparkly-thinking caps on, class.  Let's go on a journey of imagination and recap by braille.

With apologies, most of this is going to have to be stream of consciousness as the action unfolds: (a big HT to EchoOfSilence for live updates from the game)

1st Half:

I really liked our energy in warmups.  The guys sounded like they were hitting that layup line with purpose and steely determination...yeah...

Cal wins the tip.  Quick shot by Crabbe from the FT line, but MSF w/ the offensive board and putback.

Cal goes zone.  Jones misses a long jumper, but Honeycutt tips the board to Nelson for the layup.

MSF gets blocked leading to a transition 3 by the Bruins.  But Cal comes back and works it inside to Kamp for a layup.

Cal has three early turnovers already.  Doh.

The Mountain Who Walks(Joshua Smith) checks in.  Seconds later, he gets his first offensive board.  Seconds later, he gets called for his 1st foul.  Sounds about right.

UCLA is settling for a lot of long jumpers with mixed results.  It's almost like they're counting on offensive boards to sustain their offense.  Unfortunately, we're not doing a great job attacking them in transition.  Brandon Smith is pushing it, probably to take advantage of Josh Smith's lack of mobility, but we only have a couple of trips to the free throw line to speak of so far.  Still, getting their bigs in foul trouble early is a good thing.

Crabbe might be feeling a little homecoming jitters.  He's taken a couple of uncharacteristic forced jumpers early.  He's also getting worked on D.

Seems like when our guys move the ball and work it inside, we're getting good shots.  The quick shots are leading to long rebounds and they're taking advantage in transition.  MSF is having some trouble freeing himself, but Kamp has been really effective.

Honeycutt is the difference-maker for their team so far.  Hitting the boards, making nifty passes to cutters, even swishing a corner 3.  Why does he have to pick tonight to live up to the lottery-pick hype?

Per EchoofSilence(actually at the game), Emerson Murray is being really aggressive at the top of the zone.  Almost got a couple of steals and looking good.

Uh oh.  MSF picks up his 2nd foul...apparently for standing within five feet of Josh Smith while he grabbed an offensive board.  Fortunately, Josh Smith shoots free throws about as well as he says "I'm full."

Per EOS, Solomon setting some unsung screens.  He really is looking better every game.

(Brief interlude:  Fox news 910 KNEW is horrible.  They keep cutting to commercials in the middle of the game broadcast.  I am most distraught.)

Bears keeping it close...somehow despite shooting 5/16 from the floor.  Going 9/13 from the free throw line helps.  Their zone is forcing the Bruins into tough shots.  But, the Bruins are pounding the offensive glass and are really taking advantage of us whenever we turn it over or settle for an early shot.

It's the transition game giving them easy baskets which is killing us.  They're scoring pretty easily when we don't get back to set our defense.

Kamp is the one guy able to score consistently.  Maybe we should get him the ball a little more.  He's in double digits with 11.

Per EOS, our zone is collapsing and leaving the three open way too fast.  Everyone getting faked out.  Feels like Nevada all over again.

Play of the half from EOS:  Effing Solomon POWERS through 3 defenders on his way up for that SLAM!  Not to mention that great offensive rebound.

Just when it looked like the Bruins were going to blow it open with 4min to go by opening up an 11pt lead, the guys battled back.  With scrappy play on D, and a more patient approach on O, the Bears go on a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 2 pt with 2 min to play.  

Per EOS:  Our in-out passes are all getting swatted and taken for those steals.

Ugh.  Rough end to the half giving up a transition 3, then a turnover for a breakaway dunk.  41-35 UCLA.

1st Half Summary:  Our zone initially gave UCLA a lot of trouble.  But, they were able to take advantage of their size to get more offensive boards than we usually give up.  Except for Kamp, we really struggled shooting the ball.  I'm assuming that UCLA was playing their signature tight man to man because our guys didn't even get off a 3 point attempt until a desperation heave at the buzzer.  Crabbe, and MSF were largely neutralized.  Harper kept us in it with 15 pts, 5/8 shooting, 5/5 line.  Solomon also continued to show improvement and made good use of his athleticism.

But, the real difference was the transition game.  The Bruins pushed it aggressively off of turnovers or early shots and got themselves easy baskets.  Nelson was particularly opportunistic and lead them with 12 pts.  It didn't help that with our guys forced to overplay the Bruins bigs, their streaky shooters were hitting from downtown.(6-13)

2nd Half:  

Monty comes out in man.  Not a bad idea to try to keep them off the offensive glass and maybe slow down their outside shooters before Smith comes in.

Now, let's see about getting MSF and Crabbe going with some designed plays...

Without the Mountain in, MSF scores two quick buckets.

Might have a chance, in fact, since there are reports that Josh Smith is out with some kind of injury.

Unfortunately, we can't stop them either.  Both Lane and Nelson have gotten easy buckets in the paint.

And we're back to playing zone.  But, Jorge blows an assignment and gives up an open 3 to Honeycutt.  Just like that, 9-pt Bruin lead.

MSF gets his 3rd foul for...looking mean?  Sigh.  There goes our tenuous advantage down low.

No surprise here - but we have no answer or cover for Honeycutt.  Fortunately, we managed to draw his 3rd foul, too, so we'll let the pine play defense for us.

Ugh...Another bad entry pass leads to yet another uncontested breakaway and a double-digit Bruin lead.  Per EOS,  Markuri with a very bad decision to pass.

Still getting killed on the offensive boards and transition defense.  Very troubling.  The game is in danger of slipping away.  56-44 UCLA, 12:57 to go.

Nelson continues to carve up our defense.  Hard to say exactly how he's doing it, but it sounds like he's moving without the ball and getting open looks.

Solomon comes in and immediately starts making a difference.  He makes a nice cut for a layup, then draws a foul putting them into the bonus.  

Can't stop the bleeding, though.  We just can't get stops.

They've clearly figured out our defense.  We're giving up layup after layup.  Per EOS, the backdoor cuts are killing us.

Crabbe is really struggling.  Lee hasn't given him any space.  When he does get the ball, he's making bad decisions and rushing things.

We just can't get the ball to Kamp.  Not sure if the Bruins switched up their defense to take him away...or our entry pass skills are just woefully deficient.

Per EOS:  2-3 zone is NOT working. Offensive rebounding is nonexistent as well.  Our inability to move through high screens is really the difference in them making all those buckets. Sads.

Apparently, the Bruins are really doing a good job running the baseline and taking advantage of blind spots in the zone.  MSF is having trouble dropping back quickly enough to cover.  In particular, Nelson is really adept at getting himself open.

At least Solomon continues to play well.  He comes up with a big block and rebound which leads to Crabbes 1st basket with a nice pull-up bank shot off the break.

Like he did for a little while in the 1st half, Monty goes with the Jumbo Package of:  Kamp, Solomon, MSF, Crabbe, Gutierrez.  Didn't do too badly on offense, but we just couldn't cover the 3-pot line on D, and they make us pay.  Again.

But somehow, the Bears keep hanging around and finally foul out Lee.  A nice steal and dish from Jorge gets Crabbe another layup.  We've cut their 15 pt lead down to 7!?  Doh.  Bad foul puts them to the line.  Split...And Solomon scores on the other end.  Only a 6 pt lead, two possessions...

Oh wow...!  Cal forces a 5 second call, and Crabbe hits a runner to cut the lead to 4, 79-75 Cal!  Guterriez with the steal!  Dish to Solomon for the dunk!  2 PT GAME!!!

Doh.  Jorge with a foul off the ball on the inbounds.  Jones with two free throws.  83-79, 4pt game, 22s to go.

And Crabbe gets hammered!  Clutch free throws cut it back to 83-81.  Pressure D.  Don't get a steal and Crabbe has to foul Jones.

He misses the first!!!  Makes the 2nd.  And Crabbe nails a 3 to tie the game!

Wild scramble.  Honeycutt misses a wild fall-away!  OH NO!  Nelson tips it in.  2.2s to go.  Game over.


2nd Half Summary:  I didn't need to see the game to know what this one looked like for the first 36 minutes.  When we've played poorly this year, we've turned it over on offense, been slow to get back in transition, and struggled to close out on open shooters.  Throw in a decisive Bruin rebounding advantage on the offensive glass, and some serious defensive lapses...and it's time to Escape from LA.

It just seemed like whenever we started to get back in the game, our inability to get key stops on the defensive end just killed us.  Then Lee fouled out.  And the tide turned.

Gutierrez was everywhere getting steals and facilitating the offense.  Richard Solomon had several key finishes.  And Allen Crabbe exploded to score 13 points in the final two minutes.  Wow.  I may be in too much shock for this one to hurt...Nevermind.  It hurts.  A lot.  Sigh.

Final Summary:
  Defense, Bears...Defense?

The Bad:  MSF had a rough game.  He got pounded early by Josh Smith.  And when Smith went out with injury, he got victimized by baseline cuts or the high pick and roll all night.  Crabbe really struggled to get free of Lee's stifling defense early.  We weren't able to take advantage of Kamp's hot hand because we simply didn't execute well enough to get him the ball.  On defense, our zone was largely ineffective.  Not only did we give up a lot of open 3's, we also didn't guard cutters in the lane or baseline.  Although it shielded our bigs from some foul trouble, we had real issues keeping them off the glass.  Besides, Solomon, we're getting nothing from our bench.

The Ugly:  Turnovers, defensive lapses, and giving up offensive boards.  Per the radio, three Bears were standing still and didn't box out Nelson as he ran untouched to tip in the winning shot with 2.2 left.  

The Good:  You've got to respect coming back from 11 in the 1st half and all the way back from 15 in the 2nd.  Early in the year, we did a poor job during the end game.(Southern Miss)  Learning how to execute in crunch time and during different time/score situations is a whole different game.  The guys are starting to believe in their own toughness.  I think we all love the continued development from the young guns, Crabbe and Solomon.

Shake it off, guys.  These are just growing pains - We'll get 'em at home.  Now go take your angst out on the Trojans.  Go Bears!