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Cal 85, Oregon State 57: Beatdown

Can't really say much about this one that the box score doesn't already tell. The Golden Bears dominated the Beavers from start to finish. Cal lead OSU by double digits for much of the first half and all of the second.

As stated in the postgame thread, Oregon State's 1-3-1 (and to a lesser extent, their 2-3) zone isn't as potent as it once was. Their guards and forwards are much smaller and don't really bother the passing lanes the way they did when they had a much longer lineup. And although no one is going to call Jorge Gutierrez a natural point guard, his size and rugged nature gives him a great advantage over Jerome Randle in breaking it down. As I emphasized before the game, Jorge would be the key to an easy victory or a long slog, and Gutierrez was able to find passing lanes whether on 2-on-1 fastbreaks or setting up his bigs while driving inside, and also managed to drive to the basket and either finish the play or get to the line. With 16 points and 11 assists, it was probably his most complete game this season at the point, and it's no coincidence it came against the Beavers.

Once Gutierrez got inside the zone, the Beaver defense seemed to crumble. It got so bad for Oregon State, Craig Robinson actually went back to the man-to-man for a few minutes before halftime to try and stop the bleeding. Although it patched up the wounds for a few minutes, it took Cal only awhile to lacerate them, outscoring the Beavers 40-19 (seven of Jorge's 11 assists coming during this stretch) to blow things open for the Bears and send them cruising to their fourth win in conference play.

Now that we got the contributions of Gutierrez (easily the player of the game) locked in, let's look at what the rest of the Bears did.

Brandon Smith: Gutierrez was the main point guard doing the damage against the pressing 1-3-1 and 2-3 zones, but let's not forget how important Smith was. He knocked down an early three that pushed the Bears to a 20-10 lead early, then assisted on five first half buckets to keep Cal steady and on top. Without Smith's added confidence and passing ability, Cal would be restricted to only one real passer in Gutierrez, and the Bears would be in big trouble.

Harper Kamp: All he had to do offensively was run the floor and hope Gutierrez and Smith fed them the ball. After his first jump shot, his final six field goals went layup, layup, layup, layup, layup, layup. He only needed 30 minutes to score his 18 points, and with other players picking up the rebounding slack, it was probably one of his easier nights of a season where he's often asked to carry the team with his post moves. That's good, because he'll need to be prepared for forcing Joevan Catron of Oregon away from the basket on Saturday.

Markhuri Sanders-Frison: Managed an impressive 15 points in 21 minutes as he again picked up his now recurring four fouls. As for the continual body bias against MSF, let's put it this way, if someone erected a statue of Jason Kidd at midcourt and Jared Cunningham slammed into it full-speed, Pac-10 refs would call a foul on the statue, then demand Mike Montgomery sub in someone since it was his fifth foul. Cue a three hour delay in removing statue from the court.

Allen Crabbe: If Crabbe can continue to make leaps in his development he has a good shot of being a great two guard in the mold of Rip Hamilton and Ray Allen, because he moves off screens real well and his shooting stroke is pure. Add in his 6'6" (bordering on 6'7") frame and his propensity for crashing the defensive glass (seven more rebounds tonight), and the beginnings of a pro game are starting to formulate. It's more than just fragments now.

Richard Solomon: Gentleman of the Pac-10, you better get your hits in on young Solomon now, because the boy's got game. After a rough first half where he got tangled up with Joe Burton on an offensive foul and missed both his free throws, Solomon made the most of his second half opportunities. Solomon went three of four shooting, four boards, had three block shots, including a ferocious swap that sent one ball into orbit.  It's still fragments for Rich Solo, but he's getting closer.

Bak Bak: Nailed two jump shots, both of them from mid-range! Considering those are some of the hardest shots in basketball, you've got to like seeing that.

Also, this sequence I liked.

MISSED JUMPER by Solomon, Richard               09:37
REBOUND (OFF) by Bak, Bak 09:37
MISSED JUMPER by Kamp, Harper 09:23
REBOUND (OFF) by Bak, Bak 09:23
MISSED JUMPER by Bak, Bak 09:21 BLOCK by BURTON, Joe
REBOUND (OFF) by Bak, Bak 09:21
GOOD! FT SHOT by Bak, Bak 09:20 61-39 H 22 FOUL by BURTON, Joe (P3T7)
GOOD! FT SHOT by Bak, Bak 09:20 62-39 H 23

In the game, four offensive boards and at least one charge drawn from Bak. With Cal playing entirely for defensive boards, it'd be awesome if Bak could utilize some of his effort to give us extra possessions on the other side.

(What's probably most interesting is how Cal has utilized their three big lineup in the 2-3 zone in two straight games. That's given Bak and Solomon more minutes on the floor and also caused USC and Oregon State loads of trouble in the paint. It's a really creative gameplan, and I'll be interested to see how effective it'll be long-term.)

Emerson Murray: Other than passing up on a shot to find Solomon for his only three and nailing one of his own to make the lead 31, not much for the British Columbian. He isn't taking too much off the court when he comes in though, so that makes life easier.

Nigel Carter: With Crabbe's emergence and Smith's improved shooting, looks like Lord Nigel's most important days are behind him at Cal. At least we know if someone goes down, he'll be ready to step in and hit set shots.

Jeff Powers: Hit a three, then missed a dunk that nearly sent the Cal bench to the hospital from their hysterical laughter.

Robert Thurman: Those free throw attempts ... wow. At least I have a new answer to "Who do you never ever want to see at the line on your team in a one point game?"