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The George Washington Colonials are crossing the Delaware on a long road trip to take on our sturdy Golden Bears. Although they're a mid-major team from the Atlantic-10 conference, this was a solid team last year and they return all of their best players. They were a good offensive rebounding squad and got to line frequently. Unfortunately, they also played the game at a very slow pace, perhaps not quite four corners or Princeton-esque, but deliberate at best. It will be interesting to see which team is better able to dictate tempo in this one.
New Head Coach Mike Lonergan comes in having spent the last six seasons as Vermont's head coach. During his tenure, he averaged 21 wins a year and lead the Catamounts to four post-season berths, including the Big Dance in 2010. He also won two conference Coach of the Year awards. It's unknown precisely what type of offense or defense he'll install. His Vermont teams played good defense, and were balanced on offense. He doesn't use gimmicky zones, run' n gun, or shoot non-stop 3's as far as I could determine.
On the other hand, we have Mike Montgomery, future college basketball Hall of Famer. That works for me.
After the jump, let's take a closer look at the matchups:
(Last year: 17-14, 10-7 in A-10)
F/C: David Pellom(Jr), 6'8, 215 lbs, 6.7 ppg, 5 rpg
F: Nemanja Mikic(So), 6'8, 216 lbs, 8.1 ppg, 43.6% 3FG
SF: Dwayne Smith(Jr), 6'6, 220 lbs, 9.3 ppg, 5 rpg
SG: Lasan Kromah(So), 6'5, 197 lbs, 11.8 ppg, 35.6% 3FG
PG: Tony Taylor(Sr), 6'1, 191 lbs, 15 ppg, 4.6 apg
F: Jabari Edwards(Sr), 6'10, 215 lbs, 2.4 ppg, 2.3 blocks/game
F: Jonathan Davis(Fr), 6'7, 215 lbs
F: John Kopriva(Fr), 6'8, 205 lbs
G: Aaron Ware(Sr), 6'5, 202 lbs, 5.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg
G: Bryan Bynes(Jr), 6'3, 170 lbs, 6.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg
G: Dan Guest(So), 6'2, 205 lbs
G: Malik Tonkins(Fr), 5'5, 150 lbs
For those of you who trust the machine, Kenpom predicts a 75-64 Cal victory at 84% certainty.
Tony Taylor is the engine that drives the Colonials. His outside shot is just dangerous enough to make you respect it. He's strong and quick enough to get into the lane although he's more of a shoot-first guy than a true distributor. His signature move is to curl off the pick and roll, and then drive the lane for a runner. It's very similar to a play we run all the time for Jorge.
Nemanja Mikic is the Euro-style big man who will torment us all game long by raining uncontested 3's. He's the dark horse candidate behind Taylor for the player we are most likely to despise out of grudging respect.
David Pellom is their top rebounder and interior threat. He'll platoon with Jabari Edwards who is their best shot-blocker. They don't have a strong post game, relying instead on Taylor to penetrate and set other guys up.
Dwayne Smith is their slasher from the wing and Lasan Kromah provides another threat from the outside.
Cal's Projected Starters:
C: Richard Solomon
PF: Harper Kamp
SF: Allen Crabbe
SG: Jorge Gutierrez
PG: Brandon Smith
G: Justin Cobbs
G: Emerson Murray
C: Robert Thurman
F: Bak Bak
F: David Kravish
F: Jeff Powers
Keys to the Game:
1) The Cal Guards vs. Tony Taylor
Can we slow him down without our starters getting in foul trouble? I know Monty was hoping to play more man defense this year, but this might be one scenario where zone might be an effective way to stop Taylor from getting into the paint.
2) Cal Defense vs. GW's Perimeter Shooters
In particular, someone needs to be able to close out on Mikic. Considering that GW isn't too hefty inside, I could see Cal using Solomon's length and athleticism to keep Mikic in check. We'll need to show better awareness of fighting through screens and switching as necessary.
3) Boxing Out
GW likes to keep their power forward on the perimeter and draw one of our bigs away from the hoop. Although they don't have any overpowering big men, their guards and wing players all have decent size and like to crash the offensive glass.
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