Cal vs. Georgia
Saddle up, Cal fans. After a trio of early season breezers, our sturdy Golden Bears (3-0) hit the trail to take on the Georgia Bulldogs (3-0) in Kansas City. The 'Dawgs were a 21-win tournament team last year, and would have offered a tough, tough test had their two best players, Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, not decided to declare for the NBA draft. Maybe they can play a game of 21 with MSF as the undercard.
Even so, the Bulldogs have plenty of talent. They have a pair of tough seniors in Dustin Ware and Gerald Robinson anchoring the backcourt, big man Marus Thornton is a former Georgia Mr. Basketball, and frosh wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was a McDonald's All-American.
After the jump, let's take a closer look at the individual players and match-ups:
F Donte Williams(So), 6'9, 220 lbs, 3.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.5 bpg
F Marcus Thornton(So), 6'7, 235 lbs, 5.5 ppg, 4 rpg
G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope(Fr), 6'5, 200 lbs, 13 ppg, 5r pg
G Dustin Ware(Sr), 5'11, 172 lbs, 11.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg
G Gerald Robinson(Sr), 6'1, 180 lbs, 13 ppg, 4 rpg, 5 apg
G Sherrard Brantley(Jr), 6'2, 185 lbs, 3.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.5 apg
C John Florveus(Jr), 6'11, 230 lbs, 5.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg,
F Nemanja Djurisic(Fr), 6'8, 230 lbs, 6.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg
The strength of this Georgia team is clearly it's backcourt. Four-year starter Gerald Robinson is their field general and fellow senior Dustin Ware is their designated long-range gunner. Uber-frosh Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was rated as the #3 shooting guard in the nation by rivals.com and has lived up to his accolades thus far as one of the team's co-leading scorers. Perhaps more impressive is his 50% FG percentage.
The frontcourt, on the other hand, is still young and inexperienced. Although they have some athletic bigs, none of them are bruisers around the tin. The Bulldogs have been out-rebounded as a team this year despite facing questionable competition.
1) Allen Crabbe vs. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Because Georgia runs a three-guard offense, Allen Crabbe will probably be matched up against Caldwell-Pope. We know that Crabbe is deadly on the catch-and-shoot, Caldwell-Pope might be a little more dangerous off the dribble. Watching these two thoroughbred wings go at it will be a game within the game. Denying open shots and staying out of foul trouble will go a long way to determining who wins this matchup.
2) Jorge/Smith/Cobbs vs. Robinson/Ware
The Bear guards have done a great job on the defensive end this year by denying dribble penetration and by forcing the other teams to be volume shooters. If they are able to impose their will against Georgia's veteran backcourt, Cal should control this game.
3) Solomon/Kravish/Thurman vs. Williams/Thornton/Florveus/Djurisic
We already know what we're going to get with Harper Kamp. How the younger Cal bigs fare against their Bulldog counterparts? Solomon has struggled with consistency in the early going, Thurman is coming off a hip flexor injury, and this is a step up in competition for the young Mr. Kravish. Low post scoring has been one of the lone question marks that has persisted for this Cal team. Because we can't just overpower guys on the low block, we need to rely on good ball movement. That means sound execution on back screens, dives, and precise entry passes.
A next round showdown against either Notre Dame or Missouri could be looming, but the Bears can't afford to overlook this Bulldog team. We'll need another good start and sustained effort throughout the game. In particular, we'll need our reserves to be productive so that Monty doesn't have to lean on the starters for big minutes. Go Bears!
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