The last game against Stanfurd still hurts. It still disturbs and bewilders me that we could go into a game with such high stakes, yet find ourselves wanting. It wasn't just losing the game that leaves such a bitter taste; it was losing against a beatable team due to an all-around poor performance. I struggle to find a comparable loss during the Mike Montgomery era at Cal. Coming off of extra rest? With two senior leaders, including the conference POY and DPOY? Inexplicable.
No amount of revenge or redemption is going to erase the past and bring back that banner. But, it is literally a must-win game to keep the Bear tournament hopes alive and extend the playing careers of Cal favorites Harper Kamp and Jorge Gutierrez.
With regards to physical match-ups, nothing has changed since Nick laid out his preview from last week.
Chasson Randle, 6'1'' freshman guard
Aaron Bright, 5'11' sophomore guard
Josh Owens, 6'8'' senior forward
Dwight Powell, 6'9'' sophomore forward
Anthony Brown, 6'6'' sophomore guard/forward
Jarrett Mann, 6'4'' senior guard
Andrew Zimmerman, 6'8'' senior forward
John Gage, 6'9'' senior forward
Josh Huestis, 6'7'' sophomore forward
Josh Owens is their best all-around player. Randle and Bright are their shooters. Powell and Huestis bring x-factor athleticism to the court. And they have a bevy of unremarkable bigs whose best skills are grabbing rebounds and running into people. Statistically speaking, it's unlikely that Zimmerman is going to continue to hit threes after shooting only five in his previous 4-year career.
The Furds rely on controlling the glass and playing tough defense. Their offense comes and goes, but we've seen firsthand that they have enough firepower to get it done if we don't D up.
Make no mistake, this contest is all about the Bear's suddenly fragile psyche. Last game, it looked like we weren't able to handle the early adversity of a few missed shots and tough foul calls. With the Furd bigs able to use their depth to play physical defense, we had a choice between answering the bell and with letting it throw us off our game. The results speak for themselves.
By this point of the year, we know what we are. We're a team with very little bench help that is capable of playing solid team ball on both ends. When we lose our patience on offense and lose our focus on defense, we're simply not deserving of being a tournament team.
It's strange to say, but the guys may be trying to hard. There's a difference between pressing and playing with controlled ferocity. It's deeply concerning for Harper Kamp to talk about "the team coming out soft" or "not knowing why we aren't ourselves anymore." Equally or more so, it's troubling to hear Monty admit that Jorge is "battling demons" right now.
If there was ever a time to find answers, speak now or forever hold your piece. Peaking at the right time is almost as important as match-ups with regards to making a post-season run. Clearly, it's less than ideal to bottom out before getting back off the mat. Thanks to our late stumble, questions abound with regards to dance tickets and seedings. But none of that matters at this point; if we can re-capture our mojo, I like our chances against anyone in the conference. Let's do this.
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