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Cal Men's Basketball looks to make UW bow down

Get out your flea powder and spray bottles. The predictably unpredictable Washington Huskies are a' comin'.

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Lorenzo Romar is one of the longest tenured coaches in the conferences. As overly simplistic as it may sound, his teams are tough when he has talent, and not so much when he doesn't. After a multi-year stint as a contender, the past two seasons have ended with disappointing runs in the NIT. With the departure of three senior starters, this season was projected to be a rebuild with young talent.

Washington's inexperience showed in the pre-season with upset losses to UC Irvine and Boston College. However, the pups have shown a surprising amount of bite now that conference play has started. They played even with Arizona for over a half, and managed to pull upset wins over Arizona State and Utah.

After dabbling with a high-post offense last year, UW is back to playing uptempo motion. Romar's teams are at their best when they can play fast and let their defense fuel their transition offense. Easy baskets on the break were what keyed their upset over the Sun Devils.

Although they have plenty of athletes on the wing, they no longer have the 7' Ndiaye as their paint enforcer. Consequently, their defense, rebounding, and shot-blocking are all down this year.

Playing Washington almost always comes down to whether a Monty-coached team can play better fundamental basketball than a team of Romar-recruited blue chips. If we don't let them out-athlete us, better execution on both ends should carry the day.

Projected Starters:

F Perris Blackwell(Sr), 6'9, 275 lbs, 11.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg
F Mike Anderson(Jr), 6'4, 195 lbs, 7.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg
G CJ Wilcox(Sr) 6'5, 195 lbs, 19.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg
G Andrew Andrews(So), 6'2, 195 lbs, 13.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg
G Nigel Williams-Goss(Fr), 6'3, 185 lbs, 12.4 ppg, 4.1 apg


F Shawn Kemp Jr.(Jr), 6'9, 250 lbs, 3.8 ppg,
G Darin Johnson(Fr), 6'5, 200 lbs, 7.3 ppg
F Desmond Simmons(Jr), 6'7, 225 lbs, 4.3 ppg

Perris Blackwell is a transfer from USF. He's a load inside at 275+lbs, but moves well for a big guy. As expected, he's their designated monster on the boards and low post scoring specialist. Mike Anderson is a JuCo transfer. Although he's only listed at 6'4, he reportedly plays bigger due to long arms and hops. He's a solid all-around player who does a bit of everything. Although he's still finding his groove this year, last year, he shot 44% from three. The creatively named Andrew Andrews came on at the end of last year. He's more effective as a slasher, but will often fall in love with his three point shot. (31%) McDonald's All-American Nigel Williams-Goss was the star of Romar's last recruiting class. He's not a great shooter from deep yet, but is athletic enough to break down defenders. For a true frosh, he does a good job taking care of the ball and shows a knack for setting up his teammates on the break. C.J. Wilcox is their senior leader and best all-around player. He was in the conversation with Allen Crabbe last year if you were picking the best pure shooter in the conference. He's still dangerous from three (42%), but is also getting himself to the line this year. (89%)
Shawn "Drizzle Boy" Kemp, Jr. backs up at center, but hasn't developed into a consistent post presence the way they had hoped. Darin Johnson was a 4* recruit and the poster-child for the perfect Romar recruit; long and ridiculously athletic. Desmond Simmons is the quintessential "glue guy" who brings hustle and defense off the bench.

Key Matchups:

1) Transition defense and tempo

If you protect the ball and are disciplined about hustling back on defense, you take the teeth out of Washington's favorite way to score. The Huskies are much less dangerous if you can turn them into a half-court jump-shooting team. Justin Cobbs has been very good about knowing when to push and when to favor half court sets. With our size advantage inside, we'll want to be patient and focus on feeding our bigs.

2) Wallace vs. Wilcox

We'd love for Wallace to turn into a longer-armed, less coifed version of Jorge Gutierrez. He had his hands full with Oregon's leading scorer, Joseph Young. (29 points, 6-11 floor, 16-17 FT) Now he has to stick one of the best shooters in the league and slow him down without fouling.

3) Effort and Focus

We're playing great basketball with a lot of confidence. As long as we don't let them out-work us, the better team should prevail.

Go Bears!

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