Programming note: Analysis of this game and the Creighton game are coming Thursday morning, along with various other WBB musings. My apologies for falling behind!
Fresh from their ascension to 10th in the AP poll, the Bears are back on the court looking for their seventh win of the season. Standing in their way is Sacramento State, who might be the worst team on Cal's schedule.
That appears to be objectively true, in that the Hornets are 1-4 and will likely have the lowest RPI of any team on Cal's schedule. Sac St. was a middling team last year in the Big Sky, and look to have taken a step backwards this year.
Hopefully the lack of elite competition will not dampen the enthusiasm of roughly 2,000 school-age kids who will enjoy presentations from Cal's Dean of students, Layshia Clarendon, and the Cal Steel Bridge Team - plus a basketball game!
PG Fantasia Hilliard, 5'3'' Sr.
G Takara Burse, 5'8'' Sr.
G Andrea Chenier, 5'11'' Sr.
F Hallie Gennett, 5'11'' So.
F Margaret Huntington, 6'0'' So.
F Kyhonta Doughty, 6'1'' So.
F Gretchen Harrington, 5'8'' So.
G Adella Randle-El, 5'8'' Jr.
G Marann3 Johnson, 5'7'' Fr.
G Erika Magana, 5'7'' Jr.
G Brianna Burgos, 5'6'' So.
G Taylor Brown, 5'7'' Fr.
So, this is kinda confusing. It should be noted that the starters are 'projected,' in that there hasn't been any particular rhyme or reason to who starts for Sac St. Twelve different players average at least 10 minutes/game for the Hornets, and eleven of those players have started at least one game.
More incredibly? No one player averages more than 21.6 minutes/game. That's almost unbelievable, and I've never seen it at any level of basketball.
Why? Because Sacramento State plays some of the fastest basketball in the nation. WBBState currently has them as the 2nd fastest, to be specific. Remember the San Jose State game? SJSU is 3rd in the nation in pace. Cal scored 110 on SJSU. What will happen against Sac State, a team that plays slightly faster, with worse defense? I don't know. It could be spectacular.
I'm going to idly speculate that Cal intentionally scheduled Sac St. for the purposes of providing entertaining, up-and-down basketball for all of the kids in attendance. As you would expect against a Paul-Westhead-esque team, there will be a ton of shots, a huge rebounding differential in Cal's favor, and lots and lots of running.
Keys to the game
Only two for this game, because it's pretty simple.
Don't turn the ball over much: Sacramento State's defense is designed to force you to either a) shoot very quickly or b) turn the ball over. They want to suck you into their style of play. Which is fine - Cal is content to run, and they will fully accept the good looks Sac St. provides almost as a matter of course. If Cal can avoid copious amounts of turnovers in the face of Sac St. pressure (The Hornets average 30!!! forced turnovers/game), they will score in triple figures and coast to an easy win.
Just keep playing at a high level: This isn't complicated. Cal is coming off a weekend of excellent basketball. Were it not for a goofy double technical, they would have six double digit wins in six attempts. Against a weird style team like Sac St., more consistent, high level basketball on both ends will be more than enough.