So here are the facts. We are on a 3-game skid. Our Offense is sputtering. Our Defense is leaky. Our rotation is in shambles. Whatever confidence our entire roster had going into Pac-12 play seems to have dissipated after the CSU-Bakersfield loss. 4 games into conference play we're 11th in Offensive AND Defensive efficiency. We don't have a stat in the top half of the conference. Oh wait. We do. Turnovers are 4th. Yet our optimism and outlook and the team is as positive as ever. So what do we need to watch for and focus on for Part 1 of the rivalry this season? Here we go.
Rob's Rally Roar:
1. Turnovers. Turnovers. Turnovers. And this means for both sides. We need to limit our turnovers against.... everyone. Our transition defense is leaky at best, so we need to make sure we do not give Chasson Randle any opportunity to run the break for easy buckets. Also we need to make sure we create turnovers. We are not a half-court team. We need to get out on the break and allow for Tyrone Wallace to penetrate and also allows our trailing shooter, Jordan Mathews, every open look from 3 we possibly can (and Jabari provided that he plays extended minutes and does not cramp up).
2. Box-Out and Rebound. Knowing Coach Martin's love for defense, this should be engraved into our team's mentality by now. Yet our defensive rebounding has been abysmal of late. The idea of boxing out means that if every player boxed out their man, every missed shot would turn into a team rebound at the very least. Many guys have been caught ball watching and we've seen forwards/centers do whatever they want on the offensive glass for second chance opportunities. Which leads to my last point...
3. Deny The Post. Deny The Paint. Deny Any Big Man. Look at our last 4 games. Disregarding the outcome, the opponent's Forwards/Centers have decided to have monster games against our team. Washington's Robert Upshaw, WSU's Josh Hawkinson, USC's Nikola Jovanovic, UCLA's Kevon Looney and Tony Parker. What do they all have in common? They dominated the paint and dictated how the game was going to flow. We make sure Stefan Nastic is taking shots away from the paint, that will ease our defense to defend the perimeter and not have to come down on the posts.
Now about that team that plays across the bay... Johnny Dawkins' squad has been having a fairly solid season so far. Early in the season they got blown out by a Duke squad, which looks like its becoming a LEGEND-status squad (I See You Dukies!), but overall have had some solid wins including an overtime win over Texas and Washington. On their LA trip this past weekend the split the road games, narrowly beating USC by 2 and losing at UCLA in double overtime. Chasson Randle and Stefan Nastic has cemented themselves as one of the best 1-2 punches in the conference. Along with fellow senior Anthony Brown, who does a little bit of everything from scoring to rebounding, and a great freshman class, including F Reid Travis, the Cardinals have a well balanced squad of experience and youth. In terms of match up, this maybe semi-similar to playing us from last season. PG Chasson Randle will control the tempo and is not afraid to shoot from deep, from which he is shooting a ridiculous 45%, but don't be fooled he isn't just a jump shooter, as he is shooting 88% from the FT line. They have plenty of rim protectors in Nastic and Verhoeven, and new young talent led by former Mcdonalds All-American Reid Travis.
Now a detailed look at the Cardinal team and rotation
PG Chasson Randle - 6-2/185/Sr
SG Marcus Allen- 6-3/190/So
SF Anthony Brown - 6-6/215/Sr
PF Roscoe Allen - 6-9/220/Jr
C Stefan Nastic - 6-11/245/Sr
Key Rotation Members:
F Reid Travis - 6-8/240/Fr
F Grant Verhoeven - 6-9/220/Jr
G Robert Cartwright - 6-2/165/Fr
G Christian Sanders - 6-4/185/Jr
C Stefan Nastic - The key man should really be both Nastic and Randle, but with Tyrone and Roger probably taking turns at Randle it'll probably be hard for him to be the lead man. It all starts with Nastic who is shooting 47% from inside the arc. His array of offensive moves is quite astounding, and maybe the most polished center that our team has faced so far. Keeping him off the offensive glass and contesting his shots will allow our perimeter defenders to stick onto Randle. Our big men definitely have the quickness advantage over Nastic, and he isn't the most athletic big man we have faced so far this season. Shutting him down will allow our perimeter defenders to only have to worry about 3-Point threats and not about cheating down to help double team.
Prediction: This is going to be a pretty tough test for our team, but if theres any opponent that can light a fire for the squad and staff it'll be a rivalry game at home. Given that we somehow shut down Mastic in the paint, I see us barely squeaking out a win 75-72.
Tip Off: 8PM P/T
TV: ESPNU/WatchESPN App
Radio: KGO 810