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Cal basketball negatives from Washington week: We lost to WSU!

That sucked.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

What were the biggest negatives from Washington week? What needs to be improved?

boomtho: My first worry is the rebounding and interior defense. Now, Robert Upshaw and Jordan Railey are giant human beings - but they were far too successful against Cal. Railey set a season high in points on 7/14 shooting (many on dunks or putbacks), and Upshaw converted 6/10 (which, to be fair, is his season average). The Bears just don't have great interior depth to handle these kinds of big. Cuonzo has sometimes started Kravish on the "weaker" bigs to protect his fouls, but that has led to Behrens getting beat and/or getting in foul trouble. Okoroh could be the solution, but he's only a freshman and I wouldn't want to count on him for major minutes this early in the season. Cal was outrebounded in both the UW and WSU game - in fact, they were outrebounded by 13 in the UW game!

Underneath both the defense and rebounding, there is the central issue of inconsistency, which both Reef and Nick have repeatedly pointed out. This is certainly not the most talented team in the world, so winning is going to require determined, coordinated intensity for all 40 minutes. Right now, Cuonzo isn't getting that out of these players, and that could be the most problematic thing going forward.

A third, lesser worry (because I think it's largely fixed) is the degree to which Singer and Moute a Bidias are complete non-factors on offense. It's hard enough for Ty Wallace to be the only offensive catalyst - it's much harder when he has drive into a packed lane with 1 or 2 free help defenders. Singer actually had some decent moves against WSU and hit a 3, but we'll need more from him, even if it's just more quick drives and an openness to shoot uncontested threes. Moute a Bidias also had some nice slashing moves (one against UW late, and one against WSU that was ruled a foul on the floor), and I'd like to see him continue to that. I have less confidence in his ability to hit 3's... but that would be great as well!

Nick Kranz: I suppose the obvious worry is the fashion in which Washington State's post players dominated Cal's post players. It was particularly jarring because it occured just two days after Cal did a pretty credible job against Robert Upshaw, Shawn Kemp, and Jernard Jerreau - a front line much more physically imposing and statistically productive than Washington State's Jordan Railey and Josh Hawkinson.

But really, struggling to defend the post against Wazzu is one symptom of a larger issue. Cal has been pretty inconsistent on both ends of the floor, in rather extreme ways. The complaint of 'inconsistency' is admittedly something of a sports cliche. Pretty much every team and athlete in the wide world of sports is inconsistent because nobody plays their best or their worst all of the time. Variability is a fact of life.

And yet Cal seems to be taking it to extremes. Sometimes the offense will look downright deadly - when Ty is finishing at the bucket, Mathews is hitting shots from all over the court, and Kravish is taking and making jump hooks inside. Sometimes it doesn't look like Cal can get an open shot, let alone sink a basket. It's scary that wildly divergent performances are starting to bleed over onto the defensive side of the ball as well.

Against Washington we saw 40 minutes of good-to-great defense, and 20 minutes of great offense. Against Washington St. we saw 20 minutes of good-to-great defense and 20 minutes of great offense. I'd settle for 40 minutes of good-to-great defense, and 40 minutes of merely average offense.

TwistNHook: In the previous post, I discussed the role of David Kravish in the win against UW. Now, it is time to discuss the role of Kravish in the loss to WSU. I think that with Bird out this team turns on Kravish. He is our best inside player and we need him to play well to balance out our outside guys (notably Wallace/Matthews). Here, his offense was nowhere near as good in a sloppy loss to WSU.

Total 3-point Rebounds
## Player p fgm-fga fgm-fga ftm-fta off-def tot pf tp a to blk stl min
14 BEHRENS, Christian f 1-1 0-0 1-2 1-2 3 3 3 0 1 0 1 17
45 KRAVISH, David f 2-9 0-1 2-2 3-7 10 4 6 0 2 2 0 39

He is out there playing the entire game, but shooting a terrible percentage there.  Instead of 21 points, he had 6.  Now, we cannot expect Kravish to put up 20+ every game, but he had opportunities to at least get 10+.  If he plays at that level, Cal wins against WSU.

Trace Travers: I'm not a fan of how quickly Christian Behrens is picking up fouls. Early in the season, Behrens served as an outlet on Ty's forays to the bucket. Without him, we have Okoroh, whose hand aren't where they need to be, Kravish, who tends to stick to midrange jumpers, and Tarwater, who made a couple of threes Sunday but hasn't been a feasible threat.

Defensively, I don't understand the reasoning of having Behrens start on the biggest post threat of the other team. That's how he tends to pick up fouls quickly, which gets him out of the game. Kravish is a better post defender with his length, which can prevent some of the posts heating up.