"Sky High. Abyss Low."
These are just some of the words that Cal fans used to describe this season; and during a different type of season, this particular preview would be a joyous effusion of snark. But alas, the final game of this mercurial season. The emotional roller coaster that we call California Athletics has culminated in a Gyro Drop Ride Men's Basketball season. Now we finish against a team that gave us one of the worst defeats in recent memory. (I'm talking long term and not that game that happened in Tucson, Thursday night). Let's look at Arizona State.
Statistically they aren't that formidable of a team. They allow the highest Opponent FG% at 53%. They turnover the ball on offense at a rate of 20.9%. They only shoot 32.3% from 3PT land. and they only shoot 67.1% from the Free Throw line. They rank in the bottom 3 of every single one of those categories. But that doesn't mean that we can take them lightly. They exceed in offensive rebounding at a rate of 31.3% (5th in the Pac-12). Although they do not shoot well from beyond the arc, they dominate anywhere inside of it, shooting 49.8% within the arc which is 4th best in the Pac-12. They also create the 4th most TOs in the conference at a rate of 18.9%. So what does the numbers all mean? The force TOs and get out in transition to score either midrange or at the basket. They also gain second chance opportunities by crashing the offensive glass.
Herb Sendek's team may have had just as streaky a season as we have. Standing at 17-14 with a 9-9 season record, the season was expected to be lost following the loss of Jahii Carson and Jordan Bachynski, but they have stayed afloat in the middle of the Pac-12. They do have some great wins this year (Arizona, UCLA, Stanford) as well. Here are the key members of Herb Sendek's Sun Devils Squad.
- G Tra Holder - 6'1"/165lbs/Fr
- G Gerry Blakes - 6'4"/195lbs/Jr
- F Shaquielle McKissic - 6'5"/200lbs/Sr
- F Savon Goodman - 6'6"/215lbs/So
- C Eric Jacobsen - 6'10"/235lbs/Jr
- F Bo Barnes - 6'4"/190lbs/Sr
- F Jonathan Gilling - 6'7"/219lbs/Sr
Rob's Rally Roars:
- Start Fast, Start Strong. We cannot have another 1st half like we did against ASU at Haas Pavilion. We need to get Kravish good looks on the blocks and allow our team to penetrate and get to the rim. This will force an adjustment to allow the Number 1 3-PT shooting Player in the Conference (with atleast 100 Attempts) to get open looks from down town. (If you did not know it is Jordan Mathews). Not only do we need to get out to a quick start we need to maintain it atleast 10 minutes into the game. Against Arizona, we matched them shot for shot and it was 12-12, but a long scoring drought and the game was blown open, 23-12.
- Go Big. Make ASU play against our (never thought I'd say this) Big Frontcourt. Kingsley Okorah along with David Kravish will force them to settle for midrange and 3-PTs, and if they get to the Free Throw line, they have shot as bad as we have. ASU also has the worst Block% on offense in the conference, so we may have a block party for us, which allows us to get out in transition and once again get back to the first point of starting fast.
- Give them everything beyond the arc; Give them nothing inside the arc. The Sun Devils only have one 3PT threat in Jonathan Gilling, who is shooting at 43.7%. Beyond Gilling, not a single Sun Devil is shooting 40%+ with at least 50 3PTs attempted on the season. Barring an abnormal perimeter shooting night from ASU, the bears should pack the paint and clean up every single defensive rebound that comes.
- Play the hot hand. Our offense sometimes becomes to stagnant from two reasons. First, no one can get a bucket. Second, we're too unselfish. Granted the second point isn't a bad thing, but when all we can do when in a scoring drought is give Tyrone Wallace the ball and hope he either scores or gets to the line, it just becomes a head-sulking offense. We have to make sure we get everyone going enough that we have scoring touches to ride during a game. My perfect progression would be Kravish - Mathews - Bird - Wallace. That would ensure a post presence, then a perimeter presence, then a slashing presence, then a play making presence. A very idealistic basketball request, but even getting 1 or two buckets from each of these guys in different ways and different parts of the court would keep the defense off-balance allowing us to dictate the tempo and momentum of the game.
Obviously it would be nice to end the season with a win, but the significance of the win going into the Pac-12 tournament will be huge. Currently we would start with a game against Colorado, but with a win and holding the tie breaker over OSU and ASU, we would be matched up against a more favorable Washington. The win would also allow us to finish 6th in the Pac-12. (One position above our predicted 7th finish). Time to go get that win and go into Las Vegas with some confidence!
TV: PAC-12 Networks
Radio: KGO 810
Time: 11:30 AM