No TV for this one, for no obviously discernible reason. Oh well.
Utah enters this game 10-4, with two nice wins at home over the Washington schools and a 20 point loss to Stanford on Friday night. Their non-conference performance was pretty mediocre, with three respectable losses and a best win over . . . South Dakota, I guess? Nothing that really stands out as amazing, in any case.
Still, it's a good bit better than last year's painful, 9-21 (3-15) season. Utah probably isn't ready to compete in the top half of the Pac-12, but they have some intriguing young talent to pair with some solid vets. It's a game Cal should win, but not a game they can take for granted.
PG Danielle Rodriguez, 5'10'' Senior
W Malia Nawahine, 5'10'' Sophomore
W Tanaeya Boclair, 6'0'' Sophomore
W Paige Crozon, 6'1'' Junior
F Emily Potter, 6'6'' Sophomore
W Katie Kuklok, 5'10'' Senior
F Joeseta Fatuesi, 6'4'' Sophomore
G Erika Bean, 5'8'' Freshman
W Devri Owens, 5'8'' Sophomore
As has typically been the case since Utah has joined the Pac-12, they focus their offense on the talents of their best interior player. This year it's Emily Potter, who is shooting an impressive 56% from the field and averaging a double double. She's taller than any player on Cal's (healthy) roster, so it will be interesting to see how Cal deals with her.
After Potter it's a balanced attack of wings who take a generally even share of shots. Crozon and Kuklok are the ones to watch from distance.
Our Computer Overlords Predict
Sagarin Predictor: Cal by 9.9 points
Just crushing Colorado defensively gave Cal's computer numbers a nice boost.
Keys to the game
1. Zone to beat Potter?
Utah has one player who is by far the most efficient and by far the most targeted on offense. Cal doesn't have an obvious matchup to throw at her - I suspect that Kristine Anigwe and Courtney Range would get pushed around. Might be a good time for a 3-2 zone that essentially double teams Potter all the time. But will that open up opportunities for Utah's shooters? An interesting defensive puzzle for Coach G to piece together.
2. Win the turnover battle again
Utah's biggest weakness is a huge turnover deficit. The Utes average 17 a game while their opponents average just 11. Meanwhile, Cal is just off a game where they forced 25 turnovers. Can the Bears bother another team with a size and athletic deficit into a bunch of mistakes?
3. Rebound equity
If Utah is going to keep this game competitive they will have to outrebound the Bears. After a rough weekend on the glass in the desert, Cal came back with a solid advantage against woeful Colorado, but that's probably not a good comparison considering how shorthanded the Buffs were. Staying even on the glass with Potter down low will say a lot more.