Another quickie preview this week, because I’m still hungover from Sunday’s game.
This is a game that matches two teams with similar season arcs so far. Both Cal and Colorado started the season with long undefeated streaks caused in large part by weak schedules. As such, it was difficult to evaluate either team. But just two weeks into conference play, both are now desperate for a win. Both Cal and Colorado are 1-3 in the Pac-12, and both teams have only managed wins over basement dweller Arizona.
In many ways, this is an elimination game. I’m not convinced the loser of this one can be taken seriously as contenders in the top half of the conference, and a 1-4 hole is a mighty big hole to dig out of.
Colorado is a defensive oriented team that forces nearly 20 turnovers/game. They tend to play small, and their pressure has caused plenty of teams problems. I’m not convinced that they have a prayer of defending Kristine Anigwe when she gets the ball, but it will be up to Cal to not turn the ball over before they can get it to their top scorer.
Meanwhile, on defense Cal will have to shut down Kennedy Leonard, one of the top scorers in the conference at 19 points/game. Leonard isn’t a great shooter (27% from 3) and generally mediocre finisher, but she draws a ton of fouls and takes a ton of shots, so if Cal doesn’t have a plan for her she can go off.
This is a big one. Cal is probably the better team, but not so much better that a road win is anywhere near for sure - especially playing at altitude. It’s gut check time.