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Cal MBB: Bears use layoff to get back to basics

Eight days between Oregon State and Stanford games

NCAA Basketball: California at Oregon State Scobel Wiggins-USA TODAY Sports

When the Cal men’s basketball team takes the court against Stanford Sunday, it will have been more than a week since their last game, a 69-58 win at Oregon State. The Bears are using that time to fine-tune their skills in practice.

“I think the biggest key is you want to continue to get better,” said head coach Cuonzo Martin. “Often times you go into game to game to game, it’s always scouting report specific. You have a tendency of breaking down on things that you haven’t worked on as much.”

“I think it’s good for us to get back in practice and work on things that we haven’t worked on in awhile,” added senior guard Sam Singer. “Usually we’re focusing on a specific team, so now we’re getting back to us mostly.”

Nearly halfway through the Pac-12 schedule, the Bears finds themselves squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble, currently listed as one of the “First Four Out” by ESPN bracket guru Joe Lunardi. Cal sits at 14-6 overall, 5-3 in conference play, as they gear up for the final ten games of the regular season.

“We feel like this is our last stretch to really get back to some of the basic things,” saod Martin. “Hopefully guys can maintain and grasp what we’re doing for the stretch run.”

“Right now we’re focusing a lot on defense and our defensive rotations, especially when it goes into the post,” said senior guard Grant Mullins. “And then just kind of fine-tuning our offensive plays and really being comfortable coming down in transition and running something without having to call it.”

Martin pinpointed free throw shooting and assist to turnover ratio as two key areas he’d like to see improvement. As a team, Cal has made just 64.6 percent of its free throws, tied for 311th in the country. The Bears commit a respectable 12.7 turnovers per game, tied for 108th in the nation, but they only average 12.4 assists per contest, tied for 258th.

Cal gets its next chance to improve those numbers Sunday against Stanford. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m. at Haas Pavilion.

Injury Update

Sophomore guard Don Coleman practiced Tuesday after missing Saturday’s game at Oregon State with a bruised hip. Cuonzo Martin expects him to return Sunday vs. Stanford.