When: 4:00 pm PT
TV: ESPN3 (i.e., your computer) and whatever SNY is
Shock the world? Shock the world.
Alas, the world was not shocked. UConn is the best basketball team by some margin in the nation and more or less played like it. Cal is a good team that can become very good, and they more or less played like it.
Ostensibly this recap on a Cal site should be about Cal. But it’s hard not to gawk at the awesome terror that is the Huskies. Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair. UConn outshot Cal, won the turnover battle decisively, and attempted three times as many free throws as Cal. Maybe the biggest surprise of the game was that Cal stayed even on the glass. But hey, at least it gives Geno something to maniacally focus on over the next week of practice.
UConn does everything well. Their only weakness is the other team playing spectacularly well. They can play uptempo or half court, they can beat any defense.
To the extent that there was one turning point, it was when UConn started pressing, both full court and into Cal’s passing lanes. A flurry of turnovers and fast break opportunities followed and UConn had a 20 point lead in what felt like the blink of an eye. Many will feel that Cal was the architect of their own demise with bad passes and ball handling decisions, but most of those decisions were the type that non-UConns would not punish. UConn punished the Bears for each and every mistake.
UConn built their lead via points off of turnovers and a bunch of 3 pointers earned in the half court set, and to Cal’s credit I think their defense tightened up for the rest of the game. UConn ‘only’ won the rest of the game by 16 points mostly because Cal played solid half court defense (and because Cal had a late run against UConn’s freshmen).
As per usual, Kristine Anigwe was Cal’s best player, nearly recording a double double. When she got the ball she tended to get off a decent look, but of course what UConn did that few other teams can capable do was to deny her the ball. She only took 13 shots and probably touched the ball less often than any other game I can recall.
From a season-long perspective, the most interesting development for Cal was the introduction of Sara Anastasieska, who played 7 minutes, including some time in the first half. Her main contribution was hitting a couple of 3 pointers in 3 attempts. It appears likely that, particularly after Mi’Cole Cayton’s injury, will have a role as a backup guard and shooter this season.
Cal will take on Brown on Sunday before heading back to the Bay Area, where they will stay until late December. The task for now is to take the positives (Rebounding, defense after the 1st quarter) and the learning opportunities (most everything else) and get better. I don’t doubt that this team will do just that.