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Roundtables: Basketball growing pains.

It hurts. The pain hurts.

California v San Diego State Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images

What would you say is Cal’s biggest failing so far this season?

Kevin Wu: Consistency. Consistent effort and on-court smarts has been really lacking, both during each game and between games. We are young, no doubt it. But, we do have stretches were our guys look pretty in-sync. I think we have the athletic abilities to hang with the better teams out there, but where we’re lacking is in demonstrating consistent effort and smarts.

Nik Jam: I notice that our offense just isn’t getting it done. Too many open shots that are missed and too many turnovers. I know its Captain Obvious, but they need to score more points to win games. They play alright on defense and will play even better when they can get in position after a good shot.

Nick Kranz: Well, statistically Cal’s single biggest weakness is their offensive turnovers, which is a problem that pervades everything Cal tries to do on offense - and how other teams approach Cal defensively. But turnovers are just one slightly more problematic sin in a longer list. Cal ranks 200th or worse in 6 of the 8 (2-4 on offense, 4-4 on defense) ‘Four Factors,’ so it’s not like this team is just one or two issues away from being regularly competitive. But I think the biggest issue is something that Reef referred to in his UCLA recap: It’s not entirely clear what this team is trying to accomplish. The coaches have bounced through various offensive and defensive strategies without every settling on anything, and there’s a sense that Cal’s chances to gain time and experience consistently practicing and playing the same offensive and (particularly) defensive systems have been lost.

thedozen: This is a problem with multiple causes, but I will say keeping the score close at home. December 6 against Central Arkansas was a major example of how games seem to spiral out of control before the fans even have a chance to get involved, and not just against elite competition.

boomtho: I’ll agree with Kevin: the lack of consistency has hurt the team. This has a couple sub-components though: specifically effort, scheme, and offensive flow. I think we’ve been inconsistent across one, or multiple, of these dimensions across most of our games, which has cost us. To be clear I’m not really sounding any new alarms: we knew these would all be problems coming into the year.

Ruey Yen: The list of Cal’s problems are long and numerous. There are no easy fixes. Then again, it will be easy for this team to improve by the end of the year since the bar is so low. I got to agree that lower the turnovers is the first of many steps to avoid being blown out of games in within the first ten minutes.

Rob Hwang: Usually the best team composition includes having one veteran backcourt player and one frontcourt player. It helps in knowing how to maintain stable emotions and fight in the team along with knowing how to adjust on-court situation by situation. All that is in shambles. Our most veteran backcourt player is Don Coleman who rarely played last season. Our most veteran front court players are two senior centers who have never played in a pressing/zone system. That along with 7 freshman and a first time head coach. The biggest issue I see from the fan perspective is that we expected to lose, but we cant foresee the methods in which we would lose. It hurts to lose even if you know its coming and thats the biggest thing that fans and players alike will have to get over this season.

What is the one thing you feel like Cal can control that they can fix and improve team performance?

Kevin Wu: Always look for the next smart pass. Don’t pass just to pass. Don’t shoot just to shoot. Ball movement is the name of the game. Keep your head on a swivel and anticipate where your teammates will be, then string some good passes together. Make the defense adjust to you. Don’t be predictable in your ball movement (or lack of it).

Nik Jam: Take care of the ball. A lot of the turnovers are sloppy and careless. I hope it is not a sign that the team has mailed it in and doesn’t believe in themselves.

Nick Kranz: Well . . . in terms of in-season changes that could reasonably happen, I’d say that better defensive fundamentals is somewhere to start. Cal’s many freshmen are all getting used to the challenges of trying to stay in front of their man on defense, regardless of whether or not they’re playing zone or man-to-man. I’d love to see Cal’s defense gradually improve over the course of the Pac-12 season as Cal’s roster gets used to the level of speed and athleticism in the Pac-12 and adapt to the rigors of DI basketball. This isn’t likely to lead to any kind of sea change in results, but we’ll take any and every sign of progress we can get, right?

thedozen: It’s one thing to be outclassed by superior talent, but it’s another to give the ball away at every turn (see the first half of the recent USC game). Wyking Jones and the Bears need to focus on mental mistakes to give themselves a chance in conference play.

Ruey Yen: The offensive woes, including limiting the turnovers, are harder to fix, but I agree with Nick that maybe the easiest thing to amend is the defense - both in terms of individual effort and as a team. A hopeless season is easier to stomach, if it feels like this program is going in the right trajectory. Unfortunates for the 2017-18 season, this has not been the case.

Rob Hwang: Cop out answer? Energy. Play every possession like its the last possession in the game. Play every offensive possession with urgency and direction. Play every defensive possession with anger and conviction. Thats all I want to see. Experience will increase as the season goes on. So will everything else get better as the season goes on? Thats tough to tell, but the one thing that wont change night in and night out is the level of energy and focus we bring against any opponent any night. The team should have the same fire in their eyes when they play an ASU as when they play an OSU. Top to Bottom.