Fresno State was the much more mature, complete basketball team Wednesday night as they cruised to a 22 point victory over the Cal Bears. Despite the two teams shooting nearly identical percentages from the field, the Bulldogs had the game in check by the first media timeout of the second half. The Bears, once again, struggled to defend and rebound as they surrendered 95 points to the Bulldogs. This roster is clearly lacking solid interior defenders and rebounders, but the overall effort and focus on the defensive end leave much to be desired. Offensively, the Bears won plenty of one-on-one matchups but frequently settled for them instead of moving the ball to set up open looks.
Cal jumped to a nice start and appeared up to the task athletically against a Fresno State team full of upperclassmen. The experience differential between the two squads later took its course as the Bulldogs capitalized on a bevy of Cal blunders to take a twelve point lead at halftime. Many of Cal’s mistakes were unforgivable. On three separate occasions, Cal fouled a three-point shooter with two of them ending in four-point possessions. Cal also struggled with the Bulldogs’ press and again had a negative assist-to-turnover ratio. It was another tough game to watch for Cal fans, similar to the Bears’ performances against Saint Mary’s and USF. The only positives were some of the individual plays Cal made offensively on a night they shot 49% from the field. Justice Sueing and Paris Austin each finished with twenty points while Juhwan Harris-Dyson provided energy off the bench.
The Bears were without their 7-3 Center Connor Vanover tonight with him on concussion protocol and Cal conceded several ally-oop dunks to Fresno State’s dynamic forward Nate Grimes. Fresno State was also missing a player, and perhaps their best player, Deshon Taylor but had no problem taking control of the game. Noah Blackwell played admirably in Taylor’s absence finishing with thirteen points and nine assists. Cal was hapless defensively and ceded 38 free throw attempts to the Bulldogs. Cal looked like a team with a long way to go and it is becoming increasingly questionable whether Wyking Jones is the man to lead them there.
Cal Basketball needs to demonstrate steady improvement this season if Wyking Jones expects another year in Berkeley. The attendance at home games has taken a nosedive and the Bears are losing by twenty points to teams without a significant athletic advantage. This team is better than it was last year but the upgrade is not to the extent necessary in year two of the Wyking Jones era.