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WBB Journal: Sweeping into Stanford

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Photo Credit @CalWBBall

This is going to be a quicky because my pesky real life is getting in the way of being a basketball blogger. I know, bad choices, bad priorities. In any event, regardless of the 300 things on my To Do list, we’re in February and I can’t let a whole week go by without some women’s basketball coverage on this site. So since Nick couldn’t be bothered to make it down to the game last Sunday, here, with very little insight, is a review of the week.

When we last checked-in, Cal was coming off a sweep at the hands of the Oregon schools, and still had not beaten an upper tier team. They also had still not lost to a lower tier team, and were coming home to host two of them: Colorado and Utah. (Utah, statistically, is actually quite good, and looked like a coin flip against us, but since they are in the bottom half of the conference and are unlikely to make the NCAA tournament, we’ll call them lower tier for our purposes.) So if you were expecting a Golden Bear sweep last weekend....ding ding ding ding ding. The Bears beat Colorado in a close one and Utah fairly easily. And once again we’re left looking at an imperfect glass.

Half Full: It’s February, and getting to the point when worrying about quality of play, for predictive and analytical purposes, becomes a bit of an empty task -- and it starts getting to the point where the only important question is a simple one: did we win?

Did we win? Yes. Twice. A sweep is a sweep.

Half Empty: From a positioning perspective the victories were expected and did not help much. After two wins our RPI actually dropped two spots, to 36. Charlie Creme’s bracketology dropped us a spot, to a 9 seed. In the conference standings, we are still two games out of a first round bye, and further back then that because OSU owns the tiebreaker against us. So sweeping at home was basically just holding serve, if you’re looking at our March prospects.

Half Full: Last week I prayed that shots would start falling. And somehow, they did. The final three halves of the weekend were the most effective stretch of offensive basketball the Bears have played in the conference season. I don’t have time to break down the reasons for or the sustainability of this newfound offensive prowess, but trust me when I say: this was a good development.

Half Empty: Oy, the defense, especially in the 2nd half of the Colorado game and in transition in the early going against Utah. The Bears have yet to put together what I consider a complete game on both ends, and they’re going to need to do so to compete in March.

All of that was prologue so I could tell you one thing. It’s Stanford week. The biggest week of the conference regular season. Two battles. Two chances at glory.

Stanford is really good right now. Every time I watch them, they’re running something precise on offense, getting in someone’s face on defense, and just plain executing the heck out of whatever Tara asks them to do. So the script says we’re supposed to lose twice. After all, the script has been uncannily accurate: lose to the teams ahead, beat the teams behind.

The heck with that.

You gotta believe in something and right now I choose to believe that this team is going to flip the script. I don’t know why or how this is going to happen. I don’t have any logic or predictive analysis to support this belief. But it’s my journal and I get to write what I want.

If we’re going to make a meaningful change in our trajectory before the postseason, this is the week to do it. After more than 3 months, after 25 games, here is the opportunity. They’re Stanford. We are the California Golden Bears. We will somehow, some way, find at least one win in the next three days.

Believe.

And if you’re anywhere near Palo Alto, come out on Thursday at 7pm.

If you’re anywhere in the state, come out to Haas Pavilion on Saturday at 2:30pm. It’s Senior Day. It’s Cal vs Stanford. We are called, in such times, to show who were are. To represent.

There will be magic. Believe.