After the Bears surrendered a combined 178 points in their winless trip to Los Angeles, Wyking Jones enforced a rule that all players wear mouth guards in practice this week. The motive was to urge better effort and discipline on the defensive end and on the glass - two areas Cal has struggled mightily in this season. To his credit, Cal was better in both aspects tonight but still came out on the wrong end of another double-digit loss.
Cal jumped to a strong start primarily due to some lackluster shooting by the Sun Devils against the zone. The Bears led 25-11 with 6:23 to play in the first half until ASU point guard Remy Martin ignited the Sun Devils to pull within two at halftime. Martin came off the bench tonight but was the game’s MVP finishing with 24 points and eight assists. Meanwhile, Cal’s regular starting point guard, Paris Austin, remained out with an ankle injury and freshman Matt Bradley took the bulk of his responsibilities. Bradley erupted for 19 points but had just two assists on six turnovers in an uneven offensive performance for the Bears.
Once Arizona State settled into the game late in the first half, it looked like more of the same for the Cal Bears. While the rebounding was better, the interior defense was nonexistent and open three-point looks were a dime a dozen. Cal’s offense was dependent on players scoring in isolation as the team finished with just eight assists and thirteen turnovers. This was not completely unexpected given Cal was without its starting point guard, but ball movement has been a constant issue for the team this season.
Several players continue to flash on the offensive end for their ability to hit shots and finish at the basket, but the overall team performance leaves much to be desired. This team is clearly in the bottom tier of the Pac 12 in a down year for the conference. The Bears squandered a golden opportunity to take this game down to the wire following the Sun Devils’ shooting woes in the first half. This team needs to improve quickly if the administration expects fans to return to Haas Pavilion. Tonight was the worst stadium atmosphere for a conference game at Haas in a long time and it is a clear product of the poor execution on the court in the last two seasons under Wyking Jones.