Tomorrow afternoon SC takes on Cal in Berkley. Both teams are coming off some pretty tough losses so I would expect some frustrations to be taken out in this game. The great Cal Blog Tightwad Hill was gracious enough to have a little Q & A with us to discuss tomorrows game. A big thank you to USCLink for coming up with the questions and working on some answers for their questions.
1. How does Cal expect to contain all of 'SC's weapons? Pruitt has come into his form, Nick Young was recently named Pac-10 Player of the week, and Taj Gibson is expected to contend for Pac-10 freshman of the year honors. What will Cal do to deny the Trojans good looks at the basket?
shoot themselves out of possessions from the perimeter. The problem here is that SC has been very effective from three. Still, Cal would probably rather force the Trojans to hit their threes than allow Taj Gibson loose in the paint.
Also, while Cal doesn't press much, I wouldn't be surprised to see our guards extend pressure a bit more than usual to try to turn USC over.
2. This game will be immediately following a tough game against a very good Bruin team whose only loss of the season is at Oregon. Has the team shown a history of letdowns after big games this season? What sort of impact will that game have on Cal's performance against the Trojans?
I expect the Bears to come into Saturday's game with something to prove - especially Ubaka, who had the worst game of his Cal career Thursday night against UCLA. The Bears need this game to restore their confidence and keep their very long shot NCAA hopes alive.
3. Leading scorer and freshman Ryan Anderson has contributed both from inside and outside the arc, shooting 49% and 39% respectively. How will his presence help the Bears put points on the board, and what does Cal expect to do to get a consistent offense against 'SC's #1 conference defense?
As for the offense, it's not been Cal's strong suit, as 46 points against UCLA suggests. The Bears have struggled to generate a consistent flow out of their flex offensive sets. Ayinde Ubaka initiates the offense; he's a combo guard who is usually a good scorer. Anderson is the primary target and he will run the baseline and peel off of screens looking for the pass and shoot. Increasingly, Theo Robertson is a force in Cal's halfcourt - he's a strong if undersized four who is pretty good on dribble drive and has some range on his jumper. Omar Wilkes will occasionally contribute - he's got good range on his jumper and is primarily a perimeter threat.
Cal is very good at taking care of the basketball - even in the UCLA fiasco, they only turned it over nine times. So that's a strength - the Bears usually wind up getting at least one shot out of their possessions. Cal must rebound better than they did against UCLA to generate putbacks and get Trojans like Gibson into foul trouble.
4. Last year, Cal had the Trojans number, winning all 3 contests between the teams, including a 15 point blowout in the Pac-10 tourney. What players return from that team, and how have their contributions compared to last season?
minutes against UCLA. The other three scholarship players are true
freshmen, including starting wing Patrick Christopher. Christopher is very athletic but has struggled to get into the flow on offense, averaging only 4.2 ppg in 18+ minutes.
5. Cal gets a decent amount of time from its bench, with 8 players averaging over 14 minutes a game. How well does the bench hold the fort when the starters are taking a break, and how do you expect them to compete with 'SC's bench, including Wilkinson, Emjai, Hackett, and Lewis?
Against UCLA in the first half, Anderson sat the bench with two fouls for what seemed like an eternity (more like eight minutes) and Harrison did an OK job in his place. Pribble also played a lot in the first half, drawing a charge and contributing his usual hustle defense. The Bears were only down four after twenty minutes, so this crew can play well in spurts.
Thanks Guys! Good luck tomorrow, we hope for a safe game.