The crew over at California Golden Blogs was once again nice enough to do a Q&A with us, this time involving basketball. We're just happy they're still talking with us after the last Q&A we did with them. That result? A 35-27 beat down at Byrd.
But the only person who's opinion really matters is President Obama, who has us beating Cal in his bracket.
Hopefully we'll follow the same path as he did in the 08 election...
But in all seriousness, the folks over at CGB have been great to us and it's always nice to get the perspective of people who've followed a team all year.
So, without further adieu, here is the Q&A. You can also check out the Q&A's they asked us by clicking here.
1. Cal went 2-4 in their last six games. What contributed to this late season slide? Was it just difficult opponents, or was a particular weakness exposed?
It wasn't really a late season slide. We just happened to play our toughest opponents last. Arizona State, USC, UCLA--all solid tourney teams that provided matchup problems for us. If you want to point at a failing of those first two games, it's that we couldn't shoot the ball, nor could we rebound very well with our frontline hobbling around out there.
2. Cal's easily the best three-point shooting team Maryland has faced this year. Who, if anyone, has been able to slow the Bears down this year from distance, and how'd they do it?
Cal usually stops itself. As Sir Charles likes to say, "you don't live by jumpers, you die by them". Against USC we couldn't find the net in the first half if we'd set it on fire and lit warning flares. If the Golden Bears go out and shoot lights out, they're probably going to win. If they don't, we'll be scrambling most of the game. But you're probably going to get something in the middle, so it should be close enough for Maryland to get their chances.
Another note regarding the most recent USC game is that USC outrebounded Cal by about 15 boards in that game. Cal doesn't have the inside presence to really get the boards if they are missing their shots. So, the problems compound themselves. Cal shoots poorly. Cal doesn't get a second chance. Other team scores points. That's how the first half looked against USC in the Pac10 Tournament and if Maryland is lucky (god forbid) that's how the first half will look for Cal.
3. Maryland doesn't exactly have the best post game. After all, the Terps start a 6-7 center (and that might be generous). Luckily for them, that's not Cal's strong suit either, it seems. Describe the front court situation for the Bears. Is there any big guy on Cal who has the potential to surprise and have a big game against a small Terp front?
Boykin and Wilkes. Boykin and Wilkes. Sounds like a terrible Vaudeville act, doesn't it? And for Cal fans, sometimes it looks like one. Jamal Boykin is the main guy averaging the most boards on the team at 6.4 per game. Jordan Wilkes had the second most with 4.0. The key, we believe, will be Wilkes. He started 31 games this year, but only played 18 minutes a game. He has the potential, but hasn't always capitalized. We saw it in a game against USC earlier this year. Here is the box score:
He put up 16-9. If we can get Wilkes to throw up a Double-Double or essentially a Double-Double in this game, it would work well for Cal. His normal numbers are 5 points and 4 boards a game. So, 16-9 was a huge improvement for him. If the scorers are writing Wilkes' name a lot, it could be a long day for Maryland.
Also Harper Kamp will be playing significant minutes off the bench. He's undersized and he's not going to be known as a fierce player, but he's a perfect matchup for this Maryland squad, since he plays generally good post defense. You can add "takes charges" and "makes jumpers you'd never think he'd make", and that he's going to be a player you'll learn to hate very quickly, like Bruce Bowen or James Posey. He's going to be like Paulus on Duke, except he's actually good.
4. A lot of Cal's points seem to come from just a few people, indicating a weak bench. If that's the case, Maryland will probably try to exploit that and push the tempo. Just how deep - or shallow - is Cal's bench? Are there any impact players coming off the pine?
The answer here comes in the form of a question. What's 20 feet tall, quacks like a duck, and recently beat up Chuck Norris? Yes, that's right. Jorge Guterriez!
He has started 0 games this year. 0! But he is the high octane, high energy guy, who always seems to hustle for that board. Always seems to get that steal (especially in the Stanford game). Yes, he makes his fair share of mistakes and yes he's new to college basketball at this level. But he is a fan favorite and a fire-starter for the team.
Look at the numbers:
3 players (Randle, Christopher, Robertson) average over 30 minutes a game. So, those are the 3 main guys there. In comparison, Gutierrez only averages 18 minutes a game (although that is probably more in the latter half of the season as his role expanded). Looking just at the numbers, he wouldn't stand out. Nothing seems extraordinary there. But his play on the is, for better or worse, infectious. And he would be a guy off the bench to watch. If he comes in and is playing well, grabbing key boards or key steals, he can inspire the other guys. If he turns it over 300 times in 3 minutes, well, game over, man. Game over.
5. How important is the three for Cal? Is the rest of their offense well-rounded enough that they could look elsewhere if the three's aren't dropping? As an example, can Randle put the ball on the floor and create if his shot isn't dropping?
Maryland shouldn't start thinking we're like the Warriors, where we jack up 3s at will. The 3 point shooting usually happens within the context of a half-court set. Our offense is based around ball movement, player movement and either (a) driving to the hole, or (b) stroking wide open Js: http://coachingbetterbball.
And believe me, nobody likes to stroke wide open Js more than Cal. It's totes their fav thing to stroke!