Game Preview: California

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by: John Chase

After 3 straight road losses, dropping from first to third in the Pac-10, and 18th to 28th in the polls, the Huskies are coming home to Hec Ed to right their ship and get their winning ways back. Cal is coming in with some momentum, losing by 2 to Arizona in triple overtime 107-105. Before the loss they were on a 4 game win streak. Cal is 13-10 on the season, 6-5 in conference.

The Golden Bears are lead in scoring by Harper Kamp at 15.1 points per game. Jorge Guitierrez is second with 13.2 points per game. Two other Cal players are scoring 10+ a game. Allen Crabbe is scoring 12.4 per game. Markhuri Sanders-Frision comes in at 10.8 points per game. All four of these players have increased their scoring averages since the last match up of the two teams. Crabbe increased his points per game by 2, not an easy feat in only 7 games. He has been hot from the field lately and is by far the leading candidate for Freshman of the Year.

  • Cal rebounds pretty well. MSF leads Cal with 7.6 boards per game. Kamp is picking up 5.7 and Crabbe is grabbing 5.7 boards per game.
  • Cal is averaging 15 assists and 14 turnovers per game. Jorge Guitierrez is leading Cal in both categories with 4.5 assists and 2.8 turnovers per outing.
  • Cal runs a 9 to 10 man rotation with 7 players getting 15+ minutes per game and 5 significant point contributors (8+ pts per game)

Frision is an undersized center at 6-7, but he weighs 265lbs. Much like Jon Brockman, Frision is able to get position and use his strength to get the boards. At 7.6 rebounds per game he is a threat MBA and Aziz will have to deal with. His rebounding average has dropped by a little over a half board per game since UW played Cal on the road.

Gutierrez has had to step up his game after Cal lost 4 of their 5 starters and something like 90% of their scoring from last season. He went from 5.5 points to 13.2 by necessity and opportunity. Recently he was switched from point guard to shooting guard as he was unsuccessful at the 1. Brandon Smith has stepped in as the starting point guard. He is much more successful at the 2.

Two players on Cal’s team have made 20 or more 3 pointers this season. Jorge Guitierrez is leading in percentage at 26 of 71. Crabbe has the most makes at 43 of 113 attempts. Gary Franklin would make this list, but transferred to Baylor earlier this season.

Starting Line Ups:

California
G – Brandon Smith – 5-11, 185
G – Jorge Guitierrez – 6-3, 195
F – Allen Crabbe – 6-4, 205
F – Harper Kamp – 6-8, 245
C – Markhuri Sanders-Frision – 6-7, 265

Washington
G – Isaiah Thomas – 5-9, 185
G -Venoy Overton – 6-0, 185
F – Justin Holiday – 6-6, 185
F – Matthew Bryan-Amaning – 6-9, 240
C – Aziz N’Diaye – 7-0, 260

Keys to the Game:

Rebounding: The Huskies have been a much better rebounding team. A lot of this has to do with MBA stepping up his game. Aziz comes and goes a bit, but it starting to edge more towards being a significant rebounder. UW needs to continue this trend in force. It is what kept us in the WSU and UO games despite our poor ball handling and defensive efforts.

Interior Defense: This is why UW has been losing its games more than any other factor. Our interior defense and defense overall has been atrocious. Teams have been having their way with us inside and it needs to change now. We have two strong post players and three of the top defenders in the league in I.T., Holiday, and Overton. Though, admittedly, both Holiday and Venoy have been weaker on defense than they are traditionally known for. For Holiday it is understandable, he is being asked to do more on offense and that means less energy on defense. For Overton, injuries have plagued him this entire season and his mind has not been in the right place for some time. He showed signs of returning to his former glory in the UO game.

Ball Handling: We have to pass well and control the ball. Against WSU we had 24 turnovers, against OSU we had 12, against UO we had 15. We need to stay below 12, preferably around 10. Our assists count needs to be 18 or higher. This starts with Isaiah playing smart basketball, penetrating when it is there and looking elsewhere when it isn’t. I.T. needs help from Holiday, Ross, Suggs, and who ever else plays the wing positions to open the middle and create plays. Our wings don’t move enough to create the shots we should be taking. Quincy Pondexter did a fantastic job of moving on the wings and as such created a lot more shot opportunities for himself and his teammates.

Force the Middle: This falls under the same category as ball handling. Getting the ball into the post is very important. MBA should be taking 15+ shots a game. His accuracy and shot selection has gotten better and he is missing less of the gimme’s. I.T. needs to drive a bit. Overton has the speed and agility to take it to the hoop. This will open up good outside shots that are hopefully open and will go in.

Free Throw Shooting: Normally home games mean more free throws for the home team. This has not been the case for a majority of the UW home games. Regardless of home or away, free throws are very important and need to be hit. They are free. Take ‘um and make ‘um.

Final Thoughts:
It’s time to wake up and step up. Big teams with big players play big in the face of adversity. UA could go 2-3 or 1-4 in their next 5 game. They could also go 5-0, 4-1, or 3-2. They control their own fate atop the Pac. They have a 1.5 game lead on UCLA and a 2 game lead on UW. If we want to get to the top we first have to win and win them all. We beat Cal on the road quite easily. You can bet they want revenge. They are playing well and we have not been. We are at home and have been completely dominate there, but anything is possible. UW will need to bring everything that much is certain.

Final Score Prediction: UW-88 Cal-75
Not sure what to think about this game. We beat them on the road by 21. Our margin of victory at home is nearly 20. We have lost three games in a row by 5, 7, and 12. Anything could happen. I think UW comes out with purpose and drive. With the home crowd behind them, UW should get back to proper basketball play and defensive intensity.