After having one of the best conference starts in Cal basketball history, the team has gone from “finding a way to win” to “finding a way to lose” – with players having career nights against Cal, the team shooting poorly (most of the time), and whatever it was that propelled them through the first 5 games seeming to vanish.
I think Monty had the best quote – he knew that these 4 games were going to be a step up because of the lack of common opponents so far in the season. $C and UCLA hadn’t played the Norris Division schools yet. So how good (or bad) were the Oregon, Washington and ‘furd schools? How did they stack up against the LA and AZ schools? I think we got our answer.
It’s a rare privilege to play a Number One team in any sport in any conference so tonight’s game is special, whether or not you think Cal has a chance in a million – although surprisingly Vegas has Cal as only a 5 point underdog. Perhaps there is a concern over an AZ hangover after their close call in Palo Alto or just the hazards of the road (although expect 1/4 of the Haas of Pain to be Red tonight). This isn’t the ‘zona teams of old – they are winning with defense (Seahawks?) and grind teams down to their lowest shooting percentages of the year. I can remember the Lute Olsen teams would play with you and then – boom – a string of 3-pointers would change a 2-point game into an 11-point lead and that was that.
There is also the “hometown effect” which bewitches the Bears when they head to LA – the AZ products from the Bay Area have the distractions of family and friends as they play here. In any case – really – a 5 point spread seems a great deal of respect for a team that has lost 3 straight and in not great form. But if Cobbs and one of the supporting cast can get a hot hand and combine some jumpers and 3’s with inside play from Solomon and Kravish, one can see a recipe for, if not a win, a very close game.
The Pac-1x network is pulling out all the stops on Hoopla Saturday with 12 cameras at Haas instead of the usual 6, which you don’t see anyway since you don’t get the Pac-1x network. So go to the game and lets try to make more noise than the AZ fans!