BERKELEY -- When you're being called the most like an NBA team in college basketball, there are a lot of expectations, but after a 93-58 exhibition win over Carroll College, California forward Jaylen Brown said, "the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement."
There certainly was that, on Monday night, including from Brown, himself.
In the early goings, Brown seemed to be trying to do a bit much, turning the ball over three times in the first 10 minutes of the game. In fact, the Fighting Saints took a 7-6 lead 2:33 into the game, thanks to two early turnovers -- one by point guard Tyrone Wallace and one by Brown. The Bears were 2-for-6 from the field before a time out, which seemed to settle down the Bears and their two highly-touted freshmen, Brown and Ivan Rabb. The atmosphere was just a bit different from the last time Cal took the court at Haas, in front of a crowd of 1,500-2,000 for an Oct. 30 scrimmage.
"Totally different." said. Rabb "I think it felt a little bit different, just because there were so many eyes on us, and everybody wanted to see us do well. I was happy we had so much support tonight.
After that time out, the Bears went on a 17-0 run, and kept humming from there. Some notes that didn't quite make the cut in my analysis video:
Three Point Troubles
Cal did have issues after its early shooting woes, and they extended out, beyond the arc.
Through 4:27 into the second half, the Bears hit just 4-of-16 from three-point land. With snipers like Jordan Mathews, Jabari Bird and Brown on the outside, this team is going to be difficult to zone over the course of the season, but early on, nothing was falling. Then, Stephen Domingo got going.
Domingo had hit a three, followed by a tomahawk dunk from Wallace with 2:28 left in the first half to make things 44-23, Bears on top, but he did his best shooting work after the break. After head-faking a three and then driving baseline to kiss the ball off the glass, Domingo closed out well on a three-pointer by Carroll, and then got back to hit a trey of his own with 11:26 to go. Moments later, he hit another ball from deep, left open as Wallace drew two defenders.
That's more like what we should see during the season, and what makes the Bears so dangerous -- lots of weapons, and lots of shooters.
After that 4-of-16 start behind the arc, Cal went 9-of-13 from three-point land, mainly due to Domingo and Mathews, who got out of his funk (1-for-3 from the field in the first half) to go 3-of-4 from three-point range after the break.
If the Bears are going to be that team, though, Bird cannot struggle as he did on Monday. The junior wing is going to have his chances, as he did against the Saints, but he has to capitalize. Bird started the game 1-of-6 shooting, and finished just 2-of-8, going 1-for-5 from beyond the arc with fairly open looks. He did contribute three rebounds, one assist and one steal, but his numbers have to be better in 25 minutes of work.
Martin said he was fine with Bird's shot selection -- and they were, largely, very good shot opportunities -- and that sometimes, you're going to have an off night shooting, but he wouldn't lay into Bird about it. He has a point, but Bird has to produce. He's too good of an athlete -- and a scoring option, when he's right -- to be a non-factor.
More Coverage: Rabb, Brown and Wallace Talk Exhibition