In a postseason that has been marred by distractions, the California men’s basketball team knew that it would have to come out of the gate extremely focused to defeat a tough Hawaii squad. Despite the urgency of the situation, the Bears (23-11) started off slowly and weren’t able recover in a 77-66 loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Playing without senior point guard Tyrone Wallace (broken hand) or junior wing Jabari Bird (back spasms), Cal struggled mightily from the field and never looked capable of beating the Warriors.
“I found out two minutes before the tip, because [Jabari] was, obviously, in the starting lineup,” said Cal coach Cuonzo Martin. “And then he went back to the training room again and said he had back spasms and just, he couldn't go. So we, obviously, made the adjustment with Jordan [Mathews] and that was it. He couldn't go.”
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1652595-update-wallace-out... Mathews wound up leading all scorers with 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting, and 3-of-8 from three-point range, but it was clear that without two of the Bears' best players, Martin needed others -- including superstar freshman Jaylen Brown -- to step up their games.
Along with Mathews' 23 points, freshman forward Ivan Rabb contributed 13 points and 12 rebounds down low. However, Brown continued his cold shooting (1-for-6 from the floor) and picked up quick fouls, which sent him to the bench early, limiting him to 17 minutes in what is likely his final game as a Bear.
"Definitely affected us," junior point guard Sam Singer said. "You got to guard him. He averaged 15 points a game this year. And so every time he's on the floor his presence alone just forces the defense to guard him. So not having him out there allowed them to collapse a little bit more on Ivan and made it tough on our bigs and they forced us to hit outside shots."
INSIDE THE LOCKER ROOM: Rabb Has a Lot to Think About
“I think [Brown] struggled somewhat and started thinking about it,” said Martin. “And I think for him, as a young guy, it's very hard to play the game the way he plays it when you get two, three offensive fouls and charges in a game, it's hard to have aggressive rhythm to you. So [that’s] just unfortunate. I think that's the biggest key, the biggest contributor. So now he's thinking about it and then teams letting him shoot the jump shot. If you are going to defend him, you would rather have him shoot on the perimeter rather than driving the ball.”
From the beginning, it was evident that the Warriors planed to attack the Bears on the interior through junior transfer Stefan Jankovic, whose inside-outside versatility caused huge problems for the Cal big men. Reminiscent of the Bears' last game against Utah, Cal allowed a talented big man to beat them down low without a double team, as Jankovic scored 16 points in just 18 minutes of play. For the Warriors, their leader was senior guard Quincy Smith, who more than doubled his season average and added 19 points.
“[This was a] really good win for Hawaii,” said Martin. “I felt they played well as a team. Their guards did a great job controlling the tempo. They played with passion, they played with energy. It was fun to watch them play. So congratulations to those guys.”
With an injury-riddled lineup, Cal started Singer at the point and and Mathews at the three. It was evident early on that neither Kingsley Okoroh nor Kameron Rooks could handle the talented Jankovic.
The Warriors were able to dominate the pace of play as Cal dealt with foul trouble -- including Singer -- and numerous turnovers. Hawaii forced 16 turnovers leading to numerous extra possessions and second chance points.
As Singer and Brown went to the bench early, Martin was forced to insert the little-used trio of Brandon Chauca (8 minutes), Stephen Domingo (14 minutes), and Roger Moute a Bidias (who rarely saw the court during Pac-12 play, but played 26 minutes on Friday).
"Definitely set us back," Singer said. "But you got to credit them. They had a good game plan and they really pressured us and got us out of the things we wanted to do."
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1652587-a-familiar-face-mo... The Warriors threw exactly the right defensive scheme at the Bears, potentially due to the scouting of assistant coach John Montgomery -- the former Cal assistant coach. Hawaii played zone defense against a Cal team missing it’s shooters -- particularly Bird, who, over the past 10 games, shot 27-for 50 from beyond the three-point arc (54%) -- when the Warriors hadn’t shown that defensive look the entire season, according to Martin, before the team left for Spokane.
With only a six-point deficit at the half, the Bears looked like they could still win the game with a strong second half. However, only five minutes later, the Warriors' lead had ballooned to double digits.
“It's always disappointing to lose, but it doesn't take away from a great season,” said Mathews. “23 wins, grew a lot with these guys. So of course you're disappointed, but you win ball games, you lose ball games. Life goes on. We had a great season.”
Cal became the latest victim of a Pac-12 plague in the postseason, as the conference's teams are now 1-6 in the Tournament. The Bears finish 5-11 away from Berkeley.
There were some who had said that Cal had one of the most talented teams in the Tournament, and were an outside shot to make the Final Four, but instead, the Bears' season ends just as many of their games away from Haas Pavilion this season: With disappointment.
- The Bears are now 20-19 all-time in NCAA Tournament games and 12-7 in first-round contests.
- Junior guard Jabari Bird did not play after experiencing back spasms in pregame warmups. He received treatment in the locker room during the first half and watched the second half of the game from the Cal bench.
- Mathews started in place of Bird, his first start since Cal’s game at Stanford on Jan. 14 and his 19th of the season. Singer was in place of the injured Tyrone Wallace (9th start).
- Regular starters Wallace and Bird, who did not play vs. Hawaii, combined to average 25.7 ppg this year.
- Sam Singer scored a season-high 12 points (5-9 FG, 2-3 FT), topping his previous mark of 10 vs. Richmond on Nov. 27. His career high is 15 vs. Eastern Washington on Dec. 19, 2014.
- Ivan Rabb grabbed 12 rebounds to extend his own freshman record to 291 this season. The 291 boards are also ninth on Cal’s season list (all players).
- With his 13 points and 12 rebounds, Rabb had his team-leading 11th double-double of the year.
- Jordan Mathews sank three 3-pointers, giving him multiple 3-pointers 27 times in 34 games this season. He raised his career total to 201, which ranks fourth in school history, and his season total to 89, which is No. 2 behind Jerome Randle’s 92 from 2009-10.
- Mathews tied the school NCAA Tournament record with the three 3-pointers.
- Mathews finished with a game-high 23 points, his fourth 20-point game of the year and his highest since getting 28 in a win over Arizona on Jan. 23. He raised his career total to 1,202 points, which now ranks 26th in school history.
- Cal had one block in the game and finished the year with 160, one block shy of the school record set during the 2012-13 season.
- Kameron Rooks finished with 8 points, his highest total since scoring eight at Washington State and his second-highest total of the year (11 vs. Stanford).
- With two starters out of action, both Roger Moute a Bidias (26 minutes) and Brandon Chauca (eight minutes) set their season best for minutes played. Stephen Domingo also played 14 minutes, his second-highest total since Jan. 1.