Cal's Hero Zero
Back in the 1970s, there were these tiny segments after the Saturday morning cartoons that were supposed to educate and enlighten people. After getting your dose of Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids or Sigmund & The Sea Monsters, there was a three- or four-minute segment entitled "In The News" or "Multiplication Rock" where you'd be introduced to places like Conjunction Junction or have it hammered into your head that a noun is a person, place, or thing. One of the Multiplication Rock songs was "My Hero Zero."
Yeah. Zero is a wonderful thing.
In fact, zero is my hero!
How can zero be a hero?. . .
Did you ever stop to think about zero?
Zero is fantastic! Why, without the concept of zero,
we'd never be able to multiply, divide, add, subtract,
or even to count very high.
In the past three games, Benson has scored 51 points, grabbed 30 rebounds, and has gone from being a last-minute addition to a recruiting class a few years ago to become of the Bears' most reliable scorers and rebounders. Putting him on the wing in a zone defense makes him extremely hard to shoot over - and that defensive alignment has been one of the most stifling that Cal's used this year. Probably the most lightly-regarded statistic for Benson is his minutes played total - in the past three games, it's been 30, 30, and 24. In years past, going back through the Hughes brothers and Jamal Sampson, the Bears have had difficulty keeping their big men out of foul trouble. For the most part, Benson hasn't had that problem.
|With Rod Benson||Without Rod Benson|
|vs. Oregon St.||24||60||37||+23||16||31||29||+2|
The emergence of DeVon Hardin
Maybe everytime he dunks the ball or blocks a shot, the Straw Hat Band could launch into "Whip It."
Hardin isn't a classic box score stuffer - in the past three games, he's had 16 points and 13 rebounds in 47 minutes. Yet on the court, he's made a big difference - especially in the two Oregon games. Last weekend, the Bears were a +34 during the 34 minutes he played, but a -6 in the 46 minutes that he hasn't. His offensive rebounding ability and the fact that he can play solid minutes in relief of Paris and sometimes Benson is a big boost for a team that was thought to be vulnerable in the post with the absence of Pac-10 freshman of the year Leon Powe.
|With DeVon Hardin||Without DeVon Hardin|
|vs. Oregon St.||20||52||32||+20||20||39||34||+5|
The return of Marquise Kately
A few summers ago, anyone who saw Marquise Kately play in the San Francisco Summer Pro-Am League saw a running, jumping, scoring dervish whose future was limitless. Earlier this season, people were wondering not just where the old Kately went, but if they'd ever see him again. Ever so gradually, he's been rounding back into form - although he's scored just 24 points during the past three games, the Bears have been a +38 with him on the court and just a +3 without him. Kately's biggest mark has been on the defensive end. With him on the floor, the Bears are surrendering 1.16 points per minute or a 46 point/40 minute pace. Without Kately, the Bears are giving up 1.81 points per minutes or a 72 point/40 minute pace.
|With Marquise Kately||Without Marquise Kately|
|vs. Oregon St.||18||39||19||+20||22||52||47||+5|
Martin Smith isn't going to have to play 30 minutes anymore
One of the great stories of the season is the emergence of Martin Smith as a point guard. From seeing token minutes the past couple of years, Smith has now seen his playing time increase due to injuries to Midgley and Ubaka. While his ability to push the ball upcourt helps Cal's running game, teams have attempted to wear him down by putting man pressure on him as he brings the ball upcourt. Evidence shows that Smith and the team do become less productive whenever he has to play more than 30 minutes. Of the 10 games that there's +/- data for, Smith has played more than 30 minutes in half of them. In those five games, Smith was a +5 in the first half, but a -40 in the second half. In Cal's win over Oregon where he played 33 minutes, Smith was a +17 in the first half, but a -13 in the second half. In the five games where he plays less than 30 minutes, he was a +20 in the first half and was a +38 in the second half. Against Oregon State when he played 24 minutes, he was a +13 in the first half and a +12 in the second half.
With Midgley recovering from his injury and Ubaka now healthy, it won't be necessary for Smith to play more than 30 minutes a game which should be better for both him and the team.
|Total||First half||Second half|
|vs. St. Marys||10||9||17||-8||0||8||-8||9||9||0|
Success with different lineups
Before the season, it wasn't clear how deep the Golden Bears would be. Yet in the wins against UCLA, Oregon, and Oregon State, Cal has been successful using different matchups - against UCLA, Cal had success with a frontline of McGuire, Paris, and Benson (14-3, +11). Yet against Oregon State, a frontline of Benson, Hardin, and Kately turned out to be the most productive (28-10, +18). During the three-game winning streak, the Bears have gotten help from several different lineups. Head coach Ben Braun usually employs between 15 to 20 different lineups each game - the one common link in Cal's three most successful lineups in each of the three games has been Martin Smith. Otherwise, seven different players have been involved in the Bears' most productive combinations. Curiously, the starting lineup hasn't been the most productive lineup in any of the three victories.
|Vs. Oregon St.|
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