Guards Richard Midgley, Ayinde Ubaka, and Martin Smith combined for a brick-laden 6-26 from the field (Midgley is a frosty 2-21 in his last two games). As a team, Cal finished at 36% in field goals, 21% beyond the arc, and 52% from the free throw line. Even its normally stingy defense took the night off, allowing the Bruins to convert over half of their attempts from the field.
In the immortal words of the mercurial Michael Ray Richardson (former phenom for the N.B.A.'s Nets and Warriors whose career was cut short by drug abuse), "The ship be sinkin'." But whenever his team plays itself into a pickle and all hope for postseason play appears lost, Coach Braun usually finds a way to bust
"It is a discouraging loss, and there is no hiding that fact," Braun admitted after the game. "But it really comes down to what we do about it. We have to bounce back. Richard has to bounce back." Based on Ben's track record, it says here that the Bears will qualify for the Pac-10 tournament and host an N.I.T game, at the very least.
Why? Because even in this brutal blowout there were some bright spots. Players dove into the stands for loose balls. Marquise Kately played with fire for the first time in forever. Rod Benson added a spirited 12 points and 11 rebounds. And the pre-teen who sang the national anthem rallied after a rocky start to finish with a performance that provided a glimpse at your next American Idol.
With five games remaining in the regular season, the Bears must win at least two in order to qualify for the N.I.T. Cal faces USC on Saturday, and they are likely to take out their collective frustration on the Trojans early and often.
Midgley on his shooting woes:
"I'm just missing it right now, obviously. I have to keep shooting though."
Midgley on failing to defend home court:
"It is embarrassing to get blown out at home in front of all our fans."
Kately on the team's slow start:
"Personally, I think we came out flat and they were ready to play."
Coach Braun on his team's offensive struggles:
"I thought we were impatient in transition and with the ball in the block. We didn't rotate the ball well. I wasn't pleased with some of the looks we got."
Coach Braun on Midgley's slump:
"I don't want Richard in any way, shape, or form to lose his aggression."
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