While Eric Bond (+9) and Gabriel Hughes (+6) were able to make strong contributions, Cal was unable to overcome two long offensive dead spots during the end of the first and second halves in their 78-73 loss to Georgia.
One of the biggest questions that faced Cal this year was what would happen if an opposing defense was reasonably successful in slowing down Joe Shipp. Against Georgia, Amit Tamir increased his offensive output, and even though the Bears didn't play all that well, still came very close to beating a team that several people had ranked in the top 20. The biggest problem Cal had on Saturday was closing out halves. In the first half they were up 35-29 with 4:05 left and managed only 3 points the rest of the way. In the second half, Cal was up 66-62 with 4:45 left and managed only 3 more points the rest of the way. Taken together, that meant that Cal scored only 6 points in a combined 9-minute stretch of the game. One more made free throw or field during that period would have meant a Cal win.
One situation that head Cal fans pulling their hair out was end of the shot clock situations. Too often, instead of trying to drive to basket and create a foul situation, a very long 3-pointer would be attempted. This year, Cal hadn't faced too many any of the shot-clock situations until the Georgia game. While there weren't as many far-flung 3-pointers, too often the ball appeared to end up in the point guard's hands, as opposed to Tamir or Wethers/Shipp. If the point guard represents a potential scoring threat, then having the ball in his hands as the clock winds down is all right. While Diggs is developing his scoring ability a lot quickly that one would have thought, Cal might be better off getting the ball to Tamir in the high post with 10 seconds left and just having everyone move around.
It shouldn't seem like rocket science that if the offense has the ball with less than 35 seconds left to play, that a team shouldn't shoot until there are about five seconds left unless a defensive breakdown leads to a wide-open shot underneath the basket. Taking not-so-open shots with 15 seconds left should be darned near the bottom of preferred choices.
PLUS/MINUS vs. Georgia
|A J Diggs||31||44||52||-8|
First vs. Second Half
First Half Top - Erik Bond -- 18-12, +6
Second Half Top - Erik Bond - 5-2, +3
Overtime Top - Gabriel Hughes - 2-3, -1
First Half Bottom - Joe Shipp (33-36), Conor Famulener (16-19), Richard Midgley (24-27), David Paris (3-6), -3
Second Half Bottom - A.J. Diggs - 25-29, -4
Overtime Bottom - Amit Tamir, Brian Wethers, Joe Shipp - all 4-9, -5
Difference Makers of the Game
With Erik Bond in 9 minutes, 23-14, +9
Without Erik Bond in 36 minutes, 50-64, -14
With Gabe Hughes in 17 minutes, 32-26, +6
Without Gabe Hughes in 28 minutes, 41-52, -11
From a plus/minus standpoint, this was Gabe Hughes' best game of the year. He struggled against New Mexico and had a terrible second half (-14) against Howard. During Saturday's game he was a +5 in the first half, a +2 in the second half, and a -1 in overtime.
The starting lineup was on the court during most of a key run that took the Bears from a 62-57 deficit to a 66-62 lead.
Diggs, Wethers, Shipp, Tamir, G. Hughes in 12 minutes - 27-22, +5
All other combinations in 33 minutes - 46-56, -10
With a game this close, a bucket here and a there can radically affect a plus/minus total. Georgia's bucket near the very end of the overtime period added a collective -10 to Cal's totals. Cal's bench was -6 in a combined 59 minutes, but -7 of that came during the overtime. Right now the bench is at the point where things won't fall apart if three or four subs are in the game at the same time. But one key factor in whether Cal will be a good team or a very good team this year is whether Bond or Midgley can become a consistent 8-to-12-point a game scorer.
Diggs and Midgley
Cal continues to struggle when both Diggs and Midgley are in the game together. Against Georgia, Cal was a -8 during the 6 1/2 minutes that the two were on the court together. Even more befuddling is that Cal only managed 2 points (both coming on free throws) during that time period. While there aren't too many circumstances where one would want to recommend keeping a lineup on the court that manages no field goals in six minutes, it's far too early to consider abandoning the idea, one of the two guards has to start feeling more comfortable looking for his own shot within the context of the offense.
With Diggs and Midgley in 6 1/2 minutes, 2-10, -8
With all other combinations in 33 1/2 minutes, 71-68, +3
Taking a look at Cal's efforts against New Mexico, Howard, and Georgia, the results don't look that much better.
With Diggs and Midgley in 25 minutes, 28-57, -29
With all other combinations in 100 minutes, 201-159, +42
On a per minute basis, Cal's offense productivity slips from 2.00 points per minute to 1.12 points per minute when Diggs and Midgley are in together. Defensively, Cal falls from 1.59/ppm to 2.28/ppm when the two are in together.
*Points per minute scored by Cal while player was on the court.
*Points per minute scored by opponent while player was on the court.
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