Cal Can't Be Sneaky on Center Stage

In Wednesday's 76-75 overtime loss to the UCLA Bruins, California looked timid on the offensive end of the floor—not what you'd expect from the only Pac-10 team that returned two all-conference scorers, and added a third premier shooter off an injury…

Trust me, Jerome Randle is sly.

Listed at 5-foot-10 (but standing more like 5-foot-7) and possessing all-world like speed from the perimeter to the paint, the Chicago-native has seven-footers turning in circles wondering where the little guy went.


Cal's Jerome Randle guarding UCLA's Malcolm
Lee, right, during the first half of the Bears'
76-75 OT loss to the Bruins on Wednesday night.
AP Photo/Ben Margot
He can swipe a would-be dribble-drive away before other guards no what hit them, and backdoor bounce passes? Oh, he'll find a way to thread any needle.

Too bad for Randle though, his Cal basketball team isn't as sneaky in 2010.

Heading into the '08-'09 season, the Bears weren't expected to be anything special. Picked by every Pac-10 coach as a bottom-half conference squad, mediocrity—even sniffing .500—would have done just fine.

But you see, Cal was better than that; it's just that nobody else knew.

Insert a 22-11 record, an NCAA tournament appearance and a long list of returners though, and the Bears soared from preseason snub a year ago to their highest October national ranking ever.

Cal went from the cellar to center stage and, as Mike Montgomery pointed out in his first press conference over two months ago, you can't sneak up on anyone when from center stage.

You won't catch anyone asleep at their place or, as we saw when UCLA came to Haas Wednesday night, road trips will mean business. Like or not, the Bears are going to face the best out of each of their opponents—and they don't look ready.

Against the Bruins, Cal looked timid on the offensive end of the floor—not what you'd expect from the only Pac-10 team that returned two all-conference scorers, and added a third premier shooter off an injury.

When the Bears desperately needed stops down the stretch, they bailed out UCLA freshman Reeves Nelson and others time and time again—not what you'd expect from an intelligent, senior-laden squad.

And even with defenders in faces, when it couldn't hit a three-pointer to save its life, Cal continued to jack up treys—not what you'd expect from a team that said it didn't want to live and die from 20 ft. 9 in. Sure, the 2-for-18 from range was a fluke. And I'll even buy that some of those calls late in the game were bogus.

But the fact that the Bears blew a double-digit home lead to a team that already has more bad loses in 15 games then its had in the last five years, while dominating the turnover department, shows that Cal is susceptible to any conference foe that shows up to play.

Who would've guessed…it was UCLA that snuck up on the Bears.

Cal Sports Digest is the new home of lead writer Jon Doss' award winning Daily Cal column "Who's the Doss". Jon will weigh in on hot topics pertaining to Cal and the Pac-10 conference throughout the season.

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