And 1: Cal 69, Stanford 59

Kevin Danna brings his insights and observations from Stanford's defeat at the California Golden Bears, 69-59, on Sunday evening in Berkeley.

As we were driving up to Berkeley from the South Bay, fellow broadcast partner and future Bootleg contributor David Lombardi and I ran into Powell Street and Dwight Avenue, hoping that would be a good omen for Stanford's fortunes.

While the young man named through those two streets had one of his most effective games of the season, it wasn't enough to stop Stanford's road woes from continuing, this time in the form of a 69-59 loss to the Golden Bears.

The game started off so promising, too. Unlike two years ago, Stanford didn't get run out of the building right off the bat. Rather, the Cardinal jumped out to an 11-7 lead. The starting lineup of Randle-Owens-Powell-Huestis-Mann was working beautifully. Huestis wasn't letting Crabbe get easy looks. Cal couldn't drive into the paint as easy as they would have liked. Powell showed a renewed commitment to aggressive play on both ends of the floor, gobbling up two rebounds in the first 70 seconds and relentlessly taking it to the rack on offense. Simply put, David Kravish could not hang with Dwight (the only thing that really hung with him was foul trouble). Dude even hit a three. In some way, Powell was a factor in all of Stanford's first 11 points.

Unlike one year ago, Stanford didn't let Cal get a little separation by the time the first half buzzer sounded. Instead, Stefan Nastic beat the buzzer to give the Cardinal a 33-32 halftime lead. Cal had made their first half run - 18-5 at its zenith - to push the Golden Bear advantage to 25-16. Cobbs and Gutierrez were able to get into the teeth of the Stanford defense and attack from there. The Bears were able to get out in transition off missed Stanford shots or turnovers.

But the Farm Boys weathered that storm. After looking hesitant on offense during Cal's run, the Cardinal got back into a groove in the form of Stefan Nastic, who refused to take "Cal is going to embarrass you" for an answer. The Serbian Stud from Canada went to the line six times in that first half, making five. And how about that take from the elbow to the rack to put Stanford up 31-30? Josh Huestis started to get into a rhythm, hitting a turnaround jumper over Crabbe, then a free-throw line jumper to tie the game up at 27. The lead would go back and forth, but Cal left the door open for the Nastic buzzer-beater by scoring with 10 seconds left.

All told, a very clean first half for the Card. Four offensive rebounds for Cal and just four turnovers while shooting 44 percent from the floor. Anthony Goods and Fred Washington would have been pleased with the reoccurrences of the cuatros in the first half.

Second half started much in the same way as the first with both teams getting into the other's shorts on the defensive end. Cal opened up with a bucket, but Stanford responded. Cal got the lead to two, but Huestis answered with a trey to put Stanford back up uno. Nine minutes into the second half, and Stanford was still holding on to the slimmest of leads thanks to an Aaron Bright free throw.

But some costly things happened during that span - namely Chasson Randle and Dwight Powell each picking up their third personals early on: Chasson on the very first possession with a charge, and Dwight at the 16:38 mark. Forced to go back to the bench, foul trouble denied the Rock Island Rookie the opportunity to work into any sort of groove until very late and absolutely killed what Dwight had going on.

Then the first bit of separation came. The Cardinal were unable to get back on D after an Anthony Brown missed jumper, leading to an easy Gutierrez layup in transition, and Johnny Dawkins used a timeout to try to cap the Bear spurt at 4-0 and lead at three.

And for a while, the Cardinal were able to hold it at that margin. Trotter hit a big jumper from the top of the key. Jarrett Mann had a nice backdoor cut for the open layup off a pretty Owens feed. All told, it was still a three point game with seven minutes remaining.

But foul trouble again reared its ugly head. Powell picked up his fourth at the 8:28 mark after what looked like through the Cardinal-tinted glasses of one Bootleg writer in particular a nice elbow to the ribcage from Harper Kamp. Once again, Powell had to take a seat.

And then came the backbreaker. Nastic had just finished pulling off a great head-fake to get Kravish up in the air and get to the line. After hitting seven of his first eight freebies and with a chance to cut the lead to just one, Nasty Nas baked some bagels instead. Cal came down the court and it appeared as if Robert Thurman had been tied up by Jarrett Mann, but an official further away (as pointed out by Lombardi) from the play overruled the tie-up and called a foul on Jarrett, which put Thurman at the line for a one-and-one (again, I didn't share the same sentiments as the officials, but I was also on the opposite side of the court and am a pretty serious homer, so don't take my word for it).

Like Nastic, Thurman missed his first free throw. However, Stanford wasn't able to keep Kamp off the glass, as the Golden Bears' senior recovered the miss and later laid it up and in. It was a four-point swing that also happened to spark an 8-1 run to give Cal its first double-digit lead of the game.

In the meantime, Powell fouled out, leaving the Cardinal a man short in the rotation for the final five minutes.

By the end of the game and in large part due to the Powell foul out, Stanford was having all sorts of trouble clearing Cal's misses from the field. One such miss and offensive recovery with under four minutes to play and Cal up 60-51 didn't lead to a Bear bucket, but it did allow the home team to run off another 35 seconds.

Stanford would get the lead down to seven thanks to a nifty paint finish by Aaron Bright. And the Card followed it up by forcing an Allen Crabbe miss. But the Cardinal again looked like the Cougars down the stretch in Seattle against the Huskies two weeks back and allowed Gutierrez to get the miss. Cobbs laid it in to put the Bears back up nine, and that was effectively the game.

Cal by ten in the end. A better Cardinal effort in Haas than the previous two years, but a similar outcome.

This time, offensive rebounds and turnovers did the Cardinal in. All in all, the Cardinal did a pretty decent job in protecting the glass, as their defensive rebounding percentage was 71 percent, which is pretty much in line with their season average, which in turn is pretty damn good, but to continue with the use of commas, Stanford's defensive rebounding percentage in the second half was just 61 percent. Cal was able to recover seven of their 18 misses in the second half. The Golden Bears' guards did a very good job of crashing the glass (Cobbs, Crabbe and Gutierrez combined for six oh-rebbies), and Stanford guys found themselves out of position on occasion, which led to a lot of weak-side boards.

As far as turnovers go, it wasn't the number of turnovers Stanford had. From that standpoint, it was a very clean game for the Cardinal - only ten in all, and they forced Cal into two more than that. What was killer was what each team was able to do once those turnovers happened. On more than one occasion, a Stanford turnover led to an easy basket in transition for Cal. When Cal turned it over, Stanford was never able to turn it into easy points. Cal only held a slim 12-9 edge in points off turnovers, but dominated Stanford 10-0 in fast break points. Stanford isn't a team that is going to get theirs on fast breaks, but Stanford did a pretty good job defensively against Cal in the half court, and those points that Cal got without having to work for them in an offensive set made it that much easier for Monty's side.

Looking at the box score, you can't help but think that if Stanford's main scorers had achieved their averages, the Cardinal could have really put a scare into the Bears and maybe have pulled it off.

Josh Owens was effective with nine points and nine boards, but only took seven shots. Stanford guards were looking for him early in the game, but Owens faced multiple double teams and usually had to pass out (he did have three assists against one turnover, so that was a nice little surprise). Once Stanford got down double digits, however, Josh didn't see much of the ball at all.

Chasson Randle did some damage late and showed why he can be a future Pac-12 POTY with his late flurry, but early foul trouble really saddled him, as he was only able to play nine minutes in the first half and then didn't really start playing in the second half until the 13-minute mark because of an early third in the second half.

Defensively, Aaron Bright was pretty good - he made sure Brandon Smith didn't do much of anything and didn't let Cobbs go bananas when he was on the Minnesota transfer. But offensively, Bright wasn't looking for his shot in the first half and couldn't get it to fall in the second.

So the big road swing of the season didn't go nearly as planned: 0-3. This loss officially put Stanford behind the eight-ball in Kevo's pursuit of a 12-6 season. Not the way you'd want to conclude the first half of Pac-12 play.

On the flipside, this is the first one-half of a conference season (any half) that Stanford has gone 5-4 in with Johnny Dawkins at the helm, and the second half of the season appears on the surface to be easier. There are two very splitble road trips to Southern California and the Mountain schools, and everything else is at home. It was a very disappointing three games away from Maples, but Stanford has a great opportunity to do some damage in the second half of Pac-12 play. By no means is this time to get off the wagon.

It starts on Thursday with Surgin' Sendeks, who will be coming to The Farm fresh off a four-point victory at home over Washington State

The second half can't come soon enough.
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