Cal Preview

Though not quite the right sport to carry the label of Big Game, this Pac-10 opener is a very big game for both Stanford and Cal. A disappointing preseason for the conference has all participants edgy about postseason chances, and that makes each game crucial. Add in the longstanding rivalry and recently heated games, and this affair could be a classic.

Stanford @ Cal - Jan. 4
Tip-off: 7:00 pm (PST)

Sponsored by the The Cafe at the Arrillaga Alumni Center: Official Pre-Game Hangout of The Bootleg

Saturday night matches two of the better pre game preparation coaches in the county in Mike Montgomery and Ben Braun. Add in the fact that they have faced each other 12 times and have had 4 days to focus on each other makes this match up a Basketball strategist dream.

Cal Defense

Cal's defense may best be described as "helter skelter," to create havoc on their opponent's offense. A.J. Diggs is a fierce competitor who will get into the face of his player. Diggs will also free lance on defense. He shares the point with freshmen Richard Midgley. Midgley is another hard-nosed kid who exerts a lot of effort, and whom Booties will grow to respect during his time at Cal.

Cal will switch off screens, which causes a lot of mismatches. You might see Amit Tamir guarding Matt Lottich on a switch. How quickly Stanford recognizes those mismatches or how well they continue to run their offense will be a key. Cal will also show a zone and then go into a man-to-man defensive set. Watch how Stanford handles the different looks.

Basically, Cal will attempt to make it hard for Stanford to get into offense by pressuring the point, and then confuse the Cardinal by either switching off screens or going in and out of man-to-man defense. I am sure Cal watched the tape of our North Carolina game and I would expect them to overplay passing lanes. Stanford must remain calm and not get rattled.

Cal Offense

Cal will mostly run a motion offense. They run 4-out and 1-in, and some 5-out. They will try to beat you at the point of attack. The Bears will get the ball out quickly in transition. Their spacing is very good.

Joe Shipp, Amit Tamir and Brian Wethers are their big three. Stanford needs to focus on these 3 players while at the same time not letting the other guys beat them.

Tamir is a 6-10 player who is a very good outside shot from the wing. He has a nice inside game but prefers to face the basket. Amit is and excellent passers with a nice feel for the game. Amit doesn't look to score off the dribble so any of Stanford's "bigs" can guard him outside.

Shipp has taken 25% of Cal's shots and can go for 30 to 35 any given night. Joe is hitting 47% from the floor, 42.5% from 3-point land and 82% from the line. Joes can slash and shoot from deep. The Cardinal will need to continuously throw fresh bodies in to guard Shipp and hopefully wear him down.

Wethers has a solid all around game. Not your typical off guard in the sense that he is more comfortable inside the 3-point line. Can drive and shot/dish.

Midgley has a game very similar to Chris Hernandez. Midgley can shoot the three, will drive to the basket and create. Distributes the ball very well. Opponents on offense sometimes ignore A.J. Diggs. This may be why he lets them know he is on the floor on defense.

Gabriel Hughes, Conor Famulener, Erik Bond and David Paris are all blue-collar role players. They play hard and are more than capable of going off if Stanford concentrates on the Big Three and Midgley.

Our knowledgeable friends on CyberBears believe their 4 or 5 out motion offense along with Tamir's passing & shooting ability opens up the post for Shipp and Wethers to cut and slash down the lane. They also believe the Bears can get some cheap second chance points by out-hustling the Cardinal to rebounds. Good defensive fundamentals and rebounding will be important to the Cardinal. Look for some backdoor cuts and some pick and rolls.

Keys to the Game

Stanford must maintain their poise on offense. Stanford needs to realize where the mismatches are when switches occur and get the ball to the appropriate person. The "J's" need to realize they are the go-to guys and not be afraid to create when the shot clock is winding down.

The Cardinal must play fundamental, hard-nosed man-to-man defense. They must get in the position to take charges and get rebounds. They must get back quickly on defense to limit Cal's early offense. Stanford needs to dominate the glass.

The Starters

Pos Num Name            Ht   Wt  Yr Ppg  Rpg Mpg

F   34  Joe Shipp       6-5  220 Sr 19.1 5.2 35

F   24  Amit Tamir      6-11 260 So 17.0 7.8 34

C   33  Gabriel Hughes  6-10 215 Jr 2.4  3.4 13

G   25  Brian Wethers   6-5  215 Sr 14.0 5.1 34

G   2   A.J. Diggs      5-9  175 Jr 5.1  3.4 27
G   15  Richard Midgley 6-1  200 Fr 9.4  3.3 24

The Bench

C   0   Rodrique Benson 6-10 195 Fr 0.0  1.3 2

F   30  Eric Bond       6-7  205 Fr 2.7  1.3 11

F   40  Conor Famulener 6-6  230 Jr 3.5  3.4 21

F/C 55  David Paris     6-9  260 Fr 1.1  1.4 6

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