Pac-10 Tourney: Cal Game Preview

Last night at the Staples Center the California Bears beat Oregon State and earned the right to play #1 seed UCLA in the quarter-finals of the Pac-10 Tournament. Cal hit 12 threes in that game, something it probably won't be able to do against the much stingier Bruins, who have a great deal on the line...

UCLA plays California tonight in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Tournament at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.  The Bruins are playing this game knowing that a successful run over the next three days will almost certainly cement their status as the #1 overall seed for the NCAA Tournament going into Selection Sunday.  Cal is playing this game to keep its season alive, as a loss will end their season with an overall record of 15-17, which makes them ineligible for post-season selection. 

 

Cal opened their Pac-10 Tournament with a 70-51 victory over Oregon State Wednesday night.  Cal used a 34-2 first-half run to effectively decide the game.  OSU opened the second half on an 18-8 run to whittle a Cal lead down to eight, but the Beavers couldn't get no closer.  UCLA fans might be disturbed by some trends that Cal showed last night, particularly the 12 three-point shots that the Bears made.  Further cause for concern was seeing Bear freshman Ryan Anderson go off for a career-high 27 points, including hitting 6 threess.  Here is the line-up for the Bears:

 

Starters:

F          Ryan Anderson           Freshman          6'9"     225 lbs.

F          Theo Robertson          Sophomore        6'5"     250 lbs.

G         Alex Pribble                 Senior              6'4"     215 lbs.

G         Ayinde Ubaka              Senior              6'4"     200 lbs.

G         Omar Wilkes                Junior               6'4"     185 lbs.

 

Key Subs:

G         Jerome Randle              Freshman         5'9"     150 lbs.

G/F      Patrick Christopher        Freshman         6'5"     200 lbs.

F          Eric Vierneisel             Junior               6'7"     205 lbs.

F          Taylor Harrison            Freshman          6'9"     225 lbs.

 

Cal will certainly try and control the pace of the game by working the shot clock and by switching defenses.  They will employ a zone at times to try and take advantage of what has been, from time to time, UCLA's offensive weakness.  Offensively,  Cal will try to create mis-matches with Anderson on Lorenzo Mata or Alfred Aboya (who will play, after missing the Washington game with a knee contusion) outside of the low post.  Mata has had issues guarding players like Anderson (inside/out players) this season but he has been much better lately.  Randle gave them a dose of offensive pep and quickness last night but he was ineffective in his minutes against the Bruins earlier this season.  Christopher is the wild card.  He is very athletic and can go off for 20+ points, but he only played 13 minutes last night.  If he is on then this will be a more competitive game.

 

The key to this game for UCLA is to simply bring the focus and energy that was missing at Washington last week.  I personally wouldn't read too much into Cal's dominance last night.  Oregon State was a team clearly looking forward to the end of the season.  They apparently quit on Coach Jay John several weeks ago (he may be fired shortly).  OSU didn't close out well on shooters and weren't efficient on offense.  The Beavers only attempted 48 shots to Cal's 63, a sign of a team that doesn't really care anymore.  In short, the Beavers were everything that UCLA is not.  Cal found it difficult to score on UCLA in their first meeting and they couldn't take advantage of Darren Collison having a poor game at Pauley two weeks ago.  Cal would really have to shoot like they did last night from behind the arc (12-29), and have UCLA shoot like OSU did from the same area (4-25), for Cal to have a real chance of winning.  Cal also dominated the boards last night, 43-31, something that has little chance of happening against the Bruins. This is a very good match-up for the Bruins.  But just to be sure, here are the keys:

 

  1. Collison; even a decent game from the Bruins PG will be enough for the victory
  2. Intensity on defense; fight through screens and close out on shooters.  Do that and Cal won't hit 12 threes
  3. No looking ahead to Friday; this would be a focus issue.

This really shows how much this game depends on UCLA; all of the keys relate to the Bruins.  That's how much of a mismatch this should be…and it will be.

 

UCLA 77

California 63


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