Cal Preview

UCLA was nearly blown out in their trip to Cal, before rallying late to keep it close. Is there any reason to believe this game should be different? Apparently, there is, if you go by what the oddsmakers think of this game...

I got a call from a longtime Bruin fan this morning. He said, "Is it possible to refinance your house in six hours?" It took me a moment, until I realized he was talking about the wagering opportunity on tonight's game. Cal is a one point favorite. Maybe I'm missing something, but that doesn't make a lot of sense to me, especially after Cal just swept the Oregon road trip two weeks ago. Right now, Corvallis and Eugene are both tougher places to play than Pauley.

I'd like to think that the game is, in fact, a toss-up. But I'm not sure how anyone can come to that conclusion, given the way both teams have played this season, and given that Cedric Bozeman is apparently not going to play. Bozeman has not played well consistently this season, but he represents the best hope at point guard for UCLA – and he certainly has the most upside.

Cal is 6-2 on the road this year and they're led by their big three of Brian Weathers, Amit Tamir and Joe Shipp, who average 14, 16 and 20 points per game respectively. Shipp, in particular, has been outstanding this season and he's a strong candidate for Player of the Year honors in the Pac-10. He's shed the extra pounds that he carried out of high school and he's developed a solid all-around game.

Tamir has added a decent low-post game to go with his deadly outside shooting, but he's still more comfortable, and dangerous, from the perimeter.

Weathers is not a consistent shooter, but he's a guy who finds ways to get his points, whether it's off rebounds, in transition or slashing from the wing.

While most of the scoring comes from Cal's top three players, Richard Midgley has developed into a threat as well. He's averaging 9 points a game and seems to be growing more comfortable on the court. Midgley had to sit out his senior year at Modesto Christian, so he hadn't played competitive basketball in almost a year when this season began. Midgley scored a season-high 23 points against USC and he's a deadly outside shooter, leading the Pac-10 in three-point shooting at 46.7%.

Gabriel Hughes starts at center for the Bears and he gave the Bruins some early problems in the first game before getting into foul trouble. He's not had a particularly good season, but against UCLA he had a season-high 8 points, despite playing limited minutes.

A.J. Diggs and Conor Famulener are the two key reserves off the bench for Cal – they each usually get around 18-20 minutes a game. Neither one is a strong scorer, but both understand their roles and do the little things while the big three put up the points.

One key stat to look for in tonight's game is rebounding margin. In games that Cal has out-rebounded their opponents, the Bears are 14-0. The Bruins might want to keep an eye on Bear reserve Conor Famulener, who grabbed 10 rebounds in the first game.

With Steve Lavin's comments in the papers this week, one wonders if the Bruins have any fight left in them at all. They still have a very realistic chance of making the Pac-10 tournament, but that doesn't seem to be a goal they're going to rally around. At this point, it appears that the Bruins are just playing out the string.

Bruin Report Online Top Stories