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Basketball: Lavin on the Jorge Factor

By Jeff Faraudo
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010 at 10:43 pm in Basketball.

While talking this week with Steve Lavin, the ESPN analyst and former UCLA coach praised Jerome Randle and all of Cal’s seniors, but I couldn’t get him to take a breath in his praise for sophomore guard Jorge Gutierrez.

Here’s more from Coach Lav on Gutierrez:

“Gutierrez has really become a critical component to making Cal an intriguing team come tournament time. I think Gutierrez is one of those players because of his defensive prowess, he can take an opposing team’s best player and disrupt, unnerve and shut him down. It’s like having a Bruce Bowen at the NBA level.

“That’s before you even get into his offense. He’s probably one of the more underrated players in the country. I don’t think by the staff or Cal fans or local media, but outside of that, if you would talk about Gutierrez, I don’t think people realize how valuable he is to Cal.

“He can transform the game at both ends of the floor. He plays with a level of poise pretty exceptional for a sophomore. He plays with a hard edge, alertness, aggresivness and doesn’t back down from anybody. If Cal has success in the touranament, I’ll be surprised if he’s not a pivotal reason.”

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  • Drizzlyboy

    Wow. Sounds like there are serious character issues in Westwood.

  • K1W

    Jorge Gutierrez is starting to remind me of Jason Kidd, back when he was at Cal. Obviously, Jason Kidd had much more impact during his two years at Cal compared to Jorge’s first two years, but Jorge has two more years. Based on my memory, they play with similar style and intensity. And Jorge probably shoots the 3 better. :)

  • SteveNTexas

    I wonder if Jorge shoots better. Dallas almost lost to Minn at Dallas last night because Kidd was given a day off.

    Kidd was super against Kansas in the NCAA’s, one of my favorite games ever, but the next year he played injured and Cal was done quickly.

    Next year Jorge will get much of the focus and attention, it will be fascinating.

  • rollonubears

    reminds me of joakim noah, a little, and by the time he’s a senior, hopefully he’ll be as dominant. for some reason, lavin’s coaching ability torpedoed after just a few years, but he knows his hoops, and as much as he says crazy stuff like “better turn off the microwave, cause this place is sizzling” i still like him.

  • uh oh.

    Lavin makes great points about Gut. Defensively, and the overall energy… tremendous!

    Offensively, Gut has greatly cut down on the silly turnovers this year, and I’d still like to see his overall ball handling improve. And if he can develop a truly consistent jumper or mid-range game, wow – then he’d be a complete player. A very good one!

    At this point, I’m still looking to see who’s going to emerge as the tandem (and likely lead scoring guard) for next year’s team: Seeley, Franklin, or Crabbe. But all that’s premature. I’m guessing… Franklin.

  • rollonubears

    Amoke really made a statement in the last game, and has nicely developed throughout the year. He should make a pretty solid impact. They’ll be raw next year, but very exciting to watch, because Monty will have them playing stellar D. Something Braun either didn’t care about, or didn’t know how to stress. When you’re shorthanded, playing D is the only way you can complete. And we seem to be doing that this year, at just the right time. Go Bears!

  • The Wisdom Cow

    Jorge can be completely taken out of a game, however, when the refs call touch fouls. That will be his next big challenge for him, learning to change his game when the refs make it a necessity.

  • rollonubears

    yeah, good point. seems like this year, though, the refs almost adapted to HIS game. kind of that nba “respect” bs they talk about.

  • Bean

    Actually, most of Braun’s teams were quite competent defensively (notwithstanding the last couple of years), certainly as measured by opponents’ scoring average. The offense was always more worrisome to me.

  • LairOfTheBear

    Opposing teams absolutely HATE Jorge, for the same reason we love him. He annoys, he gets in the opposing best player’s head, and just disrupts the flow of the opponent. Glad we have him for 2 more years- we’ll need him!

  • milo

    With two more years and under Monty, I think Jorge makes it to the next level. His scoring will go up and his leadership will get better. It’s going to be great to watch him the next couple of years.

  • Dan

    My comment on Braun as a defensive coach is that he wasn’t very good. It was frequently stated in print and on tv during games that he was a solid defensive coach. No way. He played very vanilla defense, he couldn’t teach Devon Hardin, or hardly anybody else on his team proper rebounding fundamnentals, like boxing out. He never pressed or trapped, except when he HAD to. His teams played decent defense, nothing exceptional, and very booorrring.

    After he had been in the conference for a number of years, the other good coaching staffs learned how to pick Cal apart. He never did anything to impact the game defensively. We rarely saw his teams step and apply pressure the way Monty has had the Bears starting to do so lately.

    His offense was worse.

  • Dan

    One more point about Braun’s and his defense, though this is anecdotal. I was at a game at the Coliseum while Harmon was becoming Haas. Cal was playing some east coast barely mid-major, might have been Coastal Carolina. It was the type of game that would become commonplace later in Braun’s tenure.

    Cal was playing just horribly on both ends of the court. They were down either by 19 or 21 fairly early in the 2nd half. Braun decided to press. He pretty much had to. It was amazing- he had a lot of athletes on that team – they erased the deficit in like 4 minutes. The crowd was going nuts. The increase in defensive pressure led to a number of turnovers and easy baskets, which helped the offense get into tempo and increased the defensive energy level. It was amazing, high level, exciting basketball.

    As soon as Cal caught up and took the lead by a point or two, Braun called off the press. The other team never solved it, but Braun called it off. Cal went back to playing/struggling just the way they had for the entire game before Braun decided to press. It was ugly the rest of the way, watching decent defense and mediocre to horrible offense. It was a nail biter and Cal barely pulled it out.

    I was flabbergasted. If Braun would have kept pressing, Cal would have blown this team, that had no depth by the way, out by 20. It would have been a great win and Braun would have been onto something. Instead, we all that follow the BB program closely know what transpired. No balls Braun.

    I always felt Braun’s team under-achieved. He ultimately ran the program into the ground and sucked all life out of the program and the fan base. I was at senior day in his final year, and Haas was a morgue. Sad to send off seniors that way. Compare that to the emotional lovefest last Saturday.

    As I have felt since he was let go… Nice man, wish him luck, but good riddance. Monty is not perfect and has made a few head scratching decisions this year, but he is 20 times the coach Braun is and I am so tickled he is here and appreciative of what he and his teams have accomplished the past 2 years. It has actually gotten to be a blast again going to Haas.

    Go Monty, Go Bears!!

  • uh oh.

    Dan – I like this last post. Let’s hope some REALLY TALL kid appreciates it too and decides to come play ball for Mike.

  • 2x Gldn

    I love JG’s defensive effort and energy he brings to the game. However, putting him in the same breath as Kidd is flatout ridiculous. There are times Jorge makes me nervous just swinging the ball around in the offense. Mark my words, he will NEVER average more than 12 a game at Cal. Kidd was DOMINANT on both offense and defense. He destroyed guys like Tyus Edney and Damon Stoudamire when he played them. Guti is not anywhere near that category and I don’t inherently see the offensive skill there. I hope I’m wrong.

  • Will

    If the kid works on his jumper in the off season, he’ll become a national star.

  • Dan

    There seems to be two ways it can go with Jorge. One way is that he will continue to grow as a starter next year and will become a great player in that role. He is already a great player in the role he is in.

    You don’t have to be a great shooter or even scorer to be a great player. Kidd was not a great offensive player and was almost a bad shooter at Cal. But he controlled the game defensively and offensively. Also, remember with Bozeman, the team ran more than we have seen with Braun or Monty- though Monty will run if the team can play great defense to get the running started, and Randle loves that opportunity. Kidd made the running aspect better, as he was a triple double guy, he would get the rebound, explode up court running faster while dribbling than others that were just running. I think Jorge can do alot of what Kidd did. It might be all his show next year, but I think he will get a good deal of relief at the point from Brandon Smith (Monty already trusts him quite a bit) and perhaps some from Gary Franklin.

    The other way it could go with Jorge is that a changed, increased role running the team will hinder the game-changing aspect of his play. I know Montgomery is smart enough to figure all this out and do what’s best for the team. Jorge is also one of the smartest players on court we have seen at Cal (his sometimes dumb passes the exception). There will likely be some growing pains and some adjustments on the fly, but I have a LOT of trust in both Jorge and Monty.

    Hip hip Jorge!