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Basketball: Az-Cal post-mortem

By Jeff Faraudo
Sunday, February 6th, 2011 at 12:18 am in Basketball, Gameday.

Coach Mike Montgomery and his players were — bottom line — disappointed that a great game and a great opportunity wound up in the loss column.  

“When you get late in the game,” Monty said, “you only have so many chances to win.”

Much more on that in my Sunday morning game story, which you can read if you’ve had enough of 47 hours of Super Bowl pregame. In the meantime, a few notes worth passing on related to Arizona’s 107-105 triple-overtime victory:

– Montgomery called Harper Kamp’s 55-minute, 33-point, 10-rebound performance “unbelievable,” although Kamp lamented mistakes he made that cost his team. The junior forward became the 33rd Cal player to score 30 points in a game. Kamp is averaging 17.3 ppg in Pac-10 games.

– Allen Crabbe, who scored 27 points, is scoring at a 16.6 clip in the conference and seems well on his way to becoming Pac-10 Freshman of the Year.

– Yes, Jorge Gutierrez commits emotional fouls and he hurt his team in this one when he fouled out in the first OT, but the junior guard is a game-changer. He scored a career-high 25 points, making the first eight of his nine shots, and seven of eight FTs. Six turnovers, but also four assists, two blocks, two steals. Past four games: 76 points, 18 rebounds and 26 assists.

– Brandon Smith shot just 2 for 10 (including a critical miss on an open layup inside the final minute of the 3rd OT with Cal trailing 104-103). He also flirted with a triple-double: 9 points, 8 rebounds, a career-high 11 assists. It was his eighth game with at least five assists.

– Amazingly, Arizona star sophomore Derrick Williams became almost a footnote to the game. A month after shooting 22 FTs and scoring 31 points vs. Cal, he got to the line for just four FTAs and scored 12 points, equaling his low total in a Pac-10 game, before fouling out late in the second half. Montgomery, however, said his team “exaggerated” its defensive concern for Williams at the expense of leaving open too many 3-point shooters.

– The Wildcats were 14 for 34 from the 3-point line: 41.2 percent. They lead the Pac-10 at 40.8 percent, so they weren’t markedly more efficient against the Bears, just more prolific.

– Good: Bears shot 42 free throws. Not good enough: They missed 12, five of them in the overtime periods.

– The game was the longest Cal has played in Berkeley since their famous 107-102 five-overtime defeat of Oregon on Feb. 10, 1977. Gene Ransom played 63 1/2 minutes in that one.

– Cal scored more points in a conference game than it has since a 107-103 double-overtime win over Oregon on Feb. 9, 2002. Amit Tamir scored 39 that night. Just the fifth 100-point game in conference play dating back to 1972.

– Recurring theme: Cal’s bench was outscored 52-3 by its Arizona counterparts. The two-game weekend scorecard: Opponents reserves 65, Cal reserves 7.

– In the second half gainst the Wildcats, Montgomery didn’t even substitute until taking Markhuri Sanders-Frison out with his fourth foul at 4:36.

– Seven Pac-10 games to play, including four on the road, starting Thursday at Washington. Over the past 10 games, Cal has lost four times: by 2 points twice to Arizona, by 2 points to UCLA, by 21 to UW. And the Huskies are unbeaten in Seattle, so things get tougher.

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  • K1W

    …but the Huskies are on a three-game losing streak, so I hope that “trend” continues, even if they are at home against the Bears. The Bears will bounce back; after this exhausting game, the rest of the schedule will probably seem “easy.”

    I hope the amazing performance by the five starters inspires the Cal bench to step up and increase their contribution. It was like Sean Miller had two whole teams to play against Mike Montgomery’s five stars.

  • Uh Huh!

    TV Commentators often ask if you should foul when ahead by 3 late in the game. Monty apparently has decided to shy away from that. I recall a game last year (this year??) where his strategy paid off as the opponent missed their shot and Cal won. He was questioned about it afterwards, and he kind of shrugged it off as if “pick your poison”. Since Cal won, it was seemingly the right choice and a non-issue.

    It would be interesting to hear how he answers questions about that situation this week, since Cal was twice up by 3 with 16 seconds in Regulation and Momo Jones made 3 the old fashioned way, then again led by 3 in 2OT with just 6 seconds left, but Jones (again) saved them with a long 3.

    I imagine part of the component for making that choice is how confident one feels in rebounding and, more so, making free throws, which would result in such a strategy. And, as you point out, JF, there were 5 misses in OT, plus a 6th by Smith with :21 left that would appear to have iced the game for Cal.

    Still, the “play it out” strategy failed twice on Cal in this particular game. Emotion was high, and it’s hard to adjust strategy in heated moments. That’s why I think coaches give themselves rules for situations, to make it easier to know what to do in 2.3 nanoseconds. Will Monty shrug it off so easily this time? No judgment – but it remains a fair and open-ended question.

    I didn’t get to hear if Dan Belluomini raised the issue in the 2OT, b/c my DVR record time of 2:31 ended at the end of the 1OT. Damn! Had to just look at the final score cold turkey as there appeared to be no rebroadcast scheduled.

  • The Wisdom Cow

    The quart of Red Label didn’t work. I remember it all. Now I’m just hung over. Time for the hair of the dog, pre Rodgers Victory Bowl.

  • Stapes

    They should have fouled because they are are a zone team. Monty didn’t want to play man with Bak in there, I get that. But you can’t sit in zone and let the guy shoot and open 22 footer. That pissed me off more than anything.

  • UA_Fan

    THE BEST GAME OF THE SEASON.Cal is one hell of a team

  • Bearly there

    Make your frikin free throws, you win the game!!! aaaarrrggggggh &@#&%$#@!!!!

  • jabes

    IIRC, we were up by three with enough time on the clock for UA to make their free throws, pressure or foul us, and have another possession. In that situation, we are not solid enough in our FTs or against full court pressure to foul.

  • milo

    Great effort…but that was painful. Cal suffered from a very thin bench. Jorge, Kamp and Crabbe all played major, major minutes.

    The plus from all of this…continual development and next season looks to be great if Crabbe and Solomon continue to progress, plus Gut and Kamp. Need another big man however…too bad Max didn’t stay, 15 minutes a game would have been big.

    The Bears can still shoot for the NCAAs but much more difficult. UW is beatable and so is the rest of the league as Cal has shown.

  • bigdruid

    Huge point-blank misses by Kamp (in regulation) and by Smith (last OT), and then Crabbe was very late getting out on Jones in the second OT allowing him to tie up the game at the last second. I was frustrated a bit, until I realized just how many minutes those kids had played – they must have been *really* tired at that point.

    Great job by both teams – I’m proud of the Bears, and tip of the hat to Arizona for playing tough through Williams’ injury. Either team deserved to win it, and it was really a fun one to watch.

    BTW, looking forward to when the “light turns on” for Solomon – he’s shown flashes of great play, and he’s going to have a big impact for us when he’s more experienced.

  • Uh Huh!

    Regarding my point to foul or not to foul when up by 3 at the end of the game.
    I have new, additional information.
    We didn’t. They did.
    They won.

  • DaveintheHills

    @Uh Huh! Add to your ‘findings’ that this not fouling strategy also failed against Wazzou at the end of regulation. Fortunately, we ended up winning that game in overtime.

    We have been in this situation three times this year now (once against Wazzou, twice against UA). Monty’s strategy has failed all three times.

    I love what Monty gets out of his players, but he lost us this game. No question about it.

  • The Wisdom Cow

    Add to the mix of Monty’s decision not to foul the presence of Mo Mo. The guy lives for last second shots, and has done it on multiple occasions. Against a zone D, his chances for success are sick, though I still can’t believe MSF didn’t just let him go to the hoop (doesn’t Monty have to thump “give the easy two or don’t let them shoot” into their heads before that set?).

  • Uh Huh!

    Wisdom:

    I didn’t even think about that MSF could have simply let him get the 2. How could I have missed that.

    BTW: How’s the hangover?

  • jeh

    Great post, Jeff.

    However, with 18 rebounds Williams was hardly “almost a footnote” in this game. Indeed, the exaggerated defense of him, that kept his touches and points down, opened the gates to the flood of 3′s by other Wildcats.

  • The Wisdom Cow

    Uh Huh, you probably missed it because because MSF barely moved, though just enough, IMO, to warrant the foul call. Mo Mo leaned into him just enough as MSF was pivoting slightly. I don’t think a reasonable AZ fan would have been surprised or outraged by a no call on that one, but the foul call was definitely warranted.

    I thought I was hung over. Turned out it was just depression over the loss. Aaron Rodgers snapped me out of it, though.

  • Jeff Faraudo

    Jeb,
    I will concede that 18 rebounds makes Williams far more than a footnote. But in a game with three overtimes, it was hard to even remember him by the end of the evening. Didn’t you think?