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Basketball: Stanford post-mortem

First of all, apologies for our technical problems Wednesday night. The Internet connection at Haas Pavilion was shaky too — probably the result of having 11,877 folks in the building — but that has nothing to do with our blog issues. I have informed the proper authorities and we will see if we can find a permanent remedy.

Now, about last night . . .

WHAT HAPPENED: The Bears played seven games in a row where they either performed superbly or, at worst, well enough to win. Defensively, they’d been very good. That was not the case against Stanford. Coach Mike Montgomery said they were “passive” on defense, and I thought they panicked on offense when the game started to get away early in the second half.

The fact is, Stanford’s not a great matchup for Cal because the Cardinal big men are effective playing on the perimeter, where Cal’s bigs cannot easily guard them. When Richard Solomon went out with his fourth foul, Montgomery actually went with Ricky Kreklow — who hadn’t played since Jan. 3 — instead of Robert Thurman, because Thurman can’t guard either Dwight Powell or Josh Huestis 20 feet from the basket.

Even so, a disappointing effort if you’re a Cal fan. The season’s first sellout, everything on the line, riding a hot streak and playing the rival school . . . you’d expect more from the Bears.

FALLOUT: None from the Pac-12 office, which announced Thursday there will be no further punishment for anyone involved in the late-game skirmish. To be honest, there were no real punches delivered, so it was more shoving than fighting. And we know shoving at Haas Pavilion this season, right?

Bottom line, the incident was unfortunate and got the two schools some unwanted airtime on ESPN. But it was hardly the crime of the century.

And, frankly, I didn’t see any way the Pac-12 office was going to suspend anyone from a team that may feel like it needs a win in the conference tournament to assure itself a spot in the NCAAs. One less Pac-12 team in the field, a lot less $$$. Pragmatism rules the day.

EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE: We’ll find out some things about this team next Thursday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Leadership has been a season-long question, and someone will have to make sure the Bears are able to put this game in their rear-view mirror. Certainly they have plenty of down time to get past it. Almost too much, Montgomery said this week. But maybe an extra day or two will help in this instance, where Cal must refocus to what’s next, not what was lost. 

SECOND CHANCES: Rumor has it the Bears still can earn a share of the Pac-12 title? Well, yes, but don’t count on it. They need two Oregon losses – tonight at Colorado (maybe) and Saturday at Utah (don’t think so), plus a UCLA loss Saturday morning at Washington (possible). At this point, they seem most likely to wind up with a No. 3 seed for the Pac-12 tournament. 

THE BIG PICTURE: The Bears dropped from No. 43 to No. 50 in the RealTimeRPI.com rankings — a sizable slide for one defeat. But ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi still doesn’t have them among his “last four byes,” meaning the last four teams to squeeze in to the dreaded “First Four” NCAA tournament games in Dayton, Ohio. If you slip to that point, you get very nervous. Short of that, Cal probably still is on solid footing.

On the other hand, a win next Thursday in Vegas couldn’t hurt.

Jeff Faraudo

  • wehofx

    was working last night. turned my phone back on at 11. read twitter feed. WTF!

    first thing I did when I got home was erase dvr of the game.

    if we don’t play D, we don’t win.

    JF, as usual, I agree w your analysis. “Leadership has been a season-long question…” seemed like cobbs and solo stepped up into leadership roles. I have faith they’ll find their heart and stones

    most of you might find this glass-half-full bs but losing a rivalry game like that right before the tournament can be a good thing. It’ll make them take Monty’s every word as gospel. It shows the team they cannot relax for one second and tenacious helping D is the only way for this team to win.

  • 66Bear

    I don’t think that it changed the outcome, but I’m still astounded that nobody has yet mentioned Powell’s flagrant foul against Crabbe that started the whole melee. The replays showed that after Crabbe stood up from bending over the Stanford player to tie up the ball, as the ref came in to call a jump ball and take the ball from the two players, Powell quickly stepped into the crowd next to Crabb, extended his knee behind Crabbes knees, and slammed him with his elbow, and knocked Crabbe onto his back. Crabbed jumped up to go after Powell, who circled away and then came back into the pushing and shoving that his flagrant foul had caused, while he acted like he was trying to separate the Cal and Stanford players. The refs and the ESPN announcers continued to ignore Powell’s flagrant foul that could easily have seriously injured Crabbe, while the tried to figure out how many assistant coaches had left the bench, etc. Powell was neither ejected or even called for a foul. Very bizarre and unjust. :-(

  • rob bear

    As much we hate to hear it, this one boils down to them wanting it more than us and executing at both ends of the court. Some of those close up shots of their team reflected a team on a mission to knock us off of this cloud and they succeeded. We looked passive all night, especially in attacking the basket and defending it. Not sure how the Kreklow addition affected the chemistry, but there appeared to be a lot of looking around at each other and not playing with each other. A big difference and we were exposed, as painful as that is to say.

    On to Vegas and hope that Colorado, Utah and Washington pull out a trifecta and we win part of the title anyway.

    I felt terrible all day at work. Man, that one hurt. I was so eager to buy all kinds of PAC 12 Champs stuff for my whole family. All I have now is a conspiracy of hope.

  • The Wisdom Cow

    Well, Colorado SPANKED Oregon 76-53, which is what happens when a home court advantage team hosts a feeling good about themselves while not so great on the road team like the Ducks.

    Before this stinker, I agreed completely that Utah couldn’t beat Oregon. Now, not so sure.

    Of course, UCLA is just as likely to route UW as be routed themselves. At least we get some games to root for this weekend.

  • Gobears49

    Obviously, a number of things contributed to our defeat last night. Stanford making 53% of their 3′s had a lot to do with it. Cal never contested most of the 3′s, which was a major mistake. They needed to spread their defense to do that.

    However, I think we just got out-coached last night and that wasn’t a one-night thing. Stanford attacked us on offense in a whole variety of ways, which they probably have been using all season. We seem to only have one planned scheme for an offense — a weave around the three point line (though I did see a new wrinkle to it — instead of going around the guy with the ball to the right, you fake going right and then go left).

    Cal’s woes on offense stem from the inability of its post men to do anything to move with the ball once they get it, especially toward the basket. Soloman’s only major move in the post is a turnaround jumper or a fadeaway turnaround jumper — nothing TOWARD the basket.

    Kravish rarely moves when he gets the ball and hardly ever even dribbles before he shoots. He is very disciplined, but basically just shoots a short range jumper when he is open He rarely tries anything fancy at all, and nothing when someone is guarding him, both the opposite of Cobbs. Occasionally, Soloman and Kravish do some moves underneath the backboard, going parallel to the backboard, but not very often and normally after a good pass from someone.

    The upshot of our starting two bigs is that there is no need to collapse on them when they get the ball. They are not going to do anything, one on one, to move to the basket. As a result, there is no need for the outside defenders to collapse on them when they get the ball, to help out, leaving no one open for a catch and shoot shot (preferably a 3) after a kickout from the post.

    On the other hand, Stanford had at least two guys (I don’t know their names), who could maneuver toward the basket when they got the ball in the post. This resulted in some collapsing on them by out guards, leaving open guys for a kickout and a catch and shoot three. I think at least three of the nine 3-pointers that Stanford got were catch and shoot shots right after kickouts from the post.

    Cal is never going to be great until they develop a real post game, which means that the post guys can make some moves toward the basket which make them a threat to score on those types of shots. Maybe Frid or Rooks will be able to do that next year (anyone who reads my comments knows I am high on Frid, just from watching what he can do when he warms up), but it would be great if Soloman and Kravish developed some real post moves over the summer and don’t almost always rely on jump shots (or, in Soloman’s case, dunks after a good pass). That will force outside guards to help out, freeing up our guards for open shots on the perimeter after kickout passes from the post.

    WE CAN’T JUST RELY ON THE WEAVE AS A PATTERN OFFENSE. CERTAINLY, MONTY MUST HAVE SOME OTHER TRICKS UP HIS SLEEVE AS AN OFFENSE THAN THAT. THE WEAVE IS OK, BUT TEAMS CAN EASILY DEFEND IT IF IT IS YOUR ONLY OFFENSE. SORT OF REMINDS ME OF BRAUN’S OFFENSE — PASS THE BALL AROUND THE THREE POINT LINE WITH NO SCREENS OR ANYTHING THAT WOULD FREE UP SOMEBODY FOR AN OPEN SHOT.

    Two other comments.

    1. Great to see Kreklow out there, and no limping, which he was doing the last time he played. He did not do much, but I’m sure he was rusty. Don’t know whether anyone remembers it, but I urged Monty about three weeks ago to consider putting Kreklow in if he was healthy and could recover by next year if he injured himself again. But then again, I doubt he reads this blog.

    2. I have mentioned this before, but I will again, since I think it deserves notice. With two blocks against Stanford, Kravish now has 50 for the season and 91 for his career. The Cal record for blocks is 207, by Michael (Yogi?) Stewart. I think the current second place holder has around 130, which Kravish should pass next year. I think, if he keeps improving, that Kravish has a shot at the career record. Love the way he gets most of his blocks without jumping, which reduces the chance of being called for a foul.

    3. Hope Monty, if he DOES read this blog, is considering my prior comment of getting together with Crabbe and Jabari Bird (after the playoffss — I think Salesian is the #1 seed in the Open Division — wish I had time to watch Salesian play). I think it would go a long way to keep Crabbe if he felt comfortable that he would still be the primary focus of the offense next year even with Bird coming in. To be more effective, Crabbe needs to develop moves that will get him open for a shot while moving the ball other than driving to the rim off of a weave. He could learn how to do that next year and become even more valuable in next year’s draft.

  • rollonubears

    Wallace went 1-7. That has to change. He’s really going to be great if he gets a more consistent shot, but that killed us against Standard.

  • BlakeStreetBear

    Stanford played their best game of the year weds night. Nothing else to say except…Go Bears!

  • Gobears49

    Rollonubears,

    Said the same thing a few days ago. He’s a sure future pro, in part because I hear he plays really good D (I don’t know anything about that). Looks like Bird is like Wallace, though a bit bigger. Both are lightning quick. But I think Bird can hit his outside jumper now. Wallace will, with a lot of practice this summer. Though it was said on a post-game show that a pro scout said he needs to change his shooting stroke, just like Patrick Christopher apparently had to after first coming to Cal. Wallace should perhaps discuss that with Monty before he goes off to practice this summer.

    BTW, I love Wallace’s jump hook in the key. He should patent that. Also has a great floater.

  • wehofx

    GoBears, agree about kravish and, esp, solo. it’d be a huge improvement if they can develop 2 back to the basket moves this summer.

    kravish and solo have been playing ferocious low post D of late. Unfortunately on O solo plays like a 4.

    On O kravish plays like a 3. He likes the wings and the elbow. Regardless, he’s got to keep shooting at least 10 attempts a game. Good news/bad news it’s completely against his nature to force a shot.

    RE: rebounding without jumping. seems like kravish, like wallace, has freakishly long arms.

    I love the high post weave w the guards but sounds like furd figured out to D it.

    as far as generating O, imo, the team is at its best when it generates O off its D.

    I, too, love wallace’s game. I think part of the reason’s for his low shooting percentage of late is that he’s hit the freshman wall. Didn’t notice any hitch in his shooting stroke but it could explain his misses.

    as mentioned earlier, time to give props to B Smith. He’s been playing under control again. His 15 minutes a game have been critical in getting rest for cobb, wallace and crabbe. It’s probably a big reason this year’s team isn’t running out of gas. by this time last year kamp and gut were spent.

    Finally glad Monty is working kreklow back into the rotation. if we play 2/3 games in Pac tourny, that should be enough time to get him integrated.

  • Gobears49

    Wehofx,

    Thanks for the comments. Do you think that Monty getting together with Crabbe (and probably also Cobbs) with Bird to discuss how things will go next year is a good idea to perhaps give Crabbe a getter picture will go next year, to firm up that part of his thinking as to whether to stay at Cal next year or to turn pro now?

    I think the weave is OK, but we need something else. Comparatively, Stanford attacked us in all sorts of ways, which seemed practiced, while we were playing extemporaneously (with Cobbs sometimes resorting to trying to force his difficult shots – worst part of the game for me was when he tried to dribble through the whole Stanford team and then lost the ball — he is so much better, and shows his future pro credentials much better, when he plays under control).

    Even if we didn’t do the weave (which is more easily defended when it is used all of the time), we focused on doing most stuff outside, as we either didn’t pass it into the post, or when we did, nothing much happened after that occurred (see my prior comment on our current limitations there).

  • Gobears49

    Should add that I disagree that Kravish plays like a typical 3, as he is not nearly as mobile as a typical 3. with and without the ball. But he’s a great catch and shoot Jump shooter (wish he would take more), VERY disciplined, and a terrific shot blocker. Again, I don’t watch guys on defense. He’s one of the guys on the team who has improved the most this year, perhaps more than anyone. But I think all of the guys have improved.

  • Gobears49

    One final comment about Kravish. Even though he is not a “complete” player, I think he will be first team all-Pac 12 his senior year because he is so good at what he is good at, especially if he bulks up a little more.

  • wehofx

    GB49, an an alum and huge Cal BB fan part of me would love to see crabbe come back for another year.

    If, however, I was a family friend/financial advisor, I’d tell him to go out. It seems like he is going to be Pac 12POY and mid to late 1 round pick – at worst early second round. imo coming back will not substantially improve his game and it’d be hard to top this year. (Agree – w bird, rooks et al coming in – it would make us a legitimate sweet 16/8 contender.)

    The catastrophic – incidental contact – injury noel suffered is the reason crabbe should leave for nba. crabbe is listed at 6’6″ 210 – he looks heavier than that becomes of the iron he pushed over the summer. in pac12 bodies that big, moving, banging and cutting at full speed are always susceptible to serious injury.

    if crabbe doesn’t go out, I’ll be shocked.

    RE:kravish. agree that he doesn’t have the quickness of a 3. the point I was trying to make is that on O his favorite spots on the floor – wing and elbow – are usually taken by the 3. (to state the obvious, solo and kravish not playing in the low block is the reason we don’t get many O rebounds. it’s also why crabbe and wallace get so many O rebounds for guards.)

    before the streak – I can’t remember which game – monty took kravish out because he didn’t take an open jumper from the elbow. if kravish doesn’t put up 10 shots a game, he’s hurting the team.

    also agree I can see him becoming all pac12 in near future.

    The roller coaster ride that is this year’s team continues.

    Go Bears!