Wednesday, November 29, 2006

SCOUTING REPORT: KANSAS STATE v CALIFORNIA

Tonight the 5-1 California Golden Bears host Kansas State (4-1) and their notorious new coach Bob Huggins at Haas Pavillion. The game is being televised nationally (!) by Fox Sports.

Thus far K-State has been a streaky team, evidenced by a 24-point blowout loss at New Mexico last week. They haven't shot well at all, though they play with the defensive intensity that was characteristic of Huggins' teams at Cincinnati. This is a very winnable game for the Golden Bears, provided they play their typical solid defense and refuse to settle for quick jumpers.

Backcourt - Blake Young starts at the point and Lance Harris is at the two guard. Young is a Huggy juco import and a classic shoot-first point with good quickness on the offensive end. If he gets hot, K-State becomes a different team and could give the Bears problems. Harris hit for 26 against Coppin State, but is occasionally streaky from behind the arc. One of K-State's problems is that Young consumes too many possessions and fails to set up Harris in good situations. Still, Harris is athletic enough to create on his own.

Frontcourt - Cartier Martin starts at the four and is the Wildcats' best offensive player. David Hoskins is a 6'5" three with athleticism but an erratic offensive game. Huggins will likely start Jason Bennett in the middle to deal with Hardin. Bennett is enormous (7'3") but very limited offensively. Akeem Wright will also see time at the three and is an efficient rebounder.

Keys to the Game:
* Limit second shots. K-State is an athletic team that goes hard to the glass. Cal must limit them to one shot on offensive possessions. The Wildcats haven't shown that they can generate good shots out of a half-court offense (a .355 shooting percentage on the year).

* Keep them in the half-court. Young hasn't shown the ability to distribute the ball efficiently and the Wildcats wind up shooting lots of low-percentage threes. An up-tempo game is more suited to K-State's offensive gifts.

Prediction:
We're worried about K-State's ability to generate second shots - the Wildcats are averaging nearly 20 offensive rebounds per game (albeit against smaller teams than Cal). So, this pick is based on our belief that DeVon Hardin is truly back, and that Cal's front line can stay out of foul trouble. If either Anderson or Hardin spend significant time on the bench, the Bears could be in trouble.

California 75 Kansas State 67

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