DEPAUL 90 CALIFORNIA 62Welcome to the rest of our basketball season.
This was a textbook lesson in how to beat Cal without DeVon Hardin. The Bears played outstanding offensive basketball in the 1st half, with Ryan Anderson getting a double-double and the Bears moving well without the basketball. They carried a three-point lead into halftime, even though the backcourt was largely absent. In the second half legs grew weary, rotations were a step slow, and the zone became passive and sluggish. DePaul smothered Anderson and dared the other Bears to make shots. They didn't and the Demons outscored Cal 56-27 in the final twenty.
Interesting choice by Ben: he starts the small lineup, and Taylor Harrison only logged eight minutes in relief. We know Harrison isn't quite ready, but the small lineup simply isn't equipped to play forty good minutes on each end against teams with a strong inside presence.
At this point, the key to the team is really Ubaka. When he's out to lunch offensively, as he was today, then Ben really needs to protect Anderson at all costs on the defensive end since he's our only real scoring threat. Wings double down more frequently (with little effect, we'd add) and bigs kick to wide open shooters on the perimeter. With better backcourt production, Ben could perhaps mix Harrison in a little more and let our bigs go it alone inside. If Wilkes or Christopher could supply consistent scoring, that would work as well - but we're skeptical.
It's really a terrible situation, and we can't fault Ben for what promises to be a sub-.500 conference run in the suddenly tough Pac-10. It will be interesting to see how the team responds over the coming weeks; we can and will fault Ben if the team packs it in mentally without their big guy.