PREVIEW - CALIFORNIA v FURMANCal takes on Furman tonight at Haas in a tuneup for Saturday's much bigger challenge against the DePaul Blue Demons in Chicago. Finals are over, and now the Bears can focus on regaining some semblance of consistency on both ends of the floor.
Furman shouldn't pose much of a problem (but then again, USD should have been a W). Saturday night they hung with USD in San Diego for a half, but then wilted and lost by 11. They come in at 5-5 against mediocre competition, and don't figure to challenge for a post-season bid. In their only competition with a major, they made a good showing but lost at 11-0 Clemson by nine points.
The Paladins are neither deep nor big; their tallest starter is 6'9" sophomore center Stanley Jones, and no one is averaging more than 4 ppg off their bench. Guard-driven, their top scorers are senior PG Eric Webb and senior SG Robby Bostain. Bostain actually presents something of a matchup problem at 6'6", and he leads the Paladins in rebounding at 7.6 a game. PF Moussa Diagne adds some scoring punch up front.
Furman has problems taking care of the basketball; they average nearly 16 turnovers a game. To us, this game is a test of the Golden Bears' defensive reputation. Cal should beat Furman, but we want to see them suffocate the Paladins and generate ~20 turnovers. Under Braun, Cal has a well-deserved reputation for defensive efficiency, but this year's team has occasionally coasted. Their efforts against USD, Marshall and Chicago State have been notable for their lack of intensity and poor communication.
Offensively, we'll look for Hardin and Anderson to establish a consistent post presence off of motion, and for our guards to find them with clean entry passes. This is a game for Cal to reclaim those basic fundamentals that have eluded them against beatable teams this year. DePaul is another matter, and we'll have a preview of the Blue Demons up later in the week.