THURSDAY'S LESSONS AND A QUICK SATURDAY PREVIEW
We didn't watch a lick of basketball last night, and we hope none of you did, either. It was an interesting night, though, inside the numbers. We learned that:
- Cal is up against it, but they're not ready to roll over. Would have been easy to quit against the Wildcats after their 23-12 run to open the 2nd half, but the Bears clawed back to finish within nine. Given the injuries, we'll judge Braun less on Ws and Ls this year and more on improvement and mental toughness - the Bears certainly showed the latter Thursday.
- SC had a couple of guys weak with flu and still beat UW. Taj Gibson was one of them; and he bettered Spencer Hawes with 22 points and 10 boards.
- WSU got average offensive games from their backcourt and still came within one possession of beating UCLA at Pauley. They're not a deep team, but their starting five plays very tough D. It's hard to imagine that WSU can keep it up playing an eight-man rotation through March, though.
- ASU lost to Stanford for two reasons - 1) the Cardinal shot 35 foul shots, 18 more than the Devils. How a Pac-10 team gets dominated like that at home is beyond us. And it wasn't like Stanford's bigs were getting it done - the Lopez twins shot one free throw between them. Anthony Goods was 11-13, which tells us that ASU's guards are reaching and grabbing. 2) The Devils were 3-16 from three-point range.
- The keys for a Cal victory tomorrow? Sendek will keep the score down and limit possessions with a deliberate style. ASU's problem is that they start two frosh and a sophomore, and a third freshman (Josh Shipp) is the first guy off the bench. That spells turnovers if Cal can bring its A game on defense. Jeff Pendergraph (top) will test Anderson, and Cal will need to put a body on Serge Angounou on the boards. Another tough set of matchups for Cal, but at least the Devils are young and streaky. We see Ubaka and Anderson generating enough offense to escape Arizona with the split.