GAME SUMMARY - CALIFORNIA 67 STANFORD 63First off, any win in Palo Alto is a good win. We're tempted not to analyze it at all, and just up our Bear Backer check. But then this blog would really be a waste of time. Therefore, our thoughts on getting the Maples Monkey of our collective back:
* Stanford's not a very good team. They shot 36%, and we wish it was all due to Cal's scrappy defense. Some of it certainly was, but Stanford failed to convert on about a dozen offensive boards. The Lopez twins will eventually be terrific, but they lack touch around the basket right now. Brook Lopez must be struggling with his back, as he only played 16 minutes. Cal's zone did look a bit more active, and the Bears did a better job of rotating and preventing entry passes.
* The back court match-up went basically as expected. Goods had a little run in the 2nd half, but finished 4-11 and 2-7 from beyond the arc. Washington had a very nice game. Mitch Johnson is the worst PG in the conference and his father has got to stop starting him - it's getting Kyle Campanelli-esque. Ubaka used him all game long on both ends.
* Ayinde was just tremendous, and had the breakout game we needed to win. He disappeared a little bit in the first part of the 2nd half, when he tried his best to distribute the basketball. When he figured out that his teammates - especially Ryan Anderson - were gassed and not really looking for their shots, he took over:
* Ubaka's fadeaway after the held ball at the 5:45 mark started a mini-run that regained the momentum for Cal - it was followed by Patrick Christopher's strong rebound and circus layup on the other end. Two minutes later, he answered the Lopez dunk with a quick two on the other end. Then he had the beautiful backdoor from Anderson, and finally the free throw to help ice it.
* Watching Cal without Hardin is draining. Nothing can go wrong - we can't afford to have anyone foul out, we can't waste possessions, we can't miss free throws. It's a credit to Ben that he can get young guys to keep their shit together under these circumstances...well, usually keep their shit together. Ben needs to tell Christopher and Anderson that 1 on 3 shots aren't advised with a lead inside of three minutes.
* We question Ben's decision to scrap the zone in the 2nd half. Cal was getting worked on the glass in zone, but we got worked everywhere in man. Theo Robertson played the entire game, and was doing the matador routine on D for the last ten minutes. Fortunately for the Bears, Stanford shot 61% from the line and Ayinde and friends had answers for most Stanford scores.
* A hidden number - 3. That's how many fouls Taylor Harrison ate in 15 minutes of floor time. That's one small reason that Cal finished the game with its starters on the floor (Anderson with 3 fouls and Vierneisel and Robertson with 4 each).
* Another great night at the line - critical on the road when you're likely to get fewer chances. The Bears were 11-13 and Stanford only 18-29.
* A final thought - can this team actually make the postseason? We feared that 5-13 or 6-12 was the most likely outcome in conference, but we've already got two road wins. If Hardin's rehab goes well and the Bears can steal a few more games, who knows? The NIT is certainly not out of reach.