Huge game against California tonight. With the next four on the road against the Washington and LA schools--four very tough games--tonight's game becomes a must win. Fortunately, it is a good matchup for the Ducks, and they have superior talent at every position. As long as they play smart, it should be a win.
Cal is the epitome of a mediocre team right now. They beat the bad teams, and lose to the good teams. Losses: Washington State, Arizona, San Diego State, Nevada, DePaul, San Diego. Examples of wins: ASU, OSU, Stanford, Hawaii, Kansas State, and, probably their best win, Washington. They are 4-2 in the conference, but have yet to play UCLA, USC, or Oregon. They have enough talent to beat you, but not enough that they'll beat you when they are playing well. Cal is also a very injured team, and their two best bigs, DeVon Hardin and Jordan Wilkes, are out with injuries.
Maybe their best player has been freshman Ryan Anderson. He averages 17.5 points and nine boards a game as a freshman. Amazing. He's a very similar player to Maarty. He'll post you up, step outside for a three, and board well. Anderson vs. Leunen should be a very fun matchup. But Cal has no depth at the position. If Anderson should get into foul trouble, they have no other bigs. At least the Ducks have Zahn, whatever that's worth.
Omar Wilkes, the former Kansas Jayhawk, is the starting two guard. He shoots over 50 percent from the field, over 38 percent from the line. He averages about ten a game, and he'll crash the boards, too. But he is also turnover prone. The scary thing about him is that if TP guards him, he may try to post him up a bit.
There is also Ayinde Ubaka, the 6'4" PG. Obviously, their guards have size on TP and MVP. The senior averages about 15 a game, shooting about 42% from the field and 33% from three. He plays a similar role to Aaron Brooks for the Bears, but isn't as good and turns the ball over way more. You don't want him to catch fire. No other players on the roster really scare you. Patrick Christopher? Theo Robertson? Decent players, but they're not going to beat you. Herein lies the problem for the Bears--While they have lesser versions of Leunen, Brooks, and even a superior version of Porter, who is their Bryce Taylor? Their Malik Hairston? They don't have one.
Its a shame for the Bears that Hardin got hurt, because most of the league had no matchup for him. But when Hardin went down, so did the Bears' NCAA tourney hopes. Without him, the Bears will try to play deliberately. But, if Leunen can neutralize Anderson, they will have to play a similar style to the Ducks in order to score. They have similar players with similar roles. The problem is that the Ducks are just better. I'm sure that the cardiac kids will find a way to let Cal keep it close, but the Ducks are the superior team, and will win the game.
THINGS I'D LIKE TO SEE:
- Run, run, run. Cal cannot keep up with the Ducks. Period. End of story.
- The Bears have no matchup for Bryce and Malik. I'd like to see those guys be really aggressive and take it to the hole. Seeing as they don't have the shotblockers that Stanford does, that should be very successful.
- Try to get Anderson in foul trouble. If the Ducks can do that, Cal has no other bigs. Maarty could have a field day. (Even Platt and Schafer are more servicable than anyone on Cal's bench).
- I really want to see the Ducks put an inferior team away, and not let them linger.
- Is this the game that Champ finally gets it going? If Cal tries to post up Porter, Champ could see a lot of time.
- Don't settle for threes against this team. They have no interior presence. Take it to 'em.
- Oh, yeah. Just let MVP do his thing.