Continuing with our newfound sense of camaraderie, ATQ presents our third Q&A of the 2011 Pac-10 season, this time with our friends at ATQ South, otherwise known as California Golden Blogs. Since we blew most of our fiscal year interview budget during football season, we were unable to afford Avinash or TwistNHook's appearance fee. Luckily, ATQ South has about ninety mods, most of whom will do whatever you want for cheap. Ohio Bear, atomsareenough, Kodiak, and NorCalNick were gracious enough to talk to us.
Ohio Bear: Allen Crabbe looks like a sexy basketball beast. Your argument is invalid.
atomsareenough: It doesn't bother me that he is awesome at basketball, and that's all that matters. What do you have against big ears, anyway?
Kodiak: He could be as ugly as RoboDuck for all care as long as he keeps stroking 3's.
The rest of the questions, after the jump. And check out my interview with CGB HERE.
2. Who is to blame for Gary Franklin transferring, and is the transfer a bigger blow short term or long term?
OhioBear: Unrealistic expectations on Gary's part are to blame for his transfer. That said, perhaps the coaching staff bears some blame for misjudging Franklin and believing they could get him to buy into the program. The harm to the program is, however, short term only. While the team takes a hit on its depth in the short term, the Bears will be better for it in the long run -- already, Brandon Smith and Allen Crabbe have filled the void that Franklin has left and Franklin's departure frees up a scholarship for Cal to use on someone who will fit better with the program.
Kodiak: Whoever whispered in his ear and told him he was a one and done talent. Big blow long term assuming Monty would have developed him.
atomsareenough: Franklin's decision to transfer was his alone, and best of luck to him. I think Monty gave him a lot of rope and was very patient with him considering the way he was playing, but ultimately he didn't feel like it was the right place for him and his dreams of going to the NBA ASAP. Unlike Ohio Bear, I think it actually helps us in the short term, because Franklin was shooting a very low percentage and taking the most shots out of anyone on the team, and now those shots are going to players like Crabbe who are a bit further along at this point. I think it possibly hurts us long term because I think Gary was a talented guy and might have developed into a quality player down the line, assuming he could eventually have gotten a better grasp of the big picture had he stayed. We'll see if his career at Baylor makes us a little regretful down the line.
3. Can Jorge Gutierrez be a consistent Pac-10 scoring threat, or is he a defensive stopper being forced to take shots due to a lack of depth and experience?
Kodiak: Well, he's no Garrett Sims, but he's turned himself into at least a credible scoring threat. I'd still prefer that he nit have to try to carry the offense.
OhioBear: Jorge is a defensive stopper and a "glue guy." He can get you a basket in a pinch and he's even been known to knock down a dagger 3 on occasion. But expect him to be a consistent scoring threat? As much as we love Jorge as a player and as much as we WANT on the floor in the final 4 minutes of a game, we're still not sold on him being that.
atomsareenough: I think he's slightly underrated as an offensive player. He can definitely be a consistent contributor on offense, but he's not the kind of guy who's going to carry the team with his scoring.
4. Who is an under-the-radar Golden Bear (not Kamp, Jorge, or Crabbe), who could finish this season strong?
Kodiak: Emerson Murray. Started slow because he missed most if camp w illness. Really athletic.
OhioBear: Brandon Smith. He has improved a great deal from last year and has even shown great improvement since the beginning of this season. He has shown himself to be a capable point guard, in the "managing the offense" sense, and makes fewer mistakes with the basketball than Gutierrez and Franklin did during their turns the point position.
atomsareenough: Smith and Solomon seem to be the guys who are developing rapidly on a game-by-game basis. We've seen some pretty big improvement in these guys as the season has unfolded. I'll second Ohio Bear in pointing out that Smith's continued development, in particular, will be important considering the Bears' lack of depth at the point this year.
5. Where does Cal's season end this year?
Kodiak: Where is the Final Four being held? Not there.
NorCalNick: At this point the NIT seems reasonably likely. The Bears made it through the toughest part of the schedule with a record over .500. Since I expect them to continue improving it would be pretty disappointing if they didn't at least go .500 the rest of the way. If they did that Cal's RPI and strength of schedule would presumably make them a pretty good bet for the NIT. And for a team this young, that would be a great learning experience, and hopefully a chance to extend the season a weekend or two. I'm not discounting the possibility that Cal could go on a little run in the Pac-10 tournament, but every other Pac-10 team outside of Seattle may feel like they need to win it all to ensure their spot, so I'm not optimistic.
atomsareenough: WINNING THE NIT CHAMPIONSHIP!!! That's probably the most rose-colored, highly optimistic scenario, assuming our guys stay healthy and the young guys keep maturing. We may have a shot in the Pac-10 tourney if someone else takes out Washington, but I'm not very hopeful about that. Other than the Huskies though, I think we've demonstrated that we can hang with any other team in the conference, and we're just a couple of baskets away from being 5-2 instead of 3-4 right now.
6. What is the biggest mismatch Cal has over Oregon?
Kodiak: In the classroom.
NorCalNick: Probably our ability to draw fouls and get to the line, a skill that allowed us to almost pull off an absurd against UCLA and really hampered USC. Led by Jorge Gutierrez, Cal can get pretty aggressive on offense and they force lots of contact. And because Monty has been throwing out some zone defense lately Cal hasn't been fouling much. Since Oregon isn't very good at drawing fouls anyway, and since Cal is playing at home I'd like to see the Bears stay aggressive and win the free throw battle.
Or did you mean which Cal player is the biggest mismatch for Oregon? Gee, I dunno. I'll just play the percentages and say Allen Crabbe vs. whichever player he goes against?
atomsareenough: I'd say our biggest advantage is our skilled big men and their ability to score. Kamp and Sanders-Frison can be a fearsome duo, especially against an undersized team.
7. Finally, what's your prediction for Saturday's game?
Kodiak: Ugly game. Lots of mistakes on both sides. If Catron is still limited, our edge down low will slowly pill this one out.
atomsareenough: Bears win. We've been pretty solid at home this year, and I think we match up well with the Ducks.