Cal Handles Its Business, An Uneventful But Good Thing

Posted by Mike Lemaire on November 17th, 2015

There was absolutely nothing noteworthy about Cal’s 85-67 thrashing of UC Santa Barbara last night in Berkeley, but if the Golden Bears are going to be the contender that they have been advertised as this preseason, that is without question a very good thing.

Cal Rolled to Its Second Win of the Season Last Night Versus UCSB

Cal Rolled to Its Second Win of the Season Versus UCSB Last Night

Cal didn’t play all that well against the Gauchos. Freshmen Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb battled foul trouble all night long, and head coach Cuonzo Martin mentioned afterward that his offense looked stagnant in settling for too many three-pointers (the Bears finished just 6-of-22 from downtown). But UC Santa Barbara is not your typical cupcake either, as the Gauchos were picked by some pundits to win the Big West this season — the type of opponent where a loss would hurt far more than a win helps. But instead of letting UCSB keep the score close and build confidence as the game wore on, Cal instead trampled them from the start with its vastly superior size and athleticism. This fact is easily illustrated in that the Bears’ margin of victory (18) was nearly identical to the difference in made free throws between the the two teams (17). The game was clearly over by midway through the second half, but the final score appeared closer than it actually was after Martin emptied his bench in the final minutes.

There were a few wow moments. Brown got to show off his skill set in transition and the precocious youngster certainly did not disappoint. Tyrone Wallace made a couple tough shots off the dribble that may have turned the heads of an NBA scout or two, and Cal’s offense might have looked even more stagnant (13 of his 16 points came in the first half) without some early triples from Jordan Mathews. But for the most part, Monday night’s contest just looked like an early season college basketball game — shooting was streaky; fouls were plentiful; and the newcomers struggled while adjusting to the speed of the college game. The difference this season is that fans accustomed to watching Cal slowly pull away from a team like UC Santa Barbara would be left wondering how much better it could realistically get over the course of the season. Now, anyone with eyes can clearly see that the pieces of a really good team are all on the floor.

That said, there are still plenty of questions about this team. There is not a lot of depth across the roster, although Sam Singer and Stephen Domingo were both more than good enough last night. And it’s still very early but Jabari Bird is not the secondary three-point threat (2-of-11 on the season) that the team needs him to be — at least not yet. Also, Rabb is pretty much the team’s only viable post threat, so managing his minutes and fouls will be an ongoing juggling act. Still, the questions two seasons ago after a loss at UCSB were about Cal’s talent. As of today, Cal fans have already left the Gauchos and last night’s game behind, and that is just the way the Golden Bears want it.

mlemaire (324 Posts)

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