Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Can the Bears Take Care of Business

I am going to be honest. As thrilled as I am by how this season went, and how well coached the Bears looked all year long, just making the tournament won't make it any easier to swallow if this team goes one and done.

For one, Cal always seems to draw either a lower seeded, but talented team that has maybe underperformed, or a lower seeded less talented team that happens to be playing in or near their hometown (like playing Penn in Pennsylvania a few years back). Can we just get a lower seeded mid major on a neutral court for a first round game for once?

Second, building recruiting momentum under a new coach requires visibility. One and done is barely going to register a blip with most recruits. But even just getting to the second round game and playing a team like Memphis, if Cal shows well, could be a big boost for recruiting.

In terms of defending the Terps, Vasquez is MD's meal ticket. When he's on, he's hard to stop. But he is a head case and if he gets crazy, he'll take the team down with him. Enter Jorge Gutierrez. Getting under people's skin was always a Monty staple at Stanford because of the players he had. He's only got one at Cal, but he's a grade A, first class pest. Let's hope Guti can get the job done.

When Cal has the ball, it will be interesting to see what defense MD uses. They have used a 2-3 zone quite a bit this year due to lack of size underneath. As long as Cal doesn't go cold from outside, that 2-3 zone could be just what the doctor ordered. It's the physical, pestering man defense, especially on Randle and Theo, that just stifles this team and gets them out of rhythm (which we can expect a steady dose of from Memphis if we get that far). However, I expect Gary Williams to mix up defenses, especially early on to keep Randle from getting going.

Bottom line: Cal just needs to come out pissed off on defense and on the boards, and then just run the offense patiently until the shots start falling. If they do that, they should win. If they come out in a reactive way on defense, and just start heaving up shots on offense, they could get into a hole.

Here's a nice interview by Monty on the matchup. Maybe the most frank and refreshing interview by a Cal coach in a while.



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