Q&A With California Golden Blogs

He's got a nice stomach right there - Jeff Gross

In previewing tonight's baskteball game against California, we did a Q&A with California Golden blogs. Thanks to CGB as a whole, and specifically Norcalnick and LEastCoastBears for their responses. CODawg and I came up with the questions, and you can read their Q&A with me here.
What one player, aside from Allen Crabbe, should Washington fans know about?

Norcalnick:
Justin Cobbs has, to a certain extent, become the bellweather of the team. Crabbe will typically get his points, and occasionally might be able to take over and carry the team. But Cobbs is supposed to be a very efficient 2nd option, yet he's struggled of late with turnovers and his jump shot.

He's capable of winning games for the Bears - he did it last year against Oregon, when he got into the lane at will and every jump shot swished through the net. If he rediscovers that form should allow Cal to punish teams that focus too much attention on Allen Crabbe and he can create easy buckets for Cal's bigs.
LEastCoastBears:
Although he has struggled shooting in the last few games, Justin Cobbs is clearly the #2 scoring option for the Bears. Of course, former walk-on Robert Thurman may go off on the Huskies like the career high 16 that he dropped on them last year in a Cal victory.
What is one strength of Cal that the Huskies must slow down in order to win?

Norcalnick:
'Allen Crabbe' is the easy answer, except that Allen can score plenty and Cal can still lose (See: 27 points vs. UCLA). Generally speaking, Washington needs to disrupt Cal's basic offensive sets and take away the easy types of looks they want to create. Don't ever leave Crabbe open on the perimeter. Work to prevent him coming open on curls. Keep Justin Cobbs out of the lane. Lots of ball pressure always seems to be a good strategy against Monty's teams. Crabbe has seemed better about finding other ways to score when teams take away his preferred looks, but it's always hit and miss for the Bears when our bread and butter isn't working the way we'd like.
LEastCoastBears:
Scoring efficiency. Allen Crabbe will get his points regardless (unless he somehow inexplicably gets in foul trouble, he is the go to option on the floor). Whether the Bears succeed or not depends on how many shots he has to shoot to get those 20+ points. When they are both clicking, both of the Cal backcourt combo of Crabbe and Cobbs are very efficient scorers.
What is one weakness Washington must exploit to pull out a win?

Norcalnick:
If you can exploit Cal's depth you're in good shape. If you can get Richard Solomon or David Kravish into foul trouble, Cal has very questionable depth in the interior. Frankly, the same goes for our guards, except that Justin Cobbs and Allen Crabbe are both very very good at not fouling.

Beyond that? Well, Cal's transition defense hasn't been great, which is scary against a Romar team. If Washington can force Justin Cobbs into a few turnovers and get out in transition, there might be some easy baskets available. Also, Cal's 3 point defense has not been good so far this year. From what I've seen UW isn't a team that shoots a ton of 3s as a major part of their offensive identity, but if they want to start on Wednesday the opportunity will likely be there.
LEastCoastBears:
Cal has no depth, especially if backup PG Brandon Smith and SG/SF Ricky Kreklow are still out. Maybe it's the new combination of players forced to be on the floor together at times, but the Cal do suffer quite a bit of defensive lapses, particularly against the fast break.

Who has been the breakout player so far for Cal?

Norcalnick:
Easily Tyrone Wallace. The 4 star true freshman was expected to contribute, but his rapid ascent into the starting lineup was still surprising. He's more explosive than he looks, which has meant he's been pretty successful getting past his man and drawing fouls. When he starts finishing his drives he could be quite good. He's also an excellent defensive rebounder for a guard, and Cal relies on those types of skills to keep teams off the offensive glass.
LEastCoastBears:
Allen Crabbe has really shown more dimensions to his offensive game than just being an accurate long range shooter. When shots are not dropping from long range, Crabbe has shown the ability to attack the rim and get points that way.
Who is someone who could really step up over the remainder of the season for Cal?

Norcalnick:
If he ever gets healthy, Missouri transfer Ricky Kreklow could be a HUGE difference maker on both ends of the court for Cal. From what little we've seen from him there are indications that he is already Cal's best perimeter defender and a gifted passer for a wing. He would allow Cal to go small without sacrificing as much defensively. But it's entirely possible that he'll never really get fully healed this year.

So I'll go with the perenially enigmatic Richard Solomon, who seemingly has all of the tools to really take a step forward as an above-average Pac-12 big man. Solomon seemed poised to break out last year before having his season derailed by academic ineligibility. He's back this year and he's shown flashes, but when you see his length and athleticism it's not hard to imagine a player that controls the paint on defense and presents matchup problems on offense.
LEastCoastBears:
Freshman Tyrone Wallace is the easy answer here. The combo guard Wallace made some key shots in the closing minutes of the Bears' win over USC, and looked to be more comfortable being the ball handler at times. He can easily step up and become that key #2 or #3 option on offense while also use his athleticism to clamp down on the opposing team's top wing player.
Cal is not projected to get back to the NCAA this year. But what does the fan base think is the ceiling, floor and most likely outcome for the Bears this season?

Norcalnick:
Ceiling: Ricky Kreklow miraculously heals, Justin Cobbs breaks out of his perplexing slump, and the switch goes off for Richard Solomon. Cal surges through Pac-12 play and puts a scare into UCLA and Arizona near the top of the conference and earns a middling NCAA seed, bowing out in the 2nd round of the tournament.

Floor: Ricky Kreklow and Brandon Smith both miss the rest of the season. Justin Cobbs and Richard Solomon both continue to play inconsistently. Cal's depth is exposed and Allen Crabbe can't continue to carry an offense as every team double teams him constantly, gameplanning just to stop him every night. Cal slumps to a 7-11 conference record. A first round loss in the Pac-12 tournament pushes Cal below .500 for the season, and they decline an invatation to play in the CBI.

Likely outcome: Brandon Smith eventually returns to the lineup, and Ricky Kreklow gives it a go on his busted foot in February but never really integrates into the team. Allen Crabbe leads the conference in scoring, but Cal takes its lumps as depth is an issue all year long. The Bears have enough front line talent to defend home court but not enough to win much on the road. A 9-9 record and an NIT invitation leaves Cal fans dreaming of what Jabari Bird and Allen Crabbe can do together in 2014.
Cal was projected to make it to the NCAA at the beginning of the season, especially after winning the Anaheim tournament. Missed opportunities to upset top 25 teams: at Wiscosin and then at home to UNLV (by 1 on a buzzer beating putback) and Creighton, AND that crushing home loss to Harvard really dampened the expectation for the team.
With that said, the conference is a bit better this year that a decent conference run to be that 3rd team might still be enough to put the Bears back in the NCAA tournament. Having just one meeting with Arizona (and at Arizona) doesn't help, however.
More realistic, Coach Montgomery will keep his streak going of never finishing in the second half of the conference. Cal makes it to the NIT and get a good long run there to give the youngsters plenty of experience.
Given the short rotation once again, an additional injury to a key player can really kill the outlook on the season. Doomsday scenario also include Allen Crabbe getting bad advice and decide to turn pro at the end of the year.
LEastCoastBears:
Cal was projected to make it to the NCAA at the beginning of the season, especially after winning the Anaheim tournament. Missed opportunities to upset top 25 teams: at Wiscosin and then at home to UNLV (by 1 on a buzzer beating putback) and Creighton, AND that crushing home loss to Harvard really dampened the expectation for the team.
With that said, the conference is a bit better this year that a decent conference run to be that 3rd team might still be enough to put the Bears back in the NCAA tournament. Having just one meeting with Arizona (and at Arizona) doesn't help, however.
More realistic, Coach Montgomery will keep his streak going of never finishing in the second half of the conference. Cal makes it to the NIT and get a good long run there to give the youngsters plenty of experience.

Given the short rotation once again, an additional injury to a key player can really kill the outlook on the season. Doomsday scenario also include Allen Crabbe getting bad advice and decide to turn pro at the end of the year.


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