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California Golden Bears Game Preview & How to Watch

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It’s a battle for...not last place in the conference standings

NCAA Basketball: Washington at California Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The Essentials

Date: Saturday, 1/9/21

Tip-Off Time: 12:00 pm PT

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Radio: KJR 950 AM/KVI 570

Streaming: Pac-12.com/live

Location: Berkeley, California

Betting line: Washington +2.5

California Golden Bears 2020-21 Statistics:

Record: 5-7 (1-0 against non D-1 teams)

Points For per Game: 65.9 ppg (269th)

Points Against per Game: 68.8 ppg (124th)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 101.7 (160th)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 100.5 (150th)

Strength of Schedule: 113th

California Key Players:

G- Ryan Betley, Sr. 6’5, 200: 10.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.5 apg, 37.6% FG, 36.6% 3pt, 82.6% FT

The grad transfer from Penn has been the team leader in minutes per game at shooting guard and has been nearly the same player he was in the Ivy League. However his turnovers are up and his ability to score around the rim has tanked. Considering the large majority of his shots are 3-point attempts though that hasn’t been too big of a deterrant.

F- Grant Anticevich, Sr. 6’8, 230: 10.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 47.0% FG, 34.6% 3pt, 76.9% FT

The senior stretch forward missed 4 games recently due to needing an appendectomy but returned on Thursday night to put up 9 points and 1 rebound in a loss to Wazzu. He’s the kind of player who will be completely content to sit in the middle of UW’s zone and shoot free throw line jumpers until the Huskies change up their defense. He’s 12/22 on midrange jumpers this season so expect that to be a major part of Cal’s gameplan.

G- Matt Bradley, Jr. 6’4, 220: 17.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.8 apg, 45.4% FG, 31.8% 3pt, 77.6% FT

Bradley is an astounding 7th nationally in % of shots taken so when he’s on the floor he’s going to get his. However he injured his ankle last weekend and missed Cal’s game on Thursday with no timetable for his return. Bradley’s shooting efficiency is down with his astronomical usage rates but he’s by far their most important player. If he’s missing against UW it’s a huge boon to the Dawgs’ chances.

G- Joel Brown, So. 6’2, 192: 5.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.8 apg, 50.0% FG, 38.5% 3pt, 45.8% FT

Brown has been a defensive menace as he’s 2nd in the conference in steal percentage and will likely get the Quade Green matchup. He really doesn’t like to shoot the ball but is quite efficient when he does. He’ll likely to need to step up if Bradley is out and could be someone that seemingly comes out of nowhere to hit 3 3’s against UW.

F- Andre Kelly, Jr. 6’8, 255: 8.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 0.6 apg, 55.8% FG, 48.8% FT

Kelly is a brick house and will be a load for the Husky big men to deal with down low. He reminds me of a poor man’s Noah Dickerson as he’s got a nice array of post moves and is an above average rebounder for an undersized center. If Washington can get him in foul trouble it would be a big boost.

G- Makale Foreman, Sr. 6’1, 190: 10.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 2.4 apg, 34.9% FG, 34.7% 3pt, 83.3% FT

Foreman is Cal’s other grad transfer coming in from Stony Brook and seeing solid playing time. Similar to Betley he’s primarily a 3-point gunner and really struggles when he makes any forays into the paint. He has at least 6 attempts from behind the arc in 10 of Cal’s 12 games so he’ll definitely launch from deep if given any space.

California 2020-21 Shot Chart

Synergy Sports

The Outlook

After an 0-4 start to conference play the Huskies finally get to play one of the other projected bottom feeders in the conference. Cal’s record looks much better than Washington’s at 5-7 but their resume is equally empty. The 5 wins are over D3 Northwest University, #218 Nicholls State at home, #282 Cal St Northridge at home, #283 Seattle U at home (by 5 points), and #75 San Francisco at home by 2 points. They’re 1-7 against teams ranked in the top-215 nationally compared to Washington’s 0-8.

Just looking at Pac-12 play and things aren’t much better. Right now UW is 12th in offensive efficiency and 11th in defensive efficiency against conference opponents. Cal if 11th and 12th respectively. It’s pretty clear these are the 2 worst teams in the conference.

On the defensive end Cal has been the inverse of Washington’s offense. They’ve gotten absolutely torched from deep as they’re 316th in opponent 3pt% (39.4%) and yet also have no rim protection as they’re 322nd in block % (4.4%). Cal does have one 7-footer but his block percentage is worse than that of Erik Stevenson or RaeQuan Battle so far. If there’s ever a game where Nate Roberts and Riley Sorn can do damage on the interior it should be this one. And if there’s ever a game where the team is able to consistently get good looks from the perimeter it should be this one.

The Bears’ strength on offense has been scoring inside and especially with Matt Bradley likely out you can expect them to prioritize getting the ball to forwards Andre Kelly and Grant Anticevich. They typically prefer to launch a high volume of 3-pointers but I think we’ll see them go inside more often in this one. It certainly helps Washington’s case that so far Cal has been a worse offensive rebounding team than UW. You can expect they’ll do better than normal in that category against the Husky zone but this isn’t a team you expect to get infinite second chances.

After their loss to Washington State, Cal head coach Mark Fox acknowledged that without Matt Bradley the team would have to slow things down and try to grind out low scoring games to try to win. I expect them to try to milk the shot clock and not push it in transition unless there’s an obvious opportunity which likely works in UW’s favor but should help keep the score close no matter who has the advantage.

Thursday’s game against Stanford was an opportunity to steal an upset with the Cardinal’s injury situation but even without that the Huskies were clearly at a talent disadvantage. There are no excuses for this one. Cal has been every bit as bad as the Huskies so far this season with the lone difference being that they managed to narrowly win a home game against a solid team. The Bears are also likely missing their best offensive weapon who has been completely ball dominant when he’s played. If Washington can even put up an average effort on offense against the worst defense in the conference they’ll have a good shot at winning. But if the Huskies aren’t competitive in this one...oh boy.

Prediction

Washington Huskies- 64, California Golden Bears- 62

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