In advance of tomorrow's game against Cal, we got a request from the guys at California Golden Blogs to do a Q&A, which is great because it gives us a chance to find out a little more about the Bears. CGB sent over some questions and they'll post our answers soon, meanwhile here are their answers to our questions, courtesy of LeonPowe and Kodiak.
1) What is the biggest difference between the Bears when we played them at Pauley and now?
LeonPowe: I think the legs are more tired for the Bears than they were a few weeks ago. We've learned that Jorge can be a consistent scorer and Alan Crabbe has really strengthened his hold on the best Cal player title. But our thin bench and lack of athletes has forced a few more players who aren't quite ready (Emerson Murray) and walk-ons (Jeff Powers) into game situations then we would've liked.
Kodiak: The game at Pauley was a bit of a coming out party for Allen Crabbe
. During the early season, he had been content to work within the flow of the offense almost to the point of being too passive. Although he stepped up his scoring and shots taken after Franklin departed, he was still more of a complementary player. This was the first game where I saw him want the ball, demand the ball, and deliver over and over again during crunch time. It was also a real learning experience for him having to deal with Malcolm Lee
's stifling defense for most of the game - it was almost as if the adversity forced him to take that next step in his evolution as a player. With Crabbe's emergence as a reliable scorer, not just a catch and shoot guy, it really seems like it opened up the offense for everyone else. More room to operate for Harper Kamp
and Markhuri Sanders-Frison
. Less pressure on Jorge Gutierrez
to try to carry the perimeter scoring all by himself. Even Brandon Smith has been able to get some opportunistic baskets. So naturally, we may not get to see Crabbe vs. Lee part deux.
2) What is the latest on Allen Crabbe's recovery from his concussion and his status for this weekend's game?
LeonPowe: We thought he'd be fine, but he hasn't practiced this week and suddenly its looking like he might miss USC. Unsure about how affects the UCLA game (if it makes it more or less likely he'll play) but we went from completely expecting him to suit up for both games this weekend to . . . uh oh.
Kodiak: As of 2/16/11, he hasn't been able to practice and is a game-time decision for Thursday night. I'd suspect out against 'sc and 30% chance of playing on Saturday.
3) The Bears are dead last in the Pac-10 in scoring defense. What has been their biggest issues defensively and is there anything in particular that has given them trouble?
LeonPowe: Depth. Our lack of it leads to both tired legs this late in the season, as well as Montgomery going much more zone than I suspect he would like. Teams have really been able to exploit our zone as our rotations tend to be a bit slow - our defense has recently been of the "give up the long ball and hope they're off" variety lately, until the last few minutes of the game when we can unleash an aggressive man to man, if we're close enough.
Kodiak: Youth, depth, and some matchups. Our starters aren't too bad defensively. However, there's a big drop-off when our reserves come in. Although they show potential, Richard Solomon
and Bak Bak
still tend to get worked in the low post, and Emerson Murray and Jeff Powers tend to get lost on occasion fighting through screens or on rotations. We just don't match-up very well against certain types of players - athletic/mobile bigs are especially tough. So, we've had to play almost exclusively zone to try to protect our starters from foul trouble. The loss to Arizona was a case study in and of itself. Once our starting center fouled out, we gave up easy baskets in the paint to their undersized, but crafty post player. And when we were up 3 needing to guard the perimeter, our freshman wing let himself get screened out and didn't come out far enough to challenge.
4) Harper Kamp has never been the most dominating athlete, but thtere he is averaging 15 points per game. What's the best way to defend Kamp?
LeonPowe: He's a smart player, and a left hander, but clever around the basket with using angles and fakes and step-throughs, step-backs and spins. I would say either bring an athletic shot blocker and shade his left would be the best strategy I could think of. Double teams are not the best idea, because he is an excellent post passer and finds cutters better than any post player we've had in a while. He and Markhuri Sanders-Frison are also quite good and running high-low or two man interior passing games.
Kodiak: Kamp is tough, strong, has good footwork, and has a diverse game. However, he's not an explosive leaper and doesn't have great size. He has trouble scoring over guys who are really tall/long if they're disciplined enough not to leave their feet. (like UW's frontline) If you don't have someone that can shut him down one on one, I'd use a quick double team and force him to give the ball up. Because you have the benefit of having some larger guards, I'd send whoever is matched up with Brandon Smith (not much of a scorer) and take your chances.
5) UCLA has had issues with the full court press and pressure in general. Does Cal like to pressure full court and pressure the ball and how do you expect them to defend the Bruins?
LeonPowe: No - we don't have the depth or the athletes to press full time. If ball pressure does cause a lot of problems - maybe maybe maybe Brandon Smith might press the point guard by himself, but I really can't see Montgomery going to a full-court zone press or trap or any sort of pressure lasting more than a possession or two.I expect to see a lot of zone because we've been going heavy zone for the last 3 games (all losses) even though Montgomery has historically been a man guy. Depth depth depth. We don't have it.
Kodiak: We don't have the depth to press. Cal has very rarely broken it out, and only in times of desperation - like when we almost came back at Pauley, actually. I'd expect us to play almost exclusively zone, try to deny the ball from Joshua Smith or double as necessary and take our chances that your outside shooters won't be hot. I'm most worried about Reeves Nelson
exploiting the holes in our zone for easy baskets. However, I'm not sure if Monty feels we match up well enough to play straight up man.