Bumped. BN Eds.
With Arizona on the ropes, its US vs. THEM for the 4th seed in San Diego.
I agree with both Nestor and DC that Wednesday's 86-66 win AT Cal was the best win of the season. Yep, no REAL marquee wins, but they just may get the job at hand done. No, I'm not going to go into full sunshine pumper mode (haven't been there since about 2008). We haven't won the second game on the road yet this season. But I like our chances after watching that convincing win versus Cal.
We really won that game in the first couple of minutes as we set the tempo, made our shots, and luckily or by design, Cal fumbled the ball away time after time-seemingly nervous at home. Cal made a late first half run, getting it to 34-30 while Powell was on the bench (Kyle too for a time during that stretch), and Cobb tried to assert himself with Adams on him. However, that fizzled almost immediately, and the game was over with Adam's 3 with 2 seconds left in the half.
My four main observations:
(1) For the second time in a row, I have to say Jordan Adams had his best game of the season: 28 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals. I liked his movement without the ball, and there was probably only one forced drive on his part. If he's truly turned it around, its because he's adapted mentally to the flow of the game with the defenses thrown at him without Shabazz around and the pressure had let up a bit as Kyle and Norman became threats. My criticism is that he's gained some weight, and his defense has been lax-slow to come back down court and excessive cheating for the steal (he always did that, but to my eyes, he's drifting from his man more this year).
(2) Norman's stat line was not impresive, but in his 18 minutes, he shut down Cobb (who was inexplicably covering Kyle)to the point of causing so much frutration that I saw bickering in the couple of times the camera flashed to the Cal huddle.
(3) Though Cal outrebounded the Bruins 34-30, their bigs couldn't find the basket. Solomon and Kravitch had 14 points between them, though Bird did provide a spark during the first half run. Solomon eventually swithced to Kyle (they tried Cobb, Wallace and Solomon), and that left the middle open. Travis was solid, perhaps finding his place finally, and that's a nice trend. Also, Tony had a very sweet turnaround jumper. But the bigs were overall uninspiring.
4) I don't know where the Monty we know went, but he was outcoached. We did things until it forced Monty to change, but Monty was slow or listened to his arguing players too much.
Stanford's bigs are better than Cal's, averaging 26 points and 16 rebounds between them. Randle is their leading scorer at 18.5 points per game.
I think Stanford has the same match-up problems against us that Cal had. They don't have an answer for the number of guards we can throw at them, especially Kyle. We blew them out back in January. Powell and Huestis were par for the course, but Randle was held to 14. Jordan Adams had 19 points, but the big surprise was Tony Parker's break-out 22 point and 7 rebound performance.
Arizona survived Utah in OT on Wednesday because the Utes 86% foul shooter missed four FT's in a row in OT-the first three from a foul on a 3-pointer. The Widcats are 3-2 since the Ashley injury. They are totally exposed. You would thing with the stellar recruiting-Hollis-Jefferson expected to seemlessly replace Ashley (York replaced him in the starting lineup)-they'd be OK, but in fact, they're offense is Johnson alone now. Geez, Gordon even sat out the end of the Utah game. We'll be watching them on the road vs. Colorado on Saturday.
The Bruins need that 4-seed in San Diego (beware, there are two San Diego pods-one feeds to the Midwest). We are a different team with Jordan back and Travis stabilized, but I don't know if this team can get past the second round with a 5 or 6 seed against a team with a real interior game and decent guards.