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Some Notes On The Cal Bears

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Ben Ball warriors do not get to relax following their big win at Maples last night. After taking care of the Lopez family last night, Love et al. now have to get ready for another monster front court in the Bay Area. Love, LRMAM, AA2, and Mata-Real (who may still be recovering from his groin injury) go up against the lethal combination of Ryan Anderson (21.6 ppg /9.3 rpg) and Devon Hardin (10.3/9.9) tomorrow afternoon. Those are not the only two guys. The Bears are not lacking in terms of talent. From the Band Is Out On The Field:

They have a likely conference player of the year in Ryan Anderson, a potential lottery pick in DeVon Hardin, two young but dangerous players (Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher). They have a transfer from Duke, Jamal Boykin, who should give solid minutes, defense and rebounding. They could still get Theo Robertson back from hip surgery - and with him veteran leadership and a top defender. Yet, despite all that, the Bears, too, are inconsistent.
Those guys are looking good with a 10-2 record and a win against the over-hyped gap closers from across town last night. Anderson and Hardin had their typical big nights, however, it was the "young but dangerous players" - Randle and Christopher - along with some clutching shooting from some guy named Vierneisel, who were key to the victory. From the AP recap:
After struggling with his shooting throughout the non-conference season, Eric Vierneisel found the perfect time to regain his touch.

Vierneisel made consecutive 3-pointers to break open a one-point game midway through the second half and California spoiled O.J. Mayo's high-scoring Pac-10 debut by beating No. 22 Southern California 92-82 on Thursday night.

"It's been kind of a struggle the first part of the season," Vierneisel said. "Tonight it was going in so I can't really complain. I have confidence in my shot, my teammates have confidence in me, my coaches have confidence in me. That's what I'm out there to do."

Vierneisel was 6-for-35 on 3-pointers this season before hitting the two from long range that put Cal (10-2, 1-0) up 72-65 with 5:44 to go. That started a 15-3 run that carried the Golden Bears to their fourth win in 12 conference openers under coach Ben Braun.

Patrick Christopher led the way for Cal with 24 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Jerome Randle added 16 points and nine assists and Vierneisel had a career-high 15.
Yeah, Vierneisel should sound familiar. The senior wing played a key role in the Bears' win last March against the Bruins in that ugly game at Staples Center. Here is the Bear's full rotation per Sportsline.com:
PLAYER ROTATION
Usual Starters -- F Ryan Anderson, F Patrick Christpopher, C DeVon Hardin, G Jerome Randle, G Nikola Knezevic. Key Subs -- F Eric Vierneisel, F Harper Kamp, Jamal Boykin
And more notes from their last night's game:
--Cal coach Ben Braun said before the USC game he wanted Hardin to quit worrying about fouls and play aggressively. After logging double-doubles in his first five games, Hardin played more passively in recent weeks. He had 15 points and 10 rebounds against the Trojans, playing 31 minutes.

--Sophomore Patrick Christopher, whom USC coach Tim Floyd admitted the Trojans didn't even guard a year ago, had a superb game. He totaled 24 points, seven rebounds and a career-best seven of Cal's 23 assists.

--Sophomore PG Jerome Randle had his third straight high-level game, contributing 16 points and a career-high nine assists against USC. Over the past three games, Randle has totaled 62 points and 16 assists.
Also some quick impressions from the guys at the Band Is Out On The Field.

Tomorrow's matchup is going to be a huge test for our defense. Cal right now has the second highest scoring offense in the conference averaging 82.4 points a game. UCLA's has the second best scoring defense averaging 54.7 points a game [See Pac-10 official statistics]

While a lot of folks are going to be focusing on the matchup between the two frontlines, I think it will be pivotal for our backcourt to apply severe ball pressure on the Cal guards, and play the same kind of team defense we played during second half of last night's game. To date, Westbrook has been sensational on defense. If we can get the same kind of effort in terms of applying on ball pressure from DC and Shipp, it would go a long way towards disrupting the Cal offense tomorrow afternoon. On the offensive side, I will be surprised if we don't see a little zone from Cal. It was weird to see Stanford not zoning up against us last night, electing to go man to man most of the game. If we see the zone, hopefully DC, Shipp and even LRMAM will attack it with Westbrook's gusto by driving inside and creating opportunities or kicking it out to an open guy on the outside. And it will be key for Shipp and others to make sure they are shooting those 3s within the flow of the offense instead of forcing the issue.

Going back to the front court, I think it is worth mentioning again the defensive effort of Love against the Lopez brothers from last night. If Love can play at the same level against Hardin, it will be huge for us. And it will be up to AA2, Mata-Real, LRMAM and even Keefe (who may get more mins tomorrow night) to make sure we can hold our own, if not get an edge, on the boards.

It goes without saying that the Bruins need to come out with energy and focus in a hostile environment in which they have to play a mistake free game. They were great last night as they, if have my notes right, turned the ball over only 9 times the entire game. And I think they had only 2 of them in the second half. Again, if they can play with that kind of composure tomorrow afternoon they will be in decent shape.

We'll have more on the game in the morning roundup. Hopefully, our boys can follow up Thursday's total team effort with another stellar one on Saturday.

GO BRUINS.