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Previewing A Visit From the Golden Bears with CGB

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Last week we did a Q&A with the guys from Building the Dam to preview the game against the Beavers and not only did we get an idea of what Oregon St. had to offer on the floor, it worked for some pretty good mojo as the Bruins got a sweep in Oregon. Anyone who's been around here for any sort of time knows that we put a lot of stock in mojo so when the guys from California Golden Blogs asked if we wanted to do a Q&A this week, it was an easy answer yes. LeonPowe answered some questions for us about the Bears that shed some light on Monty's program up in Berkeley and what the Bruins will be facing on Thursday night.

1. Cal was one of the better teams in a horrific Pac-10 last year, but they lost some talent from that squad. It was always going to be somewhat of a growing season for the Bears, so how is the growing coming along?

Not just better teams. Champs! (Sorry, we don't get to say that often for basketball.) And we didn't just lose some talent - 4 starters, including the Pac-10 player of the year and one sub. 5 seniors. And then two more transfers. and then one more kid going pro (in China). So of our top 10 guys last year, we brough two back (Guttierez and Sanders-Frison) and one back from injury (Kamp). We are a completely new team with a completely new style of play (last year I always thought 3 pointers were going in if Randle, Christooper or Robertson got a good look and their feet down - this year, its a lot of hoping).

The growth has been uneven, but losing one of our top recruits -  Gary Franklin - paradoxically has opened the door to our best frosh - Alan Crabbe who - aside from the UW game, has been on a tear lately and has been very assertive - shooting from deep and taking the ball to the rack. However, with any young team, the growing is in fits and spurts - especially as the Bears are not deep enough, tall enough, athletic enough, good enough shooters - or outstanding in any phase of the game, save drawing fouls and defensive rebounding.

2. Cal has a pretty decent RPI of 54, largely due to a very tough schedule. Do you think playing such a hard schedule was worth it to have the RPI?

RPI - what use is RPI to us? We're hopefully playing for an NIT (or CBI) spot - but mainly we're building for the future. However, i would posit that playing tough teams like New Mexico, San Diego State and Kansas will help in the long run, as our frosh get a first hand look at how successful teams are going about their business. So its worth it for the object lessons, but not so much for the RPI.
3. Harper Kamp has been the Bears' top offensive guy this year. What does he like to do offensively and what are some of the things opponents have done to give him some trouble?


He's crafty in the mid-post, is a dogged rebounder, has an unorthodox left hook and is a smart smart basketball player. But he's not overly athletic or quick - I think he can be guarded one-on-one by a more athletic shot blocker - double teams help the Bears since he's an excellent passer - both in hi-low sets and out of the post. He is, however, guardable, despite all of his advantages. I feel on a good team (say last year's) Kamp is the ideal 3-5th best guy - he is smart, grounded and plays to his strengths. I'm not sure how excellent he is as the most important player on the team . . . .so we think Alan Crabbe is going to grab that mantle pretty soon (if he hasn't already).


4. What type of game does Allen Crabbe have and what has made him such a successful freshman?

Smooth. You can just taste smoothness. No wasted motion. Almost an ideal small forward with range out to the 3 point line, he never looks like he's breaking a sweat. We wish he'd be more assertive - and he's taking his game that direction with Franklin's recent transfer. I think his game resembles those smooth high scoring forwards in the NBA of the early 80s (obviously as a college frosh vs. an all-Pro talent differential) but there's elements of 'Nard King, Jamal Wilkes, Alex English - with a lot more face up jumpers and range than those guys had.

5. Jorge Gutierrez has one of the stranger stat lines with a 38% mark from the field, but 41% from three. What explains that?

I don't have the tape to be sure, but just as a guess, I think Gutierrez has a lot of wild forays towards the basket trying to draw fouls, and being unsuccessful - either at the foul call or the shot, but his 3 pointers are usually feet set, catch, fire, good type.

6. The Bears have one of the worst turnover margins in the conference. Has holding onto the ball or forcing turnovers been the bigger issue?

We have a lot of turnover issues - both with Gutierrez taking an early turn at point guard, Gary Franklin running it for a few games and now Brandon Smith. Smith is a nice kid who has played very very well over the last 5 games, however, I personally still don't think he's a Pac-10 starting level point guard. And he continues to get into trouble from time to time.

7. UCLA has had some issues with zone defenses so do you expect the Bears to throw some zone at them and if so, what types of zones has Cal used?

Yes. We've run a 2-3, a box and 1 (against Klay Thompson) and I believe we ran some 1-3-1 against Arizona. It's not out base defense, but Monty is not allergic to it either.

8. This is a bit of rebuilding year for the Bears so how do you see the program building through the rest of this season and in the next couple years as it truly becomes Monty's program with all of Monty's players?

I think Monty prefers under the radar guys he can build with over 4 years, so we may not get the 5-star recruits, but as Monty continues to bring in his kind of guys, expect a lot of annoying, grind you down, play just a little bit too hard, defensive grinders who play together, defend, rebound and hopefully win.