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UC Berkeley at UCLA Basketball Preview

Another short handed team in the weak Pac 12

It should be Kevon's team.
It should be Kevon's team.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday at 4:30 at Pauley and on FS1 UCLA plays at home against UC Berkeley.  But before the preview let me briefly give some thoughts on where UCLA is right now and what the double overtime win over Stanford means.

It means that UCLA can still beat cupcakes* at home.  Yes Stanford is a cupcake but with an asterisk.  Anthony Brown and Chasson Randle are the real deal and good players.  They are better players than any cupcake we played.  But Stanfords bigs and Stanford's coach are both at the cupcake level.

How do I prove that?  For the last 8 minutes of regulation and both overtimes only three people had a shot attempt for Stanford, Randle, Brown and starting Center Steven Nastic.  Nastic fouled out in the first overtime.  Which is a key to us pulling away in the second overtime.  (Also Parker has owned Nastic for two years running.)

Stanford was playing 2 or 3 on offense against UCLA.  It is how Norman Powell who could barely walk let alone run could stay in the game.  Powell really did not need to play defense on his man.

This was not nerves or a fluke.  Stanford's starting four for the game, Grant Verhoevan, shot his first free throws for the season in overtime.  These are guys who were not ready for prime time.  These were players that are not Pac 12 level players and could just as easily played for our early season cupcakes.

And Dawkins was such a bad coach he did not take advantage of Powell who could not move. Your have your players double on Looney and Parker.  In the Alabama game, Goloman's man let him go outside daring him to shoot.  In the Stanford game, Goloman's man played him like he was Reggie Miller and a threat from distance.

Don't get me wrong, Randle and Brown are good players and definitely not cupcakes.  But a two man team is tough to win with when you have to play 50 minutes on the road.   This is a game UCLA should have won much easier than they did.

A team like Stanford, without their starting 4 or as Bill Walton prefers power forward, is getting close to cupcake land.  We had the same break against Colorado when they lost Josh Scott but could not take advantage on the road.

Kudos to the Bruin players.  They did not give up and fought hard.  But they won because they had more talent than a badly coached cupcake*.

Which brings us to UC Berkeley.

UC Berkeley has lost four of their last five, including to Washington State at home and the trogans on the road.  This should be an easy game for UCLA.

Like Stanford, UC Berkeley will have an advantage in the backcourt and is led by an All PAC 12 candidate in Tyrone Wallace.  Wallace leads Berkeley in scoring, assists, rebounds and steals.  That said in the PAC 12 he has been Bryce Alford level cold shooting 17-55.  Of course Wallace is a good defender and even cold still is averaging 4 assists and 7 rebounds a game.

The problem is who does Wallace pass to?  At the beginning of the season there was Jabari Bird but he is hurt.  The number two option is the son of a former UCLA assistant coach and Shabazz Muhammad teammate Jordan Matthews.  Matthews is shooting well from three at 42% and is a legitimate scoring threat who could eat up UCLA lax guard defense.

Matthews and Wallace accounted for 58% of the points the last two games both losses for Berkeley.  That's the problem for Berkeley, finding someone else to score.

Berkeley upset Washington because they did find the third scorer, David Kravish, who scored a season high 21 that game. Berkeley is 7-2 when Kravish scores in double figures.  Kravish is Berkeley's leading big man and leads them in blocks.  The Senior Kravish is the x-factor for Berkeley in this game. If he steps up UCLA is in trouble.

That is really all you need to know about UC Berkeley.  After that they are alternating between four nondescript players.  Sam Singer a 6'4" guard shooting 14% from three, where he takes about half his shots.  Christian Behren a 6'8" inside player who is shooting over 50% for the season but only 2-7 in the PAC 12 and 4-14 in the last five games.  He is a case of good against the cupcakes, not the better teams.  This has led Berkeley to turn to 7'1" Kingsley Okoroh who is England's best hope but also explains why they are a soccer nation as he is raw.  Lastly is UCLA legend Luc's little brother Roger Moute a Bidias who fortunately for UCLA so far the best thing he has going for him is his brother but is a good defender.

So, UC Berkeley  has the making of another cupcake*.  UCLA should win at home.  This game is really about UCLA not UC Berkeley.  The question which I don't know the answer to is UC Berkeley's new coach as bad as Dawkins?

For that could be UC Berkeley's best hope.  On talent, UCLA should win this game easily.  However as this is a team game with coaching, this is certainly in doubt.  It shouldn't be.

Go Bruins.