The fellas over at California Golden Blogs gave us some more insight into the Pac-10's leading basketball program. It's going to be a tough one for the Cats on Thursday night in enemy territory.
1. Since losing to the Cats on January 31, Cal has been pretty dominant and sits atop the Pac-10. What happened?
Everybody else lost? Seriously, did you see us sleepwalk through an embarassing loss at Oregon State? Or fall behind by 11 at the half at home vs. Washington State? Or give up a 25-0 run at USC? Cal has managed to go 4-2 over the past few weeks, but other than a convincing victory over UW at home, they haven't really looked dominating over that stretch.
That said, as mediocre as Cal has been, everyone else has been even less inspiring, though Arizona State at least has managed to stay close. First one to 12 wins this conference?
2. Jerome Randle is one streaky dude. What gives?
He's a shooter. Lots of shooters are streaky. This Cal team can live and die by the jump shot, so Cal fans have learned to live with the streakyness.
Moreover, I think Randle doesn't quite have the ice cold mentality of some shooters; he can let things bother him, so if he's going up against a guard who is quick enough to keep him from penetrating or active enough to force him into some dumb turnovers, he can get flustered and try to do too much. When he's not hitting shots, he's either injured (he's played through both leg injuries and debilitating stomach flus this year -- apparently, he threw up during halftime in Cal's loss to UCLA) or he's taking contested shots that he shouldn't. But man, when he's on, he's crazy-accurate from crazy-deep. I'm going to miss him, and I'm not the only Cal fan that feels that way.
3. What are your thoughts on Cal finishing strong and winning the Pac-10 regular season?
That would be awesome. But who knows? Cal fans have hope now. Hope that we might succeed. This is exactly the moment where something disastrous happens. Losing to both UA and ASU at home? We have Stanford on the road to end the season. You know there is a solid chance Cal needs a win at Stanford to clinch the Pac10 and we lose in disastrously emotional fashion. That, of course, assumes we win against ASU/UA this week, which would be a foolish assumption.
We have 2 of the toughest teams left, but at least Cal has them at home. If Cal fans can finally show up and show some passion, hopefully that helps Cal get some key wins and get their first Pac10 title in 50 years.
Which means we, of course, lose all 3 and flame out of the NIT. We're Cal afterall!
4. Are the Golden Bears going to the Tournament this year?
Unless Cal blows it this week or bombs out of the Pac-10 tournament, we should be safe. Our RPI is too high (I think the highest RPI for a team left out of the tourney is 30 something, and Cal is sitting in the mid-20s), and the NCAA wants to keep on encouraging high-profile matchups out-of-conference. If they want this to continue, strength of schedule has to be factored in, and the Bears have lost to four top 25 caliber teams, three bordering on the top 10.
They got about as good a chance as any other Pac10 team. It is kind of stunning how bad the Pac10 is this year. Bla. Our RPI is good, even though the loss to OSU sucked.
KenPom has us at 23rd.
CBS has us at 23rd, also. So, I think we are in a good position there to make the Tournament, but we it is not 100% yet. We still need to win more games. Wins against good teams like ASU and Arizona would certainly be helpful. Going deep in the Pac10 Tournament would be VERY helpful.
Right now, Cal is on the bubble. We need some more key wins to get in, but I believe we will get in. The Pac10 is bad, but the tourney still wants west coast representation. We're as good as pretty much any other team out there. I shouldn't say good, perhaps. We're as not bad as pretty much any other team out there.
5. What are your thoughts on the Pac-10 this year?
It sucks. But that doesn't mean I'll be any less happy at a conference title. Beggars can't be choosers. Hopefully our fans get up for it too (http://www.californiagoldenblogs.com/2010/2/23/1282884/time-to-rock-the-haas).