These teams are on losing streaks of 14 and seven games, respectively, with Cal staring at a winless Pac-12 season. Arizona won the previous matchup 87-65 in Berkeley, on Jan. 12, but has won just once since then.
To see which team will get their first win in the month of February, we talked to Joshua Morgan at SB Nation’s California Golden Blogs site. Here’s our Q&A.
Q: Obviously, this isn’t Cal’s year. That being said, are there any optimistic signs for the Golden Bears right now?
A: “Yeah, I guess you could say it isn’t our year. Fans are absolutely furious at Wyking Jones and how poorly coached this team has shown to be. However, I am a personal believer that this team does have talent. You have to remember that we have no seniors and only one of our key players is a junior. Our core has two more years together after this season, and I do think they have enough talent to be a decent basketball team. We just need to find the right man to lead them into battle.”
Who’s the player to watch for Cal?
“The obvious answers would be our point guard (and only junior rotation player) Paris Austin or our leading scorer Justice Sueing. However, I think the biggest player to watch is Darius McNeill. He is probably the best shooter and pure scorer on the team, and really our only player who get get buckets in a hurry. If he is shooting well, then he is hard to stop. A great performance from him could swing the game for Cal. Another one to watch in the always-entertaining Connor Vanover, the 7’3” freshman center who has turned into a truly exciting player for us. Whether it’s his crazy hair, his three-point stroke, or his occasional alley-oop finishes, he certainly will be Cal’s most interesting player to watch for.”
What are Cal’s biggest strengths and biggest weaknesses?
“This is something we have covered in great detail at CGB; the fact that this team only has one strength. One. If you look at our team stats and our opposing team stats, there are literally only two categories that we have a better per game average in than our opponents. One is free throw percentage, but it is by a minimal .08% margin. The only category we really shine in is the turnover battle. Cal is really good at protecting the ball, averaging just 11.1 turnovers/game, and are forcing a solid 13.8/game. However, it doesn’t really matter all that much when despite this advantage, we only game a .4 points/game advantage in points off turnovers.”
How soon can the Bears rebound from this season and return to contending for the Pac-12 tournament?
“To be honest, I don’t see a real way to contend in any form this season. I mean, it is hard to contend for anything (except worst Power-5 basketball team ever) when you can’t win any games. It is best for us to bring our focus to next season and try to forget that this season ever happened.”
A lot of Arizona fans feel Cal has a chance to earn its first Pac-12 win on Thursday. What do you think, what will be the score of the game?
“I hope I am wrong, but I think we lose this game for sure. Arizona by double digits. Give me 81-67.”