It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t impressive, and it wasn’t a performance that’ll go on the highlight reel, but it was a win. Maybe the results don’t matter, but the fact is a Cal team without two starters took down an older, more experienced professional team. Their performance wasn’t inspiring, but at the very least the team can grind out a win during the late stages of the game.
The teams were evenly matched most of the first half, with neither team getting much separation. In the third quarter, the Bears jumped out to a double digit lead (if memory serves me right) but Uppsala battled back to make it a tie game at 60. After a long last few minutes, and Robert Thurman falling down to give the Swedes a shot to win or tie the game in the final seconds, the Bears escaped with a 76-74 victory.
Some Bullet Points from what I gleaned from the game:
-The defense still needs some work. I know it’s summer, I know we’re missing Jorge and Kamp…but defense was our Achilles Heel a year ago, and progress has to start somewhere. Jorge and Kamp were a part of the team last year, and our defense was still terrible. It has to be a teamwide effort to be a good defensive team, and at least for one game that effort wasn’t there.
-The team did a pretty nice job rebounding, although Crabbe should not be leading the team in the category. It’s encouraging that without a starting big man on the court we held our own on the glass.
-That being said, I really think we’re going to see a more all-around player out of Allen Crabbe this year. His handle looked better, Allen was rebounding often, he wasn’t getting lit up on defense as much, and his stroke is still silky smooth. He did all this with a nose guard on, so who knows what will see when the season comes around. I’m excited.
-Battle 1 of Justin Cobbs vs. Brandon Smith goes to Smith, at least in my opinion. Cobbs struggled a bit defensively and made some bad decisions with the ball. Smith wasn’t perfect, but he made some big plays and appeared more assertive going to the hole. On pure raw athletic talent the edge still goes to Cobbs, but for now Smith is still the guy. Statistical addition: Smith scored 17 points and got to the line for 10 free throws attempts. Smith is still Cal’s point guard, at the moment.
-Alex Rossi can shoot the basketball very well. I don’t know if he can do anything else yet, but at the very least he’s a threat from the outside.
-Robert Thurman had a tough night. Fact of the matter is, he’s not very skilled with the basketball. He can rebound and do some other nice things, but it’d be preferable if he wasn’t relied on too heavily.
-Kravish is more ready to play right away than Christian Behrens. Neither is ready for a big role, but at the very least Kravish can rebound and has long arms for post defense. Behrens is going to take a little bit more time to get on the court, although the game did seem a bit too fast for Kravish as well. His passing game needs work, although his mid range jumper did look good. Neither one will be seeing a lot of court time.
-Richard Solomon looks almost like a completely different person. He’s definitely put on at least a bit of weight, and he has a different haircut. Appears to have added a little hook shot to his game and is still a shot blocker. Good news on both accounts, as if he’s a good replacement for MSF this team could be going places.
-Emerson Murray’s still quick, but he still seems a bit on edge and his jump shot still needs work. The hopes he would take a big step forward this year are a bit premature, but I still think you can do worse as a reserve guard.
-Harper Kamp and Jorge Gutierrez need to get better. Like, right now. It’s not as fun without them.
-Swedish announcers are not very good. Step up your game, Swedes, because your country is now Bear Territory.
All in all, not a bad game. Plenty of experience for young guys and some weaknesses exposed. Fans didn’t expect a perfect game, especially without Kamp and Jorge, and they didn’t get one. At least we got a preseason win. The next game will be on Wednesday, against Norway’s national team. Go Bears!