Photo by Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Cal Basketball

The BearInsider Scout: Stanford Comes to Haas

January 24, 2020

No doubt, Stanford has ridden a light early conference schedule to its leading 4-1 Pac-12 record. The four teams the Cardinal has beaten have a combined record of 10-15. Only one — Washington — is ranked in KenPom’s top-100. Still, Stanford has looked the part of a team poised to finish in the top three or so of the conference. Its only loss was an overtime one at USC. And at one point in the second half of that game, Stanford was up by 20. 

But the schedule is about to toughen up for the Cardinal, which starts with Cal, a team that has not looked great since the Washington school sweep but has been a tougher out in Berkeley.

When Cal has the Ball

Stat Cal Stanford
Adj. Eff. 98.3 (235) 88.8 (13)
Avg. Poss. Length 19.0 (321) 16.9 (73)
Eff. FG% 47.2% (258) 44.4% (25)
TO% 20.0% (227) 24.2% (14)
Off. Reb. % 25.5% (255) 28.1% (176)
FTA/FGA 33.6 (142) 28.2 (88)
3P% 33.7% (142) 30.3% (55)
2P% 46.0% (292) 43.8% (34)
FT% 72.0% (123) 62.1% (3)
Block% 8.8% (177) 11.7% (57)
Steal% 7.0% (11) 11.1% (58)
Non-Stl TO% 13.1% (339) 13.1% (6)

Since Cal and Stanford met on The Farm, Cal’s offense has gotten worse and Stanford’s defense has gotten better. When the teams met at the beginning of the month, Cal’s adjusted offensive efficiency was 99.3 (198th in KenPom) and Stanford’s defense was 89.2 (21st in KenPom). As you can see above, Cal’s offensive efficiency is now 98.3 (235th in KenPom) and Stanford’s defense has ticked to 88.8 (13th in KenPom).

The Bears have dropped in nearly every offensive statistical category, but what’s been the most detrimental to the offense has been three-point shooting percentage. Going into the first meetup between the two teams, Cal was shooting 37.8% as a team from long-range. Now that rate is 33.7%. The Bears also haven’t been as successful at getting to the line. Cal’s current FT/FGA rate is 33.6. Before the first Stanford game, it was 37.9. 

Meanwhile, Stanford’s defense hasn’t statistically improved in a ton of areas besides shooting percentages. Teams are now shooting just 43.8% for two-point shots against the Cardinal, down from 44.9% the first time the teams met. Opponents are, however shooting slightly better from three, not but enough for it to really matter much (30.3% now versus 30.1% the first time the teams met). The Cardinal hasn’t been as good at forcing steals but has been better at forcing non-steal turnovers.

When Stanford has the Ball

Stat Stanford Cal
Adj. Eff. 105.5 (89) 100.6 (142)
Avg. Poss. Length 17.7 (216) 17.6 (233)
Eff. FG% 56.1% (5) 48.6% (156)
TO% 21.1% (280) 17.9% (255)
Off. Reb. % 23.0% (314) 27.7% (160)
FTA/FGA 32.8 (160) 36.1 (261)
3P% 39.6% (6) 36.1% (292)
2P% 54.2% (25) 44.9% (57)
FT% 67.5% (254) 73.7% (312)
Block% 10.1% (274) 7.3% (242)
Steal% 8.6% (121) 6.1% (348)
Non-Stl TO% 12.4% (325) 11.8% (57)

Both Stanford’s offense and Cal’s defense has gotten better since the two teams met at the beginning of the month. Cal’s defense has gone from and adjusted efficiency of 101.5 (189th in KenPom) to 100.6 (142nd in KenPom). Stanford’s offense has improved from 101.8 (141st) to 105.5 (89th). The Cardinal has improved its overall eFG% rate from 55.4% to 56.1%. Not surprisingly, Stanford has improved its three-point and two-point shooting percentages. 

Cal has improved slightly in opponents shooting percentages and keeping teams off the offensive glass, but have dropped slightly in keeping teams off the free-throw line.

Keys to the Game

Who scores the ball? Last time the two teams met, Grant Anticevich led the team with 16 points and Matt Bradley followed with 13. Then there was virtually no one. Kareem South added seven points but it was on 1-of-8 shooting from the field. Stanford was all over Bradley in Palo Alto, causing him to go 5-of-16 from the field. Who steps up? Someone has to put the ball in the hoop if Cal has any hope of keeping up.

Contain Daejon Davis. He’s the fourth-leading scorer on Stanford’s team but put up 20 against the Bears in Palo Alto. Cal had no answer to the junior point guard. Paris Austin has looked better since that game, but the Bears need to force Davis off his game a bit to stay in this one.

Perimeter defense. Stanford is for-real from deep. It’s ranked sixth in the country in three-point percentage and has four players that are serious threats. Freshman forward Spencer Jones is shooting 46.4% from three, leading the team in both three-point percentage and three-point attempts. Fellow freshman Tyrell Terry has hoisted up the second-most threes on the team and is shooting at a clip of 42.7%. Meanwhile both Davis and Isaac White are shooting 39%. Stanford can absolutely bury teams from deep and Cal needs to have its rotations and switches down on the perimeter.

Contain Oscar da Silva. Silva was a non-factor when Stanford and Cal first met, but he’s still the leading scorer and rebounder for the Cardinal. He also has the team’s highest usage percentage and eFG% and TS%. Cal has used soft doubles on similar frontcourt players, but you see the problem with that when Davis, Terry, and Jones are all roaming the perimeter. 

KenPom says … 67-58, Stanford win chance 79%

In its three conference games away from Haas Pavilion, Cal has averaged 49.33 points per game. In the two at Haas the Bears have averaged 67. So around 60 against Stanford seems right. What is likely the difference in this game is if Cal is able to slow Stanford’s burgeoning offense. That will likely be the difference between this being a game that stays in the five to 12 point difference or a game that sees Stanford knocking down three-after-three and stretching it into a big win. Of course, this college hoops season has been nuts and Cal could also go off and make it a close game or win.

Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.