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Cal Basketball

Report Card: Going out in Style

March 12, 2020

In all likelihood, this Pac-12 Tournament will be the last games seniors Paris Austin and Kareem South play in a Cal uniform. Barring an unlikely run through the tournament (more on this at the bottom), the Bears won’t make the NCAA Tournament. If the Bears were to make it to the Pac-12 Tournament championship game, NIT discussions could be introduced. But even then, it’s probably still a bit unlikely.

So what better way to go out for Cal’s senior guards than play some of their best hoops? That’s exactly how Austin and South started in the first round of the conference tournament in Las Vegas, carrying the Bears to a 63-51 dominating win over rival Stanford. Yes, sophomore wing Matt Bradley tied Austin in leading the Bears in scoring with 18 points. But as the advanced stats below show, Austin and South had overall more efficient and beneficial games to Cal’s win-chances (which were low, according to KenPom’s and Torvik’s computer model projections).

Not to take away from Cal’s win. Because it was a solid win and only the second win away from Berkeley on the season for the Bears. But Stanford looked uninterested. How a team fighting for a chance at the NCAA Tournament could look so lackadaisical is beyond me. Cal took advantage, landing the opening punch to the Cardinal and never looking back. When Stanford did make a couple runs at the Bears, they answered with significant blows (an 11-1 run after Stanford tied it at 17 and a 10-2 run after the Cardinal closed the lead to 43-37 midway through the second half). 

Let’s take a look at the stats.

School eFG% TOV% ORB% FT/FGA ORtg
Cal 51.10% 18.00% 12.00% 0.348 94
Stanford 36.80% 14.10% 8.30% 0.226 76.1

The Four Factors and offensive rating say it all. Cal shot 14.5% better than Stanford and got to the free-throw line more. Turnovers and rebounds were basically a wash. To be sure, Cal’s offense wasn’t at all great. It was below average. But a combination of a rare poor shooting night for Stanford and a stingy defense lifted the Bears.

Stanford is one of the most efficient shooting teams in the country. Coming into Wednesday’s game, the Cardinal was averaging 54% for eFG%, which was 22nd in the country. Above you can see against Cal, Stanford shot just 36.8% for eFG%. 

School Cal Stanford
Pace 64 64
Possessions - Turnovers 50 54
Points/Possession 0.984 0.797
Points/Shot 1.370 0.962
Two-Point % 55.90% 29.30%
Three-Point % 25.00% 41.70%
Free Throw % 80.00% 66.70%
True Shooting % 56.80% 41.40%

Stanford made just 12 two-point shots. A lot of that was thanks to a very off night for Oscar Da Silva. The junior forward had more turnovers (three) than field goals made (two). Da Silva, who has been Stanford’s leading scorer this season, went 2-of-11 from the field. If he goes just 6-of-11, that’s eight more points for Stanford and this game looks a lot different.

But Da Silva and the rest of the Cardinal struggled to make much of anything, especially from inside the arc, and the Bears rolled.

Stats Cal Stanford
Assists 7 7
Steals 4 4
Turnovers 14 10
BCI (Assists + Steals / Turnovers) 0.786 1.100

Ball control index was basically a wash. Coming into Wednesday evening’s game, Stanford had been shooting the ball very efficiently, but also turning it over frequently in the process. If we were just looking at this BCI, I’d say Stanford wins this game nine out of 10 times. But as discussed above, an average BCI wasn’t enough for Stanford because of the cold shooting. Stanford converted Cal’s turnovers into 10 points, but the Bears were able to turn Stanford’s 10 turnovers into eight points. Again, basically a wash.

Player Game Score Floor% Usg% Offensive Rating TS% EFF Plus-Minus Net Points
Paris Austin 17.4 75.60% 19.50% 158.8 80% 24 7 12
Kareem South 10.6 48.50% 21.60% 110.3 63% 13 11 0.9
Matt Bradley 6.1 36.60% 35.00% 84.1 48% 11 11 11
D.J. Thorpe 2.2 55.70% 3.60% 113 50% 5 4 -3.2
Joel Brown 2 38.50% 5.20% 78 100% 3 11 -6.3
Andre Kelly 1.9 48.10% 6.10% 66 53% 7 5 -3.5
Grant Anticevich 1.5 31.30% 10.20% 62.5 37% 7 12 -2.6
Lars Thiemann 1.3 100.00% 1.60% 200 100% 2 0 -2.4
Dimitrios Klonaras 0 0.00% 0.00% 0 0% 0 -2 -0.4
Kuany Kuany -1.5 0.00% 4.80% 0 0% 0 1 -5.7

Trifecta Scores: Matt Bradley (70 points), Kareem South (30 points), Paris Austin (23 points), Andre Kelly (22 points), Grant Anticevich (20 points), Kuany Kuany (8 points), D.J. Thorpe (5 points), Juhwan Harris-Dyson (4 points), Lars Thiemann (4 points), Joel Brown (3 points), Jacobi Gordon (1 point), Dimitrios Klonaras. (We’ll keep track of this all season where the player with the best game score gets three points, second-best gets two, and third-place gets one point.)

Definitions at the bottom of this post.

What a game from Austin. He leads the Game Score because of his efficiency in scoring (5-of-7 from the field and 8-of-9 from the free-throw line) and how he filled the rest of the box score (six rebounds, three assists, and one steal with just one turnover and three fouls). I love that he didn’t attempt a three-point shot. That’s not Austin’s game and he was clearly attacking, drawing fouls, and distributing. Austin has been getting a lot of praise, but it’s well-deserved. Just such a good ending to the college career for the Oakland-native.

Also good to see South bounce back. While he certainly hasn’t been playing great, he’s been better towards the end of conference play. South still attempts too many threes (in my opinion), but he was a solid contributor to Wednesday’s game.

Bradley’s game is why I appreciate and use the Game Score. Yeah, Bradley scored 18 points and was plus-11, but Austin and South were awarded more in the Game Score because of their efficiency and contributions. They were the better and more efficient players on Wednesday. Outside of going 7-of-18 from the field and making it to the foul line just once, Bradley turned the ball over three times and recorded just one assist. This isn’t to harsh on Bradley, who is obviously Cal’s most consistent player, as much as it is just to explain the value of the Game Score in getting past the basic stats.

Not a lot of contributions in the box score from other Cal players, but it didn’t matter much.

Player Stats
Paris Austin 30 Mins, 18 Pts (5-7 FG, 8-9 FT), 6 Rbds, 3 Asts, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 3 PF
Kareem South 32 Mins, 15 Pts (5-10 FG, 1-5 3FG, 4-4 FT), 4 Rbds (1 Off), 1 Stl, 2 TO
Grant Anticevich 26 Mins, 4 Pts (2-5 FG, 0-1 FT), 8 Rbds (1 Off), 1 TO, 3 PF
Matt Bradley 30 Mins, 18 Pts (7-18 FG, 2-6 3FG, 2-2 FT), 6 Rbds, 1 Ast, 3 TO, 4 PF
Andre Kelly 24 Mins, 2 Pts (2-4 FT), 7 Rbds, 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 2 TO, 2 PF
Joel Brown 20 Mins, 2 Pts (1-1 FG), 1 Ast, 2 Stls, 2 TO, 1 PF
Kuany Kuany 13 Mins, 0 Pts (0-2 FG, 0-1 3FG), 3 Rbds (1 Off), 1 TO, 1 PF
Lars Thiemann 10 Mins, 2 Pts (1-1 FG), 1 PF
D.J. Thorpe 13 Mins, 2 Pts (1-2 FG), 2 Rbds, 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 2 PF
Dimitrios Klonaras 1 Mins, 0 Pts (0-0 FG)

That was the stereotypical Mark Fox-coached team win. It was a rock fight. The pace was plodding. The Bears didn’t shoot great but made key shots and the right times. And Cal got to the free-throw line. This was the blueprint to many Fox wins while he was at Georgia and has already been just that during his brief time in Berkeley. Congrats to Fox on earning his 300th win. In his 15-year career as a head coach at Nevada, Georgia, and Cal, Fox is now 300-193. He becomes the 82nd currently active coach to hit 300 wins and is the fourth current Pac-12 coach with 300 wins (the others are Dana Altman, Sean Miller, and Mick Cronin).

We said ahead of the conference tournament that falling to the 10-seed in the eighth-place tie-breaker was the best-case scenario for Cal. Stanford has obviously struggled in the second half of the season. And while UCLA has had an absolutely impressive second-half to the season, the Bruins are nowhere near the talent or skill level of Oregon. Colorado concerned me more than Arizona State, but thanks to Wazzu, the Buffs are gone. I’m not at all saying the path to the Pac-12 Tournament Championship is an easy one for the Bears. But this particular path is much easier than a path that includes Oregon and then Arizona or USC.

Cal has a real chance to beat UCLA. KenPom projects a 67-62 UCLA win and gives Cal just a 31% chance of winning. But that’s almost double the odds KenPom gave Cal of beating Stanford. Akin to Stanford, UCLA is on the NCAA Tournament bubble (although UCLA might be more on the outside than Stanford was). If the Bruins want any shot at punching a ticket to the NCAA Tournament, they have to beat Cal. If the Bears want to ruin another rival’s shot at making it to the NCAA Tournament, here’s the primo opportunity.


Game Score: Hollinger's measure of productivity, on a scale of 0-40. Game Score = Points Scored + (0.4 x Field Goals) – (0.7 x Field Goal Attempts) – (0.4 x (Free Throw Attempts – Free Throws)) + (0.7 x Offensive Rebounds) + (0.3 x Defensive Rebounds) + Steals + (0.7 x Assists) + (0.7 x Blocks) – (0.4 x Personal Fouls) – Turnovers

Floor%: Floor Percentage is the percentage of a player's possessions on which at least one point is scored.
Use%: Usage Percentage estimates the percentage of team plays that used a player while they were on the floor.

ORtg: Offensive Rating is points produced by a player per 100 possessions.

TS%: True Shooting Percentage adjusts for added-value of 3PT FGs and FTs.

EFF: Efficiency Stat as calculated by Manley's formula: PTS + REB + AST + STL + BLK - Missed Shots - TO

Plus-Minus: An estimate of a player’s contribution to a team over 100 possessions. A score of +10 means the team is 10 points better per 100 possessions than when the player is off the floor. A -10 means the team is 10 points worse per 100 possessions when the player is on the floor.

Discussion from...

Report Card: Going out in Style

4,013 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 2 yr ago by chazzed
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I should add, all of the Pac-12 Tournament talk is dependent on the conference continuing with the tournament, which seems to be trending towards unlikely at this point.
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And NCAA tournament is less and less likely, and NIT probably a no go.
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NathanAllen said:

I should add, all of the Pac-12 Tournament talk is dependent on the conference continuing with the tournament, which seems to be trending towards unlikely at this point.
From the subject line, I was wondering if the rest of the tournament had already been cancelled. If last night was the final game, then it was REALLY going out in style.

EDIT: Yeah, now that it is cancelled, going out in style is truly the right subject line. Sad we don't get a shot at the Bruins, but glad that Austin and South truly went out in style.
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Well done, young men. What a way to end the year!
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