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Cal Basketball

Men's Basketball Previews: Cal-State Northridge, Seattle

December 18, 2020
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Originally scheduled for a two-game East Coast swing next week, the Cal men’s basketball team will instead stay home and host a couple of lower-profile schools from the West. The Bears (3-4) take on Cal-State Northridge (3-2) on Saturday and Seattle U. (5-4) on Tuesday. Both games tip-off at 2 pm and can be seen on Pac-12 Networks.

Boston College (1-5) was definitely on the Bears’ road schedule as well as another team the Bears never identified. It was COVID issues with the latter that forced the Bears to stay home.

One of these home games could be the coming-out party for transfer Jarred Hyder, who is expected to give Cal stability at point guard. The transfer from Fresno State, who had been denied eligibility by the NCAA, was declared eligible this week along with every other Division I transfer in a wholesale edict by the organization. According to coach Mark Fox, Hyder has been nursing an injury, so when he will make his Bear debut is still unknown.

Cal is coming off that thrilling 72-70 victory over USF on Sunday. Makale Foreman hit his only basket of the game as time expired to give Cal the victory and end a three-game losing streak.

A look at the two opponents.

Northridge

  • The Matadors in their most recent outing lost to Stanford, 71-62, as the Cardinal pulled away in the second half. CSUN did win at Pepperdine, something the Bears could not do.
  • The leading scorer is 6-5 junior guard TJ Starks, who is averaging 19.2 points per game. A transfer from Texas A&M, the Oak Cliff, Texas native is shooting at a 45.2 percent (33-for-73) from the floor and 48.3 (16-for-22) from 3-point range. He also has 18 assists but has committed 13 turnovers. He was Big West Conference Player of the Week last week for his 24-point effort against Pepperdine.
  • The second-leading scorer is Lance Coleman, a 6-6 senior who hails from Antioch. He averages 17.2 and scored 20 against Stanford. He has hoisted up a team-high 44 3-point attempts, hitting just 14 of them. He did hit six treys against Stanford.
  • The only real size Northridge has is 6-9 Alex Merkviladze, who is from Georgia (the country, not the state). He averages eight rebounds and 10.8 points per game.
  • Point guard Darius Brown has an assist to turnover ratio of 9.3, tops in the nation.
  • The Matadors can score, averaging 78.5 points. They also are allowing 75.2.
  • Head coach is Mark Gottfried (above) has been in higher profile positions including North Carolina State and Alabama. In his 22 years as a head coach, he has taken teams to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances. 
  • One of his assistants is former UCLA head coach Jim Harrick, who took the Bruins to their only national championship since John Wooden won ten. He was the head coach at Georgia for three and half years, leaving six years before Fox was hired there.
  • CSUN last beat a Pac-12 team when they vanquished Utah in 2012.
  • The Matadors’ roster contains 10 newcomers.
  • Cal officially leads the series 6-1, but the lone CSUN victory was a game the Bears won in 1995 but had to forfeit because they used an ineligible player.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Seattle’s Robinson blocks a shot

Seattle U.

  • Seattle’s leading scorer is junior Riley Grigsby, son of former Cal player Al Grigsby. Riley averages 17.4 points per game. 
  • Point guard Darrion Trammell, one of three Seattle players from last year’s 30-0 City College of San Francisco team, is second in scoring at 17.0 per game. He has also dished out 47 assists.
  • One of Seattle’s losses is to Northridge.
  • The Redhawks have just four scholarship players back from last year and 78.6 percent of the points scored last year came from players who are gone. The biggest hit came when guard Terrell Brown, who averaged 20.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists last season, opted to play for Arizona as a graduate transfer.
  • Besides Trammell, the CCSF transfers are Nate Robinson, a 6-4 forward, and Emeka Udenyi, a 6-foot-6 forward.
  • One of coach Jim Hayford’s goals this year was to improve the team’s 3-point shooting. That has not worked out so far, as the Redhawks are just 27.9 percent (67-for248) from beyond the arc. The exception is Grigsby who is 19-for-44 or 43.2 percent. 
  • Cal leads the overall series, 5-3.
  • The first meeting was a 66-62 overtime Seattle win in the 1958 NCAA West Regional. Seattle was led by Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor. Cal would win the NCAA title the next year.
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Men's Basketball Previews: Cal-State Northridge, Seattle

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