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Cal Basketball

Stanford Preview: Cardinal, Like Cal, Has Had Pieces Missing

February 3, 2021
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The Cal men’s basketball team became “whole” less than two weeks ago. With the return of Matt Bradley the Bears had everybody healthy for the first time all season. Head coach Mark Fox repeatedly cited such personnel disruption as a major reason the Bears lack consistency.

Stanford knows how they feel.

The Cardinal (10-17, 6-5 Pac-12), who face Cal (7-12, 2-10) twice this week have had their share of missing players. Only one Cardinal has been able to start all 17 games. And in the last few weeks, three regular starters have been missing. Senior guard Deajon Davis has missed the last ten games with an ankle injury, junior point guard Bryce Williams has been absent four games after hurting an ankle and super freshman Ziarie Williams has been in COVID protocol quarantine for three games..

However, the Cardinal has been able to remain respectable. In the first game with all those front-line players gone, they beat UCLA in overtime. They went to the desert and split two games, knocking off Arizona. On Tuesday at the start of a busy week they led powerful USC for all but a few minutes. Alas for the Cardinal, those minutes the Trojans led included the last ones and they prevailed, 72-68.

If any of those Cardinal players will be available Thursday night when Cal hosts them at Haas Pavillion Thursday night is uncertain. 

“We don’t know who’s going to be out there,” head coach Jerod Haase said “But we know we’re going to compete.”

The one Cardinal who has made every start is also the best one. Senior Oscar da Silva, a 6-9 forward who leads the conference in scoring at 18.9 points per game, has started all 17 and made of the most of it.

. “I think he is having a Player of the Year type season,” Cal head coach Mark Fox said. “He scores it, he rebounds it, he gets assists, he gets to the line and makes free throws. He’s terrific.”

But even now Stanford is more than a one-man show, as it demonstrated against USC. In his least productive game of the year, Da Silva committed a couple of early fouls and went to the bench with less than seven minutes gone in the first half and sat out the remainder of the period. He picked up his third foul early in the second half and spent much of that period sitting down. He finished with 9 points and 4 rebounds.

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Delaire on a drive

Still, Stanford hung with the Trojans. A big reason was forward Jaiden Delaire, who started off fast, scoring 7 of the Cardinal’s first 9 points and finished with 22. It is the third straight game that Delaire, who averages 13.3 per game, has scored at least 20.

Broadcaster Casey Jacobsen called him, “the most improved player in the conference.”

Fox said, “Maybe the one guy in the league playing better than Da Silva is Jaiden Delaire.” 

Freshman Michael O’Connell has taken over for Wills at the point and done well enough to be selected Pac-12 Freshman of the Week last week. On Tuesday he scored 20 points and dished out four assists. In the last three games he is averaging 15.5 points and 3.7 assists.

:Michael is a born leader and proven competitor — the type of person that will thrive in our culture” said Haase. “He is invested, tough and selfless.”

Stanford for most of the game kept the bigger USC front line check. The Cardinal makes sure that if an opponent gets the ball in the paint he will have company. They will surround him with two, sometimes even three defenders. Cal’s forwards need to be ready for the swarm,

That is something they have done since I’ve been at Cal,” Fox said. “They did it last year and they do it all the time this year,” Fox said. “We have to develop the ability to play versus. those traps and pass out of those traps, because we know they are going to be coming.” 

Cal won the final two games with the Cardinal last year. Fox said he doesn’t expect those wins, including the last which was in the conference turnover, to have much carryover. 

“I don’t think last year’s games will have anything to do with this year,” Fox said. “We’re a completely different team.,We are not defending nearly as well as those teams did a year ago. And obviously, with the year being so upside down, in how we’re both functioning.”

Notes

  • The teams play one another again Sunday night at Stanford at 7 p.m.
  • Cal leads the series, 150-125.
  • Stanford’s USC game at Maples Pavilion was its first on campus this year. Because of Santa Clara County’s pandemic shutdown rules, the Cardinal had been playing “home games” in Santa Cruz.
  • Stanford is shooting just 31.3 percent from 3-point range (90-for-288) and only one team has made fewer. Against USC however, the Cardinal was 7-for-16.
  • Stanford attempted just eight free throws against USC. The Trojans shot 20.
  • Through 17 games, Stanford ranks 21st nationally in defensive efficiency (per KenPom, as of Feb. 3) while limiting opponents to 40.5 percent shooting from the field. 

Related:

Cal Hoops::Bears Fall Flat in Desert

 

Discussion from...

Stanford Preview: Cardinal, Like Cal, Has Had Pieces Missing

1,466 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 3 mo ago by calumnus
oskidunker
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We win out and maybe-get an Nit bid. If there is an Nit.
calumnus
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oskidunker said:

We win out and maybe-get an Nit bid. If there is an Nit.


Even better, we win out and we are NCAA Champions after winning the PAC-12 Tournament and getting the auto bid as official PAC-12 Champs.

Win 7 of the remaining 9 and we get to .500 and possibly that NIT bid (though technically not needed anymore). The CIT you have to pay $30K to host, which does not make sense given no fans. Maybe agree to be a road team?

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