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Photo by D. Ross Cameron | 2018 Oct 11
Cal Basketball

Stanford Preview: Cardinal Fizzled Down the Stretch

March 9, 2021

Not a month ago Stanford’s men’s basketball team had a 14-8 record and was a good bet to make the NCAA Tournament.

But after star forward Oscar da Silva sustained a knee injury that kept him out of the lineup, the Cardinal stumbled home. They lost their last four games, including last week’s makeup affair to USC, 70-42.

So instead of having a high seed and a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament, the Cardinal are seeded sixth and have to play Wednesday night against 11th seeded Cal in Las Vegas..

The Cardinal are a different team without da Silva, who is one of the most complete players in the country and averages 18.8 points per game,. 

“He wants to play. I think it’s within the realm of possibility,” Stanford head coach Jerod Haase said prior to the team’s practice Tuesday. “But at this point, it’s day-to-day with him. I think how he practices today will be important for that.”

Cal, which upset the Cardinal in the first round of this tournament a year ago, expects to see da Silva on the court.

“We’ll prepare like he’s going to play,” head coach Mark Fox said Tuesday in a Zoom call with the media. “Every bit of our preparation has included him as part of the plan. I think you have to prepare like he’s going to play. He is a player that we have had a very difficult time matching up with this year. He’s had a terrific season. We tried several things against him in the first couple of games (this year), none that were successful. He’s been terrific. We are planning on him playing again.”

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports
Oscar da Silva

Da Silva, who was selected first-team All Pac-12 on Tuesday, scored 24 and 23 points respectively as the Cardinal beat the Bears twice in a four-day span in February.

In those games, Cal’s shooting woes, which dogged the Bears much of the season, were much in evidence. In the 70-55 loss on Feb. 4 Cal shot 36 percent from the floor. Three days later at Stanford, the Bears got a little closer, losing 76-70 and shooting 37.7 percent.

Fox was asked what the Bears might do differently the third time around.

“Every time you play somebody you try to do something different and improve on it,” Fox said. “We’ve got to figure out some way to slow da Silva down. One of the things we’ve worked on in the last couple of days is our zone. We haven’t utilized it much, haven’t had a chance to work on it much. There is a chance we may use some of that.”

While da Silva was in fine form, the Cardinal were without junior guard Daejon Davis and super freshman Ziaire Williams the first two games against Cal due to injury. Both are healthy and are expected to play Wednesday night. 

“Davis is obviously experienced, powerful and athletic. Williams is super talented, first-round draft pick talented,” Fox said. “When they’re (the Cardinal) healthy they’ve got as talented a team as anyone in the conference. They have had their share of injuries and absences as we have. They’ve had restrictions they’ve had to deal with as we have.”

Bob Drebin /
Jaiden Delaire

Included in Tuesday’s conference honorees was Stanford junior forward Jaiden Delaire who was named the Pac-12 Most Improved Player of the Year. He more than doubled his sophomore average to 13.4 points per game in conference play. He scored in double figures in both regular-season games against the Bears.

“I thought (Jaiden) Delaire had really emerged and was able to show his consistent productivity when they were a little shorthanded,” Fox said.

Fox hopes the Bears are not shorthanded Wednesday.

“We have a couple of guys we held out of contact yesterday,” said Fox declining to name names. “Fingers crossed we’ll have everybody. We have gone after it (in practice) the last couple of days so we got a couple of dings. Hopefully, they’ll be ready to go on game day.”

Last year the Bears were seeded tenth but knocked off the seventh-seeded Cardinal, 63-51, in one of the top victories of Fox’s Cal career.

The euphoria did not last long. The next day the tournament was halted.

“The memories are vivid,” Fox said. “I remember the arena being so empty when we played. There were already rumors of fans not being allowed to come, people were getting scared and leaving town. Immediately after the win, we were told no fans would be allowed the next day, but you could feel the momentum the entire time headed toward where things ended, with the cancellation of the tournament.

“And then the immediate, and I mean immediate, change of gear to try and reassure these guys that we could get them to some safe place for the coming months. That they could stay mentally healthy, that they could continue to progress toward their education. It was a change fo gear like no other.”


  • Cal lost its last four regular-season games and 11 of the last 12.
  • Tonight’s winner faces third-seeded Colorado in a quarterfinal game Thursday night at 8:30.
  • This is the third time in four years Stanford and Cal have faced one another in the Pac-12 Tournament first round.
  • In the history of the tournament, the 11th seed has won just once. Washington State did it last year.

Related Stories:

Matt Bradley Named To All-Pac-12 Squad

Cal Hoops: Bears Go Winless in Season Finale Against Oregon Schools (Premium)

Tags: Basketball
Discussion from...

Stanford Preview: Cardinal Fizzled Down the Stretch

1,291 Views | 9 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by oskidunker
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Practicing zone!
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As I suspected, Fox is beating players up in practice. Not good. Its affecting Betley and Foreman and Antevich , in my opinion
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Cal needs to win tonight to avoid a combined FB/MBB/WBB season sweep by FURD. Go Bears!!!
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oskidunker said:

As I suspected, Fix is beating players up in practice. Not good. Its affecting Betley and Foreman and Antevich , in my opinion

Seems dumb to practice like that at the end of the season and heading into a Tournament where you want to win multiple games. You want your guys sharp and rested, not beat up from practice. You want to implement strategy for your opponent, not a little, but a lot. Playing "physical" (plus slow and ugly) was how he managed to be "competitive" and win half his games in the SEC, but I is not a good strategy with PAC-12 refs and not a good strategy for this team, West Coast recruiting or for Cal in general.
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Toughness wins, see tonight's game
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calumnus said:

Practicing zone!

Neutralized Da Silva which was the key.

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oskidunker said:

As I suspected, Fox is beating players up in practice. Not good. Its affecting Betley and Foreman and Antevich , in my opinion
Your suspicions are usually wrong.
Even Kelly said they worked hard on defense and preparation. They had 10 days to work on things, which is what they needed to do.
Nobody got "beat up", obviously, as the team was prepared and focused.
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I really liked how the officials let the players play. It was a fun game to watch without constant whistles. I wonder if this is an active change from the pac 12 to make the teams more ncaa tournament ready. I welcome the change.
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Guilty as charged.
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