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Cal Basketball

Cal Gets Back On Track With 83-63 Win Over CSU Northridge

November 28, 2017
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It seemed like everything was going wrong for the Cal basketball program. The Bears were sitting in last place in the Pac-12 at 2-4, coming off three straight defeats at the Maui Invitational, including an embarrassing 96-72 loss to Division II Chaminade.

Then, just an hour before Tuesday night's game against CSU Northridge, Cal announced that assistant coach Theo Robertson was on leave from the program.

This wasn't just adversity - this was bordering on disaster.

But the Bears responded in a big way, racing out to a 48-30 halftime lead, and never looking back in an 83-63 thrashing of CSUN.

"It feels good," said freshman guard Darius McNeill. "The energy will be different around the locker room and at practice. I think we are going to get back on the right track and have a great season."

"We had three really good days of practice (after the Maui Invitational)," noted head coach Wyking Jones. "We really got after it. We weren't nice to them at all. It was tough. We were a little bit tougher on them and more demanding of them. And they responded. They took it. They knew they deserved it. We made some changes. Hopefully we can just continue to get better."

Among those changes was a new starting lineup. Senior center Kingsley Okoroh did not start for the first time this season. Instead, the Bears went small, with four wing players and senior forward Marcus Lee. The adjustment paid off, with Cal shooting 52 percent as a team, including 6-of-14 from three-point range.

"It just opened up the floor," Jones said. "Having Justice (Sueing) at the four (position) really opened up the floor because you have to guard him. He's shooting 40 percent from three, and so it clears driving lanes. It opens up the floor for our guys, who are very good at penetrating."

McNeill came out on fire, making his first seven shots, including five three-pointers, en route to a 19-point first half. He finished with a career-high 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting.

"My first two games, I was just nervous, and now I'm starting to get a feel for college basketball," he said. I feel like I'm maturing."

Freshman guard Juhwan Harris-Dyson made his first career start, contributing 10 points, five rebounds, and four assists. He believes he has fully recovered from the illness that caused him to lose 20 pounds earlier this season.

"I'm feeling good," he said. "It's just me getting in the weight room and gaining the weight back...Wyking trusting me to be out there with those guys and being able to compete with my brothers is really great."

Junior guard Don Coleman added 15 points and five rebounds, while committing just one turnover. Lee also finished in double figures with 14 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks. Okoroh played 16 minutes off the bench, adding six points, four rebounds, and six blocks.

"I'm so proud of Kingsley Okoroh for accepting the role of coming off the bench," Jones said. "I'm so proud of that young man. He was our defensive player of the game tonight."

Another adjustment Jones made was to move away from the full-court press. The Bears instead played more man-to-man defense in the half-court set and held CSUN to 37 percent shooting.

"We weren't doing a great job making the right reads (in the press)," Jones said. "And I was exhausting my guys. Once the ball got past my guards, now they're trying to sprint back. Don (Coleman) and Darius (McNeill) were a lot more rested tonight, and as a result, we were able to be more effective on the defensive and offensive end. I had to look in the mirror and say, I'm a press guy, but sometimes you've got to go with a different strategy."

The Bears still have a long way to go, and a win over a now 1-5 Big West team is not exactly cause for celebration. But if nothing else, the team is having fun again. And at 3-4, they are no longer in last place. That honor belongs to Stanford.

Discussion from...

Cal Gets Back On Track With 83-63 Rout of CSUN

bross
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Staff
Now updated with quotes from Wyking Jones, Darius McNeill, and Juhwan Harris-Dyson.
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/benrosssports
HoopDreams
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I like this quote a lot better than the Maui ones because he takes some responsibility for the losses

of course, it's easier to have a good quote after a win ...

"We weren't doing a great job making the right reads (in the press)," Jones said. "And I was exhausting my guys. Once the ball got past my guards, now they're trying to sprint back. Don and Darius were a lot more aggressive tonight, and as a result, we were able to be more effective on the defensive and offensive end. I had to look in the mirror and say, I'm a press guy, but sometimes you've got to go with a different strategy."

concordtom
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Excellent article, Ben.
And excellent way to end it!

"That honor belongs to Stanford."

LOL!
bross
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Gotta enjoy the little victories
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/benrosssports
59bear
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Well, it wasn't a power opponent but the Bears did look more like a D1 team in this one. I like the smaller lineup, was glad us mixing up defenses, didn't miss the press and was pleased to see Coleman play more under control. Harris-Dyson seems to be coming along as he gets healthier. They obviously had some fun, which is never a bad thing.
Rxrg09b
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bross said:

Now updated with quotes from Wyking Jones, Darius McNeill, and Juhwan Harris-Dyson.

With Stanford's win last night Cal is back in last place. Bummer, but only one way to go from here!
MoragaBear
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Rxrg09b said:

bross said:

Now updated with quotes from Wyking Jones, Darius McNeill, and Juhwan Harris-Dyson.

With Stanford's win last night Cal is back in last place. Bummer, but only one way to go from here!
Eh, Stanford's 1 game under .500, just like Cal, with losses to Portland State and Eastern Washington.
HoopDreams
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MoragaBear said:

Rxrg09b said:

bross said:

Now updated with quotes from Wyking Jones, Darius McNeill, and Juhwan Harris-Dyson.

With Stanford's win last night Cal is back in last place. Bummer, but only one way to go from here!
Eh, Stanford's 1 game under .500, just like Cal, with losses to Portland State and Eastern Washington.
we play portland state too
won't be an easy game

however how stanford loss to them with their veteran team, including their two very good front court players is beyond me

must be poor coaching
UrsaMajor
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HoopDreams said:

MoragaBear said:

Rxrg09b said:

bross said:

Now updated with quotes from Wyking Jones, Darius McNeill, and Juhwan Harris-Dyson.

With Stanford's win last night Cal is back in last place. Bummer, but only one way to go from here!
Eh, Stanford's 1 game under .500, just like Cal, with losses to Portland State and Eastern Washington.
we play portland state too
won't be an easy game

however how stanford loss to them with their veteran team, including their two very good front court players is beyond me

must be poor coaching
Nah. It's only poor coaching when it's Cal. If it's someone else, it's bad luck.
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