Date: Thursday, 2/28/19
Tip-Off Time: 8:00 pm PT
Radio: KOMO 1000 AM/97.7 FM and TuneIn
Location: Berkeley, California
Betting Line: Washington -12
California 2018-19 Statistics
Record: 5-22 (0-15)
Points For per Game: 68.7 (265th)
Points Against per Game: 78.9 (323rd)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 103.7 (181st)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 113.3 (331st)
Strength of Schedule: +5.47 (63rd)
California Key Players
C-Connor Vanover, Fr. 7’3, 225: 6.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 44% FG, 31% 3pt, 65% FT
Vanover officially won the starting center job since the start of February and has played at least 25 minutes in every game since. Despite his height he has taken nearly half of his shots from 3-pt range and plays like a stretch 5. His rebounding rate numbers resemble those of Jaylen Nowell for Washington despite being nearly a foot taller. He can dunk but is still very limited in terms of post moves and Cal actually may try just putting him in the high post and letting him shoot free throw line jumpers over Noah Dickerson.
F- Justice Sueing, So. 6’7, 215: 14.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.8 apg, 42.6% FG, 27.6% 3pt, 81% FT
Sueing is by far Cal’s best player but he has really struggled shooting the ball in conference play. He’s making just 23.7% of 3-pointers against Pac-12 opponents after shooting 30% last year and 50% against Washington last year. He’s at his best driving to the rim and converts nearly 60% on shots in the paint and is also by far Cal’s best defensive option.
G- Matt Bradley, Fr. 6’4, 220: 10.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.9 apg, 41.6% FG, 48.4% 3pt, 76.5% FT
Bradley is kind of the extreme version of Dominic Green. He’s making 43% of 3-pointers in Pac-12 play so despite cooling off a little bit recently he’s still one of the best shooters in the country. But if you make him do anything else then he’s a train wreck as he makes just 37% of 2-point attempts while playing atrocious defense.
G- Darius McNeil, So. 6’3, 182: 11.1 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 1.0 apg, 38.6% FG, 35.7% 3pt, 76.3% FT
McNeil is Cal’s highest volume 3-pt shooter as about 2/3rds of his shots come from behind the arc and he’s shooting a pretty good percentage. The Huskies will close out aggressively when he gets the ball because he is not a willing passer and is unlikely to do more than pass it around the perimeter if he finds a hand in his face.
G- Paris Austin, Jr. 6’0, 185: 11.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.3 apg, 45.2% FG, 26.7% 3pt, 73.1% FT
This is kind of a recurring theme for a team that is on a 16-game losing streak but Austin’s shooting numbers have plummeted. He’s almost stopped taking 3-pointers after attempting almost 3 per game during the non-con schedule and is just 1 for his last 10. All of his other splits are worse during the Pac-12 season as well to the point that he has a substantially below average offensive rating.
California 2018-19 Shot Chart
I’ll try to keep this brief. This Cal team is an unmitigated disaster. Remember when the Huskies went 2-16 in conference during Romar’s last season? (And if you don’t, boy do I envy you). That team finished 163rd at KenPom and 224th in defensive efficiency. In the moment it felt like the Huskies were the worst defensive team in Pac-12 history. Well Cal is 281st overall and 331st in defensive efficiency. The only Pac team to finish worst in efficiency margin since KenPom started in 2002 is 2012 Utah who finished 6-25 (3-15) in the first year after they joined the conference. And somehow that team still managed to win 3 conference games!
There have been brief flashes of life for the Golden Bears. Husky fans may remember that they were actually up 23-12 over UW in Seattle in the 1st half before the Huskies stormed back to finish the game on a 59-29 run. They did a similar thing at Arizona State and went on a 26-12 run to close out the 1st half with a 6 point lead before ultimately losing by double digits. They’ve proven they can beat you for 10 minute stretches but just haven’t played a complete 40 minutes.
The personnel just isn’t there for the Bears to realistically keep this one close even if they had a great head coach and despite being put in a really tough position there’s no evidence to suggest Wyking Jones is even remotely competent. Cal is allowing opponents to score on 61.4% of shots in the paint. New 7’3 starting center Connor Vanover gives the Cal offense better spacing on offense but despite his height he has somehow allowed opponents to shoot 70% in the paint and is one of the worst post defenders in the country.
I expect the Huskies to have a period where they lose focus but the talent differential is just too great to think that this winds up as anything other than a blowout even if it’s a road game. Oh yeah, and a win by Washington clinches an outright Pac-12 title. Get it done.
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