Over the weekend I had the chance to exchange some thoughts on tonight's Georgia/Cal basketball matchup with our friends TwistNHook, Kodiak, and Atomsareenough at SB Nation's California Golden Blogs. Their answers to what I deemed to be significant questions about Golden Bear basketball can be found below, and my answers to some of theirs about Mark Fox's Hoop Hounds should appear over at CGB this evening. Enjoy.
MaconDawg: Cal's inbounding the ball down by 1 with 0:12 left on the clock. Who should Georgia coach Mark Fox be telling our team not to allow to take an open shot?
Kodiak: Last shot of the game, look for Jorge (Gutierrez) coming off the curl with a choice of driving the lane, finding Crabbe outside, or Kamp down low.
atomsareenough: Definitely Allen Crabbe is our most dangerous scoring threat from just about anywhere on the court. I also would keep an eye out for Jorge Gutierrez, who is one of the most tough, determined players I've ever seen.
MaconDawg: What is the defining characteristic of this Cal team on both offense and defense?
atomsareenough: I think the team's identity reflects the toughness and intensity of Jorge Gutierrez. We aren't flashy, but we execute well on both ends and play good fundamental basketball. We've been moving the ball well on offense, which is encouraging. We're not imposing to look at, but we give a lot of effort on defense and make you earn your points. We're a little bit on the "sneaky good" side.
Kodiak: Fundamentals and tough-nosed execution. We won't outrun or outjump you, but we'll annoy the heck out of you.
MaconDawg: What are Cal fans expecting from the 2011-12 season? That is, what result will allow the majority of Cal fans to look back in April and think "Yeah, that went pretty well"?
Kodiak: Challenge for Pac-12 title and a tourney berth. Maybe a Sweet 16 run with favorable matchups. Staying healthy, getting lucky, developing depth will be key.
TwistNHook: I think that Cal fans are expecting to compete for the Pac-12 championship and hopefully get to the Sweet 16. Cal only lost 1 senior from last year's young and exciting team. The Pac-12 continues to be weak and Cal fans are hoping that Jorge and Co. can take Cal to another championship. It is not going to be easy as Washington and Arizona appear to be the class of the Pac-12. However, if Cal receives some good luck with health, we can hopefully be at the top of the Pac-12 and go pretty deep into the NCAA Tourney.
atomsareenough: Well, I won't say it's "Pac-12 championship or bust" necessarily, but I'd feel like the team underachieved if we were lower than #3 in the conference at the end of the year. I think we're also primed for a decent NCAA tourney run. We've made the tourney the past two years, losing in the first round in 2009 after winning the Pac-10 championship and having a team full of seniors, so that was a bit of a disappointment. Last year, despite having a less experienced, not very deep team, we made it to the second round, where we had the misfortune of playing #1 seed and eventual champions Duke. So, if and when we get there this year, I'd say a run to the Sweet Sixteen or Elite Eight, depending on our draw, is what it would take to leave us satisfied. We feel like the team is deeper and more mature than last year's team, and hopefully we should get a more favorable seed if we have the season we're hoping to have. So, I'd say expectations are fairly high.
MaconDawg: The Golden Bears and Bulldogs each stand 3-0 after a trifecta of wins over, how shall I put this, relatively cooperative, semi-anonymous opponents. We learned from our start that we need to rebound better. What's the most prominent lesson Cal fans learned from beating up on the less fortunate?
Kodiak: Our worries about low post scoring and rebounding are valid. Defense might be better than expected. Newcomers Cobbs and Kravish look like key contributors.
atomsareenough: We've done what we were supposed to be doing so far, so we haven't really learned much except that 1) the team seems as cohesive as you'd expect after getting everyone except one player returning from last year; 2) some of last year's reserves (Richard Soloman, Emerson Murray) seem to have progressed a bit; and 3) we have a couple of intriguing new players in freshman forward David Kravish and redshirt sophomore transfer Justin Cobbs, who came over from Minnesota. It seems like we've learned more about what was supposed to be our top Pac-12 competition here in this early part of the season. UCLA's lack of guard depth and personality problems are worse than we expected, Arizona is talented but vulnerable to lapses, Washington is capable of getting dominated by a team that finished 11th in the Atlantic 10 last year, and Oregon apparently just lost its heralded freshman Jabari Brown due to a change of heart. The conference turmoil might hurt our RPI down the road, but hopefully it means we have a good chance at the conference championship.
Thanks again to the gang from California Golden Blogs for their insights. The 'Dawgs will take on Cal at 9:30 tonight in Kansas City in the semifinals of the CBE Classic, and there'll be an open comment thread for those so inclined. Until later . . .