In preparation for tomorrow night's game against the Bears, we bring in the fine folks from Tightwad Hill to do a little Q&A. My responses to their questions should be up over at Tightwad Hill soon.
Tightwad Hill: Get Ryan Anderson in foul trouble. Cal lost two bigs to injury in Jordan Wilkes and DeVon Hardin (who may be back at some point this season) and we have two scholarship players taller than 6'7". Ben Braun has tried to play small lineups, and Anderson - a true freshman - is the key to the Bears on both ends of the court. OSU can't be satisfied playing a perimeter game against Cal - the Beavers need to get the ball to the post or dribble drive to create opportunities at the foul line.
BTD: Oregon State generally likes to slow the game down. How will Cal respond?
Tightwad Hill: Cal's just fine with a slow pace - Braun is notorious for running deliberate offenses (much to the chagrin of some Bear fans). Ayinde Ubaka is Cal's point, and has done a better job this year of distributing the basketball - though our motion offense still leaves a lot to be desired. Because Cal is playing short-handed, a deliberate pace would help us avoid fatigue and poor defense in the 2nd half.
BTD: You get to play the Beavers first before heading into Eugene to play the Ducks. Will Cal play the Oregon State game conservatively in preparation for Oregon? Or are we going to see another 45 point loss like USC handed us?
Tightwad Hill: Cal's not going to win by 45, I can assure you of that. The OSU game is actually the more important one on this Oregon roadie; we need to get the split on the road to maintain hopes of postseason play. No one will be looking ahead to Oregon on Saturday. That said, I'm not crazy about the matchups - particularly with the Beavers' size in the front court.
BTD: What Cal player has the potential to shock the Beavs tomorrow?
Tightwad Hill: If you haven't seen Ryan Anderson, he'll surprise you with how polished his offensive game is for a true freshman. He's certainly surprised Cal fans, who expected him to contribute but not contend for all-conference honors. Ayinde Ubaka is probably a known quantity, given that he's a senior, but he's played very well of late in wins at Stanford and v Washington. Our backup point, Jerome Randle, is lightning quick but prone to freshman mistakes. He's fun to watch. Theo Robertson had his best game of the year in the win v Washington - he's a high-energy guy who is critical to our success on the glass.
BTD: OSU will definitely have a size advantage... will Cal still be capable of making things happen underneath the basket?
Tightwad Hill: Yes, through Anderson primarily, though Theo Robertson will occasionally do some damage inside. Truth is, we have two reliable scorers in Ubaka and Anderson, and they will need to carry the team offensively again to win in Corvallis. Cal has shown recent improvement in rebounding - the Bears actually beat Washington on the boards - so perhaps they can get some second chance points.