Thanks to the good folks at California Golden Blogs for answering a few questions about the Bears in advance of Saturday's game at Maples Pavilion.
1. Is Allen Crabbe better than Jorge Gutierrez or what?
Kodiak: As a shooter, Allen Crabbe is clearly superior. He's also worked hard at improving his mid-range game and handles to make himself more of an all-around scorer. But in terms of affecting the entire game, Jorge is simply in a different league. He could impose his will on both teams; he had a way of disrupting his opponent while inspiring his teammates to play harder. There's a good reason why he was named both conference DPOY and POY.
LEastCoastBears: They are both NBA caliber player, in my opinion but obviously different. Jorge is more of a great all around player with the intangibles to make up for the subpar athletic ability, by NBA standard. I would compare him a bit to Josh Childress, except that Jorge is now learning to play the point guard position in the NBAD-League. Crabbe on the other hand has more of the ideal NBA size. He has the floor of being a decent 3 point shooter for an NBA team.
Right now, I wouldn't say one is better than the other, but Crabbe has another 1.5 year potentially to exceed Jorge's achievements in college.
FrankCohen: Allen Crabbe is a better pro prospect than Jorge Gutierrez. Many would claim that Allen Crabbe is more talented. However, I would say that Jorge Gutierrez had more of an impact on the floor than Allen has thus far for the Bears. Right now, we lack a player that has that killer instinct, that wills the team to victory through his very effort and desire to win. Jorge was that player. He was a veteran leader that did everything the right way. Right now, this team misses that leadership greatly.
2. What's Cal's biggest strength?
Kodiak: At any given moment, Allen Crabbe can just go off and score. Earlier in the year, Justin Cobbs was the other part of a 1-2 punch that helped disguise many of our other weaknesses.
LEastCoastBears: When all 3 is playing well, Cal has a great backcourt in Crabbe, Justin Cobbs, and Tyrone Wallace. All three are capable of not just making the outside shot, but also penetrating the defense to attack the basket.
FrankCohen: I'd say guard play. Freshman Tyrone Wallace has been very solid and composed. He plays more like an upperclassman. Justin Cobbs has, overall, been very good, though lately his play has been shaky as the assertiveness that he had displayed earlier in the season has been lacking for some reason. Allen Crabbe has been one of the top scorers in college basketball.
3. What's Cal's biggest weakness?
LEastCoastBears: Cal lacks depth. The emergence of Bak Bak has really helped in the last couple of games, but the team is really just 5 solid player with 1-2 role player deep. The most glaring problem right now when the backups are in the game is how confused the Cal defense are at times.
FrankCohen: Lack of physicality. We just don't seem to match up well with more physical teams this year, as exemplified most notably by games against Wisconsin and Washington in which the Bears were just dominated by physical styles of play and folded.
Kodiak: Depth. Defensive rotations. Execution of a coherent half-court offense. Low post scoring. If Crabbe and Cobbs are struggling, no one else has consistently shown the ability to help put the ball in the basket.
4. Bracketology time. Will the Bears make the NCAA Tournament?
FrankCohen: It's definitely possible. The conference has some quality wins available. If we can finish with 19-20 wins (not out of the realm of possibility by any means) with wins over Oregon, Colorado, UCLA and Stanford, we're in. Basically, sweep at home and split on the road from here on out and we'll be in a solid position to make the tournament. Easier said than done though, especially considering our sub-par play recently.
LEastCoastBears: Bears would be out right now but still has a chance to make it by finishing in the top 3 in the conference. This would, of course, mean beating the Oregon and Colorado of the league (after blowing the one matchup against Washington last week).
5. What Cal player has surprised you the most this season?
Kodiak: I'm pleasantly surprised with how well true frosh Tyrone Wallace has adjusted to Div-I ball. He's showing a lot of poise and potential for a young player. Conversely, I'm a bit disappointed that Cobbs has been struggling. He looked like an all-league talent earlier in the year. Lately, he's had issues with his shot, confidence, and decision-making.
LEastCoastBears: I have been pleasantly surprised by the added aggressiveness in Crabbe's game. I still don't think he is ready for the Association yet and hope that he stays for another year, but it good to see that he won't just settle for outside jumpers.
I would also say that I have been surprised by how much the team misses senior point guard Brandon Smith. Since he has been out with a concussion, Justin Cobbs had not been the same when he has to man the point all the time.
FrankCohen: Tyrone Wallace hasn't necessarily surprised me (I predicted he would be a very solid player after watching his high school tapes and observing him in an open scrimmage) but he has been more poised than I imagined. He really doesn't play like a freshman at all. This guy is going to be an All-Conference player by the time he's a junior.
6. Who needs to step up if Cal is to make a run at the Pac-12 title?
Kodiak: Justin Cobbs needs to return to form. We also need our low post tandem of Solomon/Kravish to provide some consistent scoring in the paint when given the opportunity.
LEastCoastBears: Justin Cobbs need to get back to his solid play against the weaker teams in the non-conference season. If freshman Tyrone Wallace keep on developing, maybe Cobbs doesn't need to improve as much.
FrankCohen: I'll say Richard Solomon. We need a consistent post presence and Solomon has shown flashes this season. He just needs to become a little bit more consistent. Solo has been more assertive lately so hopefully that's a good sign of things to come.
7. Was Manti Te'o the victim of an elaborate hoax, or is he a dirty liar?
LEastCoastBears: I am surprised that you brought this up, since this whole hoax is further evidence of what Cal people already know: there are no hot girls at Stanfurd. The one that is hot enough to be Manti Te'o's girlfriend never existed.
Kodiak: I think Manti Te'o's friends and family are actually relieved that the truth has come out. I can't imagine anything more awful than having someone from Stanford as a girlfriend.
FrankCohen: Dirty liar.