In what areas do the Bears most need to improve heading into conference play?
Turnovers, turnovers turnovers. Cal isn't going to be a spectacular shooting team, but their defense and rebounding is good enough to stay with just about anybody as long as they hold on to the ball. When Cal turns it over two things happen. Obviously, we lose a chance to score, which is really important for a team that depends on offensive rebounds and sheer volume shooting. But more importantly, it gives opponents the opportunity to score in transition. When Cal's defense is set it's pretty good - we shut down Texas A&M in the halfcourt. But when teams run on us we struggle.
Unfortunately the turnovers are a factor of youth, so they're probably not going away very soon. But if Cal can hold onto the ball in any one game they're a tough team to beat.
What's your prediction for Sunday's game?
Both teams come out cold from the field and the first ten minutes is a defensive slog. But Stanford gradually opens up a lead as the Ogwumike sisters take advantage when Talia Caldwell and/or DeNesha Stallworth take brief breaks on the bench. My voodoo rituals designed to heal Gennifer Brandon's stress fracture fall on deaf ears. Stanford goes into the break up 12. Cal fights their way back into the game early in the 2nd half, but a lack of depth and foul trouble ultimately allows Stanford to pull away for a relatively easy 17 point win. Eliza Pierre's defense holds Jeanette Pohlen to a relatively pedestrian night, but Cal's lack of depth at forward is too much as the Bears just don't have the players to guard Nneka, Chiney and Kayla Pedersen all at the same time.