LOS ANGELES --- Arizona has the best young talent in the Pac-10.
But it shouldn’t be close as to which team has the most experience.
Cal is still the pick to figure out a way to win the Pac-10.
Of course depth is an issue with the Bears, but there’s no reason why Cal shouldn’t find a way to win the regular-season and be in play for a bid.
Or is there?
Well, as the first half was unfolding here at the Galen Center it became clear once again that the Bears have to make perimeter shots or they don’t win.
That has been the issue for this squad. Like some other higher-profile teams that were supposed to be more consistent (like North Carolina or Connecticut) the Bears can’t have an off night and expect to win.
Cal took a 30-27 lead into the half but the Bears had to grind it out as has been the case in the Pac-10.
Randle can be a streaky shooter as can Christopher, but they both can find a way to get into the seams of the Trojans’ defense for layups.
Some other quick thoughts:
Mike Montgomery must be constantly perplexed by some of the quick shots that the Bears take either from the perimeter or inside. Monty had been such a disciplinarian at Stanford for shot selection.
USC’s Mike Gerrity is still a calming presence, but isn’t dominating the games in the Pac-10 the way he did when he first became eligible.
Why isn’t Alex Stepheson much more of a force in the post?
USC manager Stan Holt is back on the bench. He was reinstated after an ill-timed technical at Oregon led to a Ducks’ 10-0 run and ultimately a USC loss in Eugene last Saturday. Kevin O’Neill said he believes in second chances. Holt looks like he doesn’t want to do anything wrong. He's ready with the timeout chairs and sprints out to deliver them.
Cal’s Jamal Boykin has really improved his face-up game, hitting a few jumpers. If he continues to do this, the Bears will have a shot to win the Pac-10 tournament at the Staples Center next month.
Monty is playing zone to mess with USC.
I'm impressed by the crowd on a Thursday night to see Cal play a Trojans’ team that isn’t going to the postseason.
USC athletic director Mike Garrett is in the front row on the end line. It’s amazing how he has survived a number of controversial hires and multiple NCAA investigation. The Heisman is a powerful trophy.
USC has spunk and doesn’t quit. That’s a sign of an O’Neill coached team. There is actual noise here at the Galen Center. I still contend that this could one day be quite a home court.