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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

January 10, 2009 at 7:33 PM

Cal post-game

Ouch.
The result of a game that felt like March might sting a bit for the Huskies when the real thing arrives.
There’s a lot of season left, obviously, but the Huskies were in a great position numerous times today to get a win that could have really helped distance themselves from the middle of the Pac-10 pack.
Instead, they are now 11-4 overall and 2-1 in conference play with six of the next eight on the road. The first two are emminently winnable games at Oregon and Oregon State, so the Huskies have a great chance to get back off the mat. But they’ll have to make sure this one doesn’t linger long.
They’ll also have to fix some of the things that led to this defeat.
The stats are weird in a way as some of the most critical look good for the Huskies:
— They lost just 14 turnovers in 55 minutes, a good total for the way this team plays (Cal had 18);
— And they held the Bears to 29-71 shooting and 8-22 on three-pointers, for long stretches seeming to just outwork Cal on that end of the floor.
But then there are some of the other numbers such as free throws (27-40 overall and some critical misses down the stretch) and overall shooting (28-69) that show why the Huskies just couldn’t put this one away. In fact, it’s becoming obvious that this just isn’t a really good shooting team. UW was 4-19 on three-pointers for the weekend and 49-73 on free throws. The Huskies also haven’t shot better than 48 percent since the Eastern Washington game.
And surprisingly, UW was outrebounded — for just the second time all season — 46-42. The difference there was that Cal’s guards did a good job of getting a lot of the longer rebounds the Huskies had been getting of late — Patrick Christopher had a career-high 11 rebounds, for instance.
And maybe the odds were just against UW. After winning a squeaker against Stanford that could have gone either way, they lost one this time that could have gone either way.
Still, the Huskies feel like they threw this one away given that they led for all but 26 seconds.
Or as UW coach Lorenzo Romar said later “we have nobody to blame but ourselves.”
Romar pointed to some mental errors, and fans will like point most to the foul by Isaiah Thomas at the end the second regulation on the rebound putback by C.J. Seeley that forced a third OT. Romar didn’t seem to think that one was one of the more egregious, saying he thought it was just a bang-bang reaction play (the bigger issue may be that Thomas didn’t box out — as he took blame for later — allowing Seeley to be in position in the first place).
And it’s beginning to look like this is just the kind of free throw team UW will be this year. Jon Brockman is the team’s most valuable player, but the one thing he simply may not be is a good free throw shooter, despite all the work he has put into it. He was 2-8 today and 5-17 for the weekend.
Despite all that, UW still had the lead with 15 seconds left when Theo Robertson drove on Quincy Pondexter and was fouled, turning it into a three-point play.
Romar didn’t really debate that foul afterward and said the next sequence, when Justin Dentmon drove the lane and appeared to get some contact “could have gone either way.” Basically, Romar wasn’t laying this one on the refs.
And for those who like the chess-match aspect of it, there were some intriguing adjustments made today:
— After Christopher went off, Romar put Justin Holiday on him, and Christopher cooled considerably — he had 18 points in the first 25 minutes of the game, just nine in the final 30.
— After Isaiah Thomas went off early, Cal put backup guarde Jorge Gutierrez on him, and Thomas also cooled a bit from there. Cal coach Mike Montgomery says Gutierrez is the team’s best perimeter defender, and that showed
— Montgomery also used Gutierrez and Jerome Randle a lot together, using Randle as the shooting guard. He said that’s that opened things up for Randle, who had just four points at halftime but finished with 23.
As for post-game reaction, here are some highlights:
Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar:
“It was a great game against Stanford, and tonight we had 55 minutes of great, hard-fought basketball. Give Cal a lot of credit for being mentally tough on the road to come out and squeak out a triple overtime victory. You’ve got to give them a lot of credit — there’s a reason they’ve been doing so well and why they’re undefeated. Patrick Christopher is a great basketball player, he made great shots. Their trio did a great job, especially in the overtime periods. We obviously had our chances and we have to nobody to blame but ourselves. We did a lot of things to get a victory in this game, but we did too many things to let it slip away.”
Washington senior Jon Brockman:
“It’s just hard to lose, period. We don’t really want to lose, ever. They really tried to spread us out [in the last part of the game and OT], they ran that sprinting high on-ball screen up there, and they made some good shots.”
Washington freshman Isaiah Thomas:
“What’s done is done, this game’s over with. We’ve got the Oregon schools next, so we’re going to get after it in practice and try to forget about this as best we can, and get two wins next week.
(On the foul in overtime) “I just missed the box-out. Plain and simple.”
California Head Coach Mike Montgomery:
“That was Lazarus. We rose from the dead a lot of times. We had some opportunities to actually win it to. Those kids really battled. We had a lineup we liked, but Patrick [Christopher] had to play 53 minutes and they were going at him. He escaped for a long time. We didn’t have many choices though, because we had to score the ball. All of our guys had four fouls and they were hanging in there defensively. Washington is physical. Our problem was that we couldn’t cleanly rebound the ball. Our defense was good. We were making them miss, but we couldn’t rebound. Brockman just keeps it alive and one of their long guys comes in and rebounds the ball. But we made some huge plays. For us that was just a really gutsy win. Washington is really good. Kids are gutsy. The experience of being in a close game like this is big. The experience of how to handle the situations late in the clock is good. We actually told Patrick to miss the last shot (free throw), but he didn’t follow instructions.”
“This is going to be a tough road trip for people to come on because Washington is tough. The styles are really different. One is a slow down and one picks it up. We struggled early against the press. We got passive.”
On the foul on the Roberton play: “It was a clearly a foul. But to get that whistle at the time was like ‘he’s not going to call that.’ But he almost had to because it was obvious. It was a really a foul. If it was a 50-50 he probably wouldn’t have gotten it, but you have to give him credit for making that call in that situation.”
California junior Patrick Christopher:
“Everything is kind of blurry now that we’re in the locker room screaming and yelling. Coaching came through big time. It feels great. That was a great road win for us and road sweep and we showed a lot of heart out there. We it counted we buckled down and got stops, got rebounds and we hit some free throws.”

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