First off, the winner to Thursday’s Pick-the-Score challenge is huskylenz, who predicted an 85-60 blowout.
Please e-mail me privately and let’s arrange when/where you can pick up your prize. Congrats.
Also, Rip Ty was the only one (other than myself) to pick all four games correctly. Congrats to you as well. No prize though. Oh well.
So that was kind of cool and I’d like to do it again. So post your picks and the final score of the UW-Cal game. Whoever is closest wins a hot dog and soft drink.
Full slate of Pac-10 games today. Everybody is in action. So let’s get to it.
California at Washington, 11:30 a.m. (FSN)
Arizona at Oregon, 1:30 p.m. (FSN)
Stanford at Washington State, 2 p.m.
Arizona State at Oregon State, 3:30 p.m. (FSN)
UCS at UCLA, 4:30 p.m.
My picks: Oregon, WSU, ASU and UCLA.
Pac-10 record: 13-9.
AND THE UW-CAL WINNER IS …
The Golden Bears, 72-68.
Washington was unable to defeat Cal in a pair of games last season and the Bears return their top three players (Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher and Theo Robertson) while the Huskies lost two (Jon Brockman and Justin Dentmon) of their top three scorers.
Cal has more star power, but the Bears are shorthanded without their top perimeter defender Jorge Gutierrez (sprained right knee) and starting center Markhuri Sanders-Frison. UW has a deeper bench, the Huskies are motivated and they’re playing at home.
UW gained a measure of confidence after beating Stanford by 33 points Thursday, however, expect coach Lorenzo Romar to tweak the lineup again. Matthew Bryan-Amaning looks as if he’s earned the right to start again, while Tyreese Breshers has struggled to stay out of foul trouble in three starts. The last thing the Huskies can afford to do is put Cal into the bonus early in the game.
And speaking of which, it’s going to be important for freshman point guard Abdul Gaddy to play solid defensie without fouling. He’s had four fouls in five games this season.
Two factors should help Washington. The early start favors the Huskies because they played at 11 a.m. earlier this season and Cal’s earliest start this season has been 2 p.m. The Bears also traveled to Seattle Friday and had a late afternoon practice, which isn’t ideal.
Romar also got a chance to see what not to do against Randle after reviewing the Washington State video. One of the benefits of former UW assistant Ken Bone taking over at WSU is he’s implemented a similar up-tempo style to the Huskies’. This gives Romar a more accurate scouting report on upcoming opponents. The Cougars defended Randle primarily with freshman Reggie Moore and didn’t bring a lot of help. UW will rotate defenders on Randle, who had 39 points and nine assists Thursday. Isaiah Thomas will start on Randle followed by Venoy Overton.
Don’t expect UW to pressure and trap Cal like it did the Cardinal because Randle is too good a ball handler. The Huskies want to pick him up at midcourt, stay in front of him, limit open three-point attempts and keep him off the free throw line where he’s shooting 92.7 percent.
New starter Justin Holiday, the catalyst in the Stanford win, and Gaddy will likely pair against Christopher and Robertson.
The key for Washington is defending the three. Cal completed 11 of 20 against WSU. If the Bears aren’t hitting 3s, then their offensive options are limited.
In a game this big, you’d like to think there’s an X-Factor and it could be one of the big men. This seems like a game for the guards and perimeter players, but it will be interesting to see if either coach plays their post players for extended minutes. Romar seems comfortable with the four-guard lineup.
Washington’s most impressive win this season came against previously 19th-ranked Texas A&M, which lost its second best best player in a gruesome injury late in the game.
Cal is probably the toughest team Washington has faced other than Georgetown and a victory would give the Huskies the signature win they’ve s been seeking all season.