'Patient And Disciplined' Bears Like to Run
California appears to be a risk-averse squad on defense. The Golden Bears ranked ninth in the Pacific-10 in steals per game (4.9) and ninth in blocks per game (2.0). They love to run in transition, but they are less aggressive toward creating such opportunities.
"Stopping them starts with scoring the ball and getting defensively set," said Eric Reveno, a former assistant under Cal Coach Mike Montgomery during his days at Stanford. "They like to get the ball back off missed shots. They don't try to pressure you and create transition opportunities that way. They want to get the ball back, but they're willing to be patient and disciplined. The risk, for them, is not worth it. They're not out there trapping or anything like that. They'll force you to miss and then spread the floor after a rebound."
Reveno, now the head coach at Portland, witnessed firsthand how effective Cal's approach can be. The Golden Bears beat Portland by 20 points in late December.
The Golden Bears lead the nation in three-point shooting percentage, and Reveno said the best way to try to throw off Cal's rhythm is to press early and often.
Cal plays "hard-nosed, man-to-man" defense, according to Reveno. The best way, he said, for an opponent to attack the Cal defense is to make assertive drives to the basket. The Golden Bears do not possess a polished post player, and Reveno said the rebounding edge is always up for grabs, even though Cal's starting front court consists of a 7-foot center and a 6-8 power forward.
Jordan Wilkes "is not very physical, but he gives them good length," Reveno said. Jamal Boykin "likes to bang and by physical," Reveno said, but his efforts alone often do not suffice.
"They don't have a real dominant guy inside," Reveno said, "but they find ways to get around it."
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