Sunday, November 13, 2011

GW vs. Cal: an interview with a Cal blogger

GW faces #24 Cal today at 9:30 pm (on ESPN-U) and I recently got an email from Shaan, the blogger at Golden Bear Lair, a Cal blog. We exchanged some questions about our teams, and here's what he had to say about Cal. In short, he thinks they are really good. Should be an interesting game.

Tell us about your back court. Gutierrez and Krabbe look good, plus you've had some transfers and young guys.
Our backcourt this year looks to be very dynamic with talented players at each spot. Jorge Gutierrez normally plays Small Forward or the #3 so I'll talk about him in the front court question. Allen Crabbe will be the starting Shooting Guard or the #2. Crabbe is a legitimate choice for Pac-12 Player of the Year along with Gutierrez. Crabbe's accuracy is deadly including from the beyond the arc and he is someone that can score at will. At Point Guard, Brandon Smith won the starting position coming into the season. He was always a very good passer and playmaker, but his jump shot has improved as well as limiting his turnovers. The top player coming off the bench is Justin Cobbs, the PG transfer from Minnesota. It was reported that he amazed in practice and summer leagues, but Cal fans got to see him for real in the Exhibition vs UC San Diego, where he led the team with 17 points. Cobbs has the chance to make a huge impact on this team as I think he plays just as well as Smith and is a better scorer.

(Editor's note: Gutierrez is 6'3" and called a guard on the Cal website and box scores and led the team in assists -- thus I called him a guard.)

UPDATE: Shaan emailed saying that Gutierrez does play the 2.

I know you lost Sanders-Frison to graduation, what does your front court look like?
Jorge Gutierrez is the #3 or small forward and he is absolute beast of a player. He has a motor that doesn't stop, he is the best defender on the team, and he can score. He is one of the main reasons why Cal is projected to do so well this year. Harper Kamp will be the #4 or forward this year. He develped into a great player last year, who was versatile and he can rebound and score. Richard Solomon is the #5 or center. He is lanky and he has big potential. Last year, he only really scored on dunks, but he also had a ton of blocks. This year, he has worked on scoring from the paint and looks like he can contribute a lot more than last year. It will be fun to watch the strides he has made from last season to this season.

What will your team rely on this year?
Well, this isn't the easiest question because Cal has a lot of go-to guys. It will mainly be Allen Crabbe and Jorge Gutierrez as they are the most talented and they make up the core of the team. They are also leaders on the floor and Jorge leads this pesky defense.

I like that you have a guy named Bak Bak from Sudan, what's his deal?
Well, Bak Bak had a bunch of visa issues over the summer and couldn't go with the team on their trip to Europe. Also, it doesn't look like he lifted weights and was able to train hard during that period so it doesn't looked like he improved. That will hurt his playing time as he now has to play catch up all season to get in form.

What are your expectations for the season?
Well, Cal has been picked to win the Pac-12 by multiple different websites and sources and I think it's a real possibility and should happen. This team has experience, some defense, and firepower off the bench in Cobbs. I think that Bears could make some noise in the NCAA tournament as well and depending on where they end up could go to the Sweet Sixteen. This team is the best Cal has had for a couple years and they will show that.

And what does Cal need to win this game?
Cal just needs to play to their style of game and get the ball to Crabbe and their scorers. They also need to be decent at rebounding and play to their potential and I think they'll win this game.

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