You know what, I’m started to get excited about basketball season. Now, normally, I wouldn’t pay much attention, because it’s still November, it’s still football season, and our best player plays for the Celtics. But these guys can play. Last year, the Bears opened the season without Powe and prompty forgot how to play basketball, getting upset by Eastern Michigan (these guys had an RPI down in the 300s last year). This year, however, they’re playing fast and loose and not waiting for Powe to jump in and drop 30 on the opponent. Yes, Ben Braun still coaches this team, so they’re still going to be defense-first, and they’re not going to get into the kind of 98-89 shootouts that OSU and North Carolina did last night, but they’re the first Braun team I can remember that has actually taken an up-tempo, transition offense to heart.
So, how good ARE these guys? They’re 6-1, with the one loss being on the road at San Diego State, a team that is currently undefeated and knocking on the door to the top 25 (they’re 27th in ths week’s AP poll). They’ve swept through an uncharacteristically weak Greak Alaskan Shootout field, and won 3 games at home. None of their opponents have been ranked or are nationally noted, and Kansas State, last night’s opponent, is more well known for its new coach, Bob Huggins, than for its tradition of winning basketball. Still, I did a little snooping around on the internet, and found a couple of computer rankings. First, from RealTimeRPI.com, which I’m assuming attempts to simulate the selection committee’s secret RPI ratings, Cal is given a strength of schedule rank of 13 and an RPI of 4!! What? Really? That can’t be right. Jeff Sagarin of USA Today, one of the guys whose computer rankings are used by the BCS, gives us a SOS of 116 and a ranking of 33. That sounds more like our Bears.
Still, the rankings, especially this early in the season, don’t mean too much. We’ll find out a lot more about these Bears on Sunday, when they play their first nationally ranked opponent, No. 20 Nevada, in the Pete Newell Challenge in San Jose. If you’re not hung over from Big Game, check ‘em out.