So, Wednesday night, I decided I wanted to watch Cal’s first Men’s Basketball game of the year. Of course, this game, like most of Cal’s non-conference schedule, wasn’t televised, which meant that if you didn’t want to actually drive to Berkeley (and considering that last weekend, my wife was hit by car in Berkeley *while in the crosswalk!*, I was disinclined to do so), your only option to see the game was streaming it over the internet. It was an…interesting experience.
The deal is this: at CalBears.com, you navigate to the game schedule, and then click the ‘watch’ link in the ‘Next Event’ space. This brings up a streaming video player. To actually watch the game, you have to sign up for CSTV’s All-Access subscription, which at $6.95 a month for just Cal-specific stuff is not too bad. But then, I guess you get what you pay for.
See, there’s no produced telecast of the game, so what CSTV does is the laziest thing I can imagine: they take the video feed from inside Haas Pavilion, and pair it with the audio from the radio broadcast that runs in KYOU 1550 AM. And that’s it. Enjoy.
- It’s the only way to watch the game without going to Haas Pavilion.
- It’s hard for even the best radio announcers to describe what’s going on in a basketball game, so any video at all is a big improvement over just radio.
- It’s pretty cheap (less than the cost of the cheapest Netflix subscription).
- The video is small and grainy. For much of the game, it’s difficult to tell players apart.
- The video feed only shows the score a couple times a game, and there’s no other clock or foul information or anything, so you really have to rely on the radio announcers.
- Haas Pavilion turns their video boards to static Cal Logos during Cal free throws (so as not to distract the players), but that also means that, watching at home, I didn’t see a single Cal free throw.
- The radio broadcast is on a short delay, so the video is actually a couple seconds ahead of the audio. Rather annoying, I would say.
- However, all those other things were pretty minor. What really turned me off to the whole experience is that the player kept reseting. There was a little timeline slider bar at the bottom that ran for about 5 minutes. When it reached the end, the player stopped, and you had to manually reset the player, which took about 20 seconds. Imagine doing that every five minutes through a two-hour basketball game. Now, it’s possible I was doing something wrong, so if you happen to know what that was, please let me know!!
Oh yeah, and because they’re relying on Haas Pavilion’s video feed, I’m told that this service won’t even be available for road games, which means that for Cal’s roadies that aren’t otherwise televised (which currently includes the LA swing to UCLA and USC at the end of the season), there’s no way at all for Bear fans to watch the game. Lame-tastic.
—— …and now, on to the game itself… ——
Wednesday night, the Bears were clearly the more talented team on the floor, but they nearly let this one get away from them. I know it’s early in the season, so I’m hoping this relatively easy non-conference schedule lets them grow up without suffering too many losses. We shall see.
While the Bears were in control of the game for most of the 40 minutes, they let Southern Miss hang around for the first 30, so when the Golden Eagles went on a run, suddenly the Bears were down 6 and time was winding down. However, the Bears got big plays from both DeVon Hardin and Ryan Anderson, plus a trey from Nikola Knezevic to cap a 5-point possession that got them back within 1, and DeVon dominated down the stretch as Cal took control of the game for good.
Lots of positives for the Bears, starting with DeVon Hardin.
- Hardin was a monster on defense, rebounding, blocking some shots and altering the angle of others, taking a couple huge charing fouls late in the game, and generally creating havoc for the other team’s offense. As if this wasn’t enough, he showed a nice outside shooting touch a couple of times. His game has come a long way since his freshman year.
- Patrick Christopher was all over the place. He’s a scorer in the purest sense of the word, and he’s tons of fun to watch. The ability to create his own shot when Braun’s stodgy offense stalls adds a big dimension to this team.
- Ryan Anderson - awesome as usual. It’s fun to see him and DeVon on the floor at the same time.
- I looked at the stat sheet after the game, and was surprised to see that Eric Vierneisel tied for the team lead in assists, and had a steal as well. I think I don’t hate seeing him on the floor anymore!
- There was a fair amount of transition offense for the Bears, which sounds odd, because Ben Braun is still the head coach. I sure hope the Bears can keep this up, although if past seasons are any indication, Cal will tighten up and stop running when Pac-10 season gets underway.
Some negatives, however.
- Sloppiness at times, lethargy at others. There were certainly times where the Bears offense seemed to stall, although Ryan Anderson missing much of the second half with vision problems might have had something to do with it (don’t worry, he’s fine now). There were also some dumb turnovers made by the various ball-handlers (some by Knezevic and Nican Robinson stuck out in my mind).
- A ridiculous number of fouls. You could say that the referees were overly officious in calling some ticky-tack infractions. You could also say that the Bears were overly aggresive on defense, committing fouls when there was no need; there’s certainly no benefit to getting called for a reach-in foul 40 feet from the basket. Now, all the fouls didn’t hurt the Bears too much, as 1) they have plenty of big bodies available to take fouls, and 2) Southern Miss wasn’t a particularly good free-throwing team. But you can imagine how this sort of play could come back to hurt them down the road.
- Way too much penetration allowed while in the zone defense. Braun went to the zone to cut down on the mounting pile of fouls, and while it worked, Southern Miss was able to run their offense much more effectively against it. This is part of what got them into their late 6-point hole in the first place.
Overall, this wasn’t a bad performance for a first game (unlike USC’s opener against Mercer, where the preseason top-20 team was upset at home by a little-known underdog), but there is definitely room for improvement. Still, I’m excited by the level of talent on this team, and if a steady backcourt can develop to match the future NBA frontcourt of Hardin and Anderson, these Bears will find a way to get into the tournament, saving Braun’s job once again.
—— …and finally, some recruiting news… ——
Wednesday was also national signing day for the Bears, which means that Cal officially received letters of intent from their two commits for next year, D.J. Seeley and Garrett Sim. I’m always skeptical of recruiting rankings, but it’s worth noting that both come highly regarded; Seeley is actually rated by Rivals as the No. 10 shooting guard in the country, while Scout has him at No. 11. These two will certainly help with our lack of depth at guard; too bad we can’t suit them up until next year.