On Wednesday, December 5, CBKWit and Ragnarok had a romantic double date to lovely Haas Pavilion to take in a game between JaxSt and our beloved Golden Bears.
This is their story.
Ragnarok: First off, I’d like to point out that CBKWit got away with what is certainly tied for the record for cheapest date in history. For starters, the tickets were free. Then, he and his date mooched off the dinner that I cooked for my wife and myself (apparently, I make a tasty fajita). Finally, once in the club room before the game, he mooched again, this time off the insanely expensive beers that I bought (seriously? $10 for a Hef?). In sum, he and his date got dinner, drinks and a show for the total cost of $0 and zero effort. Way to go, man. You totally deserve one of those "Real Men Of Genius" commercials.
CBKWit: To be fair, I tried to pick up some Coronas, but apparently WalGreens doesn’t sell alcohol. I should have just gone for plan B: Cough Syrup and Sudafed. It’s not all glory being the unmarried and cheap bachelor, though. Whereas Ragnarok went home and probably had sweet, sweet Victory sex (just below Make-up Sex and Fugitive Sex, according to Seinfeld), my date and I went home separately. My game is like Max Zhang’s: weak and awkward (rimshot!), and I don’t have Alex Pribble coaching me. Back at my house, my roommate was playing Warcraft, and he wouldn’t even Victory cuddle me. Plus, even though I ate Rag’s food and drank his beer, I contributed keen insights throughout the game that no one else could possibly see, like "Eric Verniesal is slower than Nasty Nate."
Ragnarok: Is that even possible? As has been previously established, Nate moves at the speed of continental drift.
Yellow Fever: I just wanted to chime in and say, while you guys were watching our Bears beat up on Jackson State, I was lonely and freezing in the IZOD Center watching the poor Nets start something called an Eddie Gill at point guard because Jason Kidd may or may not have been on strike. At least they gave me a free IZOD hat.
TwistNHook: And I was watching SuperBad. I love that scene where "Jimmy Brother" sings for all the guys. It’s a heart-warming coming of age tale of two young friends learning about love and loss in the modern American wasteland known as suburbia. And there’s boobies!
CBKWit: If it’s any consolation, Yellow Fever, the beer which we thought would be free in the club room pregame party actually cost $10. Thanks again Ragnarok for not being able to down it; free beer tastes even better when you know someone else drastically overpaid for it.
Ranarok: Yeah, and they’ll sell you overpriced beer in the club room, but they won’t let you leave with it, so once the game started, you have to chug your beer or lose it. And I’ve never been very good at chugging liquids of any sort.
CBKWit: Ragnarok, you’re not the only one who underestimated the Bears. In my recap of the Mizzou game, I predicted that "against weaker teams (welcome Jackson St!), look for Cal to seem pretty sloppy and uninspired as Braun plays the limited bench and saves the starters for PAC-10 play."
Well, I was pretty far off. When Hardin checked out with about 10 minutes left and Cal up by 30, I felt certain that Braun would keep him on ice for the rest of the game. A few minutes later, Hardin AND Anderson check back in and what happens? Hardin gets upended in a scary looking play and I start cursing (sorry to the parent with too little kids directly in front of me) at Braun for killing our season against Jackson St. Fortunately, Hardin gives the St. player a cheerful headlock and everyone at Haas resumes breathing normally.
Even though no one got hurt, I think Braun played Hardin, Anderson, and Christopher way too much towards the end of the game. Hardin and Anderson are way too valuable to risk injury in these situations, and they’ll have their biggest test of the year this Sunday against Michael Beasley and K State. Why not give them the last 10 minutes off and keep them fresh for Sunday’s game? Christopher was on floor in the waning minutes with Verniesal, Kamp, Jordan Wilkes, and a walk-on guard, and I know the theory is to keep at least one player on the floor who can create his own offense, but is that really necessary when you’re up by 30? Would it have made any difference if the final score was 105 instead of 117? We simply have no depth behind Christopher, and I don’t want to see him wear down in his first full season (he was a back-up last year) in PAC 10 play because he logged 35 minutes against Jackson St.
Ragnarok: Yeah, CBK, I’m kinda with you on this one. It’d be pretty terrible to lose Hardin for the season because he got hurt against an overmatched opponent when we didn’t even need him to play. Kinda like last year.
CBKWit: I also agree with him, good and bad. Our offense has looked strong in all facets; we’ve been scoring in transition, in the half court, with penetration, when feeding the post, at the line, and on the offensive glass. Even when running the classic Braun offense, known to Cal fans everywhere as "halfheartedly throwing the ball around the perimeter," Cal scored by keeping the passes crisp (you can practically hear Braun shouting "slow down, slow down, that’s too effective!") and looking to actually move the ball inside. We’ll have to see how Cal performs when they play an actual defense, but it’s an undeniably promising start.
On defense, especially in the second half, Cal was pretty lazy getting out to defend the 3, but I’m not going to fault them for dogging it a little when they’re up by 30. The defensive intensity (and performance) was there against Mizzou in the second half, and I don’t doubt it will be there this weekend.
Hardin and Anderson actually played less than I thought (14 and 19 minutes, respectively), but this was more due to foul trouble than to Braun putting in the scrubs. Cal has played a number of games against teams with challenging backcourts, in terms of pressure and personnel, and I’d say that even shorthanded, our guards have more than answered the call. K State will be the first team this year that presents a challenge to the frontcourt, and it will be very interesting to see how Ryan and DeVon respond. I think the key to the game will be Hardin and Beasley’s foul situation. If Hardin can play within himself and avoid cheap fouls while forcing Beasley to commit a few, Cal’s offense should really open up. On the other hand, both Hardin and Anderson were in foul trouble against Jackson St., who has no one even close to Beasley’s talent. If Hardin has to sit, does anyone feel comfortable with Jordan Wilkes defending the 1st pick in the upcoming NBA draft?
Ragnarok: Yeah. I’d definitely say that Hardin v. Beasley is the key matchup here. Based on this Daily Cal article, it sounds like Hardin (and NBA scouts) are looking forward to it:
The rest of the team? Well, it’s not the same one that the Bears beat by 30 last year in Haas Pavilion. The top 3 scorers (Beasley, Jacob Pullen, and Bill Walker) are all freshman, part of former coach Bob Huggins’ only recruiting class at K-State. They do have 3 losses already so far, but they’ve lost to some tough competition, including falling to Oregon in overtime, so they’re definitely more battle-tested than our Bears. With the game on the road (only Cal’s 2nd all year), I’m wary, but optimistic.
CBKWit: I’ll take wary but optimistic. In past years, I would just be wary, but this year’s team is showing a lot more vitality than is typical of a Braun team.
Speaking of vitality, many, many thanks to TwistNHook for finding this video. I know I said that my game was akin to Max’s, but these dance moves prove otherwise. I’ve got nothing on tall Max.
At least Ragnarok still loves me for my liquid chugging ability.
Cal versus KSU: Tomorrow, 11AM, FSN. Go Bears!