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Syracuse vs. Cal Basketball Preview: Q&A With California Golden Blogs

Obligatory: Can Cal get right back in this?

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Hey, it's these guys again. You remember the Golden Bears from classics such as "Cal Can Get Right Back In This" and "Cal Can Get Right Back In this 2: Bear Harder." And now, we go for the trilogy. Hopefully we don't try to split this into a two-part finale... but hey, #BRAND, so you never know. All that aside, we do need to learn a bit more about the California Golden Bears before they take on our Syracuse Orange this Thursday night.

Below, Ruey Yen from SB Nation's excellent California Golden Blogs (and Pacific Takes), stops by to chat all about Cal basketball. We also do the same over at CGB, which you can check out here. For now, join us below:

Has it been tougher for Cal fans to get focused on basketball this fall, considering the football team is actually doing well this season?

Given that this tournament is taking place in the middle of Big Game week with Cal having a seemingly realistic chance to rescue the Axe from being Stanfurd hostage, I do think the fanbase may be a bit distracted. However, there are always extra interest on the team when a new head coach is introduced. The Syracuse game is really the first real test of the season to see how the Cuonzo Martin system is going to operate, when the team can't just use its athleticism to score a bunch of layups/dunks.

Getting this out of the way: Who needs to get hot if Cal is going to get right back in this?

I would say any two of the three main wings in Tyrone Wallace, Jabari Bird, and Jordan Matthews. All 3 have shown flashes of the ability to knock down shots that are needed to beat something like the Syracuse zone, but their shooting have been inconsistent in the past. There is always optimism that the junior and two sophomores have taken a big step forward in the offseason. I am counting on David Kravish to be his usual consistent self offensively (he didn't have to do much in these first two games), but maybe he can up his game playing under the limelight of MSG.

Who's the Golden Bears' best player through two games? Seems scoring's been pretty evenly distributed between a few guys.

Tyrone Wallace was just named the Pac-12 Player of the Week. The combo guard has inherited the ballhandling duty from the since graduated Justin Cobbs. So far through those two games, he's been filling up the stat sheet in every category, leading the team in not just scoring, but also rebounds, assists, and steals. The rebound thing is probably an aberration, but he will likely be the Cal leader in those other categories for the bulk of the season.

What's the one thing this Cal team excels at compared to the others Syracuse has faced recently?

I would hope that having some of these players facing the same Syracuse zone for the 3rd straight year would translate to some much needed experience (and possibly wisdom) as to what to do against it.

What's the Golden Bears' biggest weakness in 2014-15?

Lack of depth in the middle is a real concern. Cal lost 7 footer Kameron Rooks for the season even before a game has been played. Freshman 7 footer Kingsley Okoroh is fairly raw. While senior David Kravish is a stud both offensively and defensively (he is close to being the all-time Cal leader in blocks), he is only one guy and is only allowed to pick up 5 fouls a game.

When are you guys going to just give up and join the ACC? Might as well at this point, right?

Yeah, the Pac-12 and the ACC is going to join force and form a Coast-to-Coast conference that ignores all those flyover states. Wait, what do you mean that Syracuse is not anywhere close to the Atlantic Coast?

Long-term outlook on this year's team: Where do you see Cal's season taking it?

There is enough talent for Cal to be a NCAA team, but also that obvious shortcoming with big men. Depth would also be an issue if any of the key 7 guys go down for any amount of time. With that said, the Pac-12 beyond Arizona is fairly even. I think this year's team will hover around that last 4 in/first 4 out range all year.

Are you guys more concerned with whomever you face from the Texas/Iowa game than you are with us?

I doubt it. I think it is so early in the season that the team will likely just focus on playing their own game rather than the opponents. Cal would obviously love to get at least a win this week, but there is likely no pressure on them out of this group of 4. I think the team will embrace that underdog mentality.

Okay: Is this the year Cal finally gets right back in this?

I would feel a lot more confident to have the last year's Cal team play this year's Syracuse squad. This year's Cal team has looked quite focus in the two games that counted this year (much more so than the exhibitions). I say that if the Bears win this match, we retroactively apply the surplus points to that NCAA game from two years ago when the Bears lost by 6.


Thanks again for taking the time out for these, Ruey Yen! Be sure to follow California Golden Blogs on Twitter, and head over to California Golden Blogs for everything you might want to know about Cal hoops (or other sports).