USC Basketball: Cal Scouting Report


USC meets Cal in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 tournament at high noon on Thursday. The teams split the season series and both contests were decided by a combined five points.

Matthew of the Golden Bear Lair provides the scouting report on Cal:

Cal is coming into the Pac-10 tournament on a four game winning streak after losing to USC. A lot of that has to do with the schedule; playing 3 of the 4 worst teams in the Pac-10 certainly didn’t hurt. But it also comes down to health and guard play. Allen Crabbe, who’s one of Cal’s most important players, missed the last game against USC. He getting healthy was certainly a big part of the win streak. Jorge Gutierrez also was essential, as he recovered from a terrible game against the Trojans to carry the team at several points, especially against UCLA. Those three factors are why Cal has done so well since losing to USC. Now a look at the Bears:


Cal has definitely seen some struggles on offense this year, like scoring 5 points in a half, but the Bears are still a good offensive team. They are by no means perfect, but they have a lot of what you look for in a team on offense. They have two quality big guys in Markhuri Sanders-Frison and Harper Kamp, both who convert their 2’s at about a 55% rate and get to the free throw line. They have a penetrator that goes to the hole strong and gets fouled in Jorge Gutierrez. They have a 3 point shooter in Allen Crabbe who’s deadly from outside but isn’t single dimensional. And finally they have Brandon Smith, who while he isn’t flashy, he’s a very stabilizing force who won’t turn the ball over. The only problem is a complete lack of depth off the bench. Richard Solomon can dunk and be a slight threat off the bench, but that’s as far as our offensive firepower comes off the bench. It’ll be mainly those 6 that that you’ll see on Thursday.


Cal has run two defenses this year, a 2-3 zone and a man to man. Neither of them have been very good, at least lately. Cal has been the worst defensive team in Pac-10 play. The problem is a major lack of depth. Foul trouble and fatigue has forced the Bears to play the 2-3 zone, which they don’t execute very well. The Bears have been absolutely killed from beyond the arc all year, and they don’t force many from inside it either. When Cal runs a man to man, they are actually a good defensive team. Gutierrez is one of the best man to man defenders on the team, and both Sanders-Frison and Kamp can guard the post well. Frison is very foul prone and that’ll be a problem if Cal wants to run a man to man. I’d guess Cal will at least try to start out in a man to man with their season on the line.

Beating the Bears

Shooting the 3 pointer will be essential to beating the Bears. Cal is solid in the post and won’t let Vucevic and Stephenson completely dominate the game. The onus has to be on the Jones, Fontan, and Smith, at least offensively. Stopping the Bears starts with stopping Gutierrez. He’s the only guy on the team that can really penetrate and create easy lay-ups for himself, and that leads to increased opportunities for a shooter like Crabbe. When USC won, it was mainly because Jorge played very poorly and Crabbe was out. Those two really are the key to the offense, although Kamp and Frison are important. Hitting the 3 and keeping Gutierrez from getting to the paint will be very important for the Trojans if they are advance in the Pac-10 tournament.