When a player of Allen Crabbe's caliber (15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 79.6 percent free-throw shooter) is injured and unable to play, it changes things for both teams. That's the thrust of our pregame post, so read on.
• It's pretty obvious what happens to California. The Bears' rotation changes, with Jorge Gutierrez and Brandon Smith probably on the floor a bit more than usual, though Gutierrez is already averaging 32.8 minutes per game, so he can't play too much more. But Crabbe's 32.5 minutes and 15.4 points per game has to go somewhere. But since Gary Franklin quit about 10 games ago, the Bears haven't had much depth at guard. So one of two things has to happen today. Either freshman Emerson Murray or junior Nigel Carter, both of whom average less than a point a game, will have to step up or Mike Montgomery will have to go big a lot more often, using Crabbe's high school teammate, 6-foot-10 Richard Solomon, more than his usual 14 minutes. My guess is the latter will end up happening and WSU will have to deal with Solomon's athleticism around the basket. ... And that's the other part of the equation. With Crabbe out, the Cougars two best perimeter defenders, Marcus Capers and Klay Thompson, can focus on Gutierrez and Smith, the former a combo guard, the latter a pass-first point. When Crabbe went off in Berkeley, he was guarded by Reggie Moore when the Cougars played man in the first half. With Capers or Thompson on him after intermission, he wasn't as big a factor, and WSU crawled back into the game. But Smith and Gutierrez caused problems. Take one of those three outside guys out of the equation and WSU's man – and zone – should be measurably better. If Solomon is on the floor with 6-8 Harper Kamp and 6-7, 265-pound Markhuri Sander-Frison, then WSU may have some matchup problems, though so will the Bears. ... But don't forget what happened when Moore was out at Stanford. Faisal Aden played well, the rest of the team took up the slack and WSU won. The same thing could happen to Cal, though the Bears don't seem to have anyone with firepower on the bench to call upon. ... That's all I have for now, other than to say Bone made it clear after the game Thursday night every game from here on in is, to paraphrase, not a must-win, but a must-effort. Let's see if his players heard.
• That's it for now. We'll be back at halftime here and on Twitter during the first half at vinceg55. Until then ...