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Thu., Jan. 13, 2011, 7:03 p.m.

WSU minutes away at Cal

COUGARS

There must be something about Haas Pavilion. We just watched Washington State nail seven consecutive 3-pointers in warmups. Sort of like the show Klay Thompson put on last year during the first half. Read on for more pregame musings.

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• This isn't the Cal team that held WSU scoreless in the last 4 minutes down here last February, leading to an 86-70 Bear win. That was a senior-oriented squad – I miss Jerome Randle – that won the Pac-10 title for veteran coach Mike Montgomery. This is a younger team in transition, one that started slowly yet played some heavyweights well. OK, one, Kansas, and that was a brawl in here. Literally. The Bears will incite some of that – this is a DeAngelo Casto-has-to-keep-his-head warning – especially Harper Kamp, who uses his lower body on defense as effectively as anyone in college basketball. But Markhuri Sanders-Frison, all 265 pounds of him, can cause problems in that regard as well. ... Cal may have played its best game of the season last Thursday at Arizona in a 73-71 defeat. The Bears had no answer for Derrick Williams, who scored 31 points mainly on the strength of 22 free throws (he made 16). That game was the first Cal played without freshman guard Gary Franklin, who announced after the Stanford defeat he was headed out of town, leaving the floor to another freshman, Allen Crabbe. The 6-foot-6 point guard led Cal with 17 points then followed that up with another 17 – playing all 40 minutes – against Arizona State. In other words, he's beginning to assert himself. ... The Bears usually start three guards – Crabbe teaming with defensive disrupter Jorge Gutierrez and Brandon Smith – along with Kamp and Sanders-Frison. After those two, it's either rail-thin freshman Richard Solomon, who went to the same Southern California high school as Crabbe, or Bak Bak off the bench, neither of whom have been incredibly productive inside this season. ... As we all know the Cougars aren't all that deep either and that's not limited just to the inside. The main weapon off the bench, Faisal Aden, has been the definition of inconsistent since Pac-10 play began. In the two Thursday night games, he is 14 of 24 from the floor, 4 of 9 from beyond the arc. In the two Saturday games he's 3 of 17, including 1 of 8 from long range. That's a trend worth watching as the season wears on, but let's just see if he has another strong Thursday night again. ... By the way, the students aren't back yet, so the crowd isn't expected to be all that large or intense. But it is the Bears first home Pac-10 game of the season. ... Klay Thompson had five long 3-pointers in the first half here last season, part of 23 points before halftime. He finished with 28. ... And that's what we have for now.

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• Don't forget, we are on Twitter during the game. Follow along at vinceg55. We'll be back at the half. Until then ...




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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