In Ken Bone’s early days as coach, the Cougars’ (8-9, 1-4 Pac-12) 80-48 loss to Stanford Wednesday would have been followed by intense practices. But as the season’s changed, so has Bone’s philosophy. So the enormity of that loss didn’t impact Friday’s “light” practice in preparation for Saturday’s 1 p.m. game at California (13-4, 4-0).
“Practice was great,” forward D.J. Shelton said. “We haven’t really been focusing on the Stanford loss and just looking forward to Cal and what we need to do to win there.”
Rather than run, the players rested, making only slight alterations to help the team prepare for Saturday’s matchup. Although the Cougars (8-9, 1-4) have won just two of their last seven games, Bone refuses to be hard on his team.
“I think now you can be harder on them when you’re winning and when you’re not winning, not that you take it lightly, but you don’t want to lose them,” Bone said. “And so, we’ve got things to work on and we’re addressing those things, but I don’t see the benefit in just going after guys and placing the blame on them.”
The Golden Bears’ strength lies in their balance, as they rank near the middle of the Pac-12 in most statistical categories. With convincing wins over Stanford, Oregon and Washington, Cal has managed to excel without being exceptional in any single facet of the game.
The Cougars haven’t won in Berkeley since 2008, but have a buoyant attitude to go with their upbeat practices.
“We’re just thinking positive and trying to stay on track and dig out a win on this road trip,” Shelton said.