Busting Brackets

California Golden Bears: Freshman Dynamic Duo is Learning How to Win on the Fly

Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

There are quite a few freshman duos that are making a big impact on the college basketball programs that they decided to commit to this season, but the duo in Berkeley, California is possibly making the biggest impact on the college hoop landscape.

Everyone in America thought that Cuonzo Martin landing forward Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb was the grab of the recruiting period.

California Golden Bears Basketball is gaining relevance again because of these two youngsters deciding to play ball in the Bay.

Jaylen Brown went to the West Coast from the Georgia high school hoop scene to become the Bears second leading scorer logging 14.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists.

Ivan Rabb simply stayed in the Bay Area after tearing it up at Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd to become the Bears fourth leading scorer at 12.7 points and leading rebounder at 8.6 boards per contest.

The impact the two freshman have had on the California Golden Bears has been impressive since their arrival on campus, but it has not been without it’s growing pains.

Cal has a nice record at 12-4 overall and 2-1 in PAC-12 conference action. But when you peer into the loses the Golden Bears have suffered and realize that three of those losses were by four points or less, you can clearly see this team despite their success is learning to win on the fly.

Their 94-90 loss to the Richmond Spiders for example to the Richmond Spiders in the Las Vegas Invitational showed that the Golden Bears are a competitive bunch, but are still learning how to handle certain situations to pull out wins.

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  • Their most recent loss to the Oregon Ducks in league play was another example of how this team was in a position to win but could not put together the necessary run to get the “W”. The Golden Bears were in range to win despite going 0-12 from three-point land in the game.

    But the game that really has to stick in the Cal Bears craw is how their  63-62 loss on the road to Virginia in overtime where the Virginia Cavaliers only held the lead for 30-seconds in the contest.

    That win would have been the ultimate March Madness resume builder if they could have pulled that of in Charllotesville, but they let it slip through their fingers at the tail end.

    But these are the growing pains that come along with imminent culture change.

    Cuonzo Martin has obviously figured out how to blend the talent of his young freshman recruits with the talented upperclassman that he inherited when he took the California Golden Bears coaching job.

    Senior Tyrone Wallace was already considered by some to be a potential first round NBA Draft pick going into this season. He has been the leader of this group by putting up 15.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists this season.

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    Junior Jordan Matthews has also been a major contributor as a three-point marksman averaging 12.9 points and shooting 41.5% from beyond the arc.

    Cuonzo Martin has altogether a solid eight to nine man rotation when you factor in the contributions of Jabari Byrd, Kameron Rooks, Sam Singer, and Stephen Domingo.

    It is just a matter of this team learning how to handle situations in tight games.

    This team could easily be 15-1 or 14-2 if they where able to have a few bounces go there way.

    The Golden Bears are still looking for that signature win that says they belong on the NCAA tournament.

    You can be sure that they will get that during PAC-12 play at some point.

    But they are going through the learning curve that comes with having an abundance of talent that has to gel quickly.

    This is still one of the best teams in the country and you have to believe if given the opportunity they will make major noise in March.

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    We just have to hope they handle their business at the right time and in the right games to get a bid.

    This team, with the talented dynamic duo of freshman, mixed with the experience that was already available should get it done.