Friday, December 19, 2014

Game Preview: Eastern Washington Eagles @ California Golden Bears

The Eagles will take on the Golden Bears tonight at Cal, tip off is at 7 p.m. PT.

The key to the game, might just be the hot shooting of EWU's star Tyler Harvey

California comes into the game 9-1 with their only loss coming to then #10 ranked Texas in the championship round of the 2k Classic in Madison Square Gardens.

The Eagles and the Golden Bears have no common opponents on their schedule so far, but the Golden Bears needed double overtime to take down visiting Montana 78-76 on December 3rd.  And of course the Eagles led host Washington for 35 minutes on December 14th.  Cal is in the middle of a 5 game stretch at home to close their non-conference schedule, while Eastern is on the tail end of a 5 game road trip that has covered 3 states and 3 top 100 RPI teams in 13 days.

Stick with me after the break for more on tonight's match-up.

I talked briefly about this on yesterday's podcast, so take a listen then come back and read the rest of this preview.

The Golden Bears were picked to finish 7th in the Pac-12 media poll just behind Washington.  They have won by taking high percentage shots and denying the same to their opponents.  Cal is not always winning pretty, but they have found a way to win.  They beat then 23rd ranked Syracuse by 14 in November before getting beat by then 10th ranked Texas by 16.  Most recently they defeated Wyoming 45-42 and Princeton 67-57.

Cal is lead by Tyrone Wallace (#3), Junior Guard, statistically he leads the team in points (19.3)  rebounds (8.7) and assists (4.5) per game .  He attempts 2.4 three point shots per game and is hitting them at about 46%.  This says that he is more apt to dribble drive than he is to stop and shoot from outside.  He leads the team in assists, but also leads them in turnovers (2.7 per game).

Jordan Mathews (#24), Sophomore Guard, is the perimeter threat as he attempts nearly twice as many 3's as the next closest player on the team.  He is hitting them at 40.5% on the season as well.  Averages 13 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

They are joined in the back court by Sam Singer (#2), Sophomore Guard, who appears to handle the point guard duties when he is on the court as he attempts just 3.6 shots per game.  He is second on the team in assists at 4.2 and adds 2.9 points and 2.7 rebounds in 27 minutes per contest.

The Golden Bears front court is led by 6'10" 240 lb Senior Forward David Kravish (#45).  Kravish is getting 29.3 minutes per game, 11.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks.  He is also getting 2.9 fouls per game.  The team is 1-2 when he gets 4 fouls, though he has managed not to foul out in a game yet.  They lost to Texas in a game where he earned his 3rd foul with 16:50 to go in the second with the score 27-33 Texas lead.  This forced him off the court for several minutes and by the time he made his next appearance on the stat sheet, Cal trailed 45-36 with 12 minutes to go.  He picked up his 4th foul with 6:58 to go and Cal trailing 55-42.  From there the Longhorns outscored Cal 16 to 13 to win 71-55.  In the double overtime game against Montana, he scored 6 of the teams 11 points in the second overtime period to help them finish off the Grizzlies.

Joining Kravish in the front court is Christian Behrens (#14), Junior Forward, listed at 6'8" 226 lbs from Maple Valley, WA he averages 22 minutes, 7.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per contest.  He gets to the Free throw line quite a bit averaging nearly 3 attempts per game (it would be nearly 6 per game in a full 40) and he's hitting them at 58%.

As I said in the podcast, this is a game that could be very difficult for Eastern, but they can win if they shoot well from outside and can establish Venky inside.  If Venky Jois and OG Miljkovic can attack the basket and get Kravish in foul trouble they could gain an advantage inside as the remaining options in the front court do not outsize the Eagles as much.  On the outside Parker Kelly, Tyler Harvey and OG will need to hit on their 3's and force Cal's defenders to spread out and defend the whole perimeter.  This will isolate their big men inside and could force fouls if they can get the ball inside to Venky Jois or on dribble penetration by Drew Brandon.

Please follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook: