After a promising start, the Bears are in a free-fall right now after losing to Arizona on Saturday night 75-79. This was a game the Bears had completely in control midway through the 2nd half, being up by as much as 7 with as little as 7 minutes left. I was able to watch the 2nd half of the game on TV and was able to see the Bears both at their best and at their mind-numbing worst.
Early in the 2nd half, the Bears were playing a very effective zone defense that had Arizona completely stumped. The Bears were both applying good outside pressure and preventing Arizona from either passing the ball inside or driving into the lane. On the other side of the ball, the Bears were doing a great job of both being patient to find the open shot or inside passing opportunity and to make the most of their transition and early shooting opportunities.
What a difference a timeout or two can make.
Down the stretch, the Bears were somehow simulatiously over pursuing on defense on the perimeter, giving lots of passing/driving opportunities to the inside, while also focusing too much on the inside defense and giving Arizona lots of ridiculously open looks on the perimeter. To Arizona’s credit, they started knocking down a lot of those open outside shots, particularly the 3-pointers. On offense the Bear faired no better, looking desperate and out of control. There were a disgusting number of un-forced turnovers as well as poorly chosen shots that had no hope from the outset, particularly on the inside where Arizona stepped up their defense dramatically. Instead of the Bears kicking the ball out to their open perimeter shooters, they forced some easily blocked inside shots.
The result is that the Bears DESPERATELY need a turn-around victory to halt this free-fall. Losing both games on a home weekend is a disaster for any team’s tournament hopes particularly in a tough conference like the Pac-10. Depending on how one looks at it, having Stanford at home next Saturday is either a golden opportunity to turn things around or a disaster in the making.