For a squad in the midst of a historically bleak season, it’s all about finding the silver linings. The Cal men’s basketball team couldn’t complete the series sweep of Stanford in a bitter 77-73 loss at Haas Pavilion, but for a team preparing for the long-term future, Sunday night generated plenty of excitement.
Freshman Juhwan Harris-Dyson recorded a career-high 13 points and four Bears tallied double figures in scoring, but it wasn’t enough to take down the Cardinal and claim the first series sweep since the 2009-10 season.
“My confidence is just going up every game,” Harris-Dyson said. “My teammates, they are all encouraging. Coach Wyking tells me to just tuck the ball, go to the basket and try to punch on somebody. That coming from him just helps me come out and play the game how I want to play.”
Despite an ugly seven-turnover performance, Stanford freshman Daejon Davis shined once again, totaling 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Davis’ stellar performance in this iteration of the rivalry matchup comes after the freshman put up a meager 3 points on one shot in his first meeting with Cal.
Along with Harris-Dyson, one of the four Bears to touch double digits in points scoring was junior Don Coleman, who has carved out a niche for himself as a sixth man.
In 31 minutes off the bench, Coleman recorded a team-high 17 points along with four rebounds and four assists.
Taking 19 shots and five free throws to get those points has become the standard for Coleman, but those attempts make much more sense when he’s rolling with a second unit that struggles to generate consistent offense.
In six games off the bench, Coleman is averaging 10.8 points points on 32.8 percent shooting. His field goal percentage still leaves a lot to be desired, but it’s a jump from the 25 percent figure he put up in six games as a starter during conference play.
“I’m trying to spark some energy off the bench,” Coleman said. “I know I’ve got to give the team scoring, some defense and some energy, so that’s just what I’m trying to do, to be honest.”
Coleman’s partner in crime in the pursuit of providing a spark was senior Nick Hamilton, the epitome of a player who does the little things that don’t show up in the box score.
The upperclassman duo put pressure on Stanford’s offense when Cal went to the full-court press late in the first half, forcing turnovers on three straight possessions to generate points. On the second turnover, Coleman connected with senior Marcus Lee on an alley-oop plus the foul.
“I thought (Coleman and Hamilton in the first half were) great. That’s pretty much how we’ve wanted to play all year, to be able to speed teams up and make them uncomfortable. When those guys went in the game, it instantly gave us a ton of energy.”
Coleman, Hamilton and company forced the Cardinal to turn the ball over 16 times while limiting their giveaways to nine. This marks the fourth time this season Cal has recorded fewer than 10 turnovers while its opponent has recorded more than 10.
“Like coach said, that’s what we’ve been trying to do from the beginning of the year,” Coleman said. “I think now we are catching on and we’re beginning to love it more and more. We’re getting more in shape every day. We practice hard in practice and it worked out in the game, except we didn’t come up with the win. It was a good team effort because we’re growing.”