It’s certainly been a long four years for most people, and that includes the members of Cal men’s basketball. 2016 was the last time that the Bears clinched a winning nonconference schedule, but they have a chance to go 5-2 this year as they face Seattle University for their final non-conference matchup.
Hopes are high for Cal after an impressive showing against Cal State Northridge despite losing its top two scorers, Matt Bradley and Grant Anticevich. The blue and gold look to turn its third consecutive home game into its third consecutive win after starting just 2-4.
Against the Matadors, the Bears looked like a complete team — they shot well, especially from beyond the arc, and were consistent on defense. In the past, when Cal takes the lead, it typically gives up big runs that allow its opponents to get back into the game. However, this time, the team held an 18-point lead at the half and only grew that margin in the second period. If the Bears continue to play this consistently, they can easily put away the Redhawks.
Seattle also enters the game on a two-game win streak, including an 89-40 drubbing of Northwest University, who fell to Cal 86-61 earlier in the season. The Redhawks also fell to the Matadors 65-76 on a neutral court a few weeks ago.
Seattle boasts two legitimate scoring threats in guards Riley Grigsby and Darrion Trammell, who both average at least 17 points per game. Trammell, a sophomore transfer in his first season with the Matadors, also hauls in four rebounds and dishes more than five assists per contest.
On the other side of the court, fans may see the much-anticipated backcourt duo of Bradley and Jarred Hyder for the first time. Hyder, a sophomore transfer from Fresno State, was granted eligibility in time to make his debut at Cal against Cal State Northridge, but Bradley did not play because of an ankle injury suffered against the University of San Francisco. Hyder did not start the last game, but he led all bench players with 18 minutes, during which he scored six points and had three assists.
Sophomore Joel Brown also stepped up to fill Bradley’s shoes in the point guard slot, shooting 5-5 against the Matadors to set a career-high record for field goals made. Graduate transfers Ryan Betley and Makale Foreman were the Bears’ top two scorers and consistently hit the net from deep as they seem to have found their rhythm at Cal.
Despite having no fans or band at Haas Pavilion this year, the blue and gold continue its good fortunes at home and dismal performances away from Pete Newell court. The Bears hope to move to 4-1 at home this season after Tuesday’s bout with Seattle but have yet to notch an away win. This game is a must-win for Cal to keep its momentum heading into conference play at Oregon and Oregon State.
Trilok Reddy covers men’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected].