WCC Game 5: @ Pacific

Tip-off: Saturday, 6pm, Spanos Center, Stockton
TV: NBCSports Cal; given recent games, it may be available on regional ROOTSports and Bally channels.
Line: Torvik- Broncos -5, 68% win probability; ESPN- 66% Bronco win probability, no line yet.

10-9 on the season, 3-1 in the WCC. After a rough start, going 2-5 including some loses to bad teams, the Tigers have played much better of late, are 7-2 over their last 9 games with solid wins over Fresno St., San Jose St., and LMU.
One key to their improvement appears to be Oklahoma St. transfer Keylan Boone who didn’t play for them until their 7th game and has started their last 6 and leads them in scoring and rebounding.
Something unique for the Tigers is they regularly play 10 guys double digits minutes and they’ve had 12 different players start games, 10 have started at least 4 games and guard Luke Avdalovic is their only player to start every game.
Top players:

  • 6-8 wing/forward Keylan Boone (12.5pts, 4.7rebs; 39% from 3, leads them in 3’s attempted per game).
  • 6-5 guard Luke Avdalovic (10.4pts and a remarkable 59% from 3 but doesn’t do much else).

Beyond those two, it is hard to predict who will start but other top rotation guys whether they start or not:

  • 6-2 point guard Tyler Beard (10pts, 3assists, 44% from 3).
  • 6-2 guard Jordan Ivy-Curry (9pts, 29% from 3)
  • 6-6 wing Nick Blake (8.8pts, 38% from 3)

6-1 pt guard Mo Odum, 6-4 guard Greg Outlaw, and 6-7 forward Judson Martindale have started their past several games but stats are unimpressive.
Looking at advance metrics, they’re top 40 in the country shooting 3’s at a nearly 39% clip. They’re subpar defensively allowing a high shooting % and are a poor rebounding team at both ends of the floor. The poor rebounding is likely due to a small frontcourt and limited post players and sometimes have a lineup on the floor with no one over 6-7. 6-10 center Sam Freeman is their only true post in their regular rotation but only plays ~12mins/game. While Bediako and Braun usually aren’t our go-to guys, there may be an opportunity for them to have their way in the post and/or offensive glass given Pacific’s limited size.

For the Broncos, they need to defend well against the 3, Pacific’s primary strength. Pacific plays a deep rotation, so their guys should be fresh; we need some solid minutes from our bench to allow our starters to stay fresh and have their legs for the stretch run of the game if it’s close. Hoping to see Stewart bounce back from the rough shooting night vs. GU.

Prediction: Broncos with a comfortable 80-71 win.

This is an important game, Broncos need to win to get to 3-2 and buffer against some challenging games and potential losses over the following 5 games with BYU and SMC next week and GU and USF in 2 weeks. Lose this game and we fall two games back of Pacific and they become a legit contender for 3rd or 4th.


Pacific is hot, but their wins are against LMU, USD, and Pepperdine. They lost by 20 to BYU at home. The LMU loss is an outlier and also only one of two games all season that Torvik ranks above a 75 (out of 100) for overall efficiency. In other words, Pacific isn’t that good of a team, but they are playing somewhat better and more confident of late with the ability to drag teams down to their level.

I have hope that this SCU team has some fire in it. They competed against both SMC and the Zags, losing by a combined 8 points. I expect them to be rested and prepared. Give me 84-75 Santa Clara with Podziemski getting his first 30 pt game since his spectacular season debut. Braun with 16 and 10 on an efficient 7-8 shooting.


Santa Clara 81 - 73 Pacific

This is a big game. On the road against a team we think we should beat but who has started strong in league. A week layoff could be good, or bad, and I hope we are ready for a strong effort by everyone. It would be nice if we could get a lot of players into the game and win handily. As I have said before, we can not take anyone lightly and need to beat the P schools. I do believe from top to bottom this is the best the league has been in a long time. Gonzaga is lucky to be undefeated and could have three losses already if the ball had not bounced their way. Go Broncos!!!


Broncos win this one 89-83

Pacific is interesting to evaluate. They certainly are looking better now than did through the 1st month. The addition of Keylan Boone has been important for them. And as noted, they’re 7-2 in their last 9.

That said, when you look a little closer you see that most of their wins are not resounding. Of those 7 recent wins, the only double digit win is vs. DII Stanislaus St. The other 6 wins are comprised of a 9 pt win over a very bad Lamar team (ranked 356th on Torvik) and the others are by 6pts or less including by 4 over Fresno St., by 2 over USD and by 1 over SJSU. Plus an earlier non-con win by 2 over UC Davis. A whole lot of narrow wins over mostly mediocre to poor teams that could have been losses if the ball bounced a bit different.

We certainly can’t take Pacific for granted but the advance metrics and narrow unimpressive wins just don’t indicate an outstanding team.
Their 3pt shooting ability is the biggest area of risk and concern. We just can’t give up 10+ 3pointers; preferably only 7 or less.
And we need and should kill them on the boards both on offense and defense.

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Current line: Broncos -6.5. O/U: 150.5

Going to have to do it without Podz tonight. Out with a concussion.

Oh no! That is horrible news. I guess we’ll see how good this team really is. Who will step up??

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Yikes. Hopefully we can see a little more offense out of Knapper and smart, consistent play from Akametu. The offense was probably going to run through the front court more than usual this game, so if SCU is going to be down Podz for a match, this is probably it.

Bad bad news, hope he gets better quickly. Best to be careful with head injuries.

Just as much as scoring, who will pick up his rebounding? That’s been an unsung part of his game this season.

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First, hope Podz gets better soon and it doesn’t linger.

No Marshall and Giordan definitely hurts here.
Knapper and/or Akametu are going to have to play 20mins plus.
We’ve heard Ensminger may return mid-Jan, wonder if he’s ready yet.

Now even more important that we pound the glass at each end as the offense may be less effective tonight.

Ensminger is redshirting - building a stockpile for next year…


Spread remains at Broncos -6.5 on ESPN (Caesars)…Vegas doesn’t know about Podz.

Holt is out too, but with an illness.

We can live with Holt out for this game, we have plenty of post depth and Pacific only has one true post.

If Pacific’s small but reasonably athletic frontcourt gives Bediako (or Tilly) trouble defensively, I hope Sendek uses Braun some at the 5 with Tongue at the 4…athletically, matches up better with Pacific’s frount court and can still take advantage Braun’s size advantage when his guarded by a 6-7ish guy.

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If we can just stop having these unforced turnovers 25 feet from the basket then we should be fine.

When we weren’t turning it over, offense was effective.
Hope Justice stays hot in the 2nd half but would still be wise to get some post touches for our post players, big advantage down there.

Parker’s improvement in the post has been fun to watch this year.