After any loss, it's natural for us fans to search for the cause. Something to blame. Something to point at and say "hey, if we just get better at _____" or "give more minutes to _____", we'll be back on the right track!
Except sometimes your team plays well enough to win, and doesn't. I said the key for the Cougs this weekend would be shooting and avoiding turnovers. They did both pretty well tonight against Cal... winning the turnover battle (in TO%) and staying close to the Bears in effective field goal percentage. They were the team battling back in the second half and making key plays down the stretch. Then again, tonight was also a bad time for our normally decent defense to take the night off. Of course, I couldn't see what happened to the Cougs defensively (e.g. was it more them, or us?), because the game wasn't on TV. Thank you, Tom Hansen. Ultimately, you can't put your finger on any one issue - well, maybe Allen Crabbe going berzerk, but that's all I can think of.
This team has all the tools. They have Klay Thompson. The have a great starting five. They have (just) enough depth to allow them to compete with anyone in the conference. It's difficult to pinpoint anything fundamentally wrong with this team, other than just failing to come through on the road in Pac-10 play. Which is understandable. But tournament teams find ways to win games... non-tournament teams don't.
And that's where the frustration lies. This team may not be who we thought they were. They were killed yet again in free throw rate... out-rebounded on both ends despite Casto's stellar night.
On the other hand... if they win at Stanford they have a very realistic shot at being 4-3 in conference going into the Arizona/UW games. And then we're all forgetting about tonight.
Now more than ever, I cannot put my finger on an answer for this team. It's on them. If they really want to go dancing this March, they have to start winning games like this.
Saturday in Palo Alto, they'll have the opportunity.