The Cal Men's Basketball team has two exhibitions within the next week, both of which will be played in Berkeley at Haas Pavilion. On Halloween night, CSU-East Bay will come to Berkeley and then on November 6, it will be CSU-San Marcos.
What is of importance in these two games is the fact that it will give Cal head coach Cuonzo Martin a chance to experiment with different lineups and start to get a feel for his team. What I will try to do is give you a sense of what to look for in both of these games.
The first thing that Cal fans should expect to see is a lot of different lineups. If you have been following my coverage of the Cal Men's Basketball team, you know Cuonzo Martin can use a lot of different lineups. What better place to try stuff out than in exhibition games that don't count in the win-loss column? One such experiment could be Jabari Bird used as a power forward and another such experiment could be Dwight Tarwater as a power forward, which according to David Kravish is also a possibility.
If there is an area of experimentation that Cal fans should look for, it's at the power forward position. With Kameron Rooks red shirting the season due to his torn ACL, Cal will likely go small a lot of the time, but it isn't entirely clear what type of lineups we will see as a result.
The good news is that there are some options for Cuonzo Martin to go with at that position in terms of going small. Bird and Tarwater have already been mentioned, but Roger Moute a Bidias is another guy who likely gets some time as a stretch-four.
In addition to various guys taking a stab at the power forward position, Cal fans should also be looking at how freshmen Brandon Chauca and Kingsley Okoroh do. Chauca is a 5'9 point guard and Okoroh is a 7'1 center, so it certainly won't be hard to tell them apart! Both guys could play really important roles on this team. Especially Okoroh since Cal is really struggling in the size department without Kameron Rooks.
If Okoroh is able to play quality minutes right out of the shoot, there won't be as much pressure on Cuonzo Martin to use a lot of small lineups, which I think would overall be a good thing. Small ball works in stretches, but if it's used all the time it's really hard to not get absolutely killed on the boards. Even when you have a quality big man like David Kravish.
Overall, these first two games will be really interesting to watch. Obviously it's our first look into the Cuonzo Martin era, but more importantly, it will be our first look into what kind of lineups we should see and what kind of basketball Cal will be playing. I can't wait!
---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord