Cal Poly wins a pair of Big West games at home

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Updated: February 5, 2018

For the first time since 2015, Cal Poly won a pair of weekend home games in Big West play.*

For a team that was 1-6 in Big West play and had lost six straight games coming into the weekend, the pair of wins were just what was needed. 

Sizzling from 3

Cal Poly was red-hot from three point range this weekend. The Mustangs shot 11-16 on Saturday including 5-5, while making their first eight triples. On Wednesday against UC Riverside, Cal Poly was 11-21 from deep. That’s 22-37 on the weekend. In case you’re wondering, that’s an average of 59.5 percent and yes, that will get the job done. Something even close to 40-45 percent will get the job done for a Cal Poly team that depends on penetration and good three-point looks for its offense to be successful. 

We know Donovan Fields and Victor Joseph are good outside shooters, but for their part, Kuba Niziol shot confidently (7-15 from downtown) and so did Luke Meikle (3-5). 

Listen, a pessimist might say that Cal Poly couldn’t possibly shoot over 50% from deep in a three-games-in-three-days scenario, but they just did it in two straight games and, if you’re attached to the Mustangs, you would probably ask why the hell not?

Clear it out for Don

Cal Poly guard Donovan Fields gets to the basket against a Hawai’i defender on Saturday night. By Owen Main

Donovan Fields continues to prove he can get to the bucket and score against just about anybody. After nailing a go-ahead jumper on Wednesday night against UC Riverside, Fields got to the basket for a late left handed and-one play that helped seal the game. Fields turned, yelled, and flexed to the crowd, a grin spreading across the diminutive guard’s face. 

All smiles

Fields’ smile wasn’t the only display of pearly whites either. Looking at photos from throughout the game, it was clear that the Mustangs were engaged and taking joy in execution. Maybe it’s easier to smile when you’re winning, but the Saturday night Mustangs’ team had their highest score on the Official Fansmanship Body-Language Test of the season, coming in at 94/100.

For what it’s worth, the Chris Eversley-led Mustangs had the all time best Fansmanship Body-Language Test score of 96 when they stormed through the Big West Tournament. Smiling and being joyful isn’t the only measure of the FBLT, but it does account for a significant portion. (In case you’re wondering, the formula is still proprietary). Body language isn’t only a predictive measure or an outcome-based measure. For what it’s worth, both are factors. 

Matching-up

The return of Joe Callero’s matchup 2-3 zone could be a trump card down the stretch for Cal Poly. The calling card of Callero’s teams early-on in his Cal Poly career, the 2-3 zone has been something the Mustangs have moved away from over the past few years. The reasons are probably many. Personnel. Pace of play initiatives and new rules. A shorter shot clock.

But the ability to stymie a team like Hawai’i who struggles down the roster making three-pointers is something Cal Poly could use more and more, especially against other like teams. In the Big West, there are a few teams who would rather not shoot tons of three-pointers. Callero and co. might have something they can use against those squads in the second half of Big West play and into the tournament. 

Don’t think Dedrique Taylor and Dan Monson aren’t pulling out tapes from 2013 and 2014 to break-down some Callero matchup zones of yesteryear.

Deja vú all over again

Cal Poly now sits in a familiar place in the standings — seventh place (3-6 in Big West play). It’s the place the Mustangs have finished in the Big West for each of the past four seasons. The first of those four, the number seven was lucky indeed as Callero’s team went to the NCAA Tournament. Since then, Cal Poly has not fared as well, bowing out to the 2nd seed in each of the past three Big West Tournaments. With the win on Saturday, Cal Poly put themselves a full game up on CSUN and 2 1/2 games ahead of 0-8 (and 9th place) UC Riverside. 

Cracking the top-six may be tougher than getting into 7th place. Cal Poly is still 1 1/2 games behind sixth place Hawai’i (4-4) and two games back of Cal State Fullerton (6-4). Cal Poly will play the Titans in Orange County on Thursday night (ESPN3, 7:00pm) before traveling to Long Beach State on Saturday evening (FSW, 8:00pm). 

A win or two on the road — especially Thursday against Cal State Fullerton — could put the Mustangs in a position to take advantage of three straight home games after that and maybe get into the top-six. A pair of losses makes 6th place a lot harder to fathom, though anything could happen in this year’s edition of the Wild West.

* Cal Poly has had 7 weekends since they’re weekend sweep in 2015 where they’ve hosted two games in a row at home.

Photos by Owen Main.

For more photos click here. If you just want to contribute to the cause, Venmo @Owen-Main or paypal owen@fansmanship.com. 

 

 

 

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