Matt Bradley entered his junior season on the Cal basketball team as a 41-percent shooter from 3-point distance, an impressive show of accuracy.
So it’s appropriate that coach Mark Fox is not in the least concerned that Bradley shot just 1-for-9 from beyond the arc in the Bears’ opening games last week at Corvallis, Oregon. Or that Grant Anticevich, who converted 37 percent from deep a year ago, has missed his first six attempts.
“I’m not worried about Matt Bradley at all. He’s a great player. Grant also,” Fox said. “Their time will come. It’s about finding a rhythm again and finding the right shots.”
As the Bears prepare for their home opener Monday against Nicholls State, grad transfers Ryan Betley (6-for-12) and Makale Foreman (4-for-13) are a combined 10-for-25 on 3’s — a sturdy 40 percent.
The rest of the team is 2-for-20 — just 10 percent.
Again, a very small sample size.
Fox, in fact, is seeing a lot he likes in Bradley’s game so far.
After shooting 5-for-16 and scoring 21 points in the opening loss to Oregon State, Bradley was 5-for-11 the next night against Northwest University, an overmatched NAIA program.
“Tonight he was more efficient,” Fox said after the Northwest game. “I thought Matt Bradley really passed the ball well tonight and made people better, and was really good defensively.
“He got two fouls in the first half and played really smart after he got his second. I thought Matt did a really lot of good things. I think the 3-point shooting for Matt and Grant will come around.”
It was the other aspects of Bradley’s performance against Northwest that caught Fox’s eye. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard contributed seven rebounds, three assists, a steal and a blocked shot and took at least one charge in his 22 minutes on the court, along with logging 11 points in a game where the Bears weren’t desperate for his scoring.
Fox saw it as a sign of Bradley’s evolving all-around game.
“Matt still scored in double figures. He played such huge minutes last night. We played a conference road game out of the gate and he played 37 minutes, and he had to come back to play again within 24 hours,” Fox said.
“Until we play our way into game shape it’s probably going to be hard to play great back-to-back. The one thing Matt’s really worked to become is a more complete player.
“Tonight, even though he scored not at the rate we normally see, he did a lot of things to impact the game. That was really pleasing to see.”
With other scorers on the floor now, Bradley will make himself a more difficult player to defend if he can find those players with passes when it’s the best play.
Bradley has increased his rebound numbers each season — from 3.6 as a freshman to 4.9 last year to 5.5 through two games this season.
His career assist totals are modest: 116 or 1.8 per game over his two-plus seasons.
But he is approaching 1,000 career points, just 75 away from becoming the 48th player to reach that plateau.
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo
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