Ryan Betley may have played his last home game for Cal in the Bears' 74-63 loss to Oregon on Saturday afternoon, but he made it memorable by breaking out of long his shooting slump.
Cal seniors Makale Foreman and Grant Anticevich already declaring they will return next year, taking advantage of an NCAA ruling that the 2020-21 basketball season will not count against a player's eligibility.
It leaves Betley, a grad transfer from Penn, as the only player on the current Cal roster who may not be back next season. And he is going to take some time before reaching a decision on his college basketball future.
"I just want to take a little time off basketball, maybe play a little golf, just take some time," he said in the video above. "Being 23 years old now and already gone through my five years, I just want to see what makes sense for my next step."
His immediate future includes at least one more game in the Pac-12 tournament, although the Bears, who finished in last place with a 3-17 Pac-12 record, will have 11 days off before playing their first-round conference game on March 10 in Las Vegas.
There is hope that the outside shooting touch that deserted Betley for most of the second half of the season has returned.
He was Cal's top scorer with 13 points against the Ducks, and he made 3-of-9 three-point shots. Those are not extraordinary numbers for a player who was brought to Cal specifically for his ability to make long-range shots, but they are a definite improvement over recent games.
"It's no secret I've been in a slump for the greater portion of the Pac-12 season," he said.
Over the first 15 games, Betley made 38.2 percent of his three-point shots and averaged 10.0 points as a regular member of the starting lineup. In the next 11 games heading into Saturday's contest, he averaged just 5.0 points while making just 20.4 percent of his long-range attempts and was seldom a starter.
His three made shots from beyond the arc on Saturday were the most three-pointers he has made in a game since the Bears' win over Washington on Jan. 9.
So what happened?
"Thinking about it less," Betley said. "It's way more mental than it is form and stuff like that."
Indeed, when a shooter starts analyzing what he is doing, it often results in disaster. So Betley tried to clear his mind of any evaluation and just shoot.
He hopes his late-game scoring Saturday can carry over to the Pac-12 tournament. Eight of his points and two of his three-point shots came in the final four minutes of Saturday's game, when the Bears made a late surge that fell well short.
It crossed his mind that Saturday might have been his final game at Haas Pavilion. And the home court did the Bears no good against the Ducks, who took control of the game midway through the second half, extending a one-point lead with 17:24 lft to a 19-point bulge with 4:31 remaining.
Cal coach Mark Fox said he will give Betley all the time he needs to make a decision about next year, as he explains in this video.
Fox's immediate task is to give his players some rest, then ramp it up again late next week during the long layoff before Cal plays its first game in the Pac-12 tournament. It is not clear which team Cal will oppose in its first-round game. but the best guess is that it will be Oregon, a team Cal has played -- and lost to -- three times this season.
The pandemic has made life hard for all basketball coaches and players, and going 8-19 after finishing 14-18 last season has made the season even harder for Cal.
"It's been a tough year to have a tough year," Fox said.
Cover photo: Coach Mark Fox congratulates Ryan Betley after taking him out of the game with 39 seconds left in what could have been Betley's last game in Haas Pavilion. Photo by Kelley L. Cox, USA TODAY Sports
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