UCLA to host Cal: Does Stover have a hunch?

Anthony Stover is no fortune teller, but every now and then he gets a hunch.

“I’m not saying I predict the future, but my mom always called me lucky,” said the 6-foot-10 UCLA center.

The last time the Bruins played Cal, he got a hunch. Something didn’t feel right.

“I actually made a comment to Josh (Smith) before the game. I was like ‘I’m not feeling this. Our team doesn’t feel here today,'” said Stover.

He couldn’t quite get a handle on it. All he knew was something was wrong with his teammates.

“Right before the game I just felt something a little bit off. I couldn’t really call it out but I know my teammates and I felt something that wasn’t normal,” said Stover. “I don’t know if I saw anything in particular but I could feel my teammates. I know these guys. I spend every single day with them. If their attitudes aren’t there or if they’re not just there mentally, in their own worlds, whatever they may be doing, I just felt a little off that game.”

The Bruins went on to lose to the Golden Bears, 85-69, on New Year’s Eve.

UCLA head coach Ben Howland dismissed the notion, saying he didn’t have a feeling anything was “off” heading into the Cal game.

“I don’t know what he was talking about,” said Howland of Stover’s hunch. “I’m embarrassed for him if he knew we weren’t ready in his mind and didn’t do anything about it.”

There have been times when Stover has done something about it.

“I can nudge Josh (Smith) and be like ‘I think you’re going to have a good game today or let Zeek (Jones) know ‘go ahead and shoot that jumper’ because I think it’s going to fall today,” said Stover.

By his calculations, he’s been right those times.

The Bruins (14-10, 7-5 Pac-12) can only hope they’ve calculated how to overcome the Golden Bears (19-6, 9-3 Pac-12) when they host them on Saturday at 1 p.m. on Prime Ticket.

Cal will enter the Sports Arena tied for first place in the conference.

The last time the Bruins hosted a team tied for first place, they demolished Colorado 77-60.

Cal isn’t Colorado. The Golden Bears are 3-2 away from home and one of only four teams to have a plus-.500 record in road conference games. They’re a favorite of many to win the conference.  They’re also a team Howland believes can make some noise in March.  
“They’re really good.  They’re a very, very good team.  Cal is a team that can definitely go into the NCAA Tournament this year and definitely make a nice run,” said Howland.  
While Stover says the team wasn’t ready to play in the last meeting.  He has no doubt the Bruins will be ready on Saturday.  
“I think on Saturday when we get the chance to play them again we’re going to come with what we know how to do,” said Stover. “I think we’re really looking forward to playing this team and showing what we can do and what we didn’t show in our last game.”

That is, unless he gets another pregame hunch.