Basketball: Cal vs. Cal Poly game thread

Jabari Bird said his mandate from the Cal coaching staff is not to shoot more, but to be aggressive.

“Stay in attack mode,” the sophomore guard said after scoring a season-high 18 points in the Bears’ 72-52 win over Cal Poly on Wednesday night in front of an announced crowd of 5,712.

Bird scored just six points in the first half, but led the way with 12 after intermission as the Bears (4-1) pulled away from a Cal Poly team determined to milk the clock and keep Cal out of its transition game.

Bird, the former McDonald’s All-American from Salesian High, finished the game with just 10 shot attempts.

“I always want him to be aggressive,” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. “You have to be sound. Be in attack mode. Make the right decisions. Not let the defense speed you up. Be in control.

“He’s getting better, he’s getting a lot better. It takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight.”

Point guard Tyrone Wallace contributed 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists and Jordan Mathews scored 17 for the Bears, who might still have been out of sorts a bit after flying back from New   York City last weekend, Martin said.

“I just felt like even in practice guys were a step slow. I felt it myself,” said Martin, whose team beat then No. 23 Syracuse before losing to No. 7 Texas at Madison Square Garden. “It’s good to get this one out of the way.”

The Mustangs (2-2), who blitzed through the Big West tournament to earn an unexpected NCAA tournament bid last season,  stayed close for 30 minutes by maintaining a slow offensive tempo and working to keep Cal out of transition.

“We knew those guys would compete,” Martin said. “They force you to make plays, they double the post. They got their defense back so we couldn’t get easy transition baskets.”

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Football: Luke Rubenzer happy with his opportunities as Cal’s change-of-pace QB, eager to improve

No one was more surprised by how much Luke Rubenzer played in the Big Game than Luke Rubenzer.

“Yeah, a little bit,” the Bears’ freshman backup quarterback said. “I knew I was going to get in with some of those big sets, but I didn’t know how often we were going to use them.”

Rubenzer carried the ball a career-high 12 times for 60 yards, providing the Bears a change of pace on offense, and was 5 for 9 passing for 49 yards, but with two interceptions.

“Running the ball I felt like I took advantage of my opportunities,” Rubenzer said. “Obviously there’s a little work that has to be done with some of the pass plays. It was fun. It was good to get out there.”

Less fun was having two touchdown runs erased by the video replay crew. Two days later, the Pac-12 office acknowledged that one of those two runs – along with Jared Goff’s subsequent 16-yard TD pass to Kenny Lawler – shouldn’t have been overturned.

“I was a little frustrated. It’s just something out of my control,” Rubenzer said. “I knew I was definitely in on the second one. They came out and said that, too.”

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Football: Cal’s possible bowl destination — Tempe?

Courtesy of Jon Wilner, my BANG colleague, click here for his projections on where Pac-12 football teams will go bowling.

He envisions Cal potentially going to the Cactus Bowl, Jan. 2 in Tempe:

Record: 5-6/3-6
Schedule: vs. Brigham Young
Projected bowl: Cactus
Comment: A victory over BYU makes the Bears eligible. They’re a relatively hot commodity after a season that exceeded expectations. Because of the one-game difference in league record with Stanford, the Bears can leapfrog the Cardinal into the Cactus.

Of course, all of it hinges on the Bears winning Saturday.


Basketball: Freshman Chauca cleared as of Dec. 1

Cal got word from the NCAA on Tuesday that freshman guard Brandon Chauca has received eligibility certification and is cleared to play in games beginning Dec. 1. He is expected to play in his first game Dec. 3 against Montana.

Chauca has missed the first four games and will sit out both Wednesday’s home game against Cal Poly and Sunday’s game at Fresno State. He received his clearance following a penalty of sitting out 20 percent of the schedule.

Cal did not specify the reason certification took so long for Chauca, who attended four during schools during his high school years.

Here is coach Cuonzo Martin’s statement:

“Brandon Chauca has been practicing with the team and will be eligible to participate officially in game activity as of December 1, 2014. We have worked with the NCAA regarding an eligibility certification issue that has since been resolved. We look forward to having Brandon able to compete with us as we move through the season.”

Martin said he intends to play Chauca, not redshirt the 5-foot-9 native of Alexandria, Virginia.


Football: Michael Lowe discusses Big Game ejection

Caught up with Michael Lowe after practice Tuesday and the senior safety expressed disappointment about being ejected from Saturday’s Big Game for a targeting penalty on the first snap of the game, but said he had no real gripe with the officials.

What do you think happened on the play?

“It was just unfortunate. I was just going out there trying to give effort, like I do every week, trying to make a play on the ball. The way I hit the guy it was ruled targeting. There’s not too much I can do about it. The refs made the call.

“Every Saturday, something happens like that. A guy going down, another guy coming in trying to make a play. The helmets hit. It wasn’t anything that was intentional. It’s the game of football.”

What did you see later on a replay?

“I did it. I thought I was going for the ball, reacting to the quarterback throwing the ball to my guy. But when I got up and saw the flag, I knew the ref saw something else.”

“I can see both sides. Protecting other players, I can understand why they made the call. I’m accountable for what happened.”

On missing the Big Game as a senior, but getting another shot Saturday against BYU:

“It was pretty tough. I was a little disappointed in the whole situation and myself for allowing that to happen.

“I wanted to play in the Big Game, but being here for my last home game is a big game in itself. I look at it as me having a fresh body and picking up a bye weekend and coming out here with the same energy I had last week.”


Football notebook: Dykes refrains from ripping Pac-12 video replay crew after Big Game foulups

Cal coach Sonny Dykes refrained from an “I told you so” reaction to the Pac-12 Conference confirming its video replay crew was wrong to overturn two of three third-quarter touchdowns in Saturday’s Big Game loss to Stanford.

No matter what the conference determined, Dykes suggested, it wasn’t going to fix the mistake.

“They can at least give me the feeling and our fans . . . and our alumni . . . and our administration the feeling that they want to get it right,” he said. “So I applaud them for taking action.”

Cal trailed 31-7 when it apparently scored three times in a span of four plays, only to have all three overturned by video reviews. The Pac-12 office determined Monday that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to wipe out the latter two – a 1-yard run by quarterback Luke Rubenzer and a 16-yard pass from Jared Goff to Kenny Lawler.

“Again, the standard in replay has to be indisputable video evidence,” Dykes said. “If it starts and ends there, I think the game becomes a lot easier to officiate from a replay perspective.”

Goff said the team can’t pin the 38-17 loss on the replay crew.

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Basketball: Bears back home to face Cal Poly

Back after a split of two games in New York’s Madison Square Garden, the Golden Bears (3-1) take on Cal Poly (2-1) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Haas Pavilion. The game will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks.

Cal knocked off then-23rd-ranked Syracuse 73-59 before absorbing a 71-55 loss to a Texas team that climbed to No. 7 in this week’s AP Top-25.

“I thought it was a good trip,” coach Cuonzo Martin said. “We would have liked to win two games, but the reality is we played solid basketball.”

Junior point guard Tyrone Wallace, who averaged 13 points and 5 assists in the 2K Classic games, said the experience will pay dividends.

“I think it definitely does give us confidence to know that when we’re playing well, we can play with any team,” Wallace said.

Sophomore guard Jordan Mathews stopped short of suggesting the Bears got validation from their win over Syracuse, which had beaten Cal the previous two seasons.

“I’m always confident in my team. I thought this was a step towards us being really good,” Mathews said. He said the Bears learned “how good we can be and the level of intensity you have to play with every night.”

Cal Poly was the Cinderella story of the 2014 NCAA tournament. The Mustangs finished the regular season at 10-19, then reeled off three straight wins in the Big West tournament to claim the league’s automatic bid.

They beat Texas Southern in a “First Four” game at Dayton, Ohio, then were vanquished by top seed Wichita State, 64-37. Two starters return from that team, but nine players who totaled 22 points against the Shockers will be in uniform Wednesday night.


Football: Pac-12 says instant replay crew erred on two of three Cal touchdowns reversed in Big Game

The Pac-12 Conference said its instant replay crew made errors on two of three Cal touchdowns that were overturned during Saturday’s Big Game against Stanford, commissioner Larry Scott announced Monday.

The Bears trailed 31-7 late in the third quarter when they apparently scored three touchdowns in a span of four plays. All three were overturned after video reviews.

“Through the Conference’s officiating and game management review process, it was determined that there was not enough evidence through video replay for the instant replay crew to overturn the second and third touchdown calls made by the officials on the field,” the Pac-12 said in a news release, noting that to reverse an on-field ruling, the replay official must be convinced beyond all doubt by indisputable video evidence.

The touchdowns that were overturned were Luke Rubenzer’s 1-yard quarterback sneak and Jared Goff’s 16-yard pass to Kenny Lawler. Cal settled for a field goal after the third TD was erased, and went on to lose 38-17.

Cal coach Sonny Dykes, asked about the calls immediately after the game, said, “I think it’s shameful myself.”

Dykes said Sunday he hadn’t changed his mind about the decision after watching tape of the game, but declined to comment on whether he’d filed a complaint with the Pac-12 office.

The Pac-12 said the replay crew would be held accountable through the conference’s disciplinary process.


Football: BYU game has added meaning for Wilfley

Growing up in Sacramento, Harrison Wilfley cheered for BYU and dreamed of playing football at the school both his parents attended.

But after Wilfley returned from a two-year Mormon mission to Uruguay, it was Cal that reached out first to the defensive end, and he has no regrets about taking the road less traveled by LDS students.

“It’s been a learning experience and I wouldn’t change it for anything,” Wilfley said of his time in Berkeley. “I got to try something different (from) what I call the cookie-cutter route that most of the LDS guys do when they come back form their mission.”

Now, the experience comes full circle, as Wilfley and the Bears take on BYU in their regular-season finale Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

“I grew up a BYU fan, so it’s pretty cool,” Wilfley said of facing the Cougars. “I’m really excited.”

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Football: Dykes has no change of heart over officials’ calls, but encouraged by Bears’ response to Big Game loss

So what did Cal coach Sonny Dykes think 24 hours later about several officials’ calls that impacted Saturday’s Big Game against Stanford?

“Same thing I thought yesterday,” he said Sunday night.

But Dykes declined to comment on whether he submitted a report to the Pac-12 office on three third-quarter touchdowns overturned by official video replay or the targeting penalty that got safety Michael Lowe ejected after the game’s first play from scrimmage.

The league has asked that coaches use discretion on that issue rather than sharing their complaints publicly.

Cal (5-6, 3-6 Pac-12) returned to practice Sunday afternoon, beginning preparation for Saturday’s regular-season finale at home against BYU.

A victory over the Cougars (7-4) and Cal will be bowl eligible.

A loss and the Bears’ season is over.

Dykes said the team responded well a day after their 38-17 loss.

“I was a little bit concerned, quite frankly, because our guys played hard Saturday, invested a lot, prepared hard. We expected to play better.

“But we just walked of the practice field and I was pleased by how we practiced. I didn’t see any letdown or change in their mentality. That was encouraging.

“Hopefully, we’ll continue that and prepare at a high level for BYU.”

Defensive end Harrison Wilfley said that after the Stanford game Dykes said the “B” word.

“It was the tirst time he talked about the bowl game, and he said it would be the last time he talked about it as well,” Wilfley said. “Amongst ourselves, we’re well aware of what we have to do to reach a bowl.”