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Archive for November, 2008

Football: The Bears gather

Cal got back together Sunday night after the Thanksgiving break, knowing a lot more about their postseason status. After Oregon’s rout of Oregon State last night, it seems to be almost a sure thing that the Bears are headed to the Emerald Bowl at AT&T Park on Dec. 27.

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Posted on Sunday, November 30th, 2008
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Basketball: Revisiting Bears’ first defeat

Here’s my story from the Sunday paper on Cal’s 80-77 loss to Florida State in the championship game of the Global Sports Classic. The Bears return to action Wednesday night at Haas Pavilion against a 4-0 DePaul club.

Posted on Sunday, November 30th, 2008
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Basketball: Cal-Florida St. game string

FINAL SCORE: Florida State 80, Cal 77. Sorry to be gone there for a while – newspaper deadlines aren’t terribly forgiving. The Seminoles (7-0) did hold on, but this one got wild and crazy at the finish. The Bears (5-1), down 70-57 entering the final 2 minutes, went small, spread the floor and scored 20 points in the last 1:39. They got within two points with 8 seconds left, but could not get over the hump. Jerome Randle, who shot just 4-for-12 against the long and tall Seminoles, scored 15 points in the final 1:39 — 12 of them from the free-throw line — and finished with 26 to equal his career high. Patrick Christopher scored 17 and Theo Robertson 16 for the Bears, who shot just 39 percent and were 6-for-19 from 3-point range. They entered the game as the nation’s top 3-point shooting team at nearly 61 percent.

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1:21 2nd H: This one belongs to the Seminoles. They lead 70-61 and will hand Mike Montgomery his first defeat after five victories.

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11:32 2nd H: FSU seems to have withstood Cal’s push. The Bears couldn’t get closer than nine points, and now the Seminoles’ lead is back to 51-39. Too often, FSU is getting shots it wants. Cal threw a zone at the Seminoles for one possession, and Luke Loucks hit a 3-pointer. Next time down, Cal trapped, and FSU beat it for a dunk by Ryan Reid. The Bears looked tired. And they’re beginning to run out of time.

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15:01 2nd H: FSU’s lead stretched to 37-23 when Toney Douglas swooped through the lane for a layup with 18:15 left. But Cal is showing some life, outscoring the Seminoles 10-4 over the past 3 minutes to cut the margin to 41-33. Included were the Bears’ first two 3-pointers of the game, by Theo Robertson and Jerome Randle. A breakaway dunk by Patrick Christopher off an FSU turnover prompted a timeout by the Seminoles.

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HALFTIME: Florida State scored the final eight points of the half to lead 32-23. The Bears failed to score on their final eight possessions of the period. FSU’s size is clearly affecting the Bears, who aren’t getting the same looks on offense they typically do. The nation’s most efficient 3-point shooting team is 0-for-5 from beyond the arc. And the Bears are converting just 38.5 percent overall.  FSU improved its shooting to 43.5 percent and is outscoring Cal 9-3 at the foul line. Rebounds are virtually even (17-16 FSU), but Cal has as many turnovers (9-9) and that figured to be an advantage. Toney Douglas has 10 points for the Seminoles, the only player on either team in double digits.

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1:35 1st H: Sensing things might be slipped away, down 31-23 after a 3-pointer by Douglas, Montgomery called a 30-second timeout. Randle is on the bench with his second foul. Nikola Knezevic is in — Cal’s 11th different player in the half.

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3:23 1st H: FSU leads 24-23 after a drive and charge by Jordan Wilkes. The Seminoles took their first lead since 4-2 when Toney Douglas made a 3-pointer for a 19-17 advantage with 6:22 left. Cal freshman D.J. Seeley tied the score again by making two FTs. Montgomery promised he would play more players early, and he’s doing that. Ten different Bears have seen action in the first half. Rebounds are even at 12. Turnovers even at 7.

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7:15 1st H: Jerome Randle returned with 9:39 left and finally scored his first points, converting an acrobatic drive through FSU’s big men off a feed from Omondi Amoke. Cal leads 17-13. The Bears, who entered the game shooting an NCAA-best 61 percent from 3-point range, are 0-for-4. But the Seminoles are shooting just 29 percent from the field and have six turnovers. Cal leads 12-11 in rebounding, and still has surrendered just two offensive boards to the taller Seminoles.

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11:38 1st H: The Bears got the lead to 12-6 but FSU has scored the past five points, including a 3-pointer by Uche Echefu that made it 12-11 with 11:51 left. Cal is shooting 50 percent, the Seminoles just 33 percent. Rebounds are even. Mike Montgomery replaced PG Jerome Randle with freshman Jorge Gutierrez at 12:41, no doubt hoping to keep him a bit fresher after 38 minutes on the floor Friday night.

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14:53 1st H: Cal’s lead is up to 10-4 and FSU coach Leonard Hamilton has just called timeout. Patrick Christropher has two baskets for the Bears, who have not allowed the Seminoles a second shot on any of their first nine possessions.

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15:51 1st H: Cal leads 6-4 at the first timeout. FSU is huge, but the Bears’ quickness has bothered them some early, the Seminoles coughing up three turnovers on their first eight possessions.

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LINEUPS: Cal is starting the same five players for the sixth straight game — Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher, Theo Robertson, Jamal Boykin and Jordan Wilkes.

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RECORDS: Cal 5-0, Florida State 6-0.

Posted on Saturday, November 29th, 2008
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Football: Thanksgiving weekend

Just a reminder of the importance of tonight’s Oregon-Oregon State game. If OSU wins and Cal beats Washington next Saturday, the Bears likely are headed to the Holiday Bowl. If Oregon wins, Cal likely ends up in the Emerald Bowl, but the Sun Bowl also would be a possibility. The OSU-Oregon game starts at 4 p.m.

The Bears have been off since Wednesday morning. They will reconvene tomorrow night. It will be more than just their usual conditioning Sunday night practice because there is no game this weekend.

Posted on Saturday, November 29th, 2008
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Basketball: Florida State scouting report

Patrick Christopher resisted the urge to feel too good about Friday night’s 73-55 win over Nevada-Las Vegas at the Thomas and Mack Center.

“This is a big win, but we’ve got to stay humble. We haven’t done anything yet,” the junior guard said. “Preseason last year we might have been in the same shoes.”

He’s right, of course. The Bears, now 5-0 this season, started last year 6-0, then wound up just 17-16.

“That’s a great win against a great team. I’m not going to look past that at all,” Christopher said after handing UNLV just its fourth defeat in its past 46 home games. “But we still aren’t playing our best basketball. We’ve got a long way to go.”

The next test is tonight in the championship game of the Global Sports Classic, and it will be a substantial challenge.

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Posted on Saturday, November 29th, 2008
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Basketball: Morning reading after big win

Here’s my story on the Bears’ win at UNLV.

Also, here are Matt Youmans’ game story from the Las Vegas Review Journal and columnist Ed Graney’s take on the contest. And here is Rob Miech’s gamer in the Las Vegas Sun along with a sidebar on Cal’s defense from Ryan Greene.

Posted on Saturday, November 29th, 2008
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Basketball: Cal-UNLV game string

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FINAL: Cal wins 73-55 for its first victory over UNLV in four tries. Cal plays Saturday night against either Cincinnati or Florida State in the finals of the Global Sports Classic at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The Bears (5-0) had five players in double digits, led by Jerome Randle with 18 points to go with eight assists and six rebounds. Patrick Christopher played a superb all-around game, helping to lock down UNLV star Wink Adams while also contributing 12 points.  

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2:28 2nd H: Things are looking up for the Bears. Yes, Boykin made the FT to compete the 3-point play and a put-back by freshman Omondi Amoke and a drive by Theo Robertson have the Bears ahead 65-50. UNLV called timeout.

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3:57 2nd H: The Bears are holding on, ahead 59-48, but it’s getting sense at the Thomas and Mack. The 54-34 lead with 13:34 left shrunk to 57-48, as Cal went nearly 9 1/2 minutes with just one field goal. But Boykin converted a pass from Randle for a layup and is going to the line with a chance to push the lead back to 12 points.   

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8:59 2nd H: The Rebels continue to put the heat on. They got within 54-41 before freshman Jorge Gutierrez ended a 4 1/2-minute Cal scoring drought with a hard drive to the basket, making it 56-41.

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11:52 2nd H: It’s not over yet.  The Cal lead reached 20 points when Theo Robertson scored a layup off a nice feed from Patrick Christopher for a 54-34 margin with 13:36 left. But UNLV has scored six straight, cutting the gap to 54-40 and prompting a Cal timeout. Turnovers fed the last two Rebels’ baskets.  It’s getting loud in here, for almost the first time all night.

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15:06 2nd H: UNLV scored the first four points of the second half, but Cal has survived the rush and now leads 48-32. Randle finally missed from 3-point range, then hit one, and fed an alley-oop pass to Patrick Christopher for a dunk that pushed the margin to 16 points. The Rebels are shooting 25 percent.

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  HALFTIME: Cal leads 39-26 after its best half of the young season. The Bears are shooting 55.6 percent from the field — including 6-for-7 from beyond the 3-point arc — and have limited the unbeaten Runnin’ Rebels to 25.8 percent. Cal has a 22-15 rebounding edge and is outscoring UNLV 16-8 in the paint. Randle has 13 points and six assists and the Bears got lifts off the bench from freshman guard Jorge Gutierrez (a season-high seven points) and redshirt freshman center Max Zhang (2 blocks). Remarkably, the Bears are converting 62 percent from 3-point range through 5 1/2 games. UNLV star senior guard Wink Adams, the team’s scoring lead the past two seasons has two free throws and is 0-for-5 from the field.

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3:59 1st H: Cal’s lead is 35-21. The Bears survived 3 minutes without Randle on the floor, the teams going 2-2 during his absence. Randle returned and buried a long 3-pointer for the 14-point lead. He now has 11 points and five assists and is 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. He is 15-for-20 from 3-point distance — 75 percent! — for the season. Cal is outrebounding UNLC 18-12 and is shooting 60.9 percent from the field 

11:46 1st H: Cal’s lead up to 20-9. The Bears are shooting 4-for-4 from 3-point range and the Rebels have four turnovers. Max Zhang is playing center for Cal after Jordan Wilkes picked up his second foul with 13:54. UNLV still struggling to shoot the ball: 3-for-11 from the field. Randle has eight points and four assists and is 14-for-19 from 3-point range for the season.

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14:54 1st H: Cal missed its first five shots from the field, but leads 10-4 at the first timeout. Jerome Randle has five points and two assists, and Jamal Boykin has a 3-pointer. Randle is being guarded by 6-foot-6 Rene Rougeau, and Patrick Christopher is assigned to chase UNLV point guard and top scorer Wink Adams. The Runnin’ Rebels are shooting 2-for-9.

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 PRE-GAME: Annoying, excessive fireworks during player intros.

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LINEUPS: Cal is starting its usual five — Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher, Theo Robertson, Jamal Boykin and Jordan Wilkes.

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RECORDS: Cal is 4-0, UNLV 5-0/

Posted on Friday, November 28th, 2008
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Basketball: UNLV scouting report

The Golden Bears’ first road game of the season will match them against the best team they’ve seen to date.

UNLV, which has played in the NCAA tournament the past two seasons and posted a combined record of 57-15 over that span, is off to a 5-0 start. Tipoff is 5 p.m. Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center.

“They’re pretty good,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said of Lon Kruger’s Runnin’ Rebels. “A lot of pick-and-roll stuff, a lot of pro concepts, where he tries to figure out who’s going to help on the pick-and-roll and he kicks to a shooter.”

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Posted on Friday, November 28th, 2008
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Basketball: Monty says Kamp is frustrated

Sophomore forward Harper Kamp is better than this. He knows it, and there isn’t much he can do about it right now.

“He’s frustrated,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “He can’t make free throws. He doesn’t feel (the game).”

Kamp, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in August, has played in each of Cal’s first four games, but still is hardly practicing. When workouts began last month, Kamp practiced several days in a row, then developed soreness in the knee.

So the Bears are playing it safe with him in practice right now.

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Posted on Thursday, November 27th, 2008
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Basketball: Revisiting Cal’s first season

Here’s my college basketball column from today, where we take a look back at the Bears’ first season of 1907-08 and find there was more to it than a single game against Nevada.

Posted on Wednesday, November 26th, 2008
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