Basketball: North Carolina A&T scouting report

Questions for a Monday night matchup:

Can Cal maintain its torrid 3-point shooting?

Not likely. The Bears are converting 59 percent from beyond the arc through three games, leading the nation. They are a good shooting team, but no one shoots this well for too long. Apparently, the new 20-foot, 9-inch line isn’t an issue for this team.

Will the Golden Bears continue to make progress at the defensive end of the floor?

Coach Mike Montgomery isn’t likely to be satisfied with the Bears’ defense any time soon. He’s not down on his club’s defensive effort, but explained, “Good defense takes time. It doesn’t take anything away from offense. You cross the (midcourt) line, you become a sumo wrestler, you become a street fighter. Cross to the other end you become a virtuoso.”

And if North Carolina A&T isn’t likely to be confused with the top-ranked Tar Heels of UNC, can the Aggies at least provide the Bears with a challenge they haven’t seen in their first three games?

The Aggies go 6-7, 6-8 and 6-9 across their frontline — bigger than Cal has seen this season — and therefore provide a matchup that may prompt Montgomery to give 7-foot center Jordan Wilkes more playing time tonight. Wilkes averaged just 16 minutes against USF and Texas-Pan American because they were quicker, smaller teams.

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Football: Big Game leftovers

–One of the things I found interesting after yesterday’s game was Cal’s players expressing satisfaction that they not only got The Axe back, but they prevented Stanford from playing in a bowl game. That seemed to be an added bonus for the Bears, that they weren’t the team the Cardinal reached the six-win plateau against.

“I want those guys to go to a bowl game. Those guys are good, smart kids. But not at our expense,” linebacker Worrell Williams said. “It just can’t happen like htat. I’m sorry they had to play us.”

Quarterback Kevin Riley said: “I know they were looking forward to that and they were waiting for a long time. It feels good to get The Axe back and have them keep on waiting.”

–Good bounce-back game for the offensive line in pass protection, although Riley threw only 11 passes. Still, they allowed Riley to connect with Shane Vereen on his 59-yard TD catch, and allowed Riley the time to roll right, pivot and throw across the field for Cameron Morrah’s scoring grab.

“I thought the offensive line played well today,” coach Jeff Tedford said. “Our offensive line has been catching a lot of flak.”

–A good job by the coaching staff to install that hook-and-ladder play for this game. Riley said the play was installed after thet eam noticed on film that Stanford’s cornerbacks rush to the inside on those inside screeens, and that was apparent after Jahvid Best took Verran Tucker’s lateral and raced untouched up the sideline.

–Tucker’s catch on that play was the only reception by a wide receiver.

–Tedford talked about the Bears’ focus of getting plays in the open field because of Stanford’s physicality up front. “I felt like if we could get our speed in the open field, if we could get our athleticism and speed in the open field, we had a chance to make some plays,” he said. “A couple of those plays worked just like you draw them on the board.”

That game plan had Best licking his chops. He had 19 carries for a career-high 201 yards and added three catches for 35 yards. He scored three touchdowns.

“I feel like when I’m on the perimeter, I can do whatever I want,” Best said. “Anybody on our team — Shane, J-Ross (Jeremy Ross) — we all have the ability, when we get out on the edge, to take it the distance.”


Football: Postgame quick hitters

–Jahvid Best’s career-best 201-yard performance gives him 1,083 yards rushing this season, making it the seventh straight year — in other words, every year Jeff Tedford has been at Cal — that the Bears have had a 1,000-yard rusher.

–For the record, Best is credited with 14 receiving yards — not rushing — on the hook-and-ladder play with Verran Tucker.

–Cal just installed that hook-and-ladder play on Thursday and only practiced it a few times. Quarterback Kevin Riley said it was because they noticed on film that Stanford’s corners really rush to the inside on those inside screens. That’s exactly what happened on the play.

–Bryan Anger’s 76-yard punt was the fourth-longest in school history. His 60.2 average for the day easily set a new Cal record, beating Andrew Larson’s previous best of 55.8 set last year against Oregon State.

–Cameron Morrah’s now has seven TD catches, tying Tom Swoboda’s school record for most scoring catches by a tight end in a season.

–Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh visited the interview/press room after the game to congratulate Tedford on the win. The two coaches couldn’t get to each other immediately after the game because of all the people on the field. Tedford did the exact same thing last year after Stanford won, going to Stanford’s locker room because he couldn’t shake Harbaugh’s hand on the field.


Football: Halftime stats

Total yards: Stanford 243, Cal 184

First downs: Stanford 14,. Cal 8

Rushing: Gerhart 12-61, Kimble 6-22, Best 8-87, Vereen 5-22

Passing: Pritchard 11-14, 141 yards. Riley 4-8, 75 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception

Receiving: Fleener 3-51, Best 2-10, Vereen 1-59, 1 TD.

Tackles: Osaisai 4, Alualu 8, Felder 7.