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Cal football: Recruiting rankings

Despite the fact that the Bears missed out on top recruits such as Devon Kennard, Adam Hall and Randall Carroll, their class is still ranked among the top 30 by mutliple sources. Here’s a rundown:

ESPN.com: 25th

Scout.com: 28th

Rivals.com: 29th

Of course, the ranking could take a hit if Hawaii offensive lineman Stan Hasiak goes back to UCLA, as some are speculating. Hasiak was an original UCLA commit but switched to the Bears. Apparently, Hasiak now is considering switching back yet again. His high school coach, Darren Hernandez, told scout.com that it’s between the two schools. We may not know Hasiak’s final answer until Signing Day.

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Basketball: USC game string

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FINAL: Well, you probably already know this, but the Trojans won 72-63, spoiling a career night by Jordan Wilkes, who had 16 points and nine rebounds. Jamal Boykin added 18 points and 10 rebounds, a terrific night by Cal’s two big men. But the perimeter trio of Randle, Christopher and Robertson — who average 46 points — totaled just 20. Randle had 12 on 4-for-13 shooting, while the two wings each had season-low totals of four. Cal shot 2-for-16 from 3-point range — well off its NCAA-leading 47.6 percent mark. Cal (16-6, 5-4) dropped into a tie for fourth place at the halfway point of of the Pac-10 schedule after its fourth loss in five games.  The Trojans (15-6, 6-3) have won five or six and took over third place. Freshman DeMar DeRozan led USC wth 19 points.

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7:42 2nd H: USC leads 52-50 after baskets by DeRozan and Lewis. Wilkes is taking a rest with a career-high 16 points. He and Boykin have scored 15 of Cal’s 22 second-half points

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13:07 2nd H: Cal leads 44-39 after a fastbreak layup by Randle off a USC turnover. Robertson finally got on the board by converting a drive to the basket with 13:43 left. (Note: At some point soon, I may leave you for a while as deadline approaches for my print-edition story. My apologies in advance).

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15:50 2nd H: Game is even at 37-all. The Bears are getting great play from their frontcourt, as Boykin has 12 points and Wilkes 10 on 5-for-6 shooting. Cal’s perimeter trio has zero points so far this half, just nine for the game.

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HALFTIME: USC leads 31-28 after a jumper off the break by Daniel Hackett as the buzzer sounded. The lead changed hands four times in the final 3:05. Cal shot 40.7 percent with eight turnovers. USC converted 46.4 percent and had 11 giveaways. Bigger news is that Randle, Kamp and Gutierrez all have two fouls. DeRozan is the only player on either team in double digits with 10 points. Boykin has seven points, five rebounds and three assists for Cal. Jordan Wilkes has six points and five rebounds.

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2:25 1st H: Bears were down 22-15 before a 9-0 run gave them a 24-22 lead. It’s 24-all now with D.J. Seeley going to the FT line for two. Christopher scored his first points of the game with a jumper at 5:46, then Randle got on the board with a pair of FTs at 4:41. Randle then hit a 3-pointer over 5-11 Donte Smith; previously Randle had no success getting open for his shot against the 6-5 Daniel Hackett.

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7:31 1st H: Trojans lead 18-15.  USC’s Marcus Johnson  (not DeMar DeRozan) just “posterized” Jorge Gutierrez with a fastbreak dunk that, if you have not seen, you will. Over and over again. Johnson was so far off the ground that his knees were at Gutierrez’s chin. Gutierrez picked up his second foul on the play, and Harper Kamp just got his second, as well. The Bears’ “big three” still getting shut out.

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11:18 1st H: Still even at 10-10. Jamal Boykin has scored six points on three jump shots and has assisted on Cal’s other two baskets. Randle, Chrstopher and Robertson — the Bears’ top three scorers — have combined for zero points so far. Cal is shooting 5-for-13, USC 4-for-11.

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15:29 1st H: Game is even at 4-all at the first official timeout. Trojans are playing a straight man-to-man defense so far. Cal is shooting 2-for-6, USC 1-for-4 with two turnovers.

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LINEUPS: The Bears will go with the same five you all know — Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher, Theo Robertson, Jamal Boykin and Jordan Wilkes. USC’s starters are Daniel Hackett, Dwight Lewis, DeMar DeRozan, Leonard Washington and Taj Gibson.

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RECORDS: Cal is 16-5, 5-3 in Pac-10; USC is 14-6, 5-3.

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Basketball: USC scouting report

 The final game in Round 1 of the Pac-10 Conference schedule looms tonight for Cal (16-5, 5-3), and the challenge is another new one.

USC (14-6, 5-3) shares third place with Cal and Arizona State, each one game back of co-leaders UCLA and Washington. The Trojans have won four of their past five games, compared to Cal, which has dropped three of four.

The Trojans are distinct from every other team in the conference because they employ what are typically regarded as gimmick defenses as a staple. They’ll use a triangle-and-two alignment, mixed in with a box-and-one.

“He’s kind of found something he likes and I think it helps him control tempo,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said of his USC counterpart, Tim Floyd. “They have gone to it as a fair portion of what they’re doing.”

Continue Reading

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Basketball: A first look at Bak Bak

I got the chance to watch Cal signee and Sudanese native Bak Bak play tonight. His Village Christian HS team from Sun Valley north of L.A. beat Calvary Chapel-Downey 46-32.

Bak scored just six points, partly because he had a poor shooting night (2-for-9), but partly because his team ran almost nothing designed to get the ball to a 6-foot-10 post player. He had 11 rebounds, blocked five shots, had two assists and two steals.

His coach told me he’s averaging about 19 points, 11 rebounds and 3 1/2 blocked shots.

Bak runs the floor very well, seems to have good hands as a rebounder and looks like a great teammate. Very upbeat, never seemed frustrated when his teammates fired away from beyond the 3-point line without giving him a look.

He made one 3-pointer of his own, plus a nice drive to the basket where he faked his defender and made a quick and decisive move.

But he’s got a long ways to go to become a factor on the Pac-10 level. I talked to him Friday afternoon and he confirmed he never lifted a weight until the past year. He weighs about 210 with very thin arms. He said he expects to grow about one more inch.

A very pleasant kid, who speaks seven languages and has overcome a lot to get to this point. I’ll write more about him next week in my regular college basketball column.

Summary: He’ll help, but don’t expect him to reinvent the wheel.

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Basketball: Morning after UCLA loss

Here’s my story from Friday morning’s editions on Cal’s 81-66 loss to UCLA.

UCLA 81, Cal 66

  HEADLINER: UCLA’s defense, which got 16 steals and forced a season-high 21 turnovers from Cal. The Bears scored just 30 points in the first 32 minutes of the game.  

  MOMENT THAT MATTERED: The Bears trailed just 31-28 in the opening two minutes of the second half when UCLA began a 20-2 run that ended Cal’s hopes for an upset.

   MAGIC NUMBER: 16 _ First-half turnovers by the Bears, who had just eight field goals in the opening period. 
   NEXT UP: The Bears (16-5, 5-3) play Saturday night against USC (13-6, 5-3) at the Galen Center, where the Trojans are 11-1 this season. USC beat Stanford 70-69 on Thursday. Game time Saturday is 8:30 p.m.

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Basketball: UCLA game string

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FINAL: Bruins win 81-66. Cal lost for the third time in four games and missed a chance to move into a tie for first place in the Pac-10. The Bears are 16-5, 5-3. Theo Robertson scored 19 points for the Bears — all in the second half.

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11:57 2nd H: UCLA’s lead is now 51-30. The Bruins are in the midst of a 13-0 run that’s part of a larger 20-2 surge since Cal got within 31-28. I’ll be checking out for a while, unless something dramatic happens, in order to get going on my print edition story. Will have more later.

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15:24 2nd H: It’s 43-30 UCLA. The Bears cut into the halftime hole immediately, pulling within 31-28 on a 3-pointer by Robertson and a rebound basket by Wilkes. But UCLA is in the midst of a 12-2 run, sparked by a four-point play. Alfred Aboya made the first of two free throws, missed the second, but UCLA got the long rebound and Josh Shipp hit a long 3-pointer. Aboya then made an old-fashioned 3-point play before Nikola Dragovic drilled a long 3-pointer as the shot clock ticked down. A drive to the basket by freshman Jrue Holiday  pushed the lead to 43-30. Jamaal Wilkes — Jordan’s dad and a former UCLA All-America — just was introduced to a big hand by the Pauley Pavilion crowd.

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HALFTIME: Well, it could have been worse. Much worse. Cal trails 31-23 despite committing 16 turnovers. The Bears’ season high for an entire game is 20. Randle hit a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left to get the Bears within eight points after UCLA had moved out to an 11-point advantage, its biggest of the game. Collison, who has 12 points, seems to be able to go wherever he wants. Randle has eight points to lead Cal, but also has five turnovers. He’s got lots of company. Christopher and Robertson combined for five more turnovers. The Bruins have nine turnovers of their own and are shooting 46 percent. Cal is shooting 38 percent frm the field and just 4-for-9 from the FT line.

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3:22 1st H: More turnovers . . . lots more, and this game is again getting away from Cal. Three straight giveaways — that’s 14 so far — led to UCLA transition baskets and it’s 29-19 UCLA. Ten of the 14 turnovers have been committed by the Bears’ most experienced players — Randle, Christopher and Robertson.

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THESE SCORES JUST IN: Arizona (3-5) knocked off first-place Washington (6-2) 106-97 in Tucson, and Washington State (4-4) beat Arizona State (5-3) 65-55 in Tempe.  

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6:25 1st H: Amazingly, Cal trails just 21-19. This, despite 10 turnovers! The Bears were down 21-13 after a breakaway layup by Collison off Cal’s sixth turnovers in a span of eight possessions. Then Jerome Randle and D.J. Seeley hit 3-pointers off assists from Patrick Christopher and the margin was down to two points.

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10:31 1st H: UCLA has stretched its lead to 17-9 after an alley-oop dunk by freshman Drew Gordon of San Jose. The Bears are having all kinds of problems running their offense — shooting 3-for-9 with six turnovers.

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14:50 1st H: UCLA leads 8-6. Jordan Wilkes has all six points for the Bears, who are 2-for-5 and have four turnovers in 10 possessions. Jerome Randle is struggling so far to operate against the tight defensive pressure of Darren Collison. He is 0-for-2 with two turnovers.

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LINEUPS: No surprises here.  Cal will use the same lineup its used for all 21 games this season — Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher, Theo Robertson, Jamal Boykin and Jordan Wilkes. UCLA will go with Darren Collison, Jrue Holiday, Josh Shipp, Nikola Dragovic and Alfred Aboya. 

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MONTY’S RECORD: Thanks to Ted Robinson, TV man extraordinaire, for this very cool note. Mike Montgomery arrives at Pauley Pavilion tonight having won his final seven games here as coach at Stanford, from 1998 through 2004. No other Pac-10 coach, including Lute Olson, ever beat the Bruins seven straight times at Pauley.

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RECORDS: Cal is 16-4, 5-2 in the Pac-10, UCLA is 15-4, 5-2.