Cal quarterback Kevin Riley chatted with Ted Miller of ESPN.com about last year’s travails, as well as the future.
The L.A. Daily News USC blog is reporting that offensive lineman Stan Hasiak will not visit the Trojans this weekend, as had been previously speculated. Hasiak has an oral commitment to Cal but visited Washington last weekend and was expected in L.A. this weekend. Apparently, his visit to Washington was simply a courtesy and all signs are that he will sign his letter with Cal on Wednesday.
No real surprise here: Despite all the talk early in the week, USC expects to have all its star players on the floor tonight for Stanford . . . and Saturday for Cal. Guards Daniel Hackett (flu) and Dwight Lewis (ankle) and power forward Taj Gibson (pneumonia) all participated in Wednesday’s walk-through practice and are expected to play.
Here’s my story today on Cal junior center Jordan Wilkes, who fights an ongoing battle to develop aggression on the floor, but said his famous father’s huge basketball shadow is not an issue. Wilkes also talks about his plans for next year.
After all the changes, the UCLA Bruins look pretty much the same to Patrick Christopher.
“They lost three pros — any team that lost three pros of that caliber wouldn’t be exactly the same,” Christopher said of the defection to the NBA of Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute after last season.
“It’s UCLA. We’re going to see what we’ve seen the last two years in terms of them competing on a high level on defense and doubling the post, hedging hard off screens and being aggressive defensively. They still have (Darren) Collison running the show and doing a great job.”
The Bruins, who share second place in the Pac-10 with Cal and Arizona State, don’t rotate the same series of interior defensive beasts they’ve had in recent years. They’re somewhat more perimeter-oriented on offense, too, especially after replacing James Keefe in the starting lineup with 3-point ace Nikola Dragovic earlier this month to give the offensive a lift.
But Cal coach Mike Montgomery agrees with Christopher that the Bears will see a familiar-looking UCLA squad tonight.
We asked Ben Howland this week about Cal, and the UCLA coach said all sorts of nasty things.
Right. Actually, he was all hearts and flowers, like we’d expect anything else a couple days before the teams were about to meet.
“Cal is obviously very impressive,” Howland said. “You knew when Mike Montgomery took the job that he was going to do a great job. (Theo) Robertson, I remember we played up there (in 2005-06), he hit a (3-point) shot to put the game into overtime (UCLA won). Having him come back, he’s been tremenodus.
“Obviously, the two guards, (Jerome) Randle and (Patrick) Christopher are very very good. Randle causes a lot of problems because he’s so quick and can beat you off the dribble, but he can shoot it so well with range. Christopher is no surprise, because he really came on strong as a sophomore. I saw him this summer at the LeBron camp. He’s a very good player with a bright future beyond the college level.
“They play good defense, take good shots, run a lot of good stuff and have really, really competitive kids.”
Thought I’d share with you results of a national Player of the Year poll for which I was asked to participate. It’s being put together by Michael Rothstein, a sports writer with the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette, and Oklahoma power forward Blake Griffin is the overwhelming choice in the first poll. Enjoy.
I can’t believe I’m even typing this, but spring practice is only six weeks away. Practice begins on March 10 and goes to April 18. There will be the usual break in between for spring break. The Bears will practice 14 times, including three scrimmages. Some of this could change, but that’s the plan as of now. No word yet if any of the practices or scrimmages will be open to the public.
–Cal’s athletic departement plans on doing the same thing it did last year for Signing Day, providing updates on calbears.com throughout the day as letters of intent are received. The updates should start at around 6 a.m. Jeff Tedford will address the media at 3 p.m.
–Former defensive end Rulon Davis is playing in the Texas vs. the Nation game Saturday at the Sun Bowl. The game features players who originally hail from Texas against others from around the rest of the country. Although Davis played high school in Southern Califorina, he actually is on the Texas squad because of his time spent at the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, Texas. The game is on CBS College Sports Network at Noon.
Cal has finally named its replacement for Jim Michalczik as offensive line coach, bringing on longtime college and NFL coach Steve Marshall. Marshall has been around for a long time, coaching at several colleges and two NFL teams. He’s also served stints as offensive coordinator. Apparently, Marshall isn’t wasting any time because he’s already on the road recruiting and unavailable for comment today.