Basketball: Jared Cunningham comes home

San Leandro HS grad Jared Cunningham makes his second collegiate return to the Bay Area when Oregon State visits Cal tonight at Haas Pavilion.

As a freshman last season, Cunningham had his best collegiate game to date at Cal, scoring 18 points in the Beavers’ 65-61 loss.

Click here for a Q&A with Cunningham that appeared in Wednesday’s edition of the Corvallis Gazette-Times.


Basketball: Oregon State scouting report

If you’re headed to Haas Pavilion on Thursday night, expect to see a lot of zone defense. From both teams.

For his 2 1/2 seasons in Corvallis, coach Craig Robinson’s Oregon State squad has made a living playing zone defense — a lot of it a tricky 1-3-1 alignment. Recently, Cal has folded the zone into its defensive plans.

It’s a departure for Cal coach Mike Montgomery, who much prefers man-to-man defense. Asked how he thinks the Bears have fared in a zone, Montgomery called it a “mixed bag.”

But given the Bears’ personnel issues — especially their lack of depth in the backcourt — the zone has been a lifesaver. 

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Basketball: Thursday in the Pac-10

The Oregon schools visit the Bay Area and the Arizonas are in L.A. on Thursday and Saturday, with the Washington schools locking horns Sunday night in Pullman, Wash.

Click here for the current Pac-10 standings and here for the conference stats.

Thursday’s schedule (excluding Cal):

— Oregon at Stanford, 7 p.m.:  Stanford is first in defense, last in offense in the Pac-10. But the Ducks have lost 24 straight at Maples Pavilion and the Cardinal is 8-1 on its home floor this season.

— USC at Arizona State, 5:30 p.m.: The Sun Devils have lost their only two Pac-10 home games. This one won’t be easy, either.

— UCLA at Arizona, 6 p.m.: The duel for second place will be a challenge for the Bruins at McKale Center, where Az is 11-0 this season.


Basketball: Jerome Randle traded

No, not to the Miami Heat.

The former Cal star and reigning Pac-10 Player of the year was transferred from Aliaga Petkim, where he was averaging 17.5 ppg an 3.9 apg in 15 games, to Turkish league rival Turk Telecom of Ankara.

Randle had five points and three assists in 18 minutes in his first game with his new club.

Patrick Christopher, Randle’s backcourt mate last season in Berkeley, is averaging 17.4 points for Antalya Buyuksehir Belediye. He scored 23 points in his most recent game.



Basketball: A 308-point night for the Pac-10

Ex-Cal star Ryan Anderson scored 14 points off the bench, helping the Orlando Magic to a 111-96 rout of Indiana.

After hardly playing in November and December, Anderson is averaging 15.0 ppg over 13 games in January, including 12 double-digit performances. 

He wasn’t the only productive Pac-10 alum on Wednesday:

— Kevin Love (UCLA) had 31 points and 21 rebounds in Minnesota’s 118-117 overtime loss to Oklahoma City. (Who knew Love would be this good?)  The Thunder got 16 points and eight assists from Russell Westbrook (UCLA).

— Andre Iguodala (Arizona) and Jrue Holiday (UCLA) each scored 15 points in Philly’s 107-94 win over Toronto, which got 29 from DeMar DeRozan (USC).

— Elsewhere, Darren Collins (UCLA) scored 21 points for Indiana, Trevor Ariza (UCLA) 19 for New Orleans, Brook Lopez (Stanford) 17 for New Jersey, Arron Afflalo (UCLA) 17 for Denver,  Aaron Brooks (Oregon) 16 for Houston, Baron Davis (UCLA) 14 for the Clippers,  Richard Jefferson (Arizona) 14 for San Antonio, James Harden (ASU) 13 for OK City, Channing Frye (Arizona) 12 for Phoenix, Luke Ridnour (Oregon) 12 for Minnesota.

Altogether, ex-Pac-10 players totaled 308 points in NBA play Wednesday night.

Seems like a lot.


Basketball: Wow! What a game in the MWC

The Pac-10 is back to business on Thursday night. Tonight the nation (or at least the portion that gets the CBS College network) saw Jimmer Fredette score 43 points as No. 9 BYU (20-1) handed previously unbeaten and fourth-ranked San Diego State (20-1) a 71-58 defeat in a Mountain West Conference showdown at Provo.

Top-ranked Ohio State (21-0) is the nation’s lone remaining unbeaten team.

Fredette was 14 for 24 from the field, including 5 for 8 from 3-point range, and made 10 of 11 free throws. The nation’s leading scorer, Fredette improved his season average to 27.4 ppg. Over the past four games, he’s scoring 35.8 ppg, including three games of 40 points or more.

The Aztecs, who polished off Cal earlier this season, got 22 points and 16 rebounds from sophomore forward Kawhi Leonard.

A couple of top-4 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.


Basketball: 20 Questions with Brandon Smith

Today, a chat with . . . 

Position: Point guard
Height: 5-11
Hometown: San Ramon

If you could play 1-on-1 with any player in basketball history, who would you choose? I would have loved to play against Michael Jordan in his prime, just to pick up on his moves or be around him. He was an awesome competitor. I consider him the best basketball player ever.

Hypothetically, I have $10 to bet on who wins. Tell me why I should consider you: I think I might get him speed-wise. I think my hesitation or my spin move, I might be able to get to the basket.

What’s your basketball career highlight so far? It’s kind of a tie between two things. When we won the state championship (at De La Salle) in high school was a big deal. To be able to win that and be on the team as a freshman and contribute to that team, that’s a highlight. And when we went to the NCAA tournament and got that first win against Louisville.

Who’s the best dunker on the Cal team? I would have to go with Richard Solomon. The stuff he does, he makes it look very easy.

What’s the most consecutive free throws you’ve ever made? One time in practice my junior year in high school, I believe I made 40 in a row.

Give me one word that describes coach Mike Montgomery: Competitive.

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Football: Michalczik just a formality

I’m told the only reason Cal hasn’t made the hiring of Jim Michalczik as offensive line coach official is due to simple red tape. His hiring has to formally be approved by the UC Regents and some paperwork has to be finalized. Michalczik is indeed already on the staff and has been recruiting for Cal.

The only uncertainty is whether Michalczik will also be the offensive coordinator. I’m told that there is a great likelihood of that happening, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he will be the primary playcaller. Jeff Tedford could resume those duties, as he’s done in the past, but that’s undecided at this point.


Basketball: Ex-Bear Bob McKeen honored

Bob McKeen, who reigned as Cal’s career scoring leader for more than three decades, has been chosen as the school’s entry into the Pac-10 Men’s Basketball Hall of Honor.

He will be recognized during the Pac-10 Tournament at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, March 9-12.

McKeen, who played at Cal from 1952 through ’55, scored 1,654 points in a four-year varsity career under Nibs Price and Pete Newell. His record stood until 1987, when Kevin Johnson eclipsed it by a single point. He still ranks No. 7 on Cal’s career list.

A 6-foot-7 center, McKeen still holds the Bears’ career record with 1,019 rebounds.

He was the first Cal player to score at least 30 points five times and scored a then-school record 40 points at Utah as a junior. His 36 points versus UCLA in 1955 remains the highest-scoring game by a Cal player against  the Bruins.

McKeen was named All-Southern Division four times and was recognized as a second- or third-team All-American three times.

Drafted in the first round by the NBA’s Minneapolis Lakers, McKeen turned down an offer of $6,500 per year and enrolled in graduate school at Cal to pursue a master’s degree in business administration. He later became a member of the Oakland City Council from 1960-64. Voted into Cal’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989, McKeen died on December 31, 1999.

Other inductees this year include Stanford’s Brevin Knight, USC’s Harold Miner and UCLA’s Don MacLean.

Previous Cal inductees are: Pete Newell (2002), Kevin Johnson (2003), Jason Kidd (2004), Darrall Imhoff (2005), Andy Wolfe (2006), Russ Critchfield (2007), Charles Johnson (2008), Nibs Price (2009) and Earl Robinson (2010).