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Football: Mid-week links

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Football: Ludwig to SDSU

Rivals.com is reporting that Cal offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig is leaving to take the same position at San Diego State.

This could be why there has been a delay in the expected announcement that Jim Michalczik is re-joining Cal’s staff. Michalczik could be coming back as offensive coordinator as well as offensive line coach.

Michalczik was the offensive coordinator in 2007 at Cal, although head coach Jeff Tedford called all the plays. If Michalczik is indeed going to become the OC again, might Tedford return to play-calling duties? Or might new wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator Eric Kiesau become the offensive coordinator?

We should find out soon. Tedford has been declining interview requests until Signing Day, but hopefully the athletic department will release something soon.

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Football: Not that I need to tell any of you this…

…but Cal will have two alums in the Super Bowl — Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and linebacker Desmond Bishop. According to Cal media relations, the Bears have had at least one former player in each of the past 10 Super Bowl.

Rodgers also becomes the fourth former Cal quarterback to start a Super Bowl, joining Vince Ferragamo, Joe Kapp and Craig Morton. Gale Gilbert is the only NFL player to participate in five straight Super Bowls, all in a backup role. He saw action in just one Super Bowl, in a mop-up role with the San Diego Chargers during their loss to the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIX.

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Basketball: Bears homeward bound

Cal’s second road win of the Pac-10 season (in five tries) sends the team back to Berkeley with the knowledge it has four straight games at Haas Pavilion.

The Oregon schools visit this week — first the Beavers, then the Ducks — and Cal (10-9, 3-4) has a legitimate shot at finishing the first round of the Pac-10 schedule above .500 at 5-4. Then two more at home against the Arizona schools.

“It feels a little better to get that win on the road, but what we have to do is bring that intensity at home,” junior forward Harper Kamp said. “We might relax a little bit at home, might be a little bit too comfortable at times. On the road we feel kind of threatened, backs against the wall, and that causes us to fight a little bit.

“We have to bring that same mentality home for this next stretch. That’ll be key if we can make a good run.”

FREE THROWS: The Bears were an ordinary 17 for 28 from the free throw line and missed four of six in the final 33.6 seconds, allowing USC to stay close after Cal took a 66-60 lead into the final minute. Brandon Smith missed a pair, then Kamp and Allen Crabbe each missed one of two.

“They did a good job of execute down the stretch and me and Allen each missed a free throw, and that can be key in a game like that,” Kamp said. “I’m just glad that didn’t come back to bite us because I would have been miserable if they had come back in that one.”

BAK IS BIG: Sophomore forward Bak Bak scored seven points, six of them late in the first half to key Cal’s first comeback. He also had three rebounds and helped defensively when Cal went big in a zone defense. It was his biggest contribution in a Pac-10 game.

“Bak is someone I know can come in and do his thing,” Kamp said. “He’s long and he’s talented. He’s just got to come in and have the right mindset and bring that energy like he did today. He did a great job of giving us a little boost.”

SPEAKING OF KAMP: The junior forward has scored at least 18 points in four consecutive games, the most consistently productive stretch of his career. Kamp, who had 19 against USC after scoring 21 at UCLA, is averaging 19.5 over the past four games.

He has scored in double digits eight straight games and 14 times in 19 games this season.

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Basketball: USC game thread

FINAL SCORE: Cal 68, USC 66. After losing twice by two points on the road in Pac-10 play, including Thursday night at UCLA, the Bears (10-9, 3-4) pulled one out by the same margin. Kamp’s two free throws on an intentional foul by Jio Fontan with 3:06 left, followed by a hook shot by Sanders-Frison on the ensuing possession was the game’s biggest sequence. The four-point play gave Cal a 62-57 lead. The Bears missed four of their final six free throws, but held on for their first win in five tries at the Galen Center. Kamp had 19 points, Brandon Smith, MSF and Crabbe each had 12. USC (11-9, 3-4) got a career-high 24 points from senior guard Donte Smith, on 8-for-12 shooting from the 3-point arc. Call’s big lineup and zone defense limited Vucevic and Stepheson — who combined for 30 points and 20 rebounds against Stanford — to 14 and 16. Having played five of their first seven conference games on the road, the Bears return to Haas Pavilion for four straight, beginning Thursday against Oregon State.

4:01 2nd H: Kamp has scored on consecutive possessions against USC freshman Garrett Jackson and Cal leads 58-54. A 6-0 Cal run and USC called timeout to get Vucevic — with four fouls – -back into the game. MSF also has four and is on the floor. Cal has switched back to man to stay with Donte Smith.

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Football: Still no OL coach (wink, wink)

Cal still has not announced the hiring of its new offensive  line coach, but all signs point to it being former OL  coach Jim Michalczik. There has been specuation for a couple weeks now that Michalczik will return to the post he held at Cal for seven years before moving on briefly to Washington and then to the Raiders. I would assume the announcement of Michalczik will come soon.

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Basketball: USC scouting report

The seventh game of Cal’s Pac-10 schedule — Saturday night at USC — is also its fifth on the road.

Does that explain the Bears’ 2-4 conference record?

Not entirely, of course. Maybe not even close.

But it’s a factor.

“It’s always been a home and away deal,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said, “except the very best teams.”

That would be Washington, whose first-place record of 6-1 includes three road victories.

“The very best teams are not affected by the home and away deal,” Montgomery said. “As long as I’ve been around, home and away makes a big difference. It’s a plus-minus thing.”

Montgomery has long prescribed to a point system which awards one point for each road victory and deducts one for each home defeat. By the end of the conference season, when each team will have played every other team home and away, we’ll know the Pac-10′s best team.

And it probably will be Washington, perhaps followed by Arizona.

The Bears lost by two points each on the road to Arizona and UCLA. But also by 21 at home to Washington. Seven of their final 11 conference games are at home.

How much does that alter the equation? Where do the Bears fit in?

Montgomery is eager to find out, but he understands he won’t know for sure until March 5. 

“There’s some teams that at the end of this week will have had five home games. We’ve had two,” he said. ”And maybe the people they’ve played are more of the beatable quality. 

“A lot depends on who you play, where you play ‘em. That’s why it’s an 18-game schedule.”

Pac-10 standings
Washington 6-1
Arizona 4-2
UCLA 4-2
Washington St. 4-3
USC 3-3
Stanford 3-3
Oregon State 3-3
Cal 2-4
Arizona St. 1-5
Oregon 1-5

Pac-10 Plus-Minus
Washington +3   (3 road wins, 0 home losses)
Arizona +1   (1 road win, 0 home losses)
UCLA +1   (2 road wins, 1 home loss)
Washington St. +1   (1 road win, 0 home losses)
Cal 0   (1 road win, 1 home loss)
Stanford 0   (1 road win, 1 home loss)
Arizona St. -1   (1 road win, 2 home losses)
Oregon St. -1   (0 road wins, 1 home loss)
USC -1   (0 road wins, 1 home loss)
Oregon -3   (0 road wins, 3 home losses)

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Basketball: 40 furious seconds

Simply because it all happened so fast, it’s worth reliving the final minute of Cal’s 86-84 loss to UCLA. In fact, the Bears scored 13 points in a span of just 40 seconds, beginning with Richard Solomon’s baseline driving dunk with 50.9 seconds left that cut the margin to 79-73.

Here’s how it unfolded after that:

– Reeves Nelson turns the ball over on a 5-second inbounds violation before Crabbe stumbles briefly and still makes a 10-foot bank shot.

– Another UCLA turnover — this one a Tyler Honeycutt pass stolen by Jorge Gutierrez — leads to a Solomon dunk off a pass from Crabbe with 43 seconds left. Cal scores six points in a span of 8 seconds — without a free throw — and trails just 79-77.

– UCLA point guard Lazeric Jones — the Bruins’ savior before Reeves Nelson’s last-second heroics — hits two free throws with 41.0 seconds left. 

– Crabbe makes a jumper with 32.4 seconds left and it’s 81-79.

–  The Bears immediately foul again, No. 5 for Sanders-Frison. But he fouls Jones, who makes two more for an 83-79 lead with 30.3 seconds left.

– UCLA’s Brendan Lane inexplicably fouls Crabbe with 23.2 seconds left and the freshman makes both free throws. Now it’s back to 83-81.

–Forced to foul, Cal sends Jones back to the line with 18.1 seconds left. This time, after making seven in a row, he misses the first, makes the second. UCLA leads 84-81.

– Brandon Smith rushes the ball upcourt, gets it to Gutierrez who finds Crabbe coming around a screen on the right wing, behind the 3-point arc. Crabbe hit the shot — Cal’s only 3-pointer of the night — and the game is tied with 10.8 seconds left.

– UCLA gets the ball upcourt to Honeycutt, who is surrounded by three or four defenders. He releases a shot from around the free throw line while falling back. Kamp’s momentum has him stumble toward Honeycutt — away from the rim – as the shot goes up. Solomon is closest to the basket, apparently waiting for a rebound, but doesn’t look to block out. Nelson races through the defense, untouched and apparently unseen by anyone, and tips the ball in with his right hand.

Summarizing: 40 seconds, 13 points — all by freshmen.