Football: Spring practice review — defensive line

HELPED HIS CAUSE: DeAndre Coleman/Gabe King: Coleman, of course, got playing time last year. King was a redshirt. These two guys were solidly the No. 2 defensive ends during the spring, and spent some time rotating with Ernest Owusu and Trevor Guyton taking some first team reps. Coleman may have more potential than any defensive lineman on the roster. He has a powerful combination of size and athleticism that could really make him a force as he continues to get comfortable with the college game. King displayed some of the talent that made him such a sought-after recruit, registering a handful of big plays during the spring but also making some mistakes. Still, this duo of backup defensive ends will give the Bears terrific depth this season.

WORK TO DO: Keni Kaufusi: Kaufusi was set back a bit with his injury last season, but he needed to use this spring to really make an impression with the top two nose tackles, Kendrick Payne and Aaron Tipoti, both out with injuries. Instead, walk-on Austin Clark was ahead of him on the depth chart and took all the first team reps during the spring. With Payne and Tipoti expected back fully healthy in the fall, and with incoming freshman Viliami Moala expected to be in the mix right away, Kaufusi has his work cut out for him to make his way up the depth chart.

WHERE WE STAND: It’s clear the Bears are pretty well-stocked at defensive end. Trevor Guyton and Ernest Owusu are solid as the starters. They aren’t on the level of Tyson Alualu or Cameron Jordan, although Guyton had some strong moments during the second half  of last season. Both have a lot of experience. And defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, who praised Guyton and Owusu for their play this spring, has the luxury of rotating Coleman and King into the lineup. It was obviously harder to get a gauge at nose tackle this spring with Payne and Tipoti sidelined. After a terrific spring last season, Payne was nagged by injuries during the season, which has been a big problem throughout his career. This will be Tipoti’s best chance yet to get some playing time, now that Derrick Hill has departed. The wild card is Moala, who might be ready to contribute in a reserve role right away as a true freshman.

MOVING FORWARD: The Bears have a lot of impressive bodies along the defensive line, but nobody the caliber of their two NFL-bound defensive ends in each of the past two seasons. This doesn’t look like a dominant group, but one that should definitely hold its own in the Pac-12. And with a deep and explosive group of linebackers playing behind it, that might be all Cal needs.


Spring practice review: Offensive line

HELPED HIS CAUSE: Tyler Rigsbee. Because of the back injury to starting tackle Mitchell Schwartz, the Bears got a look at some of their younger tackles during the spring. Rigsbee ended up taking much of the first team reps at left tackle with Matt Summers-Gavin at right tackle. Coach Jeff Tedford singled Rigsbee out as one of the players that stood out during camp. Even if Schwartz and Summers-Gavin are the starting tackles, which appears likely, the experience Rigsbee got this spring should help Cal in the depth department this fall.

WORK TO DO: Matt Williams. The transfer from North Dakota State picked Cal over a host of big-time suitors, but even though he’s a junior, he doesn’t appear close to cracking the rotation yet. Rigsbee, Sam DeMartinis and Bill Tyndall all got more reps and seemed to be in higher regard among the coaches. Williams is no doubt still getting used to the complexities of Cal’s blocking schemes — he’s a Liverpool, England native who is relatively new to football. But Williams, by all accounts, has good athleticism for his size (6-foot-7, 286 pounds), and still could make a push in the fall.

WHERE WE STAND: It was hard to get a true evaluation of the offensive line because of the injuries to Schwartz and projected starting center Dominic Galas. The unit the Bears did line up struggled, but some of that has to be because of the inexperienced players getting reps in the injured players’ absence. Guys like Rigsbee, DeMartinis and Tyndall will be better off in the long run because of the reps they got this spring. But as of right now, it’s clear the Bears need Schwartz and Galas to be healthy for the offensive line to be at its best. Cal also needs tight ends Spencer Ladner and Jarrett Sparks to get healthy, although converted wide receiver Spencer Hagan looked strong in the spring but needs to get bigger.

MOVING FORWARD: Despite the uneven play this spring, the Bears are looking at a pretty experienced unit when everyone is healthy. Assuming left-handed quarterback Zach Maynard gets the starting job, Schwartz should move to right tackle to protect his blind side. That would put Summers-Gavin at left tackle. Justin Cheadle looked strong at times I isolated on him this spring, and he should enter the fall as the starting right guard. Brian Schwenke is back at left guard and Galas has excellent potential at center. Throw in Anthony Miller at tight end, and new (and former) offensive line coach has to feel good about his starting point in the fall. Then throw in the experience the younger guys got in the spring, and there is definitely the possibility for improvement from a unit that has had ups and downs in recent years.


Basketball: They’ll be EuroBears this summer

Cal has announced plans for a summer foreign tour, playing  five games during a 10-day trek through Sweden, Denmark and Norway.

The Bears will arrive in Stockholm, Sweden, on Aug. 13 and their schedule includes games against the Norwegian and Danish national teams.

College teams are permitted to take one foreign tour every four years, and coach Mike Montgomery said this year was ideal because the Bears have so many returning young players who could benefit from additional practice and games. Incoming players also are allowed to make the trip, which wasn’t always the case in the past.

Here is the full story from Cal’s website.


Basketball: Crabbe, Solomon get USA invites

Cal sophomores-to-be Allen Crabbe and Richard Solomon are among 17 players who have been invited to attend USA Basketball’s U19 national team tryout camp, June 17-24 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

Twelve players will be chosen from the camp to represent the U.S. at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championships, which will be staged June 30 through July 10 in Valmiera, Liepaja and Riga, Latvia.

Paul Hewitt, the new coach at George Mason University, will coach the U.S. team, aided by a staff that includes Saint Mary’s Randy Bennett. Team selections will be announced June 19 by the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Committee, which includes Washington coach Lorenzo Romar.

Other players among the 17 invited to the tryout camp include Stanford’s Anthony Brown and Sacramento prep star Josiah Turner, who will play next season for Arizona. Jeremy Lamb of  NCAA champion UConn also is participating.


Football: Spring practice review — receivers

HELPED HIS CAUSE: Michael Calvin. We’ve heard this before. Last year, Calvin supposedly had a great summer and training camp and was poised to finally reach the substantial potential he brought with him to Berkeley. Then Calvin went out last season and caught just 13 passes for 147 yards and no touchdowns. That being said, Calvin did have some nice moments this spring. He hooked up a handful of times with Allan Bridgford for touchdown catches, but those were against the second team defense. Calvin didn’t get a whole lot of first team reps during the practices that were open to the media, so it’s hard to say if he would have had similar production against the first defense. The bottom line is the Bears need to improve their depth behind starters Marvin Jones and Keenan Allen, and a productive Calvin would be a big addition.

WORK TO DO: Coleman Edmond. The JC transfer couldn’t crack the regular playing rotation last season as a junior. This is his last crack at it, and the Bears would like to see him contribute. Unfortunately for him, he missed a lot of the spring with an injury. Edmond was also hoping to make an impact in the return game, but his injury made it somewhat of a lost spring. With Calvin possibly emerging and Kaelin Clay looking promising, Edmond needs to have a good summer and camp to become a factor once the season comes around.

WHERE WE STAND: The Bears feel good about their starters. Jones is not a stretch-the-field,  playmaking receiver but is a decent athlete with dependable production. When health, Allen looked like a star in the making last season, although his best games came against subpar competition. But the Bears need more depth, and a receiver that makes opposing defensive coordinators nervous about the big play. Allen may be that guy, but no receiver on the roster is faster than Clay. The redshirt freshman looked good in spring practice and the coaching staff has high hopes for him.

MOVING FORWARD: The receivers need to spend the summer getting on the same page as likely starter Zach Maynard, who has only been with the program since January. The good news is Allen has been on the same page with him for years. The two are half-brothers and spent their childhoods playing football together. By the end of spring, Maynard was taking all of the first team reps so he the process has already started. If Clay can stretch the field and either Calvin or Edmond gives the Bears some production, Cal could have its best receiving corps since 2007.


Basketball: Only 10 months ’til Selection Sunday!

ESPN.com’s tireless Joe Lunardi has provided us his latest projected 2012 NCAA tournament bracket, following Sunday’s NBA draft decisions.

Lunardi includes five Pac-10 teams in his bracket, including Cal as a No. 10 seed, facing No. 7 Michigan in Columbus, Ohio.

Also in the field from the Pac-10: Arizona, UCLA, Washington and USC.

Arizona’s projected No. 2 seed seems very high to us. Those freshmen are going to be good, but the loss of Derrick Williams will be bigger. UCLA is at No. 8, Washington at No. 10 and USC at No. 12, in a play-in game vs. Saint Mary’s.

North Carolina, Ohio State, Duke and Kentucky are Lunardi’s four No. 1 seeds. Could be any year, right?