Football: Cal’s bowl outlook and more

Just a few tidbits in the aftermath of Cal’s 47-38 victory over Arizona State …

–I talked to a few bowl officials from around the Pac-12 today and they all had really good things to say about Cal. I’ll have a story about that in tomorrow’s paper. The Bears could land in a game as high as the Alamo Bowl – the No. 2 Pac-12 bowl behind the Rose Bowl – although lots of factors come into play here. First, Stanford and Oregon would each have to get invited to Bowl Championship Series games, which boost other Pac-12 schools a little higher on the bowl ladder. The Alamo Bowl would then likely be choosing between Cal, Utah and Washington. The Holiday Bowl, which picks third, also likes Cal very much. And if the Bears slip past them, I’d be very surprised if they don’t get chosen by the Sun Bowl, in which Cal has never played. The Las Vegas Bowl is looking unlikely, and the chances of Cal playing in front of the local fans at the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl appear pretty remote, though Gary Cavalli, the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl executive director, is confident in landing a quality team from the conference.

A few factors to consider:
Cal has played very well late in the season and that makes a strong impression. Rick Hill, the Alamo Bowl’s director of marketing and communications, also noted that the Bears have been on ESPN the past two weeks against Stanford and Arizona State, so the San Antonio market (where the Alamo Bowl is played) has been exposed to Cal and the team has put up strong showings. But Hill also added that Washington has been televised in San Antonio even more this season.

Mark Neville, the Holiday Bowl’s director of communications, said his bowl places heavy emphasis on the “football” aspects for choosing a team – win/loss record and head-to-head matchups, as opposed to how many fans will travel, the potential for TV ratings, etc. Besides, Neville said Pac-12 (or Pac-10) schools traditionally travel well to the Holiday Bowl no matter who is chosen.

The Alamo Bowl, which pits a Big 12 school against a Pac-12 school, looks for a good built-in storyline when pairing up two teams. Since the Big 12 regular season doesn’t finish until next weekend, the Alamo Bowl won’t be extending any invites until then, which means other Pac-12 bowl selections also will have to wait in the trickle-down effect.

–Isi Sofele now ranks sixth on Cal’s single-season rushing list with 1,266 yards: The next back ahead of him is Marshawn Lynch, who gained 1,356 yards in 2006.

–No word yet on the seriousness of freshman cornerback Stefan McClure’s injury on Friday night. Obviously his health is pretty big for this team looking to the future.

–Friday’s late kickoff was absolutely brutal from a deadline standpoint, which is why I really didn’t get a chance to blog during or after the game. I was writing for our various print editions as the game was unfolding. Glad to see the spirited dialogue carried on regardless …

–Cal is taking most of next week off. We don’t know when they’ll resume practice just yet, so blogs may be light in the coming days.

That’s all for now …


Basketball: President watches OSU win

President Obama — whose sister is married wife is the sister of Oregon State coach Craig Robinson — was in the house as the Beavers knocked off host Towson 66-46 on Saturday afternoon. (Pardon my brain freeze).

   — Oregon State 66, Towson 46: Devon Collier scored 15 points and Jared Cunningham and Roberto Nelson each had 12 as the Beavers (5-1) breezed to victory in front of celebrities in the crowd. Besides the President, comedian Bill Murray was on hand. Murray’s son Luke is an assistant coach at Towson.

   — USC 63, South Carolina 60: Maurice Jones scored 28 points (including 7 for 7 from the 3-point arc) and Dewayne Dedmon had a career-high 15, leading the Trojans (3-4) to victory in the Las Vegas Invitational.

   — UNC Asheville 87, Utah 65: Josh Watkins and Jason Washburn each had 21 points, but the Utes (1-5) shot 3 for 18 from 3-point range and had 16 turnovers while losing the seventh-place game at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. Utah has lost five in a row.


Basketball: Bears rebound to clobber Denver

Four days after taking a 39-point hit at the hands of Missouri, Cal returned home to rout unbeaten but overmatched Denver 80-59 in a game that wasn’t that close. The Bears improved to 5-1 headed into Monday’s game vs. McNeese State.

Sophomore Allen Crabbe, who shot 6 for 29 the previous three games, was 6 for 9 including three 3-pointers and scored 15 points. He also had 10 rebounds, equaling his career high. Sophomore Justin Cobbs scored a career-high 22 points on 7 for 9 from the field, including 4 for 4 from beyond the arc.

Jorge Gutierrez, who played limited first-half minutes after picking up two fouls, scored 11 points.

Cal led 38-22 at halftime and pounded the Pioneers (4-1) of the Sun Belt Conference by a 33-20 rebounding margin. The Bears have outrebounded all six opponents this season.

Cal’s four home opponents this season shot a combined 39.6 percent from the field and averaged 56.0 ppg.

Denver senior guard Brian Stafford, a Las Lomas HS-Walnut Creek grad making his return home, scored just six points. He entered the game averaging 17.0.


Basketball: Denver scouting report

The Bears get back on the horse Saturday against an unbeaten Denver squad that runs the Princeton offense and shoots the 3-pointer effectively.

But mostly, this is about Cal. The Bears, coming off a 92-53 embarrassment at the hands of Missouri, must reassert themselves.

Beating the Pioneers of the Sun Belt Conference won’t prove much in itself, but it will be interesting to see if Cal can rediscover its rhythm and confidence after sustaining the worst nonconference defeat in school history.

The Bears have two days left as the nation’s No. 20 team — new rankings come out Monday and they are sure to be out of the top-25. This is an opportunity to show they were once deserving of that status.

Cal could not cope with Missouri’s superior quickness on Tuesday night at Kansas City, and that disparity led to bad things on both ends of the floor.

Allen Crabbe, the deserving Pac-10 freshman of the year last season, opened the schedule by averaging 22.5 points and shooting 18 for 33 in Cal’s first two games. He is scoring 6.7 points and shooting 6 for 29 in the past three.

Point guard Brandon Smith was ineffective against Mizzou, totaling four turnovers and zero assists. Even the seniors struggled: Harper Kamp shot 1 for 8 and Jorge Gutierrez lost his composure and fouled out early.

The Bears will be tested again before the start of the Pac-12 season, maybe not by Denver but soon. They play Dec. 4 at San Diego State, face capable mid-majors UC Santa Barbara and Weber State at home, then travel to UNLV on Dec. 23.

There are plenty of hurdles to get over before the conference schedule. The Bears will try to take the first step on Saturday.

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Basketball: A 2-4 day for the Pac, but Stanford shows promise in Garden loss to Syracuse

The Pac-12 is now 2-7 the past two days. Ugh.

And one of those hardly counts — a Washington home win over Houston Baptist.

But ASU was a surprise and Stanford nearly kept its perfect record intact at NYC.

   — Syracuse 69, Stanford 61: The Cardinal (5-1) led by eight late then crumbled against the pressure by the No. 5 Orange in the championship game of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden. Guards Aaron Bright and Chasson Randle scored 13 and 12 points, respectively, but combined for nine of Stanford’s 24 turnovers.

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Football: Cal-ASU first quarter recap

Cal leads Arizona State 17-7 after one quarter, and neither team’s defense has made much of an appearance so far. The Bears scored on all three of their possessions — a 48 yard Tavecchio field goal, an 18 yard Sofele TD run and a 16-yard option keeper from Maynard, set up by a Kendricks 33-yard fumble return. But the Sun Devils are carving up Cal’s defense pretty good …

Some first quarter stats:

First downs
Cal 7

Rushing yards
Cal 5-79
ASU 16-91

Maynard 4-7-0
Osweiler 4-5-0

Passing yards
Maynard 52
Osweiler 72

Total yards
Cal 131
ASU 163

Time of possession
Cal 4:43
ASU 10:17


Basketball: A turkey of a day for Pac-12

No Thanksgiving dessert for these teams . . .

   — Harvard 75, Utah 47: The Utes (2-2) trailed by 25 points at halftime and never recovered in a gruesome  loss at the Battle 4 Atlantis in Nassua, Bahamas. Josh Watkins and Blake Wilkinson each scored 12 points for Utah, which committed 16 turnovers. The winners from the Ivy League actually used 17 players.

   — Fairfield 55, Arizona State 44: The Sun Devils (1-3) trailed 43-24 with 11 minutes left, rallied but got no closer than seven points in a loss at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla. Trent Lockett scored15 points for ASU, which had more turnovers (22) than field goals (17).  

   — Oklahoma 74, Washington State 59: Well, the Cougars (2-2) hung with the Sooners (3-0) for a while at the 76 Classic in Anaheim before they could no longer overcome 22 turnovers. Brock Motum had 13 points and Faisal Aden 12 for WSU, outscored 36-19 in the second half.



Football: Wednesday practice update

Here’s some random tidbits from the practice field as Cal prepares for Friday’s game at Arizona State …

–Quarterback Zach Maynard hesitated to call his deep pass to Keenan Allen on the first play of the game against Stanford his best throw all season. But there’s no denying it’s in the running. Maynard lofted a deep pass that was on the money to a streaking Allen, and it’s a play that the two worked a lot on leading into the game. “We’ve been talking about it,” said Allen, Maynard’s half-brother. “His long balls haven’t been there so we’ve worked on it at practice. I tried to tell him to slow down a little bit, let me get out there a little bit further (before throwing it).”

Citing Arizona State’s quickness on defense, Maynard said it will be important for him to look off his receivers and spread the ball around.

–Some players claim they don’t pay attention to statistics. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks isn’t one of them. The senior is well aware that he ranks among the Pac-12 leaders in tackles (he’s third with 88). “It’s cool,” Kendricks said. “No. 1 would be better, but I feel like I’ve had a successful season. I’m happy.” I know Kendricks is only listed at 6-feet tall, but standing next to him for the first time, I was still struck by his size (or lack of it). I’m talking about height only – he’s listed at 240 pounds. It’ll be interesting to see how he’s viewed by NFL scouts. The guy can sure close on a ball carrier fast.

–Linebacker David Wilkerson, who has missed the past two games with a bruised knee, has returned to practice, but his status for Friday night’s game is unknown. Fellow OLB Chris McCain, still recovering from a concussion, wouldn’t return until the bowl game, if then.

–The Bears will practice Thursday morning, then hold a Thanksgiving meal later in the day before flying to Phoenix. The dinner will take place in the Student-Athlete High Performance Center, the team’s first official function in the new complex, according to coach Jeff Tedford.

Hope everybody has a Happy Thanksgiving!


Basketball: Cal’s next opponent may be no pushover — Denver knocks off Saint Mary’s

Denver, which visits Cal on Saturday, may be an opponent to take seriously.

The Pioneers made 10 3-pointers and turned the ball over just six times on the way to an impressive 70-58 home win over Saint Mary’s.  Denver improved to 4-0.

Cal is 2-0 all-time vs. Denver, but the two haven’t met since the 1967-68 season.

Tipoff is 2 p.m. Saturday at Haas Pavilion.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.


Basketball: Is 5-0 Stanford for real? Much of the Pac-12 having a rough time of it so far

A busy night for Pac-12 teams, but Stanford comes off looking like best of the bunch . . .

   — Stanford 82,Oklahoma State 67: Josh Owens made his first nine shots from the field and scored 21 points as the Cardinal (5-0) stayed unbeaten with an impressive win in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden. Facing its first challenge, Stanford won easily.  Freshman Chasson Randle scored a career-high 18 points and sophomore Aaron Bright, off to a good start this season, added 15. The Cardinal will play Syracuse on Friday for the title.

   — San Diego State 61, Arizona 57: The Aztecs (6-1), who host Cal on Dec. 4, went to Tucson and knocked off the No. 23 Wildcats (4-2), snapping Arizona’s 22-game home win streak. Chase Tapley scored 19 points for SDSU. Solomon Hill scored 14 for Arizona and freshmen Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson each had 10, but the Wildcats shot 33 percent, including 5 for 26 from the 3-point arc.

   — Michigan 79, UCLA 63: The Bruins (1-4) remain winless against Division I teams after being handled by the No. 15 Wolverines (5-1) in the third-place game at Maui. Sophomore guard Tim Hardaway Jr., son of the ex-Warriors star, scored 20 points for UM. UCLA shot 42 percent and got just six points for troubled star junior Reeves Nelson. UCLA’s three starting guards combined to shoot 5 for 20.

   — Oregon 79, Nebraska 75: A nice road win for the Ducks (3-1), who got 20 points from Garrett Sim, 14 from E.J. Singler and 12 from Olu Ashaolu. Sim made 4 of 6 from the 3-point line and all eight of his FTs.

   — Colorado 76, Air Force 73, OT: Nate Tomlinson scored 19 points as the Buffaloes (2-2) held off the Falcons (3-1). Andre Roberson had 11 points and 13 rebounds and Carlon Brown scored 16 for the Buffs. Colorado outrebounded Air Force 42-26.