TIPOFF: 5:30 p.m. Sunday at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley. TV: CSNBA. Radio: 910-AM.
In Sunday’s paper I write about the much-hyped Cal and Stanford freshmen classes of a year ago and how it hasn’t been a perfect season-and-a-half for all of them.
Perhaps no one among those players has had it tougher than Alex Rossi, the 6-foot-5 wing from suburban Chicago, who has played exactly 4 minutes in one game since arriving at Cal due to a nagging lower-abdominal injury.
Rossi underwent surgery to repair a hernia, and a separate procedure to reaattached a muscle that had torn away from his pubic bone. He acknowledges he’s not entirely out of the woods at this point, but he’s feeling better every day and maintains his expectations for what he and his classmates can accomplish.
Here’s more from my interview with Rossi:
— On his he’s progressing: “I’m feeling pretty good. Getting stronger every day. I haven’t missed practice yet since (Dec.) 26th, so that’s good.”
— On why his injuries took so long to heal: “My first surgery I had a hernia on my left side. That was a result of my muscles, for whatever reason, stopped firing. I think my hips came out of place. And then my abs stopped working on their own. And then my back started getting really tight. And my groin started overworking, and that’s what tore it . . . I wasn’t using my calves at all, and that was putting a lot of pressure on my knees. My physical therapist tried to explain it to me, that it’s all one muscle. If my upper body is not working, then my lower body has got to work a lot harder.”
— On whether he’s beginning to feel like himself again: “I’m obviously nervous because it’s been a long time. I’m starting to feel strong, starting to get athletic again. Starting to be able to dunk a lot easier. Lateral quickness is coming back. Every day I’m a player longer and longer in practice.”
Our annual “Cream of the Crop” football recruiting package runs in Sunday’s papers, and for only the third time in 30 years Cal has landed as many as six of the Bay Area’s top 20 prospects.
If you can’t get enough about high school recruiting, with signing day arriving on Wednesday, you’ll want to read this and probably pick up a copy of the paper on Sunday.
Here is staff writer Ben Enos’ main story.
Check out the top-20 capsules, Mike Lefkow’s story on the all-time “Cream of the Crop” team, and a checklist of every player named to the team the past 30 years.
Freshman Brittany Boyd scored 19 points, but Cal’s women fell 74-71 in overtime at No. 4 Stanford on Saturday. The Bears scored the final nine points of regulation to force overtime, then missed eight of their nine shots in the extra period.
Layshia Clarendon scored 17 points and became the 22nd Cal women’s player to top 1,000 for her career. The Bears (15-6, 6-3) had their six-game win streak snapped.
Sophomore Chiney Ogwumike had career-high totals of 27 points and 18 rebounds for the Cardinal (18-1, 9-0), which won its 66th straight game against Pac-12 competition and its 74th straight game at Maples Pavilion.
Elsewhere . . .
— RUGBY: Cal routed Stanford 109-0, improving to 6-0 on the season. The Bears have outscored their opponents 461-13. And they wanted to demote these guys to a club team?
— SENIOR BOWL: Former Cal wideout Marvin Jones caught just one pass in the Senior Bowl at Mobile, Ala., but he made it count for an eight-yard touchdown. Jones and the North squad posted a 23-13 victory.
Washington took two in the desert and now has a one-half game lead over Cal and Oregon . . .
— Washington 69, Arizona 67: Freshman Tony Wroten scored 17 points and blocked Josiah Turner’s layup at the buzzer, Terrence Ross added 16 and C.J. Wilcox 15 as the Huskies (14-7, 7-2) held off a furious rally at Tucson to complete a road sweep and move into sole possession of first place. Solomon Hill had 28 points and 11 rebounds for Arizona (14-8, 5-4). The Wildcats visit Cal on Thursday, but they will come without wing Kevin Parrom, who broke his foot and is out for the season.
— UCLA 77, Colorado 60: Senior guards Lazeric Jones and Jerime Anderson combined for 25 points and 17 assists and the Bruins (12-9, 5-4) completed a weekend home sweep. The Buffaloes (14-7, 6-3) fell to 1-3 in conference road games, despite 12 points and 10 rebounds by sophomore Andre Roberson, his league-leading 13th double-double of the season.
— USC 62, Utah 45: Maurice Jones and Garrett Jackson each scored 16 points and the Trojans (6-16, 1-8), with just six healthy scholarship players, ended a nine-game losing streak and won for the first time in Pac-12 play. The Utes (6-16, 2-7) shot just 37 percent and fell to 0-8 on the road this season.
— Arizona State 71, Washington State 67: Carrick Felix scored 20 points and the Sun Devils (7-14, 3-6) snapped a three-game losing streak. Brock Motum scored a career-high 34 for the Cougars, now 0-5 in Pac-12 road games.
Two months shy of his 39th birthday and playing his 18th NBA season, Jason Kidd may be nearing the end of the line.
The former Cal star came out the Dallas Mavericks’ game on Friday night with a right calf strain. The severity was uncertain, according to coach Rick Carlisle. But Kidd already had missed four games with back spasms and his production this season is the lowest of his career: 4.3 points, 5.5 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game.
If Kidd were to retire today, here are his career totals: 16,837 points, 11,660 assists (2nd all-time in NBA history), 8,275 rebounds (1st all-time among guards), 2,502 steals (3rd all-time) and 1,812 three-point baskets (3rd all-time).
He has played 47,148 minutes of NBA basketball — eighth-most in history.
A first-ballot Hall of Famers? You bet.
The tougher question: Where does Kidd rate among the greatest point guards?
Certainly behind Magic Johnson, his idol. And Oscar Robertson, if you want to classify him as a point guard. Only Magic and the Big O had more triple-doubles than Kidd’s 107.
But who else is better?
Arguments could be made for John Stockton, Gary Payton, Steve Nash, Isiah Thomas and Bob Cousy.
Any way you slice it, Kidd is among the elite handful to play the position. And his playing days may be running out.
Former Cal star Alex Morgan scored one goal and the U.S. women’s soccer team beat Costa Rica 3-0 on Friday night in Vancouver, B.C., clinching a berth in the Olympics Games this summer in London.
Some of you may already have heard: Elk Grove’s Arik Armstead plans to announce his college decision on Sunday at 3 p.m. at his family’s church. Here’s a more detailed report from the Sacramento Bee.
The 6-8, 295-pound offensive tackle/defensive end (and basketball power forward) has had home visits this week from Cal, Washington, Oregon, USC, UCLA, Notre Dame and Auburn. Surprised the 49ers haven’t stopped by.
The significance of Armstead making his announcement on Sunday could be the influence it has on other recruits, particularly safety Shaq Thompson of Grant HS in Sacramento. The two have apparently become close in recent weeks and some believe they may wind up at the same place.
UPDATE: Joe Davidson of the Bee — busiest man in Sacto — reports that Shaq Thompson is down to Cal, UW and Oregon. Said the UCLA trip is off.
A little informed guesswork by Davidson on his twitter account: “Getting asked right and left,so if I had to guess-speculate…Shaq-Armstead go to Cal and WoW the Old Blues.”
TIPOFF: Cal (15-5, 6-2 Pac-12) at No. 4 Stanford (17-1, 8-0) , Saturday, 2 p.m. TV: None.
GAME THEME: Stanford owns a 65-game win streak against Pac-12 competition and a 73-game streak at Maples Pavilion. The last team to beat the Cardinal in either category? The Bears, who beat Stanford in Berkeley in 2009 and at Maples two years before that. No current Cal player owns a victory over the Cardinal, but first-year head coach Lindsay Gottlieb was an assistant when the Bears toppled Stanford 72-57 at Maples on Feb. 4, 2007. Here is staff writer Stephanie Hammon’s game preview.
NOTES: The Bears have won six in a row since dropping their first two Pac-12 games . . . Five Cal players are averaging double-digit scoring during the six-game win streak, led by sophomore forward Gennifer Brandon, contributing 12.3 points and 11.5 rebounds during the stretch . . . Cal began the week ranked No. 2 nationally in rebounding margin at plus-16.1. Stanford was No. 5 at plus-13.1.
NEXT TIME: Cal at Arizona, Thursday, Feb. 2, 6 p.m.
USC sophomore center Dewayne Dedmon is out for the season after suffering a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee Thursday night against Colorado.
Coach Kevin O’Neill, who has lost five scholarship players to season-ending injuries, said Dedmon will not require surgery.
“I feel for Dewayne and our team,” said O’Neill. “Obviously it is another huge blow for us as we move forward.”
USC is 5-16 overall, 0-8 in the Pac-12.
Elsewhere . . .
— Possible bad news also for Washington State, facing the absence of senior guard Faisal Aden, who suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee on Thursday at Arizona and is doubtful to play Saturday at Arizona State. Aden scored 57 points last weekend in wins over Stanford and Cal.
D.J. Foster of Saguaro HS in Scottsdale, Ariz., announced Friday morning he will play at Arizona State. Cal was one of his finalists.
“I love California. Mr. (Ron) Gould was one of the most respected men I’ve never met,” Foster said of the Bears’ running backs coach.
Foster had 508 rushing yards and 1o touchdowns in one Arizona state playoff game this season. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder is rated as the No. 5 “athlete” in the nation by Rivals.com.
Meanwhile . . .
— Check out this Bay Area recruiting assessment by BANG’s Jon Wilner.
— Three-star safety Zach Hoffpauir, who de-committed from Cal, says the Bears remain on his list of finalists along with Stanford and Arizona State.
“I did de-commit but it was more to keep my options open,” the native of Peoria, Ariz., told Rivals.com. “I’m still looking at Cal hard so it’s not like I’m not thinking about them. I’m looking at all three of those schools. I talked to Cal and told them I am and they have just as good a shot as the other ones so don’t be surprised if I de-commit and then end up signing with them.”