Basketball: Kamp on CU — `We played too soft’

Harper Kamp said the Bears are ready to put Sunday’s 60-57  70-57 loss at Colorado behind them and focus solely on their regular-season finale at Stanford.

But first . . .

“Everyone is really disappointed,” the senior forward said of Sunday’s loss that knocked the Bears out of a first-place tie. “I think I’m mostly disappointed in my own leadership in that game. I don’t feel like I led the team the way it needed to be. Whether it was saying enough or just leading by example, we played really too soft. We weren’t the team we normally are.

“It comes down to leadership when that kind of thing happens. It’s my fault . . . it’s me and Jorge (Gutierrez)  as the seniors. We’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Specifically, Kamp said the Bears were subpar defensively.

“That’s the most important part. That’s not acceptable,” he said. “There’s going to be times when shots aren’t falling. You’re going to miss things, they’re going to make you take tough shots. But there’s no excuse for letting them blow by you in transition and letting them get by you the whole game and get layups.

“I was pretty excited about the game and I was expecting more from myself and my teammates. We didn’t play together like we should. And we didn’t play hard enough.”

Kamp said he didn’t talk with Gutierrez about his first scoreless game in more than two seasons.

“Neither one of us really cares about that,” Kamp said. “We were just disappointed we played the way we did and we lost the game in that fashion.”

Sophomore Allen Crabbe said the Bears had a great practice Tuesday and anticipated the Bears will prepare with renewed vigor this week.

“We need to have a good week of practice and work on the things we didn’t do so well at Colorado, which was our defense,” Crabbe said. “We didn’t have enough energy, we didn’t play together as a team, help each other on defense. Colorado was just ready for that game.”

The Bears may not know until Saturday, when first-place Washington visits UCLA, whether they still have a shot at stealing a piece of the Pac-12 title. Kamp said he believes Cal’s practice is scheduled during the 11 a.m. time slot of the UW-UCLA game.

“Maybe coach did that on purpose,” he said. “Not watching the game maybe will be best. Just focus on our game. That’ll probably be the key in preparing ourselves.”

Crabbe agreed.

“We’re better off having practice, (to) focus on what we need to do. If we come in second, we come in second,” Crabbe said. “We had an opportunity and we slipped up. We really can’t blame anybody else but ourselves for not going out Sunday and playing hard. They outplayed us. We got what we deserved.”




Basketball: SI story rips open UCLA

Sports Illustrated reporter George Dohrmann’s exhaustive look at the unraveling of UCLA’s program (“Not the UCLA Way”) ultimately delivers the blame to one person: coach Ben Howland.


UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero will wait before committing to Howland


San Jose’s Drew Gordon, recruited to Westwood for his freshman season in 2008-09 and now finishing his career at New Mexico, is depicted as disruptive and  immature.

Modesto native Reeves Nelson, kicked off the team early this season, was said by one former teammate to have had “this crazy side.” Nelson, interviewed by SI, acknowledged a series of incidents, most of them in practice, where his erratic behavior contributed to driving players out of the program.

Ultimately, according to the interviews Dorhmann conducted and the total picture he painted, Howland comes off as the overriding cause for the program’s collapse after three straight Final Four appearances from 2006 through 2008.

SI describes a pattern of Howland failing to discipline players who were causing trouble, said he was awkward socially and may have even been a model for the behavior of several players through his verbally abusive attitude toward assistant coaches, staff and lesser players.

As one player told the magazine: “Can you imagine the same thing happening at Duke? Can you imagine players getting away with that stuff under Coach K?”

The story certainly calls into question Howland’s future at UCLA. I had someone tell me last week they’d heard Howland might me planning to beat the posse out of L.A. by trying land the UConn job if Jim Calhoun resigned. Howland, of course, had great success at Pitt in the Big East Conference.

If that is his plan, this won’t be helpful to his resume.

In the short term, it will be curious to see how the Bruins react to this media storm. Will they be on the same page Saturday when they take in Pac-12 leader Washington in a game critical to Cal’s championship hopes?

It will be worth watching.



Basketball: Post-weekend odds ‘n ends

Monday dinks and links . . .

   — Cal’s loss at Colorado dropped the Bears from No. 29 to No. 36 in the latest NCAA official RPI rankings. That’s still 16 spots higher than the next-best Pac-12 team, Washington, at No. 52. Oregon is No. 53, Arizona No. 69 and Colorado No. 76. What’s killing the Pac-12 is that three teams — ASU, USC and Utah — are all No. 250 or worse. Amazing.

   — ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi still has Cal as a  No. 9 seed, projecting the Bears to play Memphis at Omaha, Neb., with a second-round matchup vs. No. 1 Kansas looming, A chance to renew some of the bad blood when the teams mixed it up in Berkeley a year ago. The biggest news in Lunardi’s projections is that he seems to be hinting the Pac-12 could land four teams. That would be a stunner. He’s got Oregon and Colorado among his “next four out,” and they play Thursday at Eugene. The winner will move closer to the field.

   — Cal scored 57 points in each of its two games vs. Colorado this season, tied for the third lowest-scoring games of their season. The issue: The guard trio of Jorge Gutierrez (2 for-24), Justin Cobbs (6 for 20) and Allen Crabbe (8 for 22) combined to shoot 16 for 66 in the two games. They totaled 57 points among them in the two outings.

   — Of course, Cal will cheer this week for USC or UCLA to beat Washington in L.A., giving the Bears a chance to secure a share of the Pac-12 title. If that doesn’t happen and Cal finishes second, the Bears would benefit from Oregon sweeping Colorado and Utah in Eugene. That would leave Oregon and Arizona tied for third place, and the Ducks would earn the No. 3 seed for the Pac-12 tournament by virtue of their head-to-head win over the Wildcats. That would project Cal to face Oregon in the 2 vs. 3 tournament semifinal, a better matchup than Cal vs. Arizona.


Basketball: Montgomery on CU loss

My apologies again for dashing off so quickly after Sunday’s game. I had just enough time to file my story, then drive to the airport to catch a flight. A very tight schedule.

Here are postgame comments from Mike Montgomery:

General—“The one thingColorado does is they will not let you get to the basket. They really load up at the basket. So, what we worked on was to try to get there and find the open guy. I wouldn’t say we were highly successful in that.”

On the outcome—“We didn’t defend very well. They [Colorado] really took advantage of their offensive possessions. They shot it well—we didn’t. They took away some things and it frustrated us a little bit. I think more than anything else though, that our point of attack defense was not very good. We attack time after time, but they were able to get it to another guy who was able to score; that caused us all sorts of problems.”

On Jorge Gutierrez going scoreless—“That definitely causes us a problem, but there’s nothing wrong with him. He’s had a hard time shooting the ball and that’s been getting in his head a little bit. He did have nine rebounds and he did the other things that he does, but he’s very conscience of the fact that the ball’s not going in. If you look statistically, Jorge has one foul. We obviously just weren’t doing a very good job with our perimeter people in terms of defending. They [Colorado] were able to get by us and get into the paint pretty much whenever they needed to.”

On potentially finishing first—“It’s a game. It’sColorado on the road and Stanford on the road. We knew these were two tough games. They deserve to win. They played better than we did. If we can’t play better than that’s what it is. The issue with finishing first, which is always your goal, is still on the horizon. It means we’re going to have to win at Stanford, but we will know more going into the game whetherWashington will lose on the road. It’s still out there for us, but this makes it that much more difficult.”

On overcoming the atmosphere—“Stanford played great, they shot lights out. Then next thing you know you are down 20. From a psychological point there’s always them being `By God we’ve got to play better.’ This is always a hard road trip. We’re coming from a further distance, there’s altitude … and Colorado’s good—don’t make any mistake. They lost one game in league and that was the other night, so they were ready to play. They were gunned up and they fought hard. We just couldn’t capitalize to put any pressure on them.”



Basketball: Colorado game thread

FINAL SCORE: Colorado 70, Cal 57. The Bears (23-7, 13-4) fall out of first place, dropping to 13-4 in the Pac-12, 23-7 overall. They now need Washington (20-8, 13-3) to lose either to USC or UCLA next week in Los Angeles to have a chance to gain a share of the title. Crabbe finished with 16 points, Cobbs 15 and Harper Kamp 13, including his first 3-pointer of the season. Gutierrez was held scoreless (0 for 7 FG) for the first time since Jan. 2, 2010. Cal shot just 38 percent and forced Colorado into only five turnovers.

3:41 2nd H: Cobbs hits two FTs and Cal trails 60-53.

7:24 2nd H: CU leads 55-49 and Dufault is going to the line for two FTs. The Bears’ problem right now isn’t their offense — heck, Kamp even made his first 3-pointer of the season a moment ago. Crabbe has 16 points, Kamp 13 and Cobbs 11. Gutierrez still scoreless on 0 for 6. But the Cal defense isn’t doing much to stop the Buffs, who seem to score when they need to.

12:31 2nd H: CU leads 46-35 after drive by Nate Tomlinson. The Bears are struggling to run their offense. The past two possessions they couldn’t get a shot until a desperation heave just before the shot-clock buzzer. CU is confident. Cal is tentative.

16:51 2nd H: Cal scoring a bit better this half, but CU answering each basket. Buffs lead 39-33 after layup by Kamp, who has 10 points, matching Crabbe’s total.

Continue Reading


Basketball: Five years later, Gutierrez remains an inspiration for students at Denver’s Lincoln HS

I skipped Cal’s game Thursday night at Utah to spend part of the day visiting with students and faculty at Abraham Lincoln High School in southwest Denver.

It’s the alma mater of Cal senior guard Jorge Gutierrez, and it’s almost as if he never left.

Most of the 1,900 kids at Lincoln have never met Gutierrez, but it”s obvious he continues to be very much alive on the campus. Lincoln is 97 percent Hispanic, and a large chunk of those students are undocumented arrivals from Mexico.

I visited with two current players on the Lincoln Lancers, along with teachers, coaches and administrators, and Gutierrez’s example continues to inspire them.

The high school purchased 200 tickets for Sunday’s game at Colorado, so Gutierrez will have his own cheering section at the Coors Events Center.

Here’s my story, with photos and video.


Basketball: Colorado scouting report

TIPOFF: 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Coors Events Center, Boulder, Colo. TV: CSNBA. Radio: 910-AM. 

Stanford’s 74-50 rout of Colorado on Thursday provided no game plan for the Bears to follow Sunday.

The Cardinal stampeded the Buffaloes with size and depth. Stanford’s length bothered CU near the basket, and its depth made sure that the mile-high elevation was no issue. Throw in an uncharacteristically terrific shooting night by the Cardinal, and it was a rout.

“That’s not indicative. That doesn’t mean anything,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said Saturday. “Stanford comes out and just lights it up. Are they going to do that every day? If they do, they’re conference champs. They obviously don’t do that.”

Montgomery knows the Buffs — 13-2 at home — will be much tougher Sunday.

And the Bears don’t’ have Stanford’s size or depth, so they will need to win the game on their terms in order to sneak one-half game in front of Washington atop the Pac-12 standings.

Fatigue could be a concern. Cal’s starters are averaging nearly 35 minutes per game over the past three outings, simply because Montgomery cannot afford to go to his bench for long spurts.

“Depth is a little bit of an issue for us. It’s going to catch up to you at some point,” he said. “In key games, we’re playing guys 36 minutes-plus. That can wear on you a little bit.”

Continue Reading


Cal rugby’s 63-match win streak snapped

Cal’s powerhouse rugby team lost 22-20 at Cal Poly, snapping the Bears’ 63-match win streak.

The Bears fell to 10-1 this season.

Meanwhile . . .

   — Swimming: Liv Jensen won the 100-yard freestyle (47.42 seconds) and Caitlin Leverenz won the 200 breakstroke in a school-record time (2:05.49) as the Cal women captured their second Pac-12 team title in four years at Federal Way, Wash.

   — Track and field: Deborah Maier set a meet record to win the 3,000 meters (9:02.35) at the MPSF indoor championships in Seattle. Teammate Chelsea Reilly set a school record in the mile (4:41.29) to finish third.

   — Softball:  Valerie Arioto pitched a four-hitter and hit her eighth home run of the season as the No. 1/3 Golden Bears (11-0) topped Cal Poly 4-1 at the Cathedral City Classic. The Bears face Cal State Northridge on Sunday. 

   — Baseball: Vince Bruno tripled to open the 10th inning and scored on Chad Bunting’s sacrifice fly and the Bears (4-1) beat Long Beach State 2-1.



Women’s basketball: Bears clinch second place

Layshia Clarendon scored 15 points and the Cal women (22-7, 13-4) beat Colorado 64-43 at Haas Pavilion to clinch a second-place finish in the Pac-12.

Talia Caldwell and Brittany Boyd scored 11 points apiece for the Bears, who won their fourth straight game and sixth in seven outings.

The Bears close the regular season against regular-season champion Stanford a week from Sunday at Haas.


Basketball: Cougars miss chance to topple UW

Free throw woes prevent WSU from giving Cal a boost . . .

   — Washington 59, Washington State 55: Down 13 points with 11 minutes left, the Huskies (20-8, 13-3) rallied behind 21 points from freshman Tony Wroten to beat the Cougars (14-14, 6-10) at Pullman, Wash. A WSU win could have given Cal a one-game lead over UW at the top of the Pac-12 standings, but the Cougars shot 6 for 20 from the free throw line in the second half (17 for 32 for the game).

   — Utah 58, Stanford 57: Chris Hines scored 27 points, including a game-winning 3-pointer with 27 seconds left, and the Utes (6-22, 3-13) snapped an eight-game losing streak. Two days after routing Colorado, Stanford (19-10, 9-8) shot 37 percent. Freshman Chasson Randle led the Cardinal with 19 points.

   — Arizona 65, UCLA 63: Arizona (21-9, 12-5) missed four FTs in the final minute but still completed a comeback win at home. Senior guard Jerime Anderson equaled his season high with 20 points for the Bruins (16-13, 9-7), but missed a game-tying jumper before the buzzer. Kyle Fogg had 20 points and Jesse Perry 16 for the Cats.

   — Arizona State 56, USC 52: Chris Colvin completed a three-point play with 19.4 seconds left to lift the Sun Devils (9-20, 5-12) in Tempe, Ariz. Freshman Byron Wesley scored a career-high 22 points for the last-place Trojans (6-23, 1-15), who set a school record for losses in a season.