Basketball: On Zellers, Withey and Franklin

No underdogs survive as the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament wraps up on Friday . . .

   — No. 1’s Kentucky and North Carolina, No. 2 Kansas and No. 3 Baylor all advanced to the regional finals.

   — Quite a night for the Zeller family. UNC’s Tyler Zeller had 20 points and 22 points in a 73-65 win over Ohio, and Indiana’s scored 20 in a 102-90 loss to Kentucky.

   — Think Arizona could have used 7-foot center Jeff Withey this season? The junior transfer became just the fifth player in NCAA tournament history to block 10 shots in a game as Kansas  beat North Carolina State 60-57.

   — Then there’s one-time Cal guard Gary Franklin Jr., now playing for Baylor. The Bears of the Big 12 are one game away from the Final Four, but Franklin has yet to play in any of the team’s three NCAA games and has scored just six points in Baylor’s past 11 games.


Softball: Arioto hits 2 HRs in 9-0 rout of Stanford

Senior Valerie Arioto hit two of Cal’s five home runs and the No. 2-ranked Bears beat No. 9 Stanford 9-0 in the Pac-12 opener at Stanford.

Arioto’s two 2-run blasts give her 13 homers for the season.

Jolene Henderson pitched a three-hit shutout with six strikeouts and no walks for the Bears (26-1, 1-0). Breana Kostreb, Danielle Henderson and Ashley Decker also homered for Cal.

Weather-permitting, the teams will play again Saturday at 1 p.m. at Stanford.

Elsewhere . . .

   — Men’s swimming: Junior Thomas Shields won the 100 butterfly (44.76 seconds) and the 100 backstroke (44.86) and swam on the runnerup 200 medley and 800 freestyle relays as Cal maintained its lead at the NCAA championships.

The Bears have 379.5 points through two days, leading runnerup Texas (343.5) and fourth-place Stanford (277). The meet concludes Saturday.

Stanford freshman Kristian Ipsen of De La Salle HS won the 3-meter diving title with a score of 469.20 points.





Basketball: Gaels rule All-Bay Area team

My annual All-Bay Area team is headed by a strong-willed guard who grew up on foreign soil.

The nod goes to Saint Mary’s junior point guard Matthew Dellavedova, who led the Gaels to the West Coast Conference regular-season and tournament titles.

Here’s the full lineup:

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Dellavedova earns the spot over Cal’s Jorge Gutierrez simply because he elevated his team to greater heights. The Aussie floor leader averaged 15.5 points and 6.4 assists, collecting WCC Player of the Year honors. He was at his best in the big games, averaging 22.7 points in three games vs. conference rival Gonzaga.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Randy Bennett has built Saint Mary’s into a mid-major power, and for the first time the Gaels swept the WCC regular-season and tournament crowns. They won four of five games against Gonzaga and BYU and finished with 27 victories — the program’s fifth straight season of at least 25 wins.

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Stanford guard Chasson Randle averaged 13.9 points and shot 43.8 percent from the 3-point line. He was consistently unafraid to take the big shot, and scored at an 18.5 ppg clip over the final eight games. He prevails here over Cal forward David Kravish (6.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Saint Mary’s forward Brad Waldow (8.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg).


   — Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary’s: Nine games of 20 points or more and 13 games with seven assists or more. The best player on the best team in the Bay Area.

   — Jorge Gutierrez, Cal: The senior guard from Mexico slumped at the finish, but meant everything to a team that contended for the Pac-12 title until the final minutes of the regular season. Gutierrez averaged 13.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists. Was the Pac-12 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.

   — Rob Jones, Saint Mary’s: The senior forward averaged 15.0 points and 10.8 rebounds, assembling 20 double-doubles. The Gaels don’t get it done without him.

   — Harper Kamp, Cal: Smart and tough, the senior forward was an underrated frontcourt defender who turned up his offense over late in the season, averaging 15.o points over the final 13 games on a team with virtually no depth.

   — Wil Carter, San Jose State: If this one surprises you, consider that the senior forward avearaged 16.0 points and 9.6 rebounds over the final 17 games. Included was a 21-point, 20-rebound performance against Hawaii.

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Basketball: OSU’s Cunningham facing NBA decision; which other Pac-12 players may go?

Former San Leandro HS star Jared Cunningham may have played his final college basketball game Wednesday night.

But after a 72-55 loss to Washington State in the semifinals of the CBI tournament, the junior guard from Oregon State was not ready to tip his hand.

“I’m just going to stick with my team until that day I decide whether to come back or leave,” Cunningham said. “It’s really up in the air right now. … If I’m going to be here next year, that would be great. If I leave, that would be great. As of right now, I’m just playing it by ear.

“I like this place, I like the team. … The ultimate goal is to make the NCAA tournament. I feel we have a great group of guys that can make a push for it.”

The website draftexpress.com ranks Cunningham as the nation’s No. 16 junior, but does not project him to be taken in the two-round NBA draft.

Which other non-seniors from the Pac-12 will face an offseason decision?

Few expect Washington sophomore Terrence Ross or freshman Tony Wroten to be back. They have a date in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden before possibly turning the page, but both are projected as first-round draft picks.

Any other candidates?

   — Colorado sophomore forward Andre Roberson: No definitive word, but he’s believed to be at least thinking about it. Best guess: He returns.

   — Cal sophomore guard Allen Crabbe: Talented, but definitely not ready. And he’s smart enough to know it.

   — UCLA sophomore center Joshua Smith: Please.


Basketball: Stanford clocks Nevada

The Cardinal plays its best game of the year — heck, maybe its best game in four seasons under Johnny Dawkins — to advance to NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden . . .

    — Stanford 84, Nevada 56: The Cardinal (24-11) shot 65 percent in the first half and led by as many as 32 points in an NIT quarterfinal game. Josh Owens and Chasson Randle scored 15 points apiece and Stanford set a school record with its 17th home win of the season. The Cardinal will play Massachusetts (25-11) in the NIT semifinals on Tuesday, with the winner facing the Washington-Minnesota winner a week from Thursday. Note: Dawkins, mentioned in a Chicago Tribune story as a possible candidate for the vacant Illinois job, said after the game he has not been contacted by the school.

   — Washington State 72, Oregon State 55: In the CBI semifinals at Corvallis, Ore., Abe Lodwick had career highs of 23 points and 12 rebounds and the Cougars (18-16) overcame the loss of star forward Brock Motum, who suffered a right ankle injury 2 minutes into the game and did not return. Reggie Moore added a season-high 22 points for WSU, which will host Pittsburgh on Monday in opening game of the best-of-three championship series. The Beavers (21-15) got 13 points from San Leandro HS grad Jared Cunningham, who must decide whether to return for his senior season or enter the NBA draft.




Football: The Tosh Hangover is subsiding

Two weeks into spring football and the hangover following the loss of popular defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi seems to be over.

There are no hard feelings among Cal’s D-linemen, and they are embracing new position coach Todd Howard.

“It’s definitely not fair, especially when you’ve got a coach like Lupoi, who is so young and close to our age and able to connect to our generation,” redshirt sophomore defensive end Gabe King said after practice Tuesday. “It’s hard to move to a guy that’s a lot older. At first we had to warm up a little bit because we were bitter. We lost Coach and no one knew we were going to lose him.

“But the adjustment wasn’t too hard. We’re warming up really well. Coach Howard understands that it took time. He just keeps coming full force with embracing us as his players. That’s all that really matters.”

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Football: Bears break out pads for first time

The Bears held their first session in pads of spring practice on Tuesday and coach Jeff Tedford was pleased.

“Everything was good. We got a chance to get after it a bit,” he said. “Guys were flying around. We did a good job of that.”

The practice was closed to the media, but Tedford said there was sufficient hitting for the first day in pads.

“We didn’t take the backs to the ground a lot, but everybody else is playing football pretty live.” he said.

— Position change: Redshirt freshman defensive back Joel Willis of Garden Grove has been moved to wide receiver. The Bears’ receiver corps is thin right now, but this isn’t merely a spring experiement. The move is permanent, Tedford said.

“I think that’s going to be a great addition for us — he’s able to run and make plays and has a lot of athleticism. That’s a good fit for him,” Tedford said of the 5-foot-10, 188-pounder.

“He’s been kind of chomping at the bit to play receiver, anyway. That’s a real natural fit. He was really more of an offensive guy in high school.”

Willis was listed as the nation’s No. 53 “athlete” prospect out of Pacifica High in 2010. He had 90 tackles on defense, but also averaged more than 22 yards on 40 pass receptions, rushed for 345 yards and five touchdowns and scored three TDs on kickoff or punt returns.

— Tuesday absences: Quarterback Zach Maynard was among five or six players who skipped the practice to attend to academic responsibilities, Tedford said. Maynard also missed last Saturday’s workout to be at a study group. Among the others absent was defensive end Mustafa Jalil, a projected starter.

— New on the sidelines: Tedford said new assistant coaches Wes Chandler (receivers) and Todd Howard (defensive line) are fitting in nicely.

“Obviously, Wes is learning the offense and learning the players and building relationships there. And Todd the same thing,” Tedford said. “I can tell by watching the drills that (the players) are receptive to what’s going on. It’s nice to have some new drills at the receiver position.

“You can tell by the way that the defensive line is playing that Todd is really doing a nice job, and they’re responding to him with their energy and their excitement and the things that they’re doing.”

The Bears will practice Thursday, then take next week off for spring break before returning for their final 11 spring workouts.



Basketball: Huskies top Ducks in NIT Qtrs

Washington is headed to the NIT semifinals at New York City’s Madison Square Garden . . .

   — Washington 90, Oregon 86: Terrence Ross scored 24 points and Tony Wroten added 22 as the Huskies (24-10) topped Pac-12 rival Oregon (24-10) in their NIT quarterfinal game at Seattle. C.J. Wilcox added 17 points and Abdul Gaddy had 11 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. Olu Ashaolu had 20 points and E.J. Singler 19 for Oregon, but top scorer Devoe Joseph was limited to 12 points on 4-for-15 shooting.


Women’s basketball: Cal ousted by Irish

The Cal women were knocked out of the NCAA tournament by top-seeded Notre Dame, falling 73-62 after playing the host team to a halftime standoff.

Layshia Clarendon, the all-Pac-12 junior guard, had 17 points but the Bears (25-10) sabotated themselves with 19 turnovers.

Rashanda Gray had 15 points off the bench for Cal.

“I think Notre Dame feeds of the crowds and gets better. I didn’t feel like our mistakes came from panic. I think it came when the other team was able to do things that rattle you,” said Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb, whose team had 12 second-half turnovers after fighting the Irish to a 31-all standoff at the break.

“There is no question we got a little bit rattled and made some mistakes that changed the tempo of the game at the beginning of the second half.”

Notre Dame scored 24 points off Cal turnovers.

Natalie Novosel made 18 of 20 free throws and led the Irish (32-3) with 28 points. All-America point guard Skylar Diggins scored 21 points.