Basketball: A return trip to Dayton in 2013?

ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi, the man who never sleeps, has posted his first NCAA tournament projections for 2013. No kidding.

Lunardi has Cal as a No. 12 seed again, and once more envisions the Bears heading to Dayton, Ohio for a “First Four” matchup against Colorado State.

Four Pac-12 teams are in Lunardi’s 2013 projected field, also including Arizona as a No. 5 seed, UCLA as a No. 6 and Stanford at No. 10.

His four No. 1 seeds are Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas and Louisville.

Elsewhere . . .

   — In case you missed it, Cal will play next season in the Anaheim Classic, an eight-team event that runs Nov. 22-23-25 at the Anaheim Convention Center. Pairings are yet to be announced, but the field includes Saint Mary’s and Xavier. Also confirmed is Rice, led by former Cal coach Ben Braun, so there are some enticing matchups possible.

   — Former Cal star Ryan Anderson, picking up the slack with Dwight Howard sidelined by a back injury, had 26 points and 16 rebounds as the Orlando Magic beat the Philadelphia 76ers 113-100.  It was Anderson’s 13th double-double this season.

   — Former USF forward Perris Blackwell, who averaged 12.7 points and 6.1 rebounds this past season, has transferred to Washington. The 6-foot-9, 240-pounder will sit out the 2012-13 season and play his senior year in 2013-14.


Basketball: Bears sign another Price HS player

Cal announced the signing of Kahlil Johnson, a 6-foot-7, 190-pound small forward from Price HS in Los Angeles, the alma mater of current Golden Bears Allen Crabbe and Richard Solomon.

“Kahlil is a wing-type player that is highly skilled and is a good shooter who gives us great flexibility and the ability to move our players around and create match-up problems,” Cal head coach Mike Montgomery said.

“He can play multiple positions, and has improved tremendously in the last year. We are delighted to have him and think he’s going to be a great addition to our program.”

Johnson averaged 16 points per game for the Knights, who compiled a 26-9 record and reached the CIF Division IV state title game. Johnson had 26 points and 10 rebounds in the Southern California title game, then 17 in the state championship loss to Salesian.

Johnson joins fall signees Tyrone Wallace, a 6-4 guard and top-100 prospect from Bakersfield HS, and 6-9 forward Kaileb Rodriguez, a three-star recruit from Highlands Ranch, Colo.

OK, back to vacation.


Football: On Zach M, Zach K and everyone in between on Bears’ quarterback depth chart

Hope everyone had a nice Easter holiday.

If you did not see our newspaper this morning, here’s my Sunday story on Cal’s quarterback situation. Senior Zach Maynard is No. 1, without a serious challenger at this point and has the confidence of the coaching staff.

He directly disputed the persistent rumors that he is in danger of being academically ineligible next season.

Junior Allan Bridgford is solid as the No. 2. There is no real order among the other three, and no plans to automatically redshirt freshman Zach Kline. Jeff Tedford and his staff are very high on the recent San Ramon Valley HS graduate, and competition will determine how things stack up. 

I’m taking a week’s vacation. See you soon.



Football: Schwenke embraces move to center

Senior Brian Schwenke has played guard his entire career at Cal. In high school in Oceanside he was a tackle.

Now the 6-foot-4, 312-pounder is learning the center position and he’s wondering where it’s been all his life.

“I feel like playing guard I wasn’t doing anything at all. Center is so much more . . . I’m making the call, snapping the ball and then that guy is right there,” he said. “It’s tougher, but I feel like I’m getting a handle on it.”

Schwenke doesn’t even know if the switch is permanent. The Bears are a little short on centers right now, with Dominic Galas limited by a shoulder injury and Mark Brazinski now out with a torn left ACL. Sophomore Chris Adcock was snapping left-handed on Saturday after breaking his right hand.

Come the fall, it’s even possible incoming freshman Matt Cochran, a highly rated 6-4, 320-pounder from Atwater, could get a shot at the job.

For now, Schwenke is enjoying the new gig.

“It’s definitely good for me in the long run to be able to play both positions,” he said. “It’s a challenge — that’s what I like about it. I used to come out to practice not really worried about anything.

“Now I’m thinking all the time, learning new things, learning new techniques. It’s definitely put a lot more on my plate.”

Coach Jeff  Tedford said Schwenke is adapting nicely. “He’s doing well. We’re messing around with his grip a little bit,” Tedford said. “He’s doing fine. He’s just got to keep working at it.”

Become adept and consistent at delivering the shotgun snap is new for Schwenke, who said when he messes up it’s usually because he wasn’t concentrating. “I understand why I mess it up. It’s not like, `Where’d that ball go?’ I know why it was a bad snap,” he said.

But Schwenke said getting blasted by the opposing noseguard is not an issue.

“I’m never worried about the D-linemen. That’s never been who I am,” he said. “I like to go attack them, scare them.” 


Here’s how the first two offensive lines were arranged Saturday:
First team
LT Tyler Rigsbee, redshirt Sr
LG Jordan Rigsbee, redshirt Fr
C Brian Schwenke, Sr
RG Geoffrey Gibson, redshirt So
RT Matt Summers-Gavin, redshirt Sr
Second team
LT Bill Tyndall, redshirt Jr
LG Matt Williams, redshirt Jr
C Chris Adcock, redshirt So
RG Alejandro Crosswaite, redshirt So
RT Brian Farley, redshirt Fr


Softball: Bears sweep 2 from Utes, now 9-0 in Pac

Top-ranked Cal (36-1, 9-0 in Pac-12) stayed alone atop the conference standings after beating Utah 11-3 in five innings and 12-3 in six innings at Salt Lake City. The Bears outscored the Utes (23-12, 0-6) by a combined total of 33-6 in three games.

In the opener, Valerie Arioto slugged her conference-leading 16th home run of the season, and Jace Williams, Deana Kostreba, Danielle Henderson and Jolene Henderson also homered. Arioto allowed just three hits while improving to 16-0 on the season.

In the nightcap, Ashley Decker, Kostreba and Danielle Henderson homered for the Bears and Jolene Henderson struck out six in six innings to improve to 20-1.



Football: O-lineman Brazinski suffers ACL injury to left knee, will miss entire 2012 season

Junior center/guard Mark Brazinski suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee this week, will undergo surgery and miss the 2012 season, coach Jeff Tedford said after Saturday’s spring workout.

Backup tailback C.J. Anderson dislocated his thumb in practice and likely will undergo surgery. Tedford said he’s probably done for the spring.

The Bears, in fact, are experiencing a little epidemic with hand injuries. Center Chris Adcock was snapping left-handed Saturday because he broke his right hand.

Linebacker Jalen Jefferson broke his hand during Saturday’s workout, tight end Spencer Hagan suffered a broken hand earlier in the week and offensive lineman Tyler Rigsbee the same.

None of them will impact next season, aside from Brazinski, who already has used his redshirt season and will return as a senior in 2013.

Otherwise, Tedford was pleased with the Bears’ padded practice.

“A lot of great things. We were able to be physical. There’s a lot to learn from, from the tape,” Tedford said. “The defense has a lot in, so the offensive line needs to gel a little bit. Some guys made some plays, everybody was really physical running to the ball. For the most part we took care of the football. I thought there was a lot of really good effort. A lot of excitement.”

Highlights included No. 2 quarterback Allan Bridgford’s touchdown pass to Jackson Bouza, who made a nice catch in traffic. With his dad — former Cal wideout Matt Bouza — on hand, Jackson spiked the ball, prompting a barrage of yellow penalty flags from the referees.

“That was a great catch,” Tedford said.

Senior Zach Maynard showed himself to be consistently the best of the Bears’ five quarterbacks. Senior tailback Isi Sofele, who doesn’t need the work anyway, tweaked a hamstring early in practice and was held out of scrimmaging.

That gave sophomore Brendan Bigelow the chance to do more and he delivered a nice performance.

“I thought he grew up a lot today. These things are going to be great for him,” Tedford said. “You could just tell he was in a lot of traffic, he’s learning to plant and put his pads down and get through the holes.

“He got excited today, broke some tackles, kept spinning and churning and got up with a lot of enthusiasm. He’s competing hard and learning.”

Senior Vince D’Amato, taking over the placekicking duties, hit a couple field goals and drew praise from Tedford.

The Bears wrap up their spring workouts on April 21 at Edwards Stadium with an event open to the public.



Softball: Echavarria powers Bears past Utes

Frani Echavarria doubled twice, homered and drove in five runs and No. 1 Cal (34-1, 7-0 Pac-12) routed host Utah 10-0 in a five-inning game.

Danielle Henderson added a home run and three RBI and Jolene Henderson (19-1) pitched a five-inning two-hitter against the Utes (23-10, 0-4). Slugger Valerie Arioto was walked twice, boosting her NCAA-leading total to 49.

Meanwhile . . .

   — Baseball: Relievers Keaton Simpkin, Chris Muse-Fisher and Joey Donofrio combined to pitch five one-hit, scoreless innings and the Bears (17-10, 2-5) scored twice in the top of the ninth inning fpr a 5-4 win at USC (17-10, 3-6). Mitch Delfino singled in Vince Bruno with one out in the ninth to tie the game before Tony Renda doubled home Delfino.


Football: Memorial Stadium renovation expected to be complete in time for Sept. 1 kickoff

My story on the Memorial Stadium renovation and retrofit and the new Simpson Student-Athlete High Performance Center and photographer Dan Honda’s video presentation are posted on our website: http://www.insidebayarea.com/cal-bears/ci_20326557/cal-football-stadium-time-sept-1-kickoff

The place is taking shape and ought to be spectacular on for the Bears’ opener against Nevada on Sept. 1.


Football: Bears return to practice

The Bears returned to practice Tuesday after a week off for spring break. The practice was closed, with an interview session afterward.

No pads — they will wear them for workouts Thursday and Saturday.

“We looked fine. Obviously, we’ve got a long way to go,” coach Jeff Tedford said. “They did a nice job in the week off of staying in shape so we didn’t have to start from square one again.”

Tedford said the Bears will begin to install some of their red-zone offense on Thursday. He also anticipates that inside linebacker David Wilkerson of Monte Vista HS in Danville will be back at practice after missing time with a variety of minor injuries.

Elsewhere Tuesday . . .

— Tedford confirmed that senior running back Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson is no longer on the team. DeBoskie-Johnson, who carried the ball just 10 times last season and did not figure into the rotation next fall, wants to spend his senior season somewhere he can get more playing time.

Because he will graduate this spring, DeBoskie-Johnson can transfer and play immediately.

— Starting quarterback Zach Maynard, who had missed a couple recent workouts due to academic obligations, was back at practice and enjoying the chance to throw to his cousin, redshirt freshman wideout Maurice Harris.

With star junior Keenan Allen expected back in the fall after injuring his ankle, Maynard said he’s excited by the prospect of having his half-brother on one side, his cousin on the other.

“Two huge, rangy athletes. We need Maurice to step up and make plays. I’m very excited for that,” Maynard said.

At 6-foot-3, 206 pounds, Harris has the best hands of any receiver on the team, according to Tedford.

“He’s a one-hand catching kind of guy,” Maynard said. “He can make any type of catch, especially those up-top balls, those jump balls. That’s where he separates from guys.”

Tedford said one or more of the freshmen arriving in the summer will figure into the mix at receiver. But he’s encouraged by the potential of Harris.

“His thing right now is just (gaining) experience,” Tedford said. “He’s got a really good body, good frame, good range, catches the ball very, very well. Now it’s just a matter of getting him as many reps as we can.”

— Standouts in practice Tuesday, according to Tedford, included the defensive line, tight end Richard Rodgers, linebacker Jason Gibson and defensive back Avery Sebastian, recovered from a hamstring ailment.

— Tedford said all the quarterbacks threw the ball well, but protection must improve. “There’s a lot of offensive linemen rotating through. Sometimes it wasn’t just physical, but mental mistakes,” he said. “Those are the types of things that are going to happen when you’re playing with new offensive linemen.

“It’s going to take them a little bit longer than the defensive linemen.”