Basketball: Harvard stuns Bears

A bad loss for Cal on Sunday. No other way to put it.

The Bears fell 67-62 to Harvard, just their fifth defeat ever to an Ivy League team.

I was at AT&T Park covering the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, so I did not see the Cal-Harvard game. But here are a few details and conclusions:

The Bears dropped to 8-4 headed into Thursday’s Pac-12 opener at UCLA, which has won five in a row, including a win over a tough Missouri team on Friday night.

Cal’s first three losses were to opponents (UNLV, Creighton) or at places (Wisconsin) that were understandable.

The Crimson is a team Cal should beat regardless of the circumstances.

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Basketball: Harvard preview

TIPOFF: 5 p.m. Saturday at Haas Pavilion. TV/Radio: Pac-12 Networks/910 AM.

The Bears close out their nonconference schedule with a third straight home game before heading to Los Angeles next week for Pac-12 Conference openers at UCLA on Thursday and USC on Saturday.

Cal will be forced to match up defensively against a Harvard squad that starts four guards and no one taller than 6-foot-6. That will force one of the Bears’ big men to stray to the perimeter on defense.

This would be an ideal game for the Bears to utilize sophomore guard Ricky Kreklow, but he is listed as day-to-day with lingering foot discomfort and it seems likely coach Mike Montgomery will hold him out for the second straight game.

At the offensive end, the Bears should be able to take advantage of their size edge and pound the ball in to Richard Solomon or David Kreklow. Solomon is coming off a career-high 18 points in Cal’s win last week over Prairie View A&M.

ABOUT THE CRIMSON: Coach Tommy Amaker’s squad employs a four-guard set and shoots a lot of 3-pointers. Harvard converts 40.4 percent as a team, hitting an average of 6.3 shots per game from beyond the arc. … Freshman Siyani Chamers of Golden Valley, Minn., starts at point guard. … Harvard is 1-3 on the road, with a win at Boston College. … The Crimson, which has won its past two games, stays in the Bay Area to take on Saint Mary’s in a New Year’s Eve matchup.

THE SERIES: Cal leads 2-0. The Bears won 69-54 in Berkeley in 2001 and 77-74 in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 1970. 

ETC: Justin Cobbs shot 5 for 9 in the win over Prairie View A&M after converting just 17 of 45 attempts in his previous four games. … Freshman guard Tyrone Wallace, who will start his third straight game, has totaled 23 points, 23 rebounds and nine assists over the past three outings, but is 7 for 27 shooting. … Cal is 21-4 all-time vs. teams from the Ivy League. The Bears are 2-2 vs. Penn, 1-1 vs. Cornell and 3-1 vs. Princeton. They are unbeaten against Harvard, Take, Columbia and Dartmouth, and have never faced Brown.

WHAT’S NEXT: Cal plays UCLA at Pauley Pavilion, Thursday, Jan. 3. Tipoff is 8 p.m.

Cal (8-3)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
SG Allen Crabbe 6-6 Jr. 20.4 5.7
PF Richard Solomon 6-10 Jr. 8.9 6.3
PF David Kravish 6-9 So. 6.5 7.6
PG Justin Cobbs 6-2 Jr. 16.5 3.8*
SG Tyrone Wallace 6-3 Fr. 6.5 4.7
Key reserves
G Brandon Smith 5-11 Sr. 3.5 2.5*
C Robert Thurman 6-10 Sr. 5.6 3.6
G Ricky Kreklow 6-6 So. 5.5 3.3


Harvard (6-4)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
F Jonah Travis 6-6 So. 8.7 4.9
SG Wesley Saunders 6-15 So. 15.8 3.4*
SG Laurent Rivard 6-5 Jr. 12.7 5.1
SG Christian Webster 6-5 Sr. 9.1 3.2
PG Siyani Chambers 6-0 Fr. 12.7 5.1*
Key reserves
C Kenyatta Smith 6-8 So. 5.0 3.8
F Steve Moundou-Missi 6-7 So. 4.6 4.2
F Agunwa Okolie 6-8 Fr. 3.3 1.4



Football: Tony Gonzalez in 12th Pro Bowl

Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez earned his 12th Pro Bowl selection as one of four ex-Cal players named to the NFL’s annual all-star game.

Also securing spots were Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch and Redskins special team player Lorenzo Alexander.

**** Also, Cal offensive lineman Brian Schwenke accepted an invitation to participate in the Senior Bowl all-star game, Jan. 26 in Mobile, Ala. Schwenke will join Cal cornerback Marc Anthony, who previously was named to the game.

The 64th Senior Bowl will be televised at 1 p.m. PT on the NFL Network.


Football: Bears to bring in Texas Tech’s Thomsen as offensive line coach, according to report

Chris Thomsen, who is serving as acting head coach at Texas Tech, will be Cal’s new offensive line coach, according to the website CoachingSeach.com.

Thomsen, 42, was the Red Raiders’ offensive line coach this season, then was promoted to lead the team Friday against Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston after coach Tommy Tuberville left Tech to become head coach at Cincinnati.

Click here to read the rest of my story.

And Merry Christmas to everyone!


Basketball: Solomon’s big day keys easy win

Junior forward Richard Solomon scored a career-high 18 points to go with nine rebounds and the Bears (8-3) routed Prairie View A&M 85-53 at Haas Pavilion.

Solomon’s former Price HS-Los Angeles teammate Allen Crabbe led the Bears with 23 points, also contributing seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. It was the sixth 20-point game of the season for the junior guard.

Crabbe, 10 for 36 from the field in his previous two games, hit 8 of 11 against the Panthers (5-7) of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Point guard Justin Cobbs added 14 points, five rebounds and three steals.

Freshman guard Tyrone Wallace got some second-half time at the point and responded with five assists. But he shot just 1 for 7 and is 7 for 27 in three games since becoming a starter.

Jeff Powers came off the bench to score his first nine points of the season. Sophomore Ricky Kreklow, who has been in and out of the lineup with a foot problem, was held out of the game.

Jourdan DeMuynck, a Castro Valley HS product, led Prairie View with 11 points.

Cal closes its nonconferene schedule next Saturday at home against Harvard.


Basketball: Prairie View A&M preview

TIPOFF: 2 p.m. Tuesday at Haas Pavilion. TV/Radio: Pac-12 Networks/910 AM.

The Bears face the Panthers of the Southwestern Athletic Conference — almost certainly the worst league in the country. No team in the SWAC has a winning record and two clubs are winless.

Prairie View, at 5-6, actually has the best mark in the league, although just two of its wins are over Division I foes.

The SWAC is 18-80 as a league, with only 10 D-I wins. Five of their 10 teams have Sagarin computer ratings of No. 298 or worse.

So what we’re saying here, I guess, is this game is a little bit of an early Christmas gift for the Bears. 

THE SERIES: Cal leads 1-0. The Bears won 76-68 in 1989 at Berkeley.

ETC: The Panthers’ best player is former Castro Valley HS standout Jourdan DeMuynck, who averages 13.5 points and has scored in double digits eight times in 11 games. He scored 27 points in a one-point victory over Houston. … Cal freshman G Tyrone Wallace is expected to get his second start. He has grabbed 10 rebounds in each of the past two games. … Allen Crabbe has climbed to 30th on Cal’s career scoring list with 1,131 points.

WHAT’S NEXT: Cal plays Harvard at Haas Pavilion, Saturday, Dec. 29 at Haas Pavilion. Tipoff is 5 p.m.

Cal (7-3)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
SG Allen Crabbe 6-6 Jr. 20.1 5.6
PF Richard Solomon 6-10 Jr. 8.0 6.0
PF David Kravish 6-9 So. 6.7 8.0
PG Justin Cobbs 6-2 Jr. 16.8 3.9*
SG Tyrone Wallace 6-3 Fr. 6.6 4.9
Key reserves
G Brandon Smith 5-11 Sr. 3.6 2.6*
C Robert Thurman 6-10 Sr. 6.0 3.6
G Ricky Kreklow 6-6 So. 5.5 3.3


Prairie View A&M (5-6)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
F Jules Montgomery 6-11 Jr. 7.2 6.5
F Josh Eleby 6-10 Jr. 7.7 2.3
SG Jourdan DeMuynck 6-6 Sr. 13.5 6.5
SG Ryan Gesiakowski 6-4 Sr. 9.9 2.4
PG Carl Blair 6-2 Sr. 9.8 5.7*
Key reserves
F Demondre Chapman 6-7 Jr. 6.8 4.7
G Ronald Wright 6-1 Sr. 3.4 2.4
G Montrael Scott 6-3 So. 4.2 1.7



Football: Two more defensive assistants named

New Cal coach Sonny Dykes added two more assistants on Friday, including defensive backs coach Randy Stewart, who worked previously at Berkeley.

Also on board is Barry Sacks, the appropriately named defensive line coach.

Stewart has coached college football for 32 seasons, including at Cal from 1997 through 2001, when his pupils included Deltha O’Neal and Nnamdi Asomugha.

“I’m unbelievably excited to be back at Cal,” Stewart said in a statement. “My first time around I loved this place. I see great potential. All of the pieces are in place now. You can recruit wherever you want to in the country. Cal brings a huge brand name. The university gets you in the door with everybody.”

Stewart spent last season as linebackers coach at Eastern Michigan after working from 2003 through ’11 at Fresno State, the final three seasons as defensive coordinator.

“We are fortunate to be able to hire a talented veteran coach such as  Randy Stewart with the wealth of experience and success he has had on the collegiate level as well as recruiting in California,” Dykes said. “He has had several impressive tenures with successful programs and we’re sure he will continue that run at Cal.”

Sacks comes to Cal from Nevada, where he spent the past 11 seasons — part of that time with new Cal defensive coordinator Andy Buh.

“Barry has been one of the top defensive coaches in the country for a long time,” Dykes said. “Having strong defensive line play will be crucial to our success on that side of the ball. He has had lots of success and developed several outstanding players throughout his career, and I especially like the familiarity he has with our new defensive coordinator Andy Buh from their time together at Nevada.”

“What we bring as a defensive coaching staff is that defensive coordinator Andy Buh and I have the same vision as to what the Cal defense is going to look like,” Sacks said. “Andy and I worked hand-in-hand together and were always on the same page during our time together at Nevada. We enjoy coaching together and are very productive.”




Football: Dykes to make practice open to public

New Cal football coach Sonny Dykes’ holiday gift to the Golden Bears’ fan base: Open practices.

“Open the gate. Come on in,” Dykes said, when asked about his policy on opening practice to the public. “We don’t have any secrets.”

With rare exception, practices in recent years under former coach Jeff Tedford have been closed to media and fans. Dykes said it won’t be that way going forward.

“I don’t know why you wouldn’t want (fans) there,” he said. “This is not my program. This is Cal’s program. They should be engaged and they should be able to check it out.

“It’s their program.”

Click here for the rest of this story.


Basketball: Cal topples UCSB, 68-59

Freshman guard Tyrone Wallace, making his first start, had 10 points, 10 rebounds and four assists and Cal (7-3) beat UC Santa Barbara 68-59 at Haas Pavilion to end a three-game losing streak.

Senior Robert Thurman had 14 points and six rebounds off the bench as Cal’s reserves contributed 24 points.

Allen Crabbe had 12 points and David Kravish scored 10. Cal turned the ball over just eight times and held the Gauchos (4-6) to 33-percent shooting.


Basketball: UCSB game preview

TIPOFF: 8 p.m.  Tuesday at Haas Pavilion. TV/Radio: Pac-12 Networks/910 AM.

Having concluded the toughest stretch of its nonconference schedule — with losses to Wisconsin, UNLV and Creighton — the Bears face the first of their final three contests before the start of Pac-12 play. All three are at home and all three should net victories.

An interesting dynamic to follow in the days ahead is how coach Mike Montgomery divides his backcourt minutes. Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs rank among the conference leaders in minutes played, but they are so valuable to the offense their playing time isn’t likely to diminish much.

But Montgomery wants and needs more scoring options, and with freshman Tyrone Wallace beginning to emerge and sophomore Ricky Kreklow’s sore foot apparently on the mend, we could see some new combinations.

Senior Brandon Smith has started every game and gives the Bears experience, but he played just nine minutes against Creighton, while Wallace (27 minutes) and Kreklow (15) were on the floor more extensively.

Both provide elements the Bears need — energy, quickness and aggressiveness. Wallace had eight points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots. Kreklow, playing his first game after sitting for five, had little rhythm but is a defensive factor and should emerge some as a scorer.

Because Santa Barbara has no starter taller than 6-foot-8, it will be no surprise if Monty utilizes a four-man backcourt at times to maximize the Bears’ quickness and ability to score in transition. 

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