Basketball: Utah game thread

Click here to read my game story.

FINAL SCORE: Cal 64, Utah 46. Bears win their sixth straight, their eighth in nine games. Improve to 19-9, 11-5 in Pac-12. They remain just one game out of first place. Colorado visits on Saturday afternoon. Utah falls to 11-16, 3-12 in conference play.

3:57 2nd H: This is over. Cal leads 55-36. Crabbe had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Cobbs has 12 points and seven assists. Wallace has 11 points. Utah shooting 26 percent.

10:15 2nd H: The Cal run reached 21-0 — with the Utes going 10:14 w/o a point. Bears now lead 47-31. Crabbe just limped off with a gimpy left ankle, but he’s standing on the sideline during the timeout and appears OK.

15:31 2nd H: Cal leads 38-24. Utah has not scored in 8 minutes, 40 seconds — since 4:11 remained in the first half. The Bears have outscored the Utes 19-0 since then. Utes are 0 for 11 shooting with 6 TOs during their drought.

HALFTIME SCORE: Cal 34, Utah 24. Cal ends half on 15-0 run and leads by 10. Utah shot 0 for 3 with five turnovers during Cal surge. Bears made final six FGs of half — three of them 3-pointers — and scored on nine straight possessions. Crabbe leads Bears with 10 points and seven rebounds. After starting 6 for 21, Bears are 12 for 27.

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Football: Dykes on Wednesday’s workout

Here’s some of what coach Sonny Dykes saw from Wednesday’s second spring practice:

— Overall impression: “I don’t know if we executed as well today as we did Day 1 — certainly not offensively. We turned the ball over a little bit more, but that’s going to happen. We added some new stuff, so guys had to think a little bit. Probably wasn’t as clean as you want it to be. But I thought our effort was good, thought our enthusiasm was good. It’s always going to be a work in progress.”

— On giving all five quarterbacks reps: “The thing you want to do is give everybody an opportunity. These guys work their tails off and you want to make sure they have enough of a chance to show what they can and can’t do. Once you do that, you’ve got to start being a little bit more careful with who you’re giving reps to. The idea is to basically eliminate somebody, two guys, three guys, until we have a starter.”

— On giving a number of injured or recovering players some non-contact time on the field: “We gave them what they could do at the beginning, then got them out of there. Our goal is to teach them as much as we can this spring, but our primary goal is to get them healthy and ready for the fall.”

— On the defense: “I like our guys defensively. I saw some guys really trigger and run to the ball today, which is good. We’ve got a lot of depth at linebacker, a lot of guys who can run around and are athletic, that are pretty physical players. They’re playing with a lot of confidence right now. They seem to know what they’re doing, starting to become more and more active. Our defensive line coming in was a bit of a question mark and I’ve been pretty pleased what I’ve seen out of that group. They’re battling consistency like some other positions, but the talent and want-to is there. I’ve been really pleased with the defense.”

— On Nick Forbes: “He’s what you’re looking for as a middle linebacker. He’s physical and he’s a guy who wants to do well. Just a good teammate. The kind of guy you want to build a program around.”

— On D-lineman Mustafa Jalil: “He’s been active. I think he’s feeling good, moving around pretty good. He showed up a lot the last two days.”

— On the placekicker job: “We’re just going to open it up and compete and see what happens. That’ll go into two-a-days. We’ll come out of spring ball thinking, `Here’s our thoughts on kickoffs, here’s our thoughts on long field goals, here’s our thoughts on short field goals.’ In the ideal situation, somebody handles them all. We’ll kind of see how it plays out. A lot of that changes in the fall when you see whose leg wears out.”

Cal resumes practice Friday night in shoulder pads for the first time.


Basketball: Utah game preview

TIPOFF: 6:05 p.m. Thursday at Haas Pavilion. TV/Radio: ESPNU/910-AM. 

Check out what happened Wednesday night in State College, Pa., and you’ll understand why playing Utah at home has Cal coach Mike Montgomery nervous.

Penn State, which was winless in the Big Ten, knocked off No. 4 Michigan 64-58, demonstrating once again that virtually anything is possible this season in college basketball.

This is no time for the Bears to lose focus against a seemingly overmatched opponent.

Winners of five in a row and seven of their past eight, the Bears are just one game out of first place in the Pac-12. They have three games left, all of them at home, and there is every reason to believe they can steal a piece of the title.

They even got some help Wednesday night in the form of USC’s 89-78 win over Arizona, knocking the Wildcats out of a tie for first place,

If this all has a familiar feeling, it should.

Cal entered the final three games a year ago, against these same three teams — Utah, Colorado and Stanford — with a chance to win the Pac-12 title. The Bears lost two of three and fell short.

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Football: Jared Goff takes his turn

Evening at Memorial Stadium

On Day 2 of Cal’s spring football practice, freshman quarterback Jared Goff got his first chance to show what he can do. Afterward, the former Marin Catholic High star said he didn’t enroll in college early to be a spectator.

“I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t trying to compete,” said Goff, who arrived on campus in January. “We’re all pretty even right now, so who knows what’s going to happen.”

Coach Sonny Dykes said Wednesday’s practice was a bit sloppier on offense than Monday, but he was pleased with Goff’s first snaps in 11-on-11 drills after three other quarterbacks shared the reps on Monday.

“There were times when he looked like a kid who ought to be going to the prom. And there other times when he looked like a Division I quarterback,” Dykes said. “He’s got a lot of talent. We’re glad to have him. He’s going to be a good player here.”

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Water polo: Olympian Petri to be honored

Heather Petri/Photo courtesy Cal athletics

We don’t devote much attention to water polo in this space, but here’s a special event that may hold interest for Cal fans — especially those coming to Haas Pavilion for Saturday’s 2 p.m. game against Colorado.

Just before 1 p.m., next door at Spieker Aquatics Complex, Cal women’s water polo will retire the cap of former Bears star and four-time Olympian Heather Petri. Fifth-ranked Cal will take on top-ranked USC after ceremonies honoring Petri.

A 34-year-old graduate of Miramonte HS in Orinda, Petri was a two-time All-America player at Cal and earned four Olympic medals as a member of U.S. teams, including a gold in London last summer.

She recently returned from a trip to Afghanistan, where she and other Olympians (including former Cal rower Erin Cafaro) visited U.S. troops.


Football: Zach Kline gets our attention

I got my first impressions Monday of redshirt freshman quarterback Zach Kline, other than watching him deliver a few laser-beam passes in last year’s spring game.

Because Kline essentially was off-limits to reporters last season as a freshman, Monday’s informal post-practice interview session was the first chance most of us had to talk with the young man from San Ramon Valley High.

And he got our attention.

Asked a routine question about the pace of Cal’s new no-huddle, spread offense, Kline said he loves it.

Then he added:

“Really demands the best … which is what this program needs. We’re kind of in a lull, but we’re going to get right out of it, that’s for sure.

“We’re obviously expecting a national championship. I know the fans want Rose Bowl, but this teams wants national championship. We’re not going to settle until we get that.”


Let’s see, Cal hasn’t played in a Rose Bowl since probably before Kline’s parents were born, but the Bears will zoom past that directly to the national championship game. That’s right, the team that was 3-9 and ended last season by allowing 62 points to Oregon State.

Look, I’m not making fun of Kline here. He’s a kid, and kids say outrageous stuff. None of us who have lived a little really believe the Bears can win the national championship next season, right?

But sometime after that . . . well, I’m willing to let Kline and his teammates dream. That’s what they should do, what they have to do.

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Basketball: Lunardi boosts Bears’ NCAA position

ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi released his latest NCAA tournament projections Tuesday morning, and he no longer has Cal playing at Dayton, Ohio, in what once was called the play-in game.

Instead, he has the Bears as a No. 12 seed, facing No. 5 Memphis in Austin, Texas. The winner of that game would face either No. 4 Marquette or No. 13 Louisiana Tech, former home of new Cal football coach Sonny Dykes.

Lunardi predicts the Pac-12 will get five bids, with Arizona leading the way as a No. 3 seed. Also in his field are UCLA (7), Oregon (7) and Colorado (10).

Saint Mary’s is projected as a No. 10 seed, facing UCLA at Auburn Hills, Mich, with the opportunity to take on No. 2 Michigan in the second round.

Lunardi’s No. 1 seeds: Duke, Indiana, Florida and Gonzaga.

Here’s Lunardi’s complete bracket.


Football: Spring practice begins on chilly day

Felt more like winter than spring this afternoon at Memorial Stadium, but a new era began when the Bears under Sonny Dykes held their first offseason workout.

About 150 fans were on hand, a departure as Dykes plans to keep all practices open.

There was good energy on the field during a spirited two-plus hour workout. Allan Bridgford, Zach Kline and Austin Hinder got the meaningful reps at quarterback during 11 on 11 drills.

The only injury — junior WR Chad Smith hurt his knee — did not appear to be serious, Dykes said.

The Bears return to the practice field Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Click here for my story.


Basketball: Pac-12 honors Cobbs

Junior guard Justin Cobbs, who hit the game-winning shot at Oregon, then scored 18 points in the Bears’ victory at Oregon State, has been named Pac-12 Player of the Week.

That’s three Pac-10 PofW awards in a row for the Bears, who were represented the two previous week by Allen Crabbe. It’s the second time this season and the third time in his career Cobbs has earned the honor.

Cobbs’ tie-breaking shot with 0.7 seconds left at Oregon lifted the Bears to a 48-46 win over the first-place Ducks. He finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

At OSU, Cobbs hit a 3-pointer with 2:49 left to help the Bears secure a 60-59 victory. In addition to his 18 points, Cobbs delivered five assists as the Bears improved to 10-5 in Pac-12 play, moving into sole possession of fourth place.

For the week, Cobbs averaged 16 points, 4.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists.