Basketball: Boeheim impressed by Cal guards

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is impressed by Cal’s Allen Crabbe, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, but perhaps even more so by Justin Cobbs.

“Their guards are good, really good,” Boeheim said. “Crabbe is a tremendous shooter, one of the best shooters in the country.

“And their point guard made so many big plays (Thursday) night, really big plays,” he said, referring to Cobbs’ performance in the Bears’ 64-61 NCAA tournament win over UNLV.

“That game would have gone the other way, but he made some huge plays down the stretch, getting in the lane and getting the ball to the big guys.

“Two really good players.”

Click here for the rest of this Cal-Syracuse notebook.


Basketball: Syracuse game preview

Under any circumstances, facing the Syracuse defense is a challenge for an unfamiliar opponent. “You hear about it,” senior guard Brandon Triche said, “but our zone is going to be way different than they expect.”

The version Cal sees Saturday evening in their third-round NCAA tournament matchup at HP Pavilion may be the best the Orange has ever put on the floor.

“Yeah, I think it is one of our better defensive teams,” said coach Jim Boeheim, in his 37th season. “We pride ourselves on defense … and this year we’re probably a little better than the norm.”

For the 12th-seeded Golden Bears (21-11) to climb past the Orange (27-9) and into their first Sweet 16 since 1997, they will have to be smart, quick and decisive on offense against a 2-2-1 zone alignment with few holes.

Click here for the rest of my story.

THE SERIES: Syracuse leads 1-0. The Orange beat Cal 95-73 at Madison Square Garden during the 2009-2010 season.

ETC: Allen Crabbe needs 27 points to pull even with Brian Hendrick (1990-93) for 10th on Cal’s career scoring list with 1,556 points. Crabbe, who scored 19 against UNLV, has 1,529 for his career. … Syracuse’s 81-34 win over Montana on Thursday was its first in four NCAA games played in California. … Jim Boeheim and Mike Montgomery have combined to coach 68 college seasons and have won a total of 1,83 games.

WHAT’S NEXT: A victory would send the Bears to the Sweet 16 round in Washington D.C., beginning next Thursday. Cal has not advanced to the regional semifinals since 1997.

Cal (21-11, 12-6 Pac-12)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
SG Allen Crabbe 6-6 Jr. 18.7 6.1
PF Richard Solomon 6-10 Jr. 8.5 6.6
PF David Kravish 6-9 So. 8.0 7.0
PG Justin Cobbs 6-2 Jr. 15.4 4.8*
SG Tyrone Wallace 6-3 Fr. 7.0 4.5
Key reserves
G Brandon Smith 5-11 Sr. 2.5 1.9*
C Robert Thurman 6-10 Sr. 4.8 3.6
G Ricky Kreklow 6-6 So. 3.5 2.3

Syracuse (27-9, 11-7 Big East)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
PF Rakeem Christmas 6-9 So. 5.4 4.7
SF James Southerland 6-8 Sr. 13.7 5.2
SF C.J. Fair 6-8 Jr. 14.4 7.0
SG Brandon Triche 6-4 Sr. 13.9 3.3
PG Michael Carter-Williams 6-6 So. 11.8 7.8*
Key reserves
C DaJuan Coleman 6-9 Fr. 4.8 4.0
F Jerami Grant 6-8 Fr. 4.1 2.9
G Trevor Cooney 6-4 Fr. 3.7 0.9



Basketball: How Bears fared in NCAA 2nd round

Cal’s 64-61 win over UNLV on Thursday was the 12th time the Bears have won their opening game in the NCAA tournament. They play Syracuse on Saturday at about 6:40 p.m. at HP Pavilion.

Here’s a look at how they’ve fared over the years in their second NCAA game:

— 1946: After beating Colorado 50-44 at Kansas City, the Bears lost 52-35 to Oklahoma A&M in the West Regional final.

— 1957: The Bears lost 50-46 to USF in the West Regional Final in Corvallis, Ore., after beating BYU 86-59.

— 1958: The Bears lost 66-62 in overtime to Seattle and star Elgin Baylor in the West Regional final at the Cow Palace after beating Idaho State 54-43 in their opener.

— 1959: Cal crushed Saint Mary’s 66-46 in the West Regional final at the Cow Palace in its second-round game, and went on to win the national championship.

— 1960: Cal easily beat Santa Clara 69-49 in its West Regional semifinal, and went on to play in the national championship game for the second straight season, losing to Ohio State 75-55.

— 1990: After a 30-year absence from the NCAAs, Cal beat Indiana 65-63 in Hartford, Conn., then lost to Connecticut 74-54 in its second-round game.

— 1993: In a memorable second-round game, Jason Kidd, Lamond Murray and the Bears upset two-time defending national champ Duke 82-77 at Rosemont, Ill., to advance to the Sweet 16.

— 1997: In Ben Braun’s debut season, the Bears followed a first-round win over Princeton with a 75-68 defeat of Villanova to qualify for the Sweet 16.

— 2002: The Bears fell 63-50 to Pitt in Pittsburgh after knocking off Penn in their opening-round game.

— 2003: Two days after freshman Richard Midgley sank a game-winning shot to beat North Carolina State 76-74 in overtime, Cal lost 74-65 to Oklahoma at Oklahoma City.

— 2010: Pac-10 regular-season champ Cal whipped Louisville 77-62 in its opener at Jacksonville, Fla., before falling 68-53 to eventual NCAA winner Duke in the second round.



Basketball: Saturday game time/TV info

Cal’s NCAA tournament game Saturday against Syracuse will begin at approximately 6:40 p.m. and will be aired on TBS. That should be good news for all of you who don’t get truTV (I don’t either).

Syracuse crushed Montana 81-34 on Thursday night, improving to 27-9.

Pac-12 schools went 3-0 on Thursday, with Oregon and Arizona also winning.

Two more Pac-12 teams play Friday:

   — No. 10 Colorado vs. No. 7 Illinois at 1:40 p.m. on TNT

   — No. 6 UCLA vs. No. 10 Minnesota at 7:57 p.m. on . . . truTV.


Basketball: UNLV game thread

Click here for my game story and here to read Mark Purdy’s column on Robert Thurman.

FINAL SCORE: Cal 64, UNLV 61. The Bears (21-11) survive a flurry of missed free throws in the final 4o seconds to advance to Saturday’s game against either Syracuse or Montana. Cal was just 4 for 12 from the FT line in the final 40 seconds. Crabbe scored 19 points, Thurman had 12 on six dunks.

3:33 2nd H: Cal leads 56-50. Thurman with 12 points on six dunks.

8:46 2nd H: UNLV has missed its last 11 FGAs and doesn’t have  a basket since 16:28. But Cal offense also stalling — it’s 48-43 Bears.

11:26 2nd H: Cal leads 48-40 after 3-pointer by Cobbs. Crabbe picked up his third PF with 13:40 left on a touch foul vs. Bennett, shooting a 3-pointer. Crabbe sat and Bennett made all three FTs. Cal staying in zone throughout and UNLV either passive or quick-shooting.

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Football: Pac-12 Networks to air Cal spring game

Every Pac-12 spring football game will be aired by the Pac-12 Networks, beginning with Cal’s game on Saturday at 4 p.m.

New coach Sonny Dykes’ first spring game at Memorial Stadium is open to fans and admission is free.

On the Pac-12 Networks, play-by-play voice Rich Cellini has the call with analyst Glenn Parker in the booth and Mike Yam reporting from the sidelines.

Here is the Networks’ promo piece on Cal: http://video.pac-12.com/get-closer-cal

Pac-12 Networks channel information in the greater Bay Area:

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Women’s basketball: Gottlieb a Naismith finalist

Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb, who directed the Bears to a 28-3 record, a Pac-12 regular-season co-championship and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, is among four finalists for the Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year award.

Gottlieb joins Baylor’s Kim Mulkey, Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw and Dayton’s Jim Jabir as the four finalists for the honor. The winner will be announced at the Women’s Final Four in New Orleans.

Cal opens NCAA tournament play Saturday against No. 15 seed Fresno State at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. Tipoff is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. (PT). The game will be shown on ESPN2.



Football: Wednesday spring practice recap

Highlights from Sonny Dykes’ post-practice interview on Wednesday:

— Dykes said he’s been pleased with the defense this spring, despite injury issues and the fact that they’ve used a fairly vanilla approach, with little blitzing.

“I think we have a chance to have a good football team. Our defense is really going to determine how good our year is. That’s the way it always is,” he said. “If you want to win a championship, you;re going to win it by being a good defense.

“Offense is nice when you score points, but if you want to be a championship program, you’re going to have to play good defense.”

— After what he called a “sluggish” practice on Monday, Dykes said the Bears were sharper. “I thought we were really good today,” he said. “I thought our tempo was good, I thought our focus was good.”

— Redshirt freshman defensive back Damariay Drew is out with what Dykes described as a stress fracture in his upper leg. “Nothing serious,” he said. “Sounds much worse than it is. It’s not a bad injury.” Dykes said Drew will be shelved for about a month.

— The coaching staff still is working out details for Saturday’s spring game. There will be a game (it’s being broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks), but Dykes said he anticipates using some kind of a modified scoring system due to injuries limiting the depth of his squad. “We’ve got basically two healthy running backs. We’re one-deep in the secondary,” he said. “We’re trying to keep our players healthy. We don’t want to have any serious things happen to us on Saturday.”

— At this point, Dykes anticipates dividing quarterback reps equally on Saturday.

— Players who could return from spring injuries to play Saturday include LB David Wilkerson and RB Darren Ervin.

— An update on OT Bill Tyndall, who was scheduled to have surgery Wednesday to repair a broken ankle: “Bill’s probably going to be four months minimum … five months before contact. I think he’ll be back by the time we go to camp in August.”

— Walk-on quarterback Brendan Keeney has left the team.

— Dykes said he plans to take his family to HP Pavilion on Thursday night for Cal’s NCAA tournament game against UNLV. “We were at the first UNLV game. Hopefully, we’ll get a better last 5 or 6 seconds than we did last time,” he said, alluding to Cal’s last-second 76-75 loss.



Basketball: `If you have a heart and want to compete, this is a great stage’ — Montgomery

Asked if he’s confident his team — occasionally a quarter low in the motivation department — will have be emotionally prepared for Thursday’s NCAA game against UNLV, coach Mike Montgomery said, “If you don’t have a sense of urgency coming into this, then you’re in the wrong business.”

Monty said he’s reminded his players that unlike during the regular season, when they have a Saturday game after a Thursday game, nothing is promised in the NCAAs.

“Now you’re earning the right to play again,” he said. “These kids have watched NCAA basketball for years and have watched the One Shining Moment and watched people cut down nets and see people be heroes because of a shot made.

“That’s something that motivates kids. If not, then we’re going to be in trouble, then there’s no excuse for it, then you don’t have a heart.

“And that’s a big part of what any team has. If you have a heart and want to compete, this is a great stage to do it on.”


Basketball: No one `sane’ in Las Vegas expecting Anthony Bennett to remain in college

Does anyone in Las Vegas expect UNLV star freshman Anthony Bennett to return to school next season?

“Not too many sane people,” teammate Mike Moser said on the eve of the Runnin’ Rebels’ NCAA tournament game against Cal at HP Pavilion.

Bennett, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward and the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year, is a considered a consensus top-10 pick in the NBA draft.

So, he’s gone after this season?

“Oh definitely,” Moser said. “Anthony, he’s been great this season, playing like every game is his last. He’s one of the most mature freshmen I’ve ever played with.”

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