40

Basketball: Thank goodness league play is here

You may have seen this, but I couldn’t resist:

In a “college basketball game” on Monday, Southern University of the SWAC beat Champion Baptist College by the ridiculous score of 112-16.

I’m not making this up. The college basketball landscape is littered with gargantuan nonconference mismatches, but this one tops them all.

Southern led 44-0 before Champion finally scored nearly 15 minutes into the game. The visitors finished the game shooting 6.9 percent (3 for 44) with 27 turnovers and one assist. They were 5 for 17 from the FT line and outrebounded 69-22.

Champion’s starting five combined to shoot 2 for 29.

Give Southern (4-9) credit for having played a nonconference schedule that featured the likes of No. 1 Arizona, Baylor, Florida and Marquette.

But this game was a waste of time and an insult to basketball fans.

The most amazing statistic to come from game: 210. That’s the number of fans in attendance who will never get those two hours of their lives back again.

 

5

Basketball: Bears try to work past guard issues

Cal and Stanford — who meet in Thursday’s Pac-12 Conference opener at Maples Pavilion — both are battling backcourt issues.

Check out my weekly college basketball column to find out how each is coping with the problem.

BTW, freshman guard Jabari Bird still has not practiced since spraining his right ankle Dec. 22 at Creighton. He was noticeably limping — although not wearing a boot – Monday afternoon as he entered the training room at Haas Pavilion.

I would venture that Cal will feel fortunate if Bird is healthy enough to play a week from now when the Bears visit the Oregon schools.

18

Football: Notes as a new year approaches

Cal defensive tackle Deandre Coleman has accepted an invitation to play in the 89th East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 18 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The game will be telecast on the NFL Network, beginning at 1 p.m. PST.

The East-West Shrine Game, once held annually at Stanford, has spawned 62 Pro Football Hall of Famers and 52 current pros.

Coleman also is scheduled to play in the Jan. 25 Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. The NFL Network will show that game, too, beginning at 1 p.m.

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The coaching staffs at Washington and USC are taking shape, and one-time Cal assistant Tosh Lupoi won’t be  a part of either.

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48

Football: Ex-Bears dot NFL playoff rosters

Fifteen former Cal players are headed to the NFL playoffs.

Tony Gonzalez is headed to retirement . . . and Canton.

The Hall of Fame-bound tight end closed out his unparalled career Sunday with four final receptions for 56 yards. The one-time two-sport Cal star wound up his NFL days with staggering numbers:

Career receptions: 1,325 — most-ever by a tight end, No. 2 among all receivers.

Career receiving yards: 15,127 — most-ever by a TE, No. 5 overall.

Career TD receptions: 111 — most-ever by a TE, No. 6 overall.

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Meanwhile, former Cal All-America linebacker Ron Rivera will lead his Carolina Panthers into the playoffs as the NFC’s No. 2 seed. Rivera coached the Panthers to a 12-4 record and a first-weekend bye.

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Running back Marshawn Lynch helped the Seattle Seahawks to an NFL-best 13-3 record. The seventh-year pro rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s 27-9 win over St. Louis, finishing the season with 1,257 yards and 12 TDs. It was Lynch’s fifth 1,000-yard season in seven years and third in a row.

For his career, Lynch now has 7,389 rushing yards to rank seventh among active NFL players. He has scored 58 rushing touchdowns.

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Keenan Allen finished a debut season that could land him Rookie of the Year honors. The 21-year-old wideout caught five passes for 89 yards in San Diego’s 27-24 win over Kansas City, the Chargers’ fifth win in their final six games, earning them a playoff date at Cincinnati next Sunday.

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4

Basketball: Powers’ big day lifts Bears

Senior Jeff Powers scored a career-high 18 points on 6-for-7 shooting from the 3-point arc and Cal closed out its nonconference schedule with a 90-60 rout of Furman at Haas Pavilion.

Powers had scored just two points in Cal’s previous 12 games and was 0 for 2 from the 3-point arc. But he sparked the Bears’ 10-for-21 effort from beyond the arc with the best performance of his college career.

“I can’t put into words how it felt, but that was pretty special,” Powers said. “I haven’t done anything like that since high school. I made the shots I took so that was pretty fun. I enjoyed it, and we got the win.”

Justin Cobbs and Tyrone Wallace added 18 points each for the Bears (9-4), who open Pac-12 play next Thursday night at Stanford. Cobbs and Wallace combined to shoot 17 for 23.

“It was just what the doctor ordered. We needed some feel good. We kind of got beaten down here lately with Ricky (Kreklow) and Jabari [Bird] going down,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said.

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1

Basketball: After holiday break, Bears close out nonconference schedule at home vs. Furman

* 3 p.m. Saturday, Pac-12 Networks

Its backcourt depth stripped by two key injuries, Cal (8-4) tries to reinvent itself Saturday at Haas Pavilion against Furman (5-6) of the Southern Conference.

Don’t expect freshman Jabari Bird (11.9 ppg) to suit up for the Bears. He’s listed as questionable after spraining his ankle last Sunday at Creighton. But even if he’s cleared, it seems unlikely the Bears would use him with the Pac-12 opener looming.

Cal opens conference play on Jan. 2 at Stanford.

Coach Mike Montgomery’s priority against Furman will be to find a productive rotation with junior guard Ricky Kreklow (6.4 ppg) sidelined for more than another month after breaking his hand Dec. 18, and Bird likely out for at least the immediate future.

Expect freshman Jordan Mathews (7.6 ppg) to join Justin Cobbs and Tyrone Wallace in the starting backcourt, with Richard Solomon and David Kravish up front.

Freshman guard Sam Singer, who averaged just 9 minutes and 1.9 points through Cal’s first 12 games, will see substantially more playing time. Freshman wing Roger Moute a Bidias also could get greater opportunity.

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4

Football: Rodgers latest to enter NFL draft

A year ago, then-Cal coach Jeff Tedford predicted Richard Rodgers could become the best tight end in college football.

It didn’t happen, but Rodgers has decided to enter the 2014 NFL draft, the Cal football office confirmed.

The news was first reported Thursday by DraftInsider.com. According to Tony Pauline, publisher of the website, Rodgers received some second-round grades from the NFL and earned some comparisons to Antonio Gates.

Coach Sonny Dykes said last week that Rodgers was among five Cal players who sought draft reports from the NFL.

A 6-foot-4, 245-pound junior – the son of Richard Rodgers, who was part of The Play in the 1982 Big Game – Rodgers caught 39 passes for 608 yards in Dykes’ offense this season.

A year ago, under Tedford, he struggled with a hand injury and caught 20 passes.

According to sources outside the Cal football office, Rodgers already has signed with an agent.

Cal also confirmed that cornerback Kam Jackson, who announced earlier in the week he intends to enter the draft, has told the coaching staff that’s his plan.

26

Football: Kam Jackson declaring for NFL draft

Junior cornerback Kameron Jackson announced via twitter today that he will declare himself eligible for the NFL draft.

“Did a lot of thinking over these past couple weeks. My mind is made up! I’ve decided to declare for the 2014 NFL Draft !” he tweeted.

A 5-foot-9 native of Long Beach, Jackson had his breakout game for Cal in 2011, intercepting three passes in a win over UCLA. He intercepted just one pass in 2012.

Coach Sonny Dykes confirmed last week that Jackson was among five juniors who requested draft evaluations from the NFL. The others were running back Brendan Bigelow, linebacker Khairi Fortt, receiver Richard Rodgers and safety Michael Lowe.

 

5

Football: Coleman to play in Senior Bowl

Cal senior defensive tackle Deandre Coleman has accepted an invitation to play in the 65th annual Senior Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 25 in Mobile, Ala.

The 6-foot-5, 315-pounder from Seattle will become the 35th former Cal player to appear in the all-star game that showcases the nation’s best senior players.

An honorable mention all-Pac-12 selection by the league’s coaches, Coleman was one of three Cal players to start at all 12 games last season. He had 40 tackles, including a team-best nine tackles for loss.

10

Basketball: Creighton blasts Golden Bears, adding insult to at least two injuries

UPDATED

Not much of a pre-holiday trip to the Midwest for the Golden Bears.

Cal was routed 68-54 by Creighton at Omaha, but the impact going forward could be worse.

Junior guard Ricky Kreklow broke his right hand, Cal announced before the game, and will miss 4 to 6 weeks.

Freshman guard Jabari Bird injured his right ankle or foot with 5:02 left in the first half and was wearing a protective boot on the bench for the second half.

Cal reported afterward that Bird sustained an ankle sprain. There is no timetable yet for his return. Cal plays once more before the start of Pac-12 play, at home Saturday against Furman.

And senior forward Richard Solomon limped off the court with 3:39 left and watched the rest of the game from the sideline.

The Bears (8-4) failed to threaten the Bluejays (9-2), who got 20 points and 11 rebounds from All-American Doug McDermott and won easily. Creighton scored the final eight points of the first half for a 30-19 lead, then extended that to 20 points early in the second half.

Justin Cobbs scored 13 points to lead the Bears, but made just 2 of his first 8 shots. Tyrone Wallace added 12 points on 4 for 12 from the field, and David Kravish had 11 points.

Cal shot just 33 percent in the first half, 36.4 percent for the game.