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Football: Cal makes it official by signing JC corner

Cal formalized the news from a day earlier that cornerback Antoine Albert had joining the Bears’ program by announcing his signing to a letter of intent.

Albert, from Diablo Valley College, becomes the fourth signed member of the Bears’ 2015 recruiting class and the second defensive back.

“It was important to address our needs at cornerback and we added a player today in Antoine Albert that gives us both size and length at that position,” coach Sonny Dykes said in a statement. “The thing that stands out most with him is that he’s a physical player.”

Although listed as bigger on a recruiting website, Cal identifies Albert as 6-foot-1, 190 pounds — still very good size for a corner.

He joins another JC transfer arriving to help in the secondary — junior Derron Williams-Brown of Mesa Community College in Arizona — who signed Wednesday.

Albert, who prepped at Oakland Tech HS, was a two-time all-conference player for DVC, which posted a 7-4 record this season.

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Basketball: Cal-EWU game thread

Click here for my game story.

FINAL SCORE: Cal 78, EWU 67. Christian Behrens (20 points) and Sam Singer (15) each scored career highs and the Bears (10-1) equaled their best start since 1960 in front of an announced crowd of 6,758 fans. Cal won its seventh straight game and equaled its best start since Pete Newell’s 1959-60 team that started 28-1 before losing to Ohio State in the national championship game. Tyrone Wallace contributed 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Bears, who held off a second-half charge from the Eagles (8-4), who early this season ended Indiana’s 43-game home nonconference win streak.

The Bears return to action Monday at home against No. 5 Wisconsin.

Tyler Harvey finished with 31 points – including 6 for 9 from 3-point range — and Venky Jois scored 23 for the Eagles.

7:28 2nd H: Cal 56, EWU 49. Wallace’s third 3-pointer of the half — he has 20 points — gives Cal a bit of a cushion. Cal still shooting 58 percent. When the Bears don’t turn it over, they have been very efficient. Singer has 12 points — a career-high by four.

11:50 2nd H: Cal 46, EWU 44. The Eagles continue fight back. They pulled within 42-40 when Harvey nailed a 25-foot 3-pointer with 14:28 left, capping a 14-3 surge. He has 17 points and Jois has 18 for the Eagles; their teammates have combined for nine on 1 for 13 shooting. Kravish returning to the floor after the timeout.

16:02 2nd H: Cal 42, EWU 35. Kravish picked up his third PF with 19:04 left and immediately EWU’s Venky Jois attacked the basket, scoring to trigger a 9-0 run that got the visitors within 39-35. But Wallace just answered with a 3-pointer and Cal’s lead is back to seven points.

HALFTIME: Cal 37, Eastern Washington 26. The Bears outscored the Eagles 23-5 over the final 8:17 of the half, including a 16-0 run that spanned 6 minutes. Tyrone Wallace has 11 points and 9 rebounds at the half and Cal is shooting 58.3 percent from the field. Bears with a 20-12 rebounding edge. Sam Singer gave the Bears a lift with 4 for 4 shooting, especially big considering Jordan Mathews played just 5 minutes due to early fouls. Christian Behrens, after some shaky moments early, had six points and a nice pass to set up a basket.

EWU, which looked so sharp early, became susceptible to Cal’s defensive pressure and coughed up four turnovers in a span of five possessions, allowing the Bears to get some easy baskets and some offensive confidence. The Eagles shot 30.8 percent in the half and only two players — Venky Jois and Tyler Harvey — managed a field goal. The others were a combined 0 for 9. Eastern Wash has zero assists.

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Football: B.C. Lions official hire Jeff Tedford

The news we had heard a week ago became official today: The BC Lions of the Canadian Football League hired former Cal coach Jeff Tedford as their head coach.

Here is the club’s news release:

The BC Lions Football Club is pleased to officially announce this morning that Jeff Tedford has been named head coach.

Tedford becomes the 25th head coach in club history and brings a wealth of experience to the organization after serving most notably at the University of California-Berkley for 11 seasons (’02-’12).

“Jeff has competed on football’s biggest stages and achieved great success,” said Lions VP of football operations and GM Wally Buono. “It speaks volumes about our organization and our league that a coach of Jeff’s stature and appeal has chosen the Lions as his next great challenge.”

A native of Lynwood, California, Tedford departed Cal in 2012 with an 82-57 record, the most wins by a head coach in school history as well as five victories in eight postseason bowl appearances, a share of the PAC-10 title in 2006 and an NCAA ranking that reached as high as number two in 2007.

“I am excited and honoured to be the head coach of the BC Lions,” said Tedford. “The Canadian Football League has remained close to my heart since my days as a player and as an assistant in Calgary. Joining the Lions today is the beginning of a new chapter and I look forward to the challenge of bringing a championship to BC. My thanks go out to David Braley, Dennis Skulskyand of course Wally Buono for giving me this opportunity and I can’t wait to get started.”

A graduate of Fresno State and a former CFL quarterback from 1983 to 1988 with stops in Hamilton, Calgary, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg, Tedford is reunited with Wally Buono with whom he worked with and under in Calgary as an offensive assistant from 1989 to 1991.

Earning a renowned reputation as an offensive innovator, Tedford enjoyed remarkable success at each of his collegiate stops including Fresno State (’92-’97), Oregon (’98-’01) and California while tutoring some of the NFL’s highest-drafted pivots including Aaron Rodgers, Trent Dilfer, David Carr, Akili Smith, Joey Harrington and Kyle Boller.

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Football: Bears add cornerback, wide receiver

Cal got commitments Thursday from a junior college cornerback with size and a wide receiver from Hawaii, according to Scout.com.

Antoine Albert, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound from Diablo Valley College, picked Cal over offers from Arizona, Nebraska, Iowa State and Oregon State. The Oakland Tech HS grad is rated a three-star prospect by Scout.

Also headed to Cal is wide receiver Kanawai Noa, a 6-foot, 170-pounder from Punahoa HS in Honolulu. Also a three-star prospect according to Scout, Noa had offers from Hawaii, Washington State, Utah State and Yale.

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Basketball: Eastern Washington to provide a challenge

A win Friday night and Cal (9-1) will equal its best start after 11 games since the 1959-60 season. The Bears merely advanced to their second straight national championship game under Pete Newell that season.

But adding to their 16-game nonconference home win streak won’t be easy for the Bears.

Eastern Washington (8-3) snapped Indiana’s 43-game nonconference home win streak this season with an 88-86 victory and nearly knocked off unbeaten Washington in Seattle last Sunday before losing 81-77.

Tipoff at Haas Pavilion is 7 p.m.

The Eagles are 0-2 all-time vs. Cal and arrive in the Bay Area on a two-game skid, including a surprising 76-52 loss at Sam Houston State on Tuesday.

But this is a dangerous offensive team. Junior guard Tyler Harvey averages 21.0 points and junior forward Jenky Vois of Australia produces 19.6 points and 8.3 rebounds. Both scored 20 points in the win at Indiana where senior point guard Drew Brandon had a career-high 27.

Junior point Tyrone Wallace averages 19.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists. No word from Cal on the status of sophomore guard Jabari Bird, who has missed the past four games with an unspecified foot injury.

*****

Cuonzo Martin’s 9-1 start equals the second-best ever by a rookie Cal coach.

*****

Former Cal players Shantay Legans and Alex Pribble are assistant coaches on the EWU staff.

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Football: Ex-Cal QB Zach Kline lands at Indiana State

Former Cal quarterback Zach Kline, after one season at Butte Community College, has transferred to Indiana State, a Football Championship Subdivision program that plays in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Kline, from Danville, left Cal after the 2013 season when he was a backup to Jared Goff, a freshman at the time. He briefly appeared headed to Oregon State after departing Cal, then opted for Butte.

He will get the chance to start for the Sycamores after the departure of a senior quarterback. Indiana State was 8-6 this season and lost in the second round of the FCS playoffs.

Kline made a recruiting visit this fall to the Terra Haute campus – whose most famous athletic alum is Larry Bird – and said he was immediately comfortable.

“It was quite eerie,” he told the Chico Enterprise-Record. “I felt like I’d known the guys on the team for half my life.

“The coaches at Indiana State, they’re an amazing cast,” Kline said. “They’re the most supportive and spiritual men, guys that I want to surround myself with.”

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Football: Two JC defenders, prep QB arrive next month

Cal announced the mid-year signings of two junior college players who will arrive on campus next month and participate in spring ball.

Defensive end DeVante Wilson of Riverside Community College will have two years of eligibility and safety Derron Williams-Brown of Mesa Community College will be a sophomore next fall.

The two JC players will join high school quarterback Ross Bowers of Bothell, Washington, who signed a financial aid agreement in September and will also begin his Cal career in January.

“They are all very high character kids that fit well into our program,” coach Sonny Dykes said in a statement. “We’re excited about their potential to improve our football team but most importantly to be good student-athletes, get their Cal degrees and be successful when they graduate.”

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Basketball: Russ Critchfield to get Newell award

When Russ Critchfield was contacted by Cal athletics, he misunderstood and thought the caller was from an athletic equipment store.

“I was waiting for his pitch,” Critchfield said.

Turns out he was informed he was receiving the Pete Newell Career Achievement Award.

“I’m really excited, honored, certainly humbled,” said Critchfield, 68, who will be recognized during ceremonies Monday when Cal plays No. 5 Wisconsin at Haas Pavilion.

Critchfield, in is 17th season as head basketball coach at Butte College – the JC that spawned former Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers – was a prolific sharp-shooting guard for the Bears from 1965-66 through 1967-68.

The 5-foot-10 native of Salinas averaged 22.0 points as a senior, 21.0 as a junior. He still sits 12th on Cal’s career list with 1,437 points and his 19.4 per-game average is third all-time (behind Ed Gray at 20.0 and Mark McNamara at 19.6).

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Basketball: Strengh of schedule sinks Cal’s RPI

At 9-1, Cal is among 11 teams nationwide with the best records (minimum 10 games).

At the top is Kentucky, 11-0, top-ranked all season in the AP and, finally, according to RealTimeRPI.com.

Where do the Bears reside on the list ranked by the computer?

Not particularly high. At No. 95 in the RPI, Cal is 10th among those 11 teams, ahead of only Notre Dame, whose 10-1 record is good for a No. 143 RPI rank.

The key variable, of course, is strength of schedule. And Cal’s is weak: No. 274.

But that’s about to change. The Bears face Eastern Washington (No. 41 RPI) on Friday, then take on Wisconsin (No. 17) on Monday. Win or lose, merely playing those teams will elevate the Bears in the computer rankings.

If they get a split, better still.

If they sweep, expect a huge leap.

Here’s how the 11 teams with the best record after a minimum 10 games sit in the RPI ratings:

1. Kentucky 11-0 (No. 5 strength of schedule).

6. Arizona 10-0 (49)

14. Villanova 10-0 (73)

17. Wisconsin 10-1 (36)

26. Northern Iowa 9-1 (113)

36. West Virginia 9-1 (102)

38. Maryland 10-1 (94)

44. Miami 10-1 (162)

73. TCU 10-0 (291)

95. Cal 9-1 (274)

143. Notre Dame 10-1 (322)

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Football: Bears land DE, OT — await word from DBs

Cal’s big recruiting weekend has netted two oral commitments so far, but as of this writing still hadn’t gotten the nod from any of at least five defensive back prospects who were on campus.

Another position of needs is defensive end, where 3-star JC prospect DeVante Wilson of Riverside JC committed after flipping from Washington State, according to Scout.com. A native of Corona, Wilson is 6-foot-5, 245 pounds.

Cal also got a commitment from 6-4, 285-pound offensive tackle Nick Buchanan of Dunwoody HS in Georgia.