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Women’s basketball: Bears ink New Zealander

The Cal women’s basketball team has signed Penina Davidson, a 6-foot-3 forward who plays for the New Zealand national team.

A native of Auckland — the same hometown as former Cal player Sean Marks — Davidson joins a Cal recruiting class that already was ranked among the top 20 in the nation.

“We are thrilled to add a person and player of Penina’s caliber in the late signing period,” Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “Nina comes from a ‘basketball family’, and that’s evident in her versatile game and high basketball intellect. She’s big and strong and will provide a solid post presence, but also has an array of skills facing the basket.”

Davidson is a member of the New Zealand women’s national team where she most recently competed at the 2013 FIBA Oceania Championships, scoring five points and pulling down eight rebounds for the Tall Ferns in the championship series against the Australia senior national team that was coming off a bronze medal finish at the London Olympics.

Davidson also competed for New Zealand at the 2012 Four Nations Challenge in China where she averaged 15 points and 9.2 rebounds per game in nine total games against China, the United States and Australia. She was named to the final all-tournament team, one of just two non-Americans selected.

Posted on Thursday, April 17th, 2014
Under: Recruiting, Women's basketball | 1 Comment »
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Basketball: Getting to know Cuonzo Martin

Who is Cuonzo Martin? Here’s a primer on Cal’s new basketball coach.

What’s in a name?

Martin’s first name is pronounced KAHN-zoe. He said he was named after the Italian doctor who delivered his father. He later met several others with his first name while playing professionally in Italy.

Will Travis DeCuire have a place on Martin’s staff?

All of Cal’s current assistants will get a chance to talk with Martin, but he sounded like a man ready to bring his UT staff to Berkeley.

“I’ll bring quite a few of them,” he said. “The guys you have on your staff have to know you, have to understand your style.”

How do Cal’s players, who wanted DeCuire to get the job, feel about Martin’s arrival?

“I liked him,” freshman guard Jabari Bird said. “He preaches the style of play, basically up and down, fast-paced. But he also wants his team to play defense.

“He talked about love and family and a lot of guys have given great feedback on his personality as a coach, saying he’s going to be fun to play for.

“The bottom line today is everybody is happy about the decision and we’re ready to move forward. We’ve got a great coach.”

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Posted on Tuesday, April 15th, 2014
Under: Basketball | 4 Comments »
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Basketball: Special delivery from Knoxville

Cal needed a new basketball coach, and 36,000 of Tennessee’s most overzealous fans helped push Cuonzo Martin to the Golden Bears’ doorstep.

Cal introduced Martin as its new coach Tuesday, following a 15-day search to find a successor for Mike Montgomery. Martin, 42, will get a five-year contract from athletic director Sandy Barbour.

At Tennessee, Martin guided the Southeastern Conference school to a spot in the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 this season only weeks after fans signed an online petition demanding that he be replaced by his predecessor, Bruce Pearl, who was fired in 2011 for lying to NCAA investigators.

Martin took the high road at his introductory news conference, declining to take any shots at UT fans.

“They woke up a hungry bear,” Martin said of his response to the petition, which he claims he wasn’t aware of until an opposing coach alluded to it after a game.

“It wasn’t a big deal. You still have 17,000 people at the games. You can’t please everybody.”

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Columnist Marcus Thompson II says Martin can take Bears to new heights.

Hall of Fame coach Gene Keady, others have praise for Cal’s hire.


Posted on Tuesday, April 15th, 2014
Under: Basketball | 1 Comment »
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Basketball: Cal hires Vols’ Cuonzo Martin


If Cal was trying to hit a home run with the hiring of a new men’s basketball coach, the Golden Bears appeared to come close enough, announcing Tuesday that Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin would replace Mike Montgomery.

Martin, 42, had been the Volunteers’ coach for the past three years, and led the Vols to a 24-13 record this past season, including a surprise appearance in the Sweet 16, where they were eliminated by Michigan. He was 63-41 overall in his three seasons at Tennessee.

Athletic director Sandy Barbour’s announcement came on the 15th day of the search to replace Montgomery, who retired at age 67 after six seasons at Berkeley.

Martin’s decision to take the Cal job apparently caught Tennessee off-guard, according to a story on SB Nation. He flirted with Marquette right after the season, but when the Warriors decided to go in a different direction, Martin was expected to stay at Tennessee.

But the SB Nation story said he had come under heavy criticism earlier in the 2013-14 season, including an online petition signed by more than 36,000 fans who wanted him replaced with former coach Bruce Pearl.

Martin succeeded Pearl as coach after Pearl was fired for lying to NCAA investigators.

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Posted on Tuesday, April 15th, 2014
Under: Basketball | 37 Comments »
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Football: Defensive backs making progress

Coach Sonny Dykes complimented the defense — and especially the Bears’ young defensive backs — after Monday’s closed workout.

“I thought we had a really good practice, was really pleased,” he said. “We’re starting to look better and that’s encouraging. Defensively, guys are starting to figure things out and playing a little faster.

“Guys are making more plays, especially some of those young DBs.”

Dykes singled out redshirt freshman cornerback Darius Allensworth, who had an interception. He said Cedric Dozier is much improved, and noted the efforts of Cameron Walker, Demariay Drew and David Garner.

“It’s good seeing those guys making explosive-type plays,” Dykes said.  ”Guys are developing, starting to play with confidence.”


Monday’s chapter in the battle for the No. 2 quarterback spot went to Austin Hinder. Dykes said Kyle Boehm, who has performed well this spring, suffered a setback with a pulled muscle in his lower back.

“It’s a good competition between those two guys,” Dykes said, “Austin had a better day today. He was much improved. But they’re competing back and forth, trading blows.”


Junior linebacker Nate Broussard, recovering from offseason knee surgery, won’t do any contact work during spring ball as a precautionary measure, Dykes said.  “He’s moving around great, feels good,” Dykes said.

But safety Avery Sebastian (Achilles) is getting more time on the field, putting him a bit ahead of the recovery schedule of fellow safety Stefan McClure (knee), who is battling a strained calf muscle.

Posted on Monday, April 14th, 2014
Under: Football, Spring practice | 2 Comments »
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Women’s basketball: Brandon to Chicago Sky

Cal’s Gennifer Brandon was taken by the Chicago Sky with the 22nd pick of the WNBA draft on Monday night.

Brandon is the fourth Cal player to be drafted by the league, following Layshia Clarendon (2013, 9th pick), Ashley Walker (2009, 12th pick) and Alexis Gray-Lawson (2010, 30th pick).

The Golden Bears are the only Pac-12 program with a player drafted by the WNBA each of the past two seasons.

Brandon was a  three-time All-Pac-12 selection, finishing her career as Cal’s all-time leading rebounder with 1219 career boards, a mark that ranks fifth in Pac-12 history.

 She holds the Pac-12 single-game rebounding mark of 26 and finished her career as one of just four players in California history to record over 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds. Brandon averaged of 9.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game for her Cal career.


Posted on Monday, April 14th, 2014
Under: Women's basketball | No Comments »
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Football: Brennan Scarlett shaking off rust, excited to become Bears’ ace pass rusher

No one waited longer for Cal’s spring football practice to begin than Brennan Scarlett.

Regarded as perhaps the Bears’ best defensive player, Scarlett is back on the field after a 17-month layoff for a broken hand and a string of complications.

“It has been a long time,” the junior defensive end said Saturday after the Bears ended the first half of their four-week spring workout schedule.

By the time Cal kicks off its 2014 season at Northwestern on Aug. 30, it will have been more than 21 months since Scarlett played in a game.

“It’s going to be a great day to run out on that field again,” Scarlett said.

Scarlett was moved from outside linebacker to defensive end a year ago, but never played in 2013 while his left hand — broken for the second time in a month’s span in November 2012 — slowly recovered.

He had a piece of bone grafted from his hip in January 2013, then suffered a bad infection that stalled his recovery. A month into last season, Scarlett knew his season would be lost.

Coach Sonny Dykes is more than eager to see him on game day. “I think he can be a dominant player,” Dykes said. “He’s not there by any stretch of the imagination yet. He’s long, fast, smart … and rusty.”

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Posted on Saturday, April 12th, 2014
Under: Football, Spring practice | 8 Comments »
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Basketball: Chris Mack staying put at Xavier; Eric Musselman no longer in the running, either


Xavier’s Chris Mack is out as a candidate to become the next Cal basketball coach, and two sources said that former Warriors coach Eric Musselman is not the frontrunner, either.

Mack, 44, decided Saturday to remain at Xavier, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, after guiding the Musketeers to four NCAA tournaments in his five seasons, including a pair of Sweet 16 appearances.

Musselman, who resigned as assistant coach at Arizona State on Monday, was immediately tabbed in a CBS Sports story as Cal’s latest target. This newspaper confirmed that Musselman was interviewed by athletic director Sandy Barbour.

But two other sources, one of them from within the Cal athletic department and the other with knowledge of the process, both said that contact was early in the search and that Musselman, 49, no longer is an active candidate.

Nearly two weeks after Mike Montgomery retired March 31, it’s unclear who the Bears will hire to fill the position.

Confirmed as having interviewed are Cal associate coach Travis DeCuire and UC Irvine coach Russell Turner.

Musselman’s coaching resume is dominated by experience in the professional ranks. His two seasons under Herb Sendek at ASU are his only two as a Division I college coach.

He coached the Warriors to a record of 38-41 in 2002-03, a 17-game improvement over the previous season and their best mark in 10 years. He was runnerup in NBA Coach of the Year voting.

A year later, he was fired after going 37-45.

Musselman coached the Sacramento Kings to a record of 33-49 in 2006-07, bringing his three-year NBA coaching total to 108-138.

Musselman earned 2012 Coach of the Year honors in the NBA’s developmental league with the Los Angeles D-Fenders.

Posted on Saturday, April 12th, 2014
Under: Basketball | 31 Comments »
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Basketball: Bears pursuing Xavier’s Chris Mack according to source, but another says no offer


Cal’s latest basketball coaching target is Chris Mack, who has taken Xavier to the NCAA tournament four of the past five seasons, according to a source.

Multiple media outlets are reporting the story, but a separate source within the Cal athletic department told me at about 12:30 today the Bears have not offered the job to Mack and had not, to that point, discussed it with him.

Mack, 44, has guided the Musketeers to a five-year record of 111-57 since replacing Arizona-bound Sean Miller as coach for the 2009-10 season.

Xavier was 21-13 this season, including 10-8 in its debut in the Big East Conference, and lost to North Carolina State 74-59 in a first-round NCAA game at Dayton, Ohio.

Mack did not immediately respond to a voicemail message.

Cal is in its 10th day of a search to replace Mike Montgomery, who retired on March 31 after six seasons at Berkeley.

Mack is a native of Cleveland and a 1993 graduate of Xavier.

Xavier was 26-9 and tied for first in the Atlantic-10 Conference in Mack’s first season as coach in 2009-10. His team reached the NCAA’s Sweet 16, before losing to Kansas State 101-96 in double-overtime.

Mack’s 2010-11 team was 24-8 and outright champions of the A-10 Conference at 15-1, but lost its NCAA opener. A year later, the Musketeers were 23-13 and advanced to the Sweet 16 before falling 75-70 to Baylor.

In 2012-13, Xavier was 17-14 and failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament for the only time in Mack’s five seasons.

Mack is signed to a contract through the 2017-18 season that is worth $860,000 per season, according to USA Today.

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Posted on Thursday, April 10th, 2014
Under: Basketball | 19 Comments »
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Football: Dykes encouraged by O-line progress

Coach Sonny Dykes is beginning to see progress in one area the Bears must show substantial improvement — offensive line.

“They’re obviously a lot better,” Dykes said after Wednesday’s workout. “They know what they’re doing. We’re having some continuity in some spots. There’s a semblance of depth.

“We’re a year stronger in the weight room, a year more physical, a year better shape. There’s a lot of positives.”

Positions are fairly set at several spots, including left tackle, where sophomore Steven Moore has settled in to protect quarterback Jared Goff’s blindside, with sophomore Christian Okafor and junior Brian Farley dueling for the right tackle position.

Dykes said 6-foot-3, 310-pound sophomore Chris Borrayo has been “a stabilizing force” at left guard. Senior Alejandro Crosthwaite is starting at right guard and junior Jordan Rigsbee is the center.

But Cal awaits the return in fall camp of senior Chris Adcock (knee) and sophomore Matt Cochran (shoulder), and they could change the equation. Both will get the chance to compete at center and/or guard.

Redshirt freshman Aaron Cochran, a massive 6-8, 355-pounder, has shown glimpses of his significant potential. “He’s the unknown,” Dykes said.

“It’s got a chance to be a group that’s going to play tough and develop some continuity if we can get some depth issues sorted out,” Dykes said.

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Posted on Wednesday, April 9th, 2014
Under: Football, Spring practice | 9 Comments »
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