Women’s basketball: Bears open NCAA vs. Wichita St.

The Cal women host Missouri Valley champion Wichita State in their NCAA tournament opener Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Haas Pavilion.

Staff writer Stephanie Hammon explores whether the fourth-seeded Bears (23-9) are at risk of wearing down in the postseason because of depth issues. Click here for her story.


Swimming: Missy Franklin sparks 2 NCAA wins

Sophomore Missy Franklin, in her final meet representing Cal, won the 200-yard individual medley and swam a leg on the victorious 200 medley relay as the Bears set a school record for points scored on the first day of the NCAA championships at Greensboro, N.C.

Franklin, star of the 2012 London Olympics, won the 200 IM in a personal-best time of 1 minutes, 52.11 seconds. Teammate Elizabeth Pelton was second in 1:52.80, also a career best.

The Bears’ foursome of Kayla Bing, Franklin, Rachel Bootsma and Farida Osman began the meet by winning the 200 medley relay in 1:26.41, barely edging Stanford.

Cal is in second place after one day with 162 points, 10 points behind Georgia. The meet runs through Saturday.

Franklin intends to leave the Cal team after this season to train for the 2016 Rio de Janiero Olympics.


Football: Wide receiver Chris Harper remains confident his decision to enter the NFL draft was correct

Former Cal wide receiver Chris Harper, in his first public remarks about his decision to leave school a year early for the NFL draft, said Tuesday he was concerned his production would drop in the Bears’ diverse offense.

“The fact that there’s a lot of receivers and the ball’s going to be spread around a lot more, just like it was this year,” Harper said after participating in Cal’s Pro Day workout in front of scouts from 29 NFL teams.

“It was more about my draft stock. I feel like next year it wouldn’t have been as high. With my production dropping every year, going into next year I wouldn’t have had as many balls or as many opportunities as I’ve had these last couple years.”

Harper caught 41 passes as a freshman in former coach Jeff Tedford’s offense, then had 70 and 52 catches the past two seasons playing in coach Sonny Dykes’ pass-oriented attack. He caught 11 touchdown passes the past two seasons.

Cal returns the rest of its receiving corps next season, including Kenny Lawler and Bryce Treggs.

Harper made what he called an “educated decision” to leave Cal after talking with family and mentors. He did not involve Cal’s coaching staff in the conversation. “No, because I felt it was my decision,” he said.

Harper said he was surprised and disappointed when he was not among the 44 receivers invited to the NFL combine last month in Indianapolis. But he remains confident he will be selected somewhere between the third and seventh rounds in the NFL draft, which begins April 30.

The website NFLDraftScout.com rates Harper as the No. 48 receiver prospect.

Harper, joined by six other former Cal players who were measured and tested in various areas at Pro Day, thought he fared well. He said he did 11 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press, and had a 35-inch vertical leap. His 40-yard dash times were in the low 4.5-second range.

“I dropped a ball — I was pretty frustrated by that,” he said. “Other than that I think I tested really well.”

Harper’s agent, Los Angeles-based Jerome Stanley, said neither Pro Day nor the draft will dictate Harper’s future as a professional football player.

“Chris is the kind of guy that’s successful in the NFL,” Stanley said. “It’s not a draft thing, it’s a can-you-play thing.”

Other former Cal players who participated at Pro Day were safety Michael Lowe, offensive lineman Alejandro Crosthwaite, defensive end Harrison Wilfley, kickers James Langford and Vincenzo D’Amato and long snapper John Sheperdson.


Football: Dykes likes D-line’s improved depth

Cal incorporated two sets of scrimmages into its fourth workout of the spring on Monday, and defensive tackles Mustafa Jalil and David Davis sat out, as they will every time the Bears go live.

“We haven’t missed a beat,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said afterward. “I love the depth. I love the fact that we can play five or six defensive tackles and not make much of a difference. Couldn’t do that (last year) at any time.”

Senior Trevor Kelly, beginning his second season with the program, has dropped 30 pounds. “He’s moving around so much better,” Dykes said.

Dykes also said junior Marcus Manley and transfer James Looney are doing good things. Tony Mekari and Chris Palmer also are in the mix at defensive tackle.

Jalil, who has struggled with knee issues throughout his Cal career, is being held out purely for precautionary reasons, Dykes said. “We want him to get his snaps next fall,” Dykes said.

At defensive end, Dykes singled out senior Kyle Kragen, who transferred in from Diablo Valley College last season but had his own knee problems.

“He’s been really good. He’s strong, playing really hard. He’s been around, he’s mature. He knows how to play the position,” Dykes said. “He’s worked really hard to get himself into great shape and he’s playing hungry.”


Reserve quarterback-turned-safety Luke Rubenzer had a big moment Monday, intercepting Jared Goff during scrimmage action.

“Every day he gets better. That’s what I like to see,” Dykes said. “Today I thought he’s starting to get a sense for things. There’s certain guys who are in the right place at the right time. You want those guys playing for you. I think he’s one of those kids.”


Football: Cal’s pro day set for Tuesday morning

Cal’s pro day workout will be held Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m. at Memorial Stadium.

The workouts, in front of NFL scouts, are open to the public and free.

Cal players who have completed their collegiate career are eligible to compete. Expected participants include Alejandro Crosthwaite, Vincenzo D’Amato, Chris Harper, James Langford, Michael Lowe, John Sheperdson and Harrison Wilfley.


Basketball: Off-season personnel issues loom, including point guard Tyrone Wallace’s future

Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said he could bring in as many as four new recruits before next basketball season, and that doesn’t factor in what junior point guard Tyrone Wallace might decide about his future.

Wallace, an all-Pac-12 pick in his first season at the position, is rated as potentially a high second-round pick in the NBA draft.

Martin said he plans to meet individually with all his players after spring break in two weeks, and will discuss Wallace’s options at that point.

“First and foremost, we want what’s best for our players,” Martin said. “If Tyrone can get where he’s trying to go at the end of this season, we like what he’s hearing, then we’ll do what’s best for Tyrone.”

Wallace ranks among the top five in the Pac-12 in three major statistical categories, averaging 17.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists. He’s an inconsistent 3-point shooter and converts barely 60 percent at the free throw line, but is long and athletic.

DraftExpress.com rates Wallace as potentially the No. 37 pick in the draft and NBADraft.net projects him at No. 38. Only first-round picks are given guaranteed contracts.

“You’re talking about a guy who was a 2-3 wing guy transitioning to toughest position in the game,” Martin said. “To make all-conference is tremendous.”

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Basketball: A few things to consider before filling out your NCAA tournament bracket

A few more NCAA tournament bracket tips to consider before entering your office pool:

First of all, do not fret when you get one wrong. Nobody’s perfect, and that especially holds true for picking the NCAA tournament. The folks in Las Vegas have calculated there are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 possible bracket combinations (9.2 quintillion), which means you’re going to miss a few.

Unbeaten Kentucky is everyone’s favorite and is listed by oddsmakers as a 1:1 choice to win the national title. That creates a problem when filling out your bracket: If you go with Ashley Judd’s favorite team, you don’t separate yourself from the crowd. If you go any other direction, you do so at your own risk.

My suggestion, fill out two brackets: One with UK on the final line and the other with someone else.

If Kentucky does wind winning the title, the person who fared best on games not involving the Wildcats will win your pool.

A general rule of thumb: Be bold, but not crazy.

All four No. 1 seeds will not reach the Final Four. But don’t expect all of them to lose on the first weekend because they don’t. Eighty-eight percent of top seeds, in fact, advance to the second weekend. So if you want to pick a few upsets, avoid derailing any of the No. 1 seeds until the second week.

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Basketball: Bears decline offer to play in CBI


A Cal spokesman said the Bears have declined an offer to play in the College Basketball Invitational.

See below for coach Cuonzo Martin’s statement on the decision.

The Bears (18-15) were long ago ousted from contention for an NCAA tournament bid, and were not close to gaining a spot in the 32-team National Invitation Tournament.

But interim athletic director Michael Williams said last week the Bears would consider the 16-team CBI, if an offer came. It apparently did, and they said no thanks.

Teams must pay the CBI a fee for hosting games in the event, although it’s unclear if and how much that was a factor in the school’s decision.

Cal started the season 10-1 under Martin, then went 7-11 in Pac-12 play. The Bears dropped six of their final eight games and will miss the postseason for the first time since 2007.

Cal was aced out of the NIT field by 12 schools given automatic bids after winning their regular-season conference titles, then losing in the league tournament. Five of those teams had worse RPI computer ratings than Cal at No. 95.


Cuonzo Martin statement on CBI decision:

“Our goal for The University of California’s men’s basketball program is to be the best and compete for an NCAA Championship. We made a decision to not pursue an invitation to the CBI and will focus our efforts on recruiting and developing our roster in preparation for a strong future here in Berkeley.

“I want to thank our seniors for everything they have given to this program throughout their careers. I also want to thank our fans for their incredible passion and the exceptional support they provide for our team. We truly felt their support all season and look forward to that continued enthusiasm next year as we unveil $10 million in improvements to Haas Pavilion courtesy of the generous gift from the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund.”