Swimming: Olympic star Missy Franklin in final meet at Cal as Golden Bears host Stanford on Saturday

Courtesy of staff writer Elliott Almond, here is a preview of Olympian Missy Franklin’s farewell meet at Berkeley:

Swim star Missy Franklin will make her final appearance at Cal on Saturday when the third-ranked Golden Bears conclude the dual meet season against No. 2 Stanford at 11 a.m. at Spieker Aquatics Complex.

“It’s always a tough meet,” said Franklin, who will turn pro after the NCAA championships in March. “We really get after each other.”

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TV: The meet will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks, with Olympian Amy Van Dyken on the broadcast team. The action begins at 11 a.m.


Football: Sebastian lands at Notre Dame

Former Cal safety Avery Sebastian will play his final season of college football at Notre Dame, he announced via twitter.

“I have officially committed to the University of Notre Dame! Extremely excited & blessed to be part of the Notre Dame family. GO IRISH!”

Sebastian, plagued by injuries the past two seasons at Cal, will arrive at South Bend as a graduate student, immediately eligible to play his final season.


Basketball: Bears hold off CU for fifth straight win

* Click here for our correspondent’s game story.

FINAL SCORE: Cal 68, Colorado 61. Wallace scored on a floater in the lane with 21.6 seconds left, then helped Singer steal the ball from Booker as the Bears took charge. Two FTs by Kravish and one by Bird closed it out. Cal (16-9, 6-6) wins its fifth straight game after a six-game losing streak and beats Colorado in Boulder for the first time since Dec. 16, 1974 — more than 40 years.

Scoring change: Mathews made 5 of 7 from the 3-point line and kept the Bears in front when no one else was doing much. He finished with 22 points. Wallace had 16, Kravish contributed 14 points and seven rebounds and Tarwater made three 3-pointers to score nine. Singer had six assists. Not sure what was going on with Bird, who seemed in a trance offensively and finished with three points and 0 for 3 from the field.

“That was great for our guys,” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin told reporters afterward. “We’re growing into a good defensive team. We’re not where we need to be, but we’re certainly making progress as a unit. Guys are playing hard, competing, playing together as a unit.

“To beat a team of this magnitude on their home floor with this type of energy and passion was great for our players and our program.”

Scott had 17 points and four of Colorado’s 10 blocked shots, and Booker added 11. But the two combined to shoot 9 for 27 as the Buffs made just 36.7 percent for the game. Colorado (11-12, 4-7) finished with a 43-34 rebounding edge and outscored Cal 18-4 on second-chance points.

* Martin said after the game that junior reserve forward Christian Behrens will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Friday. “That’s as far as we know right now,” he said, when asked the exact nature of Behrens’ injury.

* Cal plays Sunday at No. 11 Utah (19-4, 9-2), which went ahead of idle Arizona into first place in the Pac-12 standings with its 75-59 win over Stanford. Tipoff Sunday is 5:30 p.m. PT on ESPNU.

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Basketball: Bears try to buck history at Colorado

Cal (15-9, 5-6) will try to beat Colorado (11-11, 4-6) in Boulder for the first time Dec. 16, 1974 – more than 40 years – when the teams meet Thursday night. Tipoff is 6 p.m. PST and the game will be aired on FoxSports1.

The Bears are 1-9 all-time vs. Colorado at Boulder.

Even this season, as the Buffaloes have lost three times at home, they don’t make a habit of it. They are coming off a 79-51 loss to Utah, but have not dropped consecutive home conference games since Tad Boyle became coach in 2010-11.

CU is 69-12 at home under Boyle.

The Buffaloes, ravaged by injuries this season, may be getting healthy.

Center Josh Scott, who missed seven straight games and eight in a span of nine outings due to a back injury, returned for the Utah game. He had 10 points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench.

Senior guard Askia Booker, who scored 43 points in CU’s 98-94 triple-overtime win over USC on Jan. 29, sat out the Utah game with a hip pointer but told reporters in Colorado he will play against Cal. Booker is the Buffs’ leading scorer at 17.6 ppg.

Cal brings a four-game overall win streak into the game after losing six in a row.


Basketball: Cal women on track to host NCAAs

The Cal women, although not ranked in the Associated Press or USA Today Coaches top-25 polls, appear on their way to possibly hosting first- and second-round NCAA tournament games.

The NCAA Women’s Basketball Selection Committee revealed its preliminary list of the top 20 seeds Wednesday, and the list included Cal as one of the programs in contention to serve as an NCAA tournament host.

The NCAA uses a hosting model that will allow the top 16 seeds who meet championship hosting requirements to host first- and second-round games on March 20-23.

The Bears (18-5, 10-2 Pac-12) were among five Pac-12 teams listed on Wednesday’s top 20 reveal, along with Arizona State, Oregon State, Stanford and Washington.

Cal, 17th in the latest RPI report, is riding a seven-game winning streak – five more than the next current active streak in the Pac-12.  Four of the Bears’ five losses came when All-Pac-12 selection Courtney Range was out due to injury.

“It’s important to keep in mind that (Wednesday’s) announcement has no bearing on the final bracket,” said Dru Hancock, chair of the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee, ”but we were able to identify those institutions that are a possible top-20 seed so that they can begin preparations to host first- and second-round play, while also building momentum towards the upcoming championship.”

The selection show will take place on Monday, March 16 at 4 p.m. (PT) and will air on ESPN.

California returns to action Thursday against UCLA at Haas Pavilion. Tip-off is 8 p.m. and the game will air on the Pac-12 Networks.


Basketball: Martin’s upbeat message helps fuel Golden Bears’ rally from six-game losing streak

* Cal at Colorado, Thursday, 6 p.m., FoxSports1

I’ll admit it. I wasn’t quite sure what to think about Cuonzo Martin’s never-ending upbeat attitude in the face of a recent six-game Cal basketball losing streak.

We’re just getting to know the Bears’ first-year coach, and the temptation was to wonder if this guy’s positive demeanor was merely a means of hiding his true feelings.

The team was making progress in practice, he said. He saw improvement, even if it didn’t manifest itself for 40 minutes on game night. Progress was coming. He was not discouraged. The Bears were close to breaking through.

Those were the messages he gave reporters, but also apparently what he told his players.

And he said it so often, and with such sincerity, that his players believed it. No one in the Cal locker room, even during a three-week drought, gave up on himself or his teammates.

“Obviously not,” said senior David Kravish, referring to the four-game win streak the Bears have assembled since losing six in a row.

I talked this week with interim athletic director Michael Williams, who is impressed by Martin’s approach to his players.

“One of the things that’s great about him is every single opportunity he has to comment, he says something positive about the player or the team. It’s just relentlessly positive,” Williams said.

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Basketball: Bucks sign Gutierrez to 2nd 10-day deal

Former Cal star Jorge Gutierrez signed a second 10-day contract with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Gutierrez signed with the Bucks on Jan. 28 after point guard Kendall Marshall suffered a season-ending knee injury. Gutierrez, the former Pac-12 Player of the Year, averaged 4.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 14.8 minutes over four games.

He tied a career high with 13 points in the Bucks’ 117-113 loss in Houston last Friday and also started for Milwaukee in a victory in Toronto on Feb. 2.

“He did everything we’ve asked, on and off the court,” fellow Cal alum and coach Jason Kidd said.


Football: Cal releases spring practice schedule

Cal announced that spring workouts will begin Monday, March 9 and conclude with its Cal Football Spring Experience and spring game on Saturday, April 18.

Most practices are scheduled to be open to the public.

“We want to share what we are working on with our great fans,” coach Sonny Dykes said in a statement. “We’ve been preparing diligently in our offseason conditioning program to get ourselves ready to get back on the field for spring ball.

“We’re excited about the work our guys are putting in and the upward trajectory our program is on.”

The Cal Spring Football Experience is an admission-free, interactive event that gives fans an opportunity to get to know players and coaches in the Cal program on an up-close basis.

Several former Cal football players have attended the event in the past. Super Bowl champion and NFL All-Pro running back Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks made a surprise appearance in 2013.

Among the Cal Spring Football Experience activities scheduled to take place are …
•Cal football scrimmage
•Opportunities for fans to interact with Cal football players and coaches
•Commemorative posters (first 2,000 fans)
•Cal footballs (first 250 fans)
•Fun Zone with face painters, photo station and much more
•Additional activities, giveaways and details to be announced

Cal’s 2015 schedule begins Sept. 5 at home against Grambling State.

Monday, March 9 (3:30 – 5:30 p.m.)
Wednesday, March 11 (3:30 – 5:30 p.m.)
Friday, March 13 (3:30 – 5:30 p.m.)
Monday, March 16 (3:30 – 5:30 p.m.)
Wednesday, March 18 (3:30 – 5:30 p.m.)
Wednesday, April 1 (3:30 – 5:30 p.m.)
Friday, April 3 (3:30 – 5:30 p.m.)
Saturday, April 4 (10 a.m. – Noon)
Monday, April 6 (3:30 – 5:30 p.m.)
Wednesday, April 8 (3:30 – 5:30 p.m.)
Monday, April 13 (3:30 – 5:30 p.m.)
Wednesday, April 15 (3:30 – 5:30 p.m.)
Saturday, April 18 (11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Cal Football Spring Experience, Pac-12 Networks)

* All practices above scheduled to be open to the public at Memorial Stadium; Schedule subject to change.


Athletic director search: Williams says he wants job

Interim Cal athletic director Michael Williams said publicly for the first time Monday he would like to keep the job on a permanent basis.

“I have not offered, they have not asked,” Williams said. “My understanding is they want to get further into the process.

“If they come to me and say, `Is this something you’re interested in?’ Sure.”

The search committee, in a news release Monday, said it has met and is impressed with the number and quality of interested potential candidates. The timetable for hiring a new AD remains late April, the news release said.

Williams, a Cal grad who served in volunteer campus roles for a dozen years, said in June he intended to take the AD assignment on an interim basis, presumably not for more than a year. But he has warmed to the job and received favorable feedback from Cal Chancellor Nicholas Dirks.

“I’ve been doing this now for eight months. There was a much different feel to things in June than there is today,” he explained. “I’m actually doing the job – I’m hiring, I’m firing, I’m evaluating. I’ve had the experience with the student-athletes. I’ve had the experience with the recruits.

“There are things in this job you can get nowhere else.”

Cal’s chain of command was altered after Sandy Barbour was fired as athletic director, and Williams now reports directly to Dirks. He said the two have a standing weekly meeting.

“So he’s pretty up-to-date on what’s going on here,” Williams said. “I don’t have a sense that the chancellor is disappointed in how the department is being run.”

Williams was a wrestler at Cal, graduating in 1982. He served as an executive with Barlays Global Investments before retiring. With Cal, he is vice chair of the UC Berkeley Foundation and was a member of the Chancellor’s Task Force on Academics and Athletics.

“Unlike any place I know, Berkeley continues to be a place that changes lives,” Williams said. “Changes lives for the students, changes lives of their familes. And changes lives of communities. I just want to be a part of that.”