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Football: Bears using spring workouts to develop a tougher, more physical profile

Coach Sonny Dykes plans to put his Cal football team through live scrimmaging more often this spring for the most basic of reasons.

“We’ve got to learn how to play football,” said Dykes, whose Golden Bears didn’t show much of an aptitude for the game last season while going 1-11 in his debut campaign.

“We’ve just got to get better at playing football and everything that goes along with live reps. So it’s important for us to get as much of that as we can get.”

The Bears dressed in full pads and engaged in live contact Saturday for the first time since spring workouts began Monday. The plan is to scrimmage in each of the eight fully padded workouts — rather than just three or four times during the spring — but for shorter duration.

“I like it,” junior center Jordan Rigsbee said of the greater emphasis on physical workouts. “There’s nothing like live football. You can practice, you can go half-speed, but nothing’s like going full go.”

The Bears ran 40 live plays Saturday and got a luke-warm grade from Dykes.

“I didn’t think it was great, It was OK,” Dykes said. “We’re trying to be more physical. It’s obviously a work in progress.”

Given the team’s severe injury situation last fall, Dykes said he’s wary of putting players in situations that leave them vulnerable. As a result, he’s not sure the Bears will engage in a full-length spring game on April 26.

“When you have that fatigue is when you have a lot of injuries,” he said.

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Posted on Saturday, April 5th, 2014
Under: Football, Spring practice | 1 Comment »
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Basketball: DeCuire gets his interview

Associate head coach Travis DeCuire got his interview for the Cal basketball head coaching position and got another strong endorsement.

DeCuire, 43, met with Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour on Friday at the Final Four in Dallas. “I saw him after his interview and he was relaxed, felt it went well,” said Blaine Taylor, who coached DeCuire at Montana and later was an assistant coach for Mike Montgomery at Stanford.

Five days after Montgomery retired as Bears coach, little tangible news has emerged from Cal’s secretive search process.

Former Cal assistant and current Arizona associate head coach Joe Pasternack has been mentioned as a possible candidate, but has not returned calls to reporters in the Bay Area or Tucson.

UC Irvine coach Russ Turner, a former assistant under Montgomery at Stanford and with the Golden State Warriors, has declined comment.

Former UCLA coach Ben Howland is keeping a low profile.

Dayton coach Archie Miller, the brother of Arizona’s Sean Miller, said through sources he has no interest.

But Montgomery gave DeCuire, his assistant of six years, a ringing endorsement last Monday, and Taylor said he’s ready for the assignment. DeCuire started every game at point guard his final two seasons at Montana and still holds the school’s career assist record (435).

Later, he spent five seasons as an assistant to Taylor at Old Dominion.

“Travis has always had an intellect for the game, always had a passion for competition,” Taylor said. “In the huddle, you’re very aware of who has an aptitude for the game.”

Taylor said DeCuire’s experience at Old Dominion in Virginia gave him a national view and honed his recruiting skills. He also said DeCuire grades high on the academic and business side of college basketball.

“He’s more aware of things away from the court than some assistants might be,” Taylor said.

Posted on Saturday, April 5th, 2014
Under: Basketball | 9 Comments »
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Basketball: Is Notre Dame’s Mike Brey on Sandy Barbour’s coaching wish list? Conflicting reports

Mike Brey, who has won 300 games in 14 seasons at Notre Dame, is on the short list of coaching candidates with whom Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour would like to speak, according to a report in the South Bend Tribune.

Update: A source just reached out to me saying not to believe the South Bend Tribune report.

Brey, 55, is coming off a 15-17 season, including 6-12 in Notre Dame’s inaugural season in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He won coach of the year honors three times in the Big East.

The newspaper cited a source familiar with the Cal search, and noted that Barbour worked as an associate athletic director at Notre Dame from 2002-04 while Brey was basketball coach.

After the 2012 season, Brey signed a 10-year contract extension with Notre Dame that runs through the 2021-22 season.

Posted on Thursday, April 3rd, 2014
Under: Basketball | 16 Comments »
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Football: Bears start anew in Year 2

While I spent the day at Haas Pavilion for Mike Montgomery’s retirement, staff writer Jimmy Durkin pinch-hit for me at the Bears’ first spring football practice.

Click here to read his report from Day 1.

Posted on Monday, March 31st, 2014
Under: Football, Spring practice | 18 Comments »
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Basketball: Montgomery uses final day on the job to give asst. Travis DeCuire his endorsement

Dodging praise and fighting off emotions on his final day as Cal’s basketball coach, Mike Montgomery used the podium to deliver a passionate endorsement of associate head coach Travis DeCuire as his successor.

Whoever gets the job will have enormous shoes to fill.

Montgomery retired Monday after six successful seasons at Cal and the most accomplished career of any Bay Area men’s basketball coach of the past half century.

“I feel really good about my decision. I just think it’s time,” Montgomery said during a 35-minute news conference in which he showed a seldom-seen soft side by nearly breaking into tears several times.

In addition to the six years he spent at Cal, Montgomery, 67, coached for 18 seasons at Stanford, where he had his greatest success, leading the Cardinal into the NCAA tournament 12 times, including his last 10 years in a row. He left Stanford after the 2003-04 season to coach the Golden State Warriors, compiling a 68-96 record before being fired after two seasons

Montgomery underwent surgery for bladder cancer 2 1/2 years ago but said his health is “great” and that he wanted to step away from coaching on his own terms.

He also put some heat on Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour to give serious consideration to DeCuire, who has been part of his staff in Berkeley for all six seasons.

Click here to read the rest of this story.


Columnist Mark Purdy on Monty’s final act

Posted on Monday, March 31st, 2014
Under: Basketball | 13 Comments »
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Basketball: Who’s next? Possible candidates

Cal’s wish list

Here are potential candidates for the Cal coaching job that opened when Mike Montgomery retired on Monday:


Credentials: The 48-year-old former Duke guard has guided the Crimson to a seven-year record of 139-71, including four straight Ivy League titles. His 2012 squad became the first Harvard team to play in the NCAA tournament since 1946.

Positives: Has shown he can navigate the postseason. Harvard never had won an NCAA tournament game until the past two seasons when it posted tournament upsets over No. 3 seed New Mexico and No. 5 Cincinnati.

Concerns: Amaker will be tough to land. On Saturday, after being wooed by crosstown Boston College, he announced he is staying put, saying “My heart is at Harvard.”

– RANDY BENNETT, Saint Mary’s

Credentials: The Gaels’ all-time winningest coach with a 14-year record of 286-137. Bennett, 51, guided Saint Mary’s into the Sweet 16 in 2010. SMC was 23-12 this season, interrupting a run of six straight years of at least 25 victories.

Positives: Has led the Gaels to five NCAA tournament berths since 2005 — as many or more than any Bay Area school over the same time frame, including Cal.

Negatives: Faced a five-game this past season as part of sanctions for NCAA violations that included impermissible workouts and benefits and a failure to monitor charge.

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Posted on Monday, March 31st, 2014
Under: Basketball | 19 Comments »
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Basketball: Montgomery makes it official

Coach Mike Montgomery, who guided Cal’s basketball team to four NCAA tournament appearances in six seasons after transforming rival Stanford into a national contender, announced his retirement on Monday.

Montgomery, 67, informed his players during a noon-hour team meeting. A press conference was scheduled at Cal for 2:30 p.m.

“I have enjoyed 45 years coaching the game I love while developing long-lasting friendships along the way. This is a decision that was not made lightly,” Montgomery said in a statement, “This is the right time for me to move to the next phase of my life.”

The most successful Bay Area men’s basketball coach of the past half century, Montgomery compiled a record of 130-73 at Cal. In 2010, he brought the school its first regular-season Pac-12 Conference championship in 50 years.

“The six years I have spent at Cal have been some of the greatest in my career,” he said, thanking athletic director Sandy Barbour for her support. “This is a great program and Cal basketball is positioned for success for many years to come.”

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Posted on Monday, March 31st, 2014
Under: Basketball | 4 Comments »
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Football: Goff’s shoulder is healthy, but Bears will be cautious with QB during spring workouts

Note: Because I was busy on the Mike Montgomery story, staff writer Darren Sabedra pinch-hit as Sonny Dykes and Jared Goff answered questions on a media teleconference in advance of Monday’s start to spring practice.


The shoulder injury Cal quarterback Jared Goff suffered against Stanford last season has healed, but coach Sonny Dykes plans to take a cautious approach when the team opens spring practice Monday.

“We’ve got to be careful not to put too much on him and blow his arm out early,” Dykes said Sunday. “We’re going to bring him along slowly, probably split reps early and see how he handles it, see how he feels, give him the occasional day off.

“It’s going to be important that we manage him the right way.”

Goff, who threw for a Cal season record 3,508 yards last season, underwent surgery Nov. 27 to repair the shoulder that was separated on a hit by Stanford’s Shayne Skov.

The quarterback said Sunday that he has been throwing 100 percent for at least a month and that the shoulder feels great.

“I went through a throwing program as soon as I felt good enough to throw, which started a few months ago,” Goff said.

Click here for the rest of this story.

Posted on Sunday, March 30th, 2014
Under: Football, Spring practice | 4 Comments »
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Basketball: Mike Montgomery expected to inform Cal on Monday whether he is retiring


Cal basketball coach Mike Montgomery will discuss his future on Monday with athletic director Sandy Barbour, who said she would “absolutely” try to talk him out of retirement if that’s his intention. reported that Montgomery, 67, has been leaning toward retiring after his sixth season at Cal.

Barbour, who attended Sunday’s NCAA women’s basketball regional semifinals at Stanford on Sunday, confirmed by phone the two will meet.

“Mike Montgomery is a phenomenal coach and I’m glad he’s ours,” Barbour said.

Asked if she knows what Montgomery — the Bay Area’s most successful men’s college basketball coach of the past 50 years — plans to tell her, Barbour said, “Nope, I don’t.”

But Barbour said she would try to dissuade him from a possible retirement decision. “Absolutely,” she said, “as I have before.”

Montgomery did not immediately respond to multiple messages.

UC Irvine coach Russell Turner, who worked with Montgomery at Stanford and with the Golden State Warriors, said the two talked on the phone last week to discuss SMU, Cal’s quarterfinal opponent in the NIT.

“We didn’t talk about anything like this,” Turner said. “With the success he’s having, it would surprise me if it’s true. But I don’t know anything.”

Utah State coach Stew Morrill, a longtime friend of Montgomery, said he didn’t know anything about Montgomery’s possible intention to retire and declined to comment.

ESPN’s report said sources told them Cal has hired a search firm to begin looking for a successor.

 Montgomery has compiled a record of 130-73 at Cal with four trips to the NCAA tournament. His 2009-10 team earned the Bears’ their first regular-season conference championship in 50 years.

The Bears’ 2013-14 season ended at 21-14 last Wednesday with a 67-65 loss at SMU in the NIT.

This Cal team was a rare Montgomery squad that did not peak toward the season’s end. The Bears started 14-4, including 5-0 in the Pac-12. But they were just 7-10 the rest of the way, tumbling from a near-certain NCAA tournament bid to the NIT after finishing in a five-way tie for third at 10-8.

Montgomery faced a serious health scare in the fall of 2011 when he underwent surgery for bladder cancer. But he said doctors told him he had a clean bill of health, and he directed the Bears to a 24-10 record that season and second-place finish in the Pac-12.

In the summer of 2012, less than a year after his bout with cancer, Montgomery signed a contract extension with Cal through the 2015-16 season.

In 18 seasons at Stanford, through the 2003-04 campaign, Montgomery was 393-167 with four conference championships and 12 trips to the NCAA tournament. The Cardinal’s 1989 NCAA bid was its first in 47 years.

Montgomery’s 1997-98 team reached the Final Four — the only Bay Area men’s to do so since Cal in 1960 under Pete Newell. Montgomery’s 2000-01 Stanford squad advanced to the Elite 8 round.

In 32 college seasons, including eight at Montana, Montgomery has a record of 677-316, leaving him just seven games shy of 1,000 as a Division I head coach. His past 15 Stanford and Cal teams finished no worse than fourth place in the conference.

Between stints at Stanford and Cal, Montgomery spent two seasons as coach of the Golden State Warriors.

A native of Long Beach and a graduate of Long Beach State, is a four-time Pac-12 coach of the year. In 2004 he received the John R. Wooden “Legends of Coaching” Lifetime Achievement Award, which previously had gone to Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Lute Olson and Roy Williams.

Posted on Sunday, March 30th, 2014
Under: Basketball | 17 Comments »
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Swimming: Franklin is World Sportswoman of Year

Cal freshman swimmer Missy Franklin added another honor to her resume when she was named the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year during a ceremony Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Franklin earned the award after her record-setting performance at the 2013 World Championships, where she won six gold medals – most ever for a woman at the event.

“Oh my gosh,” exclaimed Franklin, the youngest-ever winner of the women’s award and the first swimmer so honored. “I don’t know what I’m doing here.”

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Posted on Wednesday, March 26th, 2014
Under: Honors, Swimming | 1 Comment »
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