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Football: A quick look at all things Cal football

VITAL SIGNS

Coach — Sonny Dykes, third year

Dykes’ record — 6-18 overall/3-15 Pac-12

Last season — 5-7/3-6 (4th in North)

Returning starters — 13 (eight offense, four defense)

Pac-12 media projection — 3rd in North

LEADERS OF THE PACK

Offense — This is now quarterback Jared Goff’s team and he has weapons all around him. Cal’s receiving corps, led by Bryce Treggs and Kenny Lawler, is among the best in the Pac-12, and Daniel Lasco leads a deep group of running backs expecting success behind a more established line.

Defense — Young and overmatched on this side most of the past two seasons, the Bears are looking for big seasons from five senior starters — tackle Mustafa Jalil, end Kyle Kragen, safety Stefan McClure, linebacker Jalen Jefferson and cornerback Darius White.

BUSTIN OUT?

Offense — No. 2 running back Vic Enwere, now 6-1, 230 pounds, gives the Bears a north-south runner with power and a year of experience.

Defense — Sophomore defensive end James Looney, a transfer from Wake Forest, has drawn raves from coaches and teammates for his speed and athleticism.

STAT THAT MATTERS

The Bears are 1-19 against Stanford, Oregon, Washington, USC and UCLA the past four years. In two seasons under Dykes they are 0-10 against those five schools, giving up 46.0 points per game and losing by an average 24.7 points. If Cal wants to take climb the Pac-12 ladder, it will have to beat someone other than Oregon State, Washington State and Colorado.

KEY DATE

Sept. 26: at Washington (tba) — Cal will be coming off a tough nonconference road game vs. Texas when it opens Pac-12 play against a Huskies’ team whose 31-7 win in Berkeley last season was the turning point in a year that saw Cal start 4-1 and finish 1-6. If the Bears wants to climb into the upper half of the North Division they need to win in Seattle.

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Football: Four-star wide receiver picks Bears

The Bears got perhaps their biggest recruiting news of the year on Monday when Jordan Duncan, rated a four-star wide receiver by Rivals, announced via Twitter he will attend Cal next fall.

“It’s Official! I AM A CAL BEAR! #CalGang16 LET’S GOOOO”

A 6-foot-1, 193-pounder from Oak Grove High in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Duncan made a campus visit over the weekend.

He caught 71 passes for 1,207 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior, according to Rivals. As a sophomore, Duncan caught 65 passes for 926 yards and 10 TDs,  reported the website RecruitingNewsGuru.com.

Duncan also plays safety and cornerback for his high school team, helping the Warriors to back-to-back state championship game appearances and a title in 2013.

The 22nd player to orally commit to Cal, Duncan is rated as a three-star prospect by Scout.com. He chose the Bears among offers from at least a dozen schools, including Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, North Carolina and Tennessee.

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Basketball: The numbers Down Under

The Bears will return home having learned a lot about themselves during a four-game tour of Australia, including how they must get off to better starts.

Cal trailed early in three of four games Down Under, winning the first two times that happened. The Bears could not finish the deal Friday at Wollongong, losing 110-99 to the Illawarra Hawks, no doubt easily the best opponent they faced.

Fouls – the stunning total of 40 of them – did in the Bears against the pros from the National Basketball League team. Australian commentators sympathized with Cal’s players, who were not prepared for even the lightest touches being whistled as fouls.

But the Bears must take a piece of the responsibility. They were lost defensively early, allowing the Hawks to consistently find open 3-point shots. And when they became came alive defensively, they often were too aggressive.

Eight Cal players finished with at least four fouls, with Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Tyrone Wallace and Kingsley Okoroh each fouling out.

But there was a lot for coach Cuonzo Martin to like about his team’s performances. Although Brown, the 6-foot-7 freshman forward, showed himself to be an elite talent, Cal displayed terrific unselfishness and scoring balance.

Consider these final four-game scoring numbers:

Jaylen Brown 17.8 points per game
Jabari Bird 15.5 ppg
Tyrone Wallace 14.8 ppg
Jordan Mathews 13.8 ppg
Ivan Rabb 12.8 ppg, 9.8 rpg

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Basketball: Bears fall 110-99 in overtime

Cal battled back from 17 points down, but lost 110-99 in overtime to a veteran Illawarra Hawks professional team in the finale of the Bears’ four-game Australian tour at Wollongong on Friday.

The Bears, who won their first three Down Under, were led by 24 points from junior guard Jordan Mathews. Freshman Jaylen Brown added 19 points, Jabari Bird had 17, Tyrone Wallace had 14 points and six assists, and freshman Ivan Rabb had his third double-double of the trip with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The epic game ended at 3:23 a.m. PDT.

Ultimately, Cal could not overcome being whistled for 40 personal fouls, which allowed the Hawks to shoot 55 free throws. The hosts outscored the Bears 40-19 at the free throw line.

Four Cal players – including Brown, Rabb and Wallace – fouled out, and four more finished the game with four fouls.

“It was a good test for us,” Brown told the Aussie commentators afterward. “The Australian team was really good. We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. There’s nothing to hang our heads down about. I think we did pretty well.”

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Basketball: Golden Bears lead by 25 points after three quarters, hold on to win Down Under

* NOTE: Tonight’s game vs. Illawarra Hawks tips off at 1 a.m. PT.

Cal built a 25-point lead after three quarters and held on to beat Australia’s Center of Excellence 94-86 on Thursday in Canberra, improving to 3-0 on its tour Down Under.

Jabari Bird led Cal with 19 points and five rebounds and Tyrone Wallace contributed 17 points and four rebounds.

Freshman Jaylen Brown, the Bears’ leading scorer in their first two games, scored 14 of his 16 points in the first half. The 6-foot-7 small forward is averaging 17.3 points through three games. Fellow freshman Ivan Rabb coupled 15 points with 12 rebounds for his second double-double of the trip and is averaging 13.points and 9.7 rebounds.

Jordan Mathews added 10 points.

Cal turns around quickly to play its final game in Australia against the Illawarra Hawks of the professional National Basketball League on Thursday night at Wollongong. The Bears figure to face their most serious challenge of the tour in front of what the team website reported is a sold-out arena.

The Hawks feature a veteran roster of post-collegiate players, including former Vanderbilt star Andrew Ogilvy, a 6-10 center, who averaged 15.3 points in three college seasons through 2010.

Former Illawarra players include Cal grads Butch Hays and Ayinde Ubaka.

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Basketball: Bears fight back to go 2-0 in Australia

Jaylen Brown scored 19 points and Tyrone Wallace had 18 as the Cal basketball team rallied from 11 points down to beat the Frankston Blues 84-76 on Tuesday at Melbourne to improve to 2-0 on its Australian summer tour.

Two nights after a 37-point victory, the Bears had to work this time. They trailed 49-42 at halftime and did not secure the lead for good until a basketball by Jabari Bird put them up 68-66 with 7:50 left.

“We did not do a good job out the gate,” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. “I thought we played more as individuals than as a team at the start . . . but we put in a defensive lineup that got us over the hump. Guys really started to play hard and get after it.

“Stephen Domingo did an exceptional job really setting the tone defensively. That’s where it started for us. We started to get stops and we played well from that point.”

Martin said the Bears will benefit from the struggles they faced.

“This was a physical opponent, a veteran opponent with older guys, but it was a great experience for our guys to be down by 10 points against a team like this and have to fight their way back and find a way to win the game,” he said.

Brown, the Bears’ touted freshman forward, was the team’s top scorer for the second straight game, and also contributed five rebounds and four steals. Wallace, a senior point guard, had five rebounds and four assists.

Freshman Ivan Rabb of Oakland scored 14 points on 7 for 9 from the field and led the Bears with seven rebounds. Bird added 13 points and six rebounds.

Frankston gave the Bears a serious scare despite its lowly position as the last-place team in the South East Australian Basketball League with a 3-21 record.

“This was a tough game. We had to overcome some adversity at the beginning and throughout the game,” Wallace said. “As the game went on, we found ways to come together and make the stops we needed to down the stretch.”

After scoring 15 points in the first game, junior shooting guard Jordan Mathews was limited to six points on 2 for 10 from the field. Center Kameron Rooks, who had 14 against Victoria Select, was limited by foul trouble to one point in just nine minutes.

Center Kingsley Okoroh provided Cal seven rebounds.

Cal resumes its tour Down Under against the Australia Center of Excellence, formerly known as the Australian Institute of Sport, in a game that tips off Wednesday night at midnight PDT.

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Basketball: Bears win big in Game 1 Down Under

Freshman Jaylen Brown scored 17 points and six Cal players scored in double figures in a 100-63 win over Victoria Select as the Bears began their tour of Australia with a win Sunday at Melbourne.

Freshman Ivan Rabb had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, Jordan Mathews scored 15 points, Kameron Rooks had 14, Jabari Bird 13 and Tyrone Wallace contributed 10 points and six assists.

Brandon Chauca had a team-high seven assists.

The Bears outrebounded their hosts 46-25 and held a 58-16 edge in points in the paint. Cal shot 55 percent from the field and held Victoria to 33 percent.

Cal led 31-16 at the end of the first quarter and 61-30 by halftime.

The Bears play the Frankston Blues in Melbourne on Tuesday at 2 a.m. PDT.

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Football: Three-star DE commits to Bears

Cal got its third oral commitment from a defensive end Friday when Evan Weaver, rated a three-star prospect by Scout and Rivals, picked the Bears over offers from 11 other schools.

Weaver is a 6-foot-3, 241-pounder from Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, Wash. Scout ranks him as the No. 2 defensive end prospect in the state of Washington.

Weaver also had offers Pac-12 schools Arizona, Utah, Washington and Washington State. Boise State and Army also offered Weaver.

Cal’s 2016 class now has 21 committed prospects, with Weaver joining Russell Becker of Fergus Falls, Minnesota, and Tevin Paul of Austin, Texas, as defensive ends.

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Basketball: Bears head Down Under

The Cal basketball season begins this week with trek halfway around the globe.

The Golden Bears, with a team expected to land in the preseason top-25, leave the Bay Area on Thursday for a four-game, 12-day tour of Australia.

The timing of the long-distance excursion is perfect.

“It will definitely give us a head start,” said Cal senior Tyrone Wallace, a returning all-Pac-12 point guard. “What do we have in our tank? We’re going to see what everybody can do.”

For the Bears, “everybody” now includes five-star recruits Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb, whose arrival as freshmen has elevated the program to national status. Cal also returns junior guards Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews, both double-digit scorers a year ago.

Coach Cuonzo Martin will have conduced 10 practices before the Bears leave town, and he plans to experiment with different lineup combinations when the team plays Down Under.

“The biggest thing is for the new guys coming in, understanding what we want to do and what level we want to do it at,” Martin said. “They’re working extremely hard. As talented as they are, they’re very unselfish. They understand what it means to be successful. They do a tremendous job of fitting in.”

The Bears, who will visit Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, will play their first game will Saturday (California time) against Victoria Select at Melbourne.

Cal’s schedule in Australia
(Dates and times are PDT)
Aug. 15: vs. Victoria Select at Melbourne, 9 p.m.
Aug. 18: vs. Frankston Blues at Melbourne, 2 a.m.
Aug. 20: vs. Australia Center of Excellence at Canberra, midnight
Aug. 20: vs. Illawarra Hawks at Wollonwong, 11 p.m.

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Basketball: My first up-close look at Jaylen Brown

I stopped by the RSF practice gym on Tuesday night to watch the Cal basketball team conduct its second-to-last workout prior to departing Thursday for Australia.

I took in a portion of practice last Wednesday, but freshman Jaylen Brown did not participate. Let me assure you, there was a difference this time. Big difference.

But before we discuss Brown, the five-star small forward from Marietta, Georgia, a few other observations:

— One of the big winners on the “new” Cal team looks like it could be Jabari Bird. With Brown and fellow freshman Ivan Rabb drawing more defensive attention, Bird should be freed up to play his game. On this night, the junior guard appeared relaxed and confident. I don’t remember him missing a shot. He looked like the player we’ve all waited to see, but has been inhibited by injuries and subsequent loss of rhythm his first two seasons.

— Center Kingsley Okoroh was taking a night class, but 7-footer Kameron Rooks played aggressively at both ends. He shows promise and should benefit greatly from four games against older pros in Australia.

— The most improved player on the floor, at least for one practice, was Roger Moute a Bidias. He has shown virtually no offensive aptitude for two seasons, but made outside shots and attacked the basket when shown even a crack in the defense. Not sure where he fits on a deep roster, but the guy has improved.

— Rabb, who says he has gained 11 pounds since arriving on campus early this summer, had a few terrific moments, including an impressive put-back flush. He rebounded well but also seems entirely comfortable at the high post. Still, he needs to continue to get stronger, as evidenced during a drill that pitted players against each other in the low post.

— Which brings us to Brown. He is strong, smooth, quick and calm. Doesn’t force anything, but plays both ends and plays unselfishly. After a steal at mid-court, he dashed to the hoop, throwing down a left-handed dunk. I observed just a small sample size and, to quote the loquacious Allen Iverson, we’re talking about practice. Even so, it’s pretty obvious the guy can play.