Football: Beast Mode’s `happy place’ in Oakland

Check out columnist Marcus Thompson’s terrific piece on former Cal star and Seattle Seahawks’ running back Marshawn Lynch and the comfort zone he feels at Oakland Technical High, his alma mater.


Basketball: Freshmen deliver on the road

Cal’s two freshmen came to the rescue Thursday night in Pullman.

Guard Brandon Chauca and center Kingsley Okoroh, whose contributions in Pac-12 play have been spotty, gave their most productive combined performance as the Bears ended a six-game losing streak with a 76-67 win at Washington State.

In both cases, foul issues with other players necessitated that Chauca and Okoroh to come off the bench to the aid of their teammates.

Chauca, filling in after Jordan Mathews picked up two fouls in the opening minute, went to the point, allowing Tyrone Wallace to move to the wing, where he  was able to score in a variety of ways.

Chauca, who had played just 25 minutes and scored six points in seven previous Pac-12 games, gave the Bears 23 critical minutes. He scored a career-high 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting (2 for 5 from 3-point). He had three rebounds, three assists, one steal. And he had just one turnover.

Meanwhile, because David Kravish played just 10 minutes before fouling out, Okoroh got 20 minutes and gave the Bears an unspectacular, but solid effort. He had four rebounds, two blocked shots, a steal and made two free throws with 25 seconds left to help clinch the win.

Combined, Chauca and Okoroh provided the Bears 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks in 43 minutes. Both players are raw and undeveloped. Both have a long way to go to demonstrate they can produce on a regular basis.

But without them on Thursday night, Cal doesn’t win.


Basketball: Bears beat WSU, end 6-game skid

FINAL SCORE: Cal 76, WSU 67. Cal ends its six-game losing streak with a much-needed win. Wallace had 26 points — his best game in weeks — and Mathews came alive when the Bears needed him most, scoring nine of their final 12 points. Chauca had a career-high 10 points to go with three assists and three rebounds off the bench. Bird show signs of coming alive with 12 points and eight rebounds. Cal (12-9, 2-6) won despite the fact that through 36 minutes it got just four points combined from Kravish and Mathews. After just four Cal players scored in Saturday’s loss to Arizona, nine different Bears got in the scorebook. And all nine scored in the second half.

For a team that hasn’t had success lately, the Bears showed some toughness, losing all of a 12-point, second-half lead, then outscoring the Cougars (9-11, 3-5) by a 12-2 margin over the final 3 1/2 minutes. WSU did not make a field goal after 5:47 was left to play.

Cal won the rebounding battle 40-32 and had just four turnovers after the first 11 minutes of the game. The Bears had a 32-20 scoring edge in the paint, thanks mostly to aggressive drives by Wallace and Mathews. The Bears shot 50 percent and held the Cougars to 33 percent, including 26.7 percent in the second half.

Coupled with USC’s triple-overtime loss to Colorado, the Bears climb out of last place in the Pac-12 standings.

Next: Sunday at Washington, noon. A Super Bowl pre-game show.

0:25.2 2nd H: Cal 75, WSU 67. Kingsley Okoroh just hit two free throws — he was 4 for 10 for the season — and Cal will win. Mathews has nine points in the final 3:13.

1:34 2nd H: Cal 70, WSU 67. Mathews, scoreless through nearly 37 minutes, has scored Cal’s last six points, including a 3-point play, giving the Bears their three-point margin.

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Basketball: Bucks call up Jorge Gutierrez

Former Pac-12 Player of the Year Jorge Gutierrez was called up from the NBA’s D-League by the Milwaukee Bucks and signed to a 10-day contract.

Once again, as happened with the Brooklyn Nets, Gutierrez got the nod from Cal legend and Bucks coach Jason Kidd.

Gutierrez could make his Bucks debut on Thursday against the Orlando Magic.

Gutierrez, 26, most recently played for the Canton Charge of the NBA D-League and in six games averaged 15.2 points, 6.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds in 35.7 minutes per game.

He began the season with Brooklyn where he averaged 1.6 points in 10 games before being traded to Philadelphia on Dec. 11. He was waived by the 76ers on Dec. 12.

Undrafted out of Cal, Gutierrez began his professional career with Canton in 2012. He started 35 games for the Charge in 2013 before being signed by the Brooklyn Nets where he appeared in 15 games and averaged 4.1 points, 2.0 assists and 1.5 rebounds.


Women’s basketball: Cal signee in McDonald’s game

Cal women’s signee Kristine Anigwe has been named a 2015 McDonald’s All-American and will represent the West in the 14th edition of the McDonald’s High School All-American game.

The Phoenix native becomes the 13th Golden Bear signee to be named a McDonald’s All-American.

Anigwe, named one of 16 nominees for the Naismith High School Player of the Year award earlier this week, is one of 24 girls selected for the McDonald’s game that will take place April 1 at the United Center in Chicago.

Anigwe is the third McDonald’s player recruited to Cal by coach Lindsay Gottlieb.

California Women’s Basketball McDonald’s All-Americans

Kristine Anigwe – 2015

Mikayla Cowling – 2014

Gabby Green – 2014

Reshanda Gray – 2011

Justine Hartman – 2011

Afure Jemerigbe – 2010

Lindsay Sherbert – 2010

Gennifer Brandon – 2009

Eliza Pierre – 2009

Tierra Rogers – 2009

DeNesha Stallworth – 2009

Alexis Gray-Lawson – 2005

Devanei Hampton – 2005


Football: Cal’s new recruiting geography

Four-star Texas wideout Carlos Strickland’s commitment to Cal on Tuesday made it nine prospects from the South headed to Berkeley next fall. That’s almost as many commits as the Bears have from all of California in the 2015 class.

Presuming Cal gets signatures from each of them next Wednesday, here’s the rundown on prospects from SEC territory that will become Golden Bears:

Alabama (2): Keith Washington, DB; DePriest Turner, Saf
Georgia (2): Russell Ude, DE; Nick Buchanan, OT
Texas (2): Billy McCrary III, Ath; Carlos Strickland, WR
Arkansas (1): Luc Bequette. DT
Louisiana (1): Brandon Singleton, WR
Mississippi (1): Ryan Gibson, C

Those nine players got 10 offers from eight different SEC schools.

Of course, coach Sonny Dykes and most of his assistants hail from that part of the country and have strong recruiting ties there. Dykes has said he wants to establish better relationships in the Bay Area, but that hasn’t happened yet.

The Bears’ current list of 23 commitments includes six from Southern California area, just two from the greater Bay Area and a total of 13 from out of state.

Consider that Jeff Tedford’s final two recruiting classes averaged 6.5 Southern California players, 5 out-of-state prospects and 4 from the South. Among that latter group, running back Daniel Lasco (Texas), receiver Maurice Harris (North Carolina) and punter Cole Leininger (Florida) remain.

The reality is only USC and UCLA have traditionally recruited as heavily in-state as Cal. And the Trojans and Bruins focus largely on Southern California, their talent-rich backyard.

Everyone else in the Pac-12, mostly out of necessity, looks beyond its own area, even its own state borders. You will note below that Arizona, Oregon and WSU have recruited no in-state players so far this season, and Oregon State has just one.

Here’s how the current 2015 classes stack up, geographically:

* ARIZONA (26 current commits). Southern California: 5; Out of state: 21; South: 6.

* ARIZONA STATE (19). SoCal: 7; Out of state: 14; South: 4.

* CAL (23). SoCal: 6; Out of state: 13; South: 9.

* COLORADO (18). SoCal: 4; Out of state: 14; South: 3.

* OREGON (21). SoCal: 7; Out of state: 21; South: 4.

* OREGON STATE (15). SoCal: 3; Out of state: 14; South: 7.

* STANFORD (18): SoCal: 5; Out of state: 12; South: 6.

* UCLA (17). SoCal: 8; Out of state: 6; South: 3.

* USC (20). SoCal: 12; Out of state: 5; South: 3.

* UTAH (22). SoCal: 6; Out of state: 16; South: 4.

* WASHINGTON (24). SoCal: 8; Out of state: 16; South: 1.

* WASHINGTON STATE (24). SoCal: 16. Out of state: 24; South: 0.


Basketball: What’s wrong with the Bears?

What’s wrong with the Cal basketball team?

The Bears began the season 10-1 under new coach Cuonzo Martin, then seemingly fell off a cliff. They have lost eight of nine, and their 1-6 Pac-12 record headed into Thursday night’s game at Washington State is their worst since 1991-92.

“I think they’re going to be challenged to stay out of the basement,” said Kevin O’Neill, former coach at Arizona and USC and now an analyst for the Pac-12 Networks.

“We hit a slump,” Cal senior David Kravish said. “I fully expect us to come out of it.”

Perhaps, but the collapse has been stunning.

The Bears’ combined 58-point margin of defeat against Arizona State and Arizona last week was the program’s worst for a conference home weekend set, and they have been held under 60 points in five consecutive games for the first time in 27 years.

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Here are four major D-I programs that got off to great starts this season, but could not sustain success:

TCU: Started 13-0. Now 14-5

Penn State: Started 12-1. Now 13-7 (Beat Minnesota 63-58 on Wednesday)

Cal: Started 10-1. Now 11-9

Texas Tech: Started 9-1. Now 11-9 (Lost 81-36 at Oklahoma on Wednesday)



Football: Bears add fourth recruit in as many days

Cal didn’t need to trek to the Southeast to find its latest football recruit. The Bears went to the home of one of their current players.

Patrick Mekari, a 6-foot-5, 280-pound offensive lineman from Westlake Village, is the younger brother of current Bears’ defensive tackle Tony Mekari.

With signing day now just a week off, the Bears have added a player to their commitment list four days in a row, bringing their class to 23 players.

Meanwhile, as expected, four-star defensive back prospect Frank Buncum IV of San Diego picked Stanford over Cal and other suitors.

Patrick Mekari is rated as a two-star prospect by Scout.


Basketball: Bears land four-star WR from Texas

Cal’s late recruiting push netted a significant commitment Tuesday when Carlos Strickland, rated a four-star wide receiver from Dallas, became the 22nd prospect to join the Bears.

Scout.com reported that Strickland, a 6-foot-4, 195-pounder from Skyline High, picked the Bears over Alabama, Ohio State, Texas, UCLA and Wisconsin, among others.

Scout, Rivals and ESPN all rate Strickland as a four-star prospect.

He is described on the Scout’s evaluation as “tall and wiry-strong wide receiver who always seems to be open. He runs clean routes and then uses his size and reach to make sure catches. One of his best attributes is his blocking ability.”

Strickland’s lone stated weakness is his lack of high-end speed.

But, Scout added, “He is a weapon in the red-zone using his size to make a mismatch over smaller defensive backs. He is a pretty good route runner as well. Just very well-rounded.”

He is rated by Scout as the nation’s No. 101 overall prospect, the 14th-best wideout on its list. Rivals has him at No. 132 nationally and the No. 12 wide receiver.

According to Rivals, Strickland caught 41 passes for 896 yards and 15 touchdowns last fall, after grabbed 33 receptions for 719 yards and 10 TDs as a junior.

Strickland’s commitment boosts Cal to No. 27 in Rivals team rankings, No. 42, according to Scout.

Commitments are not binding until the Feb. 4 national signing day.