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Women’s basketball: Chris Dawson named to NCAA chair

Chris Dawson, former long-time athletic administrator at Cal, has been named to serve as chair for the 2015-16 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee, charged with selecting and seeding the NCAA tournament field.

Currently an associate commissioner of the Pac-12 Conference, also is serving her fourth year as a member of the NCAA committee. Dawson will succeed current chair Dru Hancock, senior associate commissioner for the Big 12 Conference. She will officially become the 17th chair of the committee on September 1, 2015.

“It’s an honor to be selected by my fellow committee members to serve in this role,” Dawson said. “I look forward to our continued work together to enhance the game and create memorable NCAA tournaments for student-athletes and fans alike.”

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Basketball: Busy night as curtain lifts on Pac-12

It wasn’t just Cal that enjoyed a big basketball opening night.

The Pac-12 went 10-1 on Friday night, with only USC abstaining. Some notable performances by familiar names, and some impressive debuts.

Here’s a rundown:

* No. 2 Arizona got 21 points from East Bay native Brandon Ashley in its 78-55 win over Mount St. Mary’s. Ashley, who missed the second half of last season after breaking his foot in a loss at Cal, shot 9 for 10 and played perhaps the best game of his career, according to coach Sean Miller.

* Stanford posted a 74-59 win over returning NCAA tournament team Wofford, despite an off-shooting night from star guard Chasson Randle. Didn’t matter because senior center Stefan Nastic scored a career-high 26 points on 11-for-14 shooting. Dating back to last season, Nastic is shooting 84.4 percent (!!!) from the floor on 38 for 45 and averaging 11.9 points per game over the past eight games. He is, without question, the most improved player — from freshman to senior season – in the Pac-12.

* Oregon lost just about everyone else from last season’s roster, but returning guard Joseph Young scored 32 points and got plenty of help in a 107-65 rout of Chicago State.

* UCLA had three players taken in the first round of the 2014 NBA draft, but point guard Bryce Alford delivered 18 points and 12 assists and backcourt mate Norman Powell added 25 points in a 113-78 win over Montana State. Freshman forward Kevon Looney made a splash in his debut with 20 points and nine rebounds, and got to the free throw line for 17 attempts.

* Point guard Nigel Williams-Goss stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds and Washington dispatched South Carolina State 77-59.

* Utah point guard Delon Wright is another guy who fills in all the categories — had 13 points, eight assists, four rebounds, four steals and three blocks — in a 90-72 win over Ball State. Freshman 7-footer Jakob Poeltl of Vienna, Austria, provided 18 points and 10 rebounds.

* The son of The Glove, Gary Payton II, had six points, nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks in his first game as Oregon State beat Rice 67-54 in coach Wayne Tinkle’s debut.

* Colorado sat three starters to open the game, but Josh Scott had 21 points and 10 rebounds in a 65-48 conquest of Drexel.

* Arizona State rode 20 points from Shaquielle McKissick to an 86-50 win over Chicago State.

*  A tough start as coach at Washington State for Ernie Kent, whose squad lost 65-52 at Texas-El Paso. The only Pac-12 team that played on the road, the Cougars had more turnovers (22) than baskets (19). Ouch.

 

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Women’s basketball: Media pick Bears to win Pac-12

A panel of 17 media members has picked the Cal women’s basketball team to win the Pac-12 Conference title, ending a streak of 15 straight years that distinction went to Stanford.

The Bears picked up nine first-place votes and scored 194 points, compared to seven first-place ballots and 190 points for Stanford. Oregon State secured the remaining first-place vote and finished third in the poll.

The Pac-12 coaches gave Stanford a slight edge over Stanford for the league title.

Cal guard Brittany Boyd and forward Reshanda Gray were chosen to the five-player preseason all-conference team.

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Basketball: Arizona picked to win Pac-12; Cal tabbed 7th

Arizona was a near-unanimous pick to win the Pac-12 men’s basketball championship, according to a poll of 32 media members who cover the conference.

Cal was voted seventh.

The Wildcats, picked for the third straight year to win the league, collected 31 of 32 first-place votes to easily outdistance Utah and Colorado in the Pac-12 poll, announced Thursday at media day.

Arizona accumulated 383 total points, with Utah second at 317 and Colorado one point back in third. UCLA, which secured the only other first-place vote, was fourth with 290 points.

Stanford, coming off a Sweet 16 appearance, was picked fifth with 264 points and Cal, under first-year coach Cuonzo Martin, is tabbed to finish seventh. Washington was picked sixth with 189 points, one more than Cal totaled.

Finishing eighth through 12th are Oregon, Arizona State, USC, Washington State and Oregon State.

The media have correctly picked the conference winner 13 times over the past 22 seasons.

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Football: Pac-12 media day leftovers

A few more items from Pac-12 media day on Wednesday in Hollywood . . .

In all my running around Paramount Studios, never managed to post results of the annual media poll on BearTalk. Of course, you probably didn’t expect Cal to finish on top, anyway.

In fact, the Bears were picked last in the Pac-12 North, collecting 41 total points. That means only two of the 39 voters picked Cal as high as fifth place. Everyone else has them finishing sixth again.

Oregon received 37 first-place votes to easily outdistance Stanford for the top spot in the North, followed by Washington, Oregon State and Washington State.

UCLA got 37 first-place votes to top USC in the South division, followed by Arizona State, Arizona. Utah and Colorado.

Twenty-four voters picked Oregon to win the Pac-12 title game, with 13 votes going to UCLA. One voter each picked Stanford and USC.

*****

Cal coach Sonny Dykes said senior Chris Adcock, who missed the final eight games last season with a knee injury, likely will regain his starting center spot. Adcock is expected to be eased into workouts, beginning Aug. 4, but Dykes said he should be ready to play the Aug. 30 opener at Northwestern.

That will allow junior Jordan Rigsbee, who finished last season at center, to shift to right tackle, where no one has stepped forward to secure the position.

If everything falls into place, here is Cal’s projected O-line: LT Steven Moore, LG Chris Borrayo, C Chris Adcock, RG Alejandro Crosthwaite, RT Jordan Rigsbee.

*****

Dykes said there is no word still on whether James Looney will be granted the waiver he has requested to be immediately eligible after transferring last spring from Wake Forest.

A sophomore defensive tackle, Looney would be an impact player for the Bears, Dykes said, if available.

*****

Looney’s presence would be doubly important because, as I reported last week, Dykes confirmed that sophomore DT Jacobi Hunter has left Cal. Hunter was married earlier this year and will play at a small school in his home state of Texas.

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Pac-12 media day: No DirecTV deal near

There likely will be no agreement between the Pac-12 Networks and DirecTV for the third straight football season, conference commissioner Larry Scott said.

“There is no latest, unfortunately. It looks very unlikely under the present ownership of DirecTV that they’re going to carry us,” Scott during Wednesday’s Pac-12 football media day at Paramount Studios.

AT&T announced in May its intention to purchase DirecTV in a $48.5-billion deal that is not yet finalized.

“I’m much more hopeful that when AT&T buys DirecTV we’ll have different kinds of discussions and outcomes,” Scott said.

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Pac-12 media day: Commissioner Larry Scott optimistic about future of college athletics

Two days after Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby outlined a grim future for college athletics, his Pac-12 counterpart painted a very different picture.

“While we’ve heard some doomsday and some threats over the last week, I am very confident and optimistic about where college sports is going,” Pac-12 commission Larry Scott said Wednesday during the league’s football media day at Paramount Studios in Hollywood.

Scott touted the presidents and chancellors of the Pac-12 for advancing an agenda intended to “bring college sports into the modern era.” He said he embraces proposed reforms that include promoting student-athlete health and welfare, integrating them more broadly into campus life and providing them greater financial support.”

Bowlsby, the former Stanford athletic director, warned that the NCAA’s enforcement staff is toothless to halt cheating and that “a strange environment” featuring lawsuits by former athletes threatens college sports.

He argued against unionization of college athletics and said paying athletes could spell the end of many Olympic-sport programs.

Scott doesn’t envision such a bleak horizon.

“We know there are some significant challenges out there, and we know it’s time to make significant changes,” he said. “Today requires that we do more for student-athletes who work so hard to find balance for their passions for their sport while still wanting to get an education.”

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Basketball: Cal’s Roger Moute a Bidias selected to Pac-12 all-star squad for summer trip to China

Cal sophomore forward Roger Moute a Bidias has been chosen to participate with a Pac-12 Conference all-star squad on a four-game tour of China, beginning Aug. 10.

Utah’s Larry Krystkowiak will coach the Pac-12 team, featuring 13 players from 10 different conference schools. The tour is part of the Pac-12′s Globilization Initiative.

Moute a Bidias played sparingly for Cal last season as a true freshman.

Other players on the Pac-12 squad include Utah forward Jordan Loveridge (14.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg), Colorado forward Xavier Johnson (12.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg), Washington guard Andrew Andrews (12.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg) and Washington State guard DaVonte Lacy (19.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg).

The Pac-12 squad will play one game against a Chinese university all-star team and play three vs. Chinese professional teams, including one against the Shanghai Sharks. The Shanghai franchise is owned by former eight-time NBA all-star Yao Ming and features former Cal center Max Zhang.

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Evaluating the Pac-12 presidents’ proposals

The Pac-12 presidents covered a lot of territory in their proposals for NCAA changes outlined in a letter sent to their counterparts of the four other major football-playing conferences.

Some good ideas, a few that need substantial detail, and at least one that ain’t happening. Here’s my reaction:

– Permit institutions to make scholarship awards up to the full cost of attendance.

Reaction: That’s right, full scholarships do not necessarily– and in most cases don’t — cover the full cost of a student attending a school. Especially for kids whose families don’t have a lot of resources, this is an issue. There is plenty of money available at the big schools, no matter what anyone says, and this is right and reasonable.

– Provide reasonable ongoing medical or insurance assistance for student-athletes who suffer an incapacitating injury in competition or practice. Continue efforts to reduce the incidence of disabling injury.

Reaction: It’s unthinkable this is not standard procedure. Should be at the top of the list.

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