Football alums: Aaron Rodgers has another huge day

Former Cal star Aaron Rodgers continued his red-hot play Sunday, throwing for 341 yards and three touchdowns in the Packers’ 53-20 rout of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Including last week’s 55-14 win over Chicago, Rodgers has gone 40 for 63 for 656 yards with nine touchdowns and zero interceptions in two weeks.

He has thrown 29 touchdown passes since his most recent interception in a home game, dating back to the 2012 season.

Elsewhere . . .

– Marshawn Lynch rushed 24 times for 124 yards in Seattle’s 24-20 loss at Kansas City.

– C.J. Anderson had eight catches for 86 yards and nine rushes for 29 yards in Denver’s loss to the Rams. Over the past two weeks, Anderson has totaled 278 yards rushing and receiving.

– Keenan Allen caught eight passes for 63 yards in San Diego’s win over Oakland.


Basketball: Cal vs. Kennesaw St game thread

Click here for a photo slideshow courtesy of D. Ross Cameron: http://photos.mercurynews.com/2014/11/16/photos-california-men-romp-over-kennsaw-state-93-59/#1


After an easy victory Sunday over the alma mater of Ryan Seacrest, the Cal basketball team travels to New York City this week to take on a program that produced Carmelo Anthony.

The Golden Bears improved to 2-0 with a 93-59 win over Kennesaw State in front of an announced crowd of 4,944 at Haas Pavilion in the 2K Classic on Sunday evening. Now the Bears step up in class with a Thursday matchup against No. 23 Syracuse (2-0) in the tournament semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

Cal is playing the Orange for the fourth time in six seasons, including the third year in a row. Syracuse beat the Bears 92-81 in Maui last season, 66-60 in the NCAA tournament at San Jose the year before, and 95-73 at the Garden early in the 2009-10 season.

Kennesaw, which lost by 47 points at Syracuse two nights earlier, provided the Bears little challenge. Cal was sluggish offensively early, but held the Owls scoreless for nearly 5 minutes to open the game, then stretched out to a 41-15 halftime advantage.

“I thought we got off to a slow start. I didn’t think we played California basketball the first 10-12 minutes of the game,” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. “Too much one on one weren’t making the extra pass.

“They settled down and played the way they are capable.”

The margin reached 35 points after consecutive 3-pointers by Jordan Mathews and Dwight Tarwater pushed the score to 55-20 with just over 16 minutes left.

Point guard Tyrone Wallace, who scored a career-high 22 in the Friday opener against Alcorn State, had another solid all-around game with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Mathews had 16 points to go with seven rebounds, Jabari Bird added 15 points and seven rebounds and Tarwater scored 10.

The Bears understand Syracuse and its long, aggressive 2-3 zone defense will present a much more difficult test.

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Basketball: Bears aim for second 2K Classic win

Fresh off a 91-57 win over Alcorn State in its opening game Friday night, Cal takes on Kennesaw State in its second game of the 2K Classic on Sunday at 5 p.m.

The Owls arrive in Berkeley after suffering an 89-42 loss Friday night at Syracuse.

And they will take on the Bears without coach Jimmy Lallathin, serving a one-game suspension for NCAA rules violations.

Cal is a 24.5-point favorite to beat the alma mater of Ryan Seacrest.

Kennesaw was just 6-25 a year ago, including two wins over non-Division I foes, and finished last in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Lallathin was installed as head coach midway through last season.

The Owls return all five starters from that team, but were overwhelmed by Syracuse, which Cal faces on Thursday in the 2K semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

Syracuse forced the Owls into 25 turnovers and held them to 33-percent shooting. Kennesaw State was outscored 50-14 in the paint and was outrebounded 56-26.

Cal jumped out to a 15-0 lead over Alcorn in coach Cuonzo Martin’s debut and led by as many as 40 points. Six Cal players scored in double figures for the Bears, led by junior point guard Tyrone Wallace, who had a career-high 22.


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.



Basketball: Cal-Alcorn State game thread

Click here to read my game story. And here for a photo slide show courtesy of Ray Chavez.

FINAL SCORE: Cal 91, Alcorn State 57. Wallace had a career-high 22 points and 10 rebounds, Jordan Mathews scored 18 and and Jabari Bird contributed 12 points and a career-best nine assists in the opener of the 2K Classic. Senior David Kravish added 13 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots, and graduate student Dwight Tarwater, a transfer from Cornell, came off the bench to score 11 points, including three 3-pointers. Christian Behrens contributed 10 points.

The announced crowd of 7,212 included Pac-12 Networks analyst Mike Montgomery, who coached the Bears for six seasons before retiring last spring. Martin was hired as his successor after guiding Tennessee into the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament.

The Bears, who led by as many as 40 points late, shot 52 percent from the field, made 10 3-point baskets and had 26 assists on 37 field goals.

Cal faces Kennesaw State on Sunday, then treks to New York City to play No. 23  Syracuse on Thursday in the 2K semifinals.

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Basketball: Martin, Bears ready for debut

FRIDAY: Cal vs. Alcorn State, 7 p.m. at Haas Pavilion (Pac-12 Networks)

Asked this week if his team is excited and ready for Friday night’s season opener against Alcorn State, new Cal coach Cuonzo Martin gave different answers to the two questions.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “Ready is one day at a time. I think as a coach you can never have enough time to get ready. But I think it’s time for us to actually begin playing games.”

After two exhibition victories, the Bears open play in the 2K Classic against the Braves of the SWAC, a team that was 12-19 a year ago with three of those victories against non-Division I opponents.

Senior forward David Kravish said fans should expect to see a Cal team that plays hard from start to finish every game.

“It’s huge for us to come out with energy. I think there were times last year when we came out flat. Or we came out really well and go on a run, then our energy would die down,” he said.

“One of the things we’ve been working on is bringing a constant energy, a high energy all the time.”

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Basketball: Previewing the attack-mode Bears

The buzzword heading into Cal’s maiden season under coach Cuonzo Martin: Attack.

“I think we’re going to be on the attack on offense,” senior forward David Kravish said this week. “We definitely have sets, but attacking and getting the other team on their heels is a big component of our offense.”

Added point guard Tyrone Wallace: “For the most part, we’re trying to attack, attack. I think it’s different than before. With Monty, we were a little more half court. With this coaching staff, they want us attacking at all times.”

Martin said that aggressive approach is what this team needs to be successful, beginning Friday when the Bears open their season at home against Alcorn State in the 2K Classic.

“It’s just what you hear every day. If a player hears it every day, that’s what it is. With you saying it, it becomes a part of the DNA, so to speak,” Martin said. “Attack means at both ends of the floor. You have to be aggressive, you have to be assertive.”

Here are a few things worth dissecting as the opener approaches:

* POINT GUARD: Wallace has won the job because he’s more aggressive than sophomore Sam Singer, who will come off the bench for now. And he’s the player on the team most capable of taking the ball all the way to the rim.

Martin said the 6-foot-6 junior, who had eight assists and one turnover in two exhibition games, has done a nice job so far.

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Basketball: A full plate Friday on Pac-12 Networks

Ten Pac-12 basketball teams will make their season debuts on Friday, and the Pac-12 Networks is making all of them available to fans for free on a one-time basis via their Full Court Friday programming on Pac-12.com.

Cal’s opener against Alcorn State at Haas Pavilion is part of the coverage that will start with a pre-game show at 4:30 p.m. and run until midnight.

Twenty-four on-air personalities, including former Cal coaches Mike Montgomery and Ben Braun and ex-Stanford star Casey Jacobsen, will be at 10 sites or in the Pac-12 Networks’ studio in San Francisco.

Mike Yam, Lamar Hurd and Kevin O’Neill will present the pre-game show and will return at about 11 p.m. for a post-game wrapup show. In between,  the 10 games will be aired in three different windows, at 5, 7 and 9 p.m. Ashley Adamson will bring viewers “whip-around” coverage of five games in the 7 p.m. slow.

Here are the game matchups:

At 5 p.m.: Mount St. Mary’s at Arizona and Drexel at Colorado.

At 7 p.m.: Chicago State at Arizona State, Alcorn State at Cal (J.B. Long and Montgomery), Rice at Oregon State (Rich Burk and Braun), Ball State at Utah and South Carolina at Washington.

At 9 p.m.: Coppin State at Oregon, Wofford at Stanford (Ted Robinson and Jacobseb) and Montana State at UCLA.


Basketball: Why the college game struggles in Bay Area

BANG colleague Jon Wilner and I write about why college basketball in the Bay Area isn’t more popular.

Click here to read our story.


Bay Area attendance figures 

The average attendance for the six Bay Area Division I men’s basketball teams last season, arena capacity and all-time record attendance:

• Cal – Average attendance last season: 7,774. Haas Pavilion capacity: 11,877. Record attendance: 10,839 per game average in 2003-04.

• Stanford – Last season: 5,111. Maples Pavilion capacity: 7,391. Record attendance: 7,391 in 1999-00.

• Saint Mary’s – Last season: 2,654. McKeon Pavilion capacity: 3,500. Record attendance: 3,236 in 2008-98.

• USF – Last season: 2,023. War Memorial Gym capacity: 5,300. Record attendance: 5,207 in 1976-77.

• San Jose State – Last season: 1,772. Event Center capacity: 5,000. Record attendance: 3,012 in 1996-97.

• Santa Clara – Last season: 1,719. Leavey Center capacity: 4,500. Record attendance: 4,141 in 1995-96.

Note: Stanford’s record attendance reflects only figures since 1999-2000.


NCAA basketball attendance decline

A look at NCAA Division I men’s basketball average attendance in selected seasons since figures first were compiled in 1976:

• 1975-76 — Average attendance: 4,759. Schools playing Division I basketball: 235

• 1979-80 — Average: 5,217. Division I teams: 261

• 1989-90 — Average: 5,643. Teams: 292

• 1990-91 — Average: 5,735*. Teams: 295

• 1999-00 — Average: 5,386. Teams: 318

• 2009-10 — Average: 5,245. Teams: 334

• 2013-14 — Average: 5,014. Teams: 345

* All-time record


Basketball: Bears set to start same 5 in opener

Met today with Cal basketball coach Cuonzo Martin, who confirmed the Bears will start the same five players in Friday’s season opener against Alcorn State.

Those five are: forward David Kravish, forward Christian Berhens, guard Jabari Bird, guard Jordan Mathews and point guard Tyrone Wallace.

Martin also said freshman guard Brandon Chauca remains on the shelf while the NCAA clearinghouse checks on his eligibility. Martin declined to reveal the nature of what the NCAA is investigating. Chauca worked on the side during Tuesday’s practice.

Will have more on the Bears before Friday’s game at Haas Pavilion.