25

Basketball: Bears decline offer to play in CBI

UPDATED

A Cal spokesman said the Bears have declined an offer to play in the College Basketball Invitational.

See below for coach Cuonzo Martin’s statement on the decision.

The Bears (18-15) were long ago ousted from contention for an NCAA tournament bid, and were not close to gaining a spot in the 32-team National Invitation Tournament.

But interim athletic director Michael Williams said last week the Bears would consider the 16-team CBI, if an offer came. It apparently did, and they said no thanks.

Teams must pay the CBI a fee for hosting games in the event, although it’s unclear if and how much that was a factor in the school’s decision.

Cal started the season 10-1 under Martin, then went 7-11 in Pac-12 play. The Bears dropped six of their final eight games and will miss the postseason for the first time since 2007.

Cal was aced out of the NIT field by 12 schools given automatic bids after winning their regular-season conference titles, then losing in the league tournament. Five of those teams had worse RPI computer ratings than Cal at No. 95.

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Cuonzo Martin statement on CBI decision:

“Our goal for The University of California’s men’s basketball program is to be the best and compete for an NCAA Championship. We made a decision to not pursue an invitation to the CBI and will focus our efforts on recruiting and developing our roster in preparation for a strong future here in Berkeley.

“I want to thank our seniors for everything they have given to this program throughout their careers. I also want to thank our fans for their incredible passion and the exceptional support they provide for our team. We truly felt their support all season and look forward to that continued enthusiasm next year as we unveil $10 million in improvements to Haas Pavilion courtesy of the generous gift from the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund.”

8

Pac-12 basketball: No definitive answer, but AD Williams says he’d like to watch Bears play more games

Interim athletic director Michael Williams would not commit to Cal definitely accepting a potential bid from the College Basketball Invitational, but added he would like to watch coach Cuonzo Martin’s team play a few more games.

Hours after the Bears were eliminated from the Pac-12 tournament with a 73-51 loss to top-seeded Arizona on Thursday, Williams said he has not heard from either the National Invitation Tournament or the CBI.

At 18-15 with a computer power rating of No. 99 as of Thursday morning, Cal likely doesn’t have the resume for an invite to the 32-team NIT. A mock NIT bracket produced Thursday by Bleacher Report projected Stanford, UCLA, Oregon State and Arizona State in the field, along with Saint Mary’s. But not Cal.

The CBI invites 16 teams after the NIT fills its field, but the opportunity comes with a pricetag. Schools must pay fees for each home game they play in the event. In past years, those fees have been $35,000 for a first-round game, $50,000 for quarterfinals, and $75,000 per game for the semifinals and each of the best-of-three championship series.

So while the decision requires some thought, Williams also said, “It’s also not something we would automatically say no to.”

Bids for the NCAA, NIT and CBI tournaments go out Sunday.

“We have not heard from anyone yet. We have just had the normal business contact with the NIT and the CBI,” Williams said. “So we’ll wait and find out on Sunday. I think we’d want to have that conversation.”

Martin praised the efforts of the Bears, who routed Washington State 84-59 in Tuesday’s tournament opener, then stayed close to Arizona for a half before fading.

“Right now I’m just excited about what Cuonzo has done with this team. I’m enjoying watching this team play,” Williams said. “It’d be fun to watch them play a few more games together.

“I’m really not prepared to have David (Kravish) play his last game in a Cal uniform quite yet.”

4

Pac-12 basketball: Arizona game thread

Click here for my game story.

FINAL SCORE: Arizona 73, Cal 51. The Bears were dominated much of the second half and fall to 18-15 on the season. The NIT or, more likely, the College Basketball Invitational, awaits them. Wallace had 19 points. Kravish had 12 rebounds. But Kravish and Jordan Mathews, who combined for 44 points the day before against WSU, totaled just nine on combined 4 for 20 shooting.

7:56 2nd H: Arizona 55, Cal 45. The Cats threatened to put this away, but Cal continues to answer. Bird’s 3-pointer countered one moments earlier by Gabe York and the margin remains 10 points. Cal still winning on the boards, but has 13 turnovers. Wallace has 15 points and Bird has 10. Kravish with 10 rebounds. Johnson leads Arizona with 14 and Ashley has 13.

17:14 2nd H: Arizona 42, Cal 32. A 3-pointer by Stanley Johnson — what can’t he do? — and a fastbreak dunk by Hollis-Jefferson off a careless Cal turnover, and a five-point lead is doubled in the span of 26 seconds. Cal is good in transition. Arizona is scary.

HALFTIME: Arizona 33, Cal 27. There are two ways of looking at this. First, Cal trailed 48-27 at halftime against the Wildcats one week ago today. So this is encouraging for the Bears. They battled and actually outrebounded Arizona 21-19. But the final 2 minutes could have gone better for Cal. With his team down just 30-27, Wallace missed the second of two FTs (Cal was 5 for 8 in the half), and 6-8 Brandon Ashley got isolated down low against 6-3 Jordan Mathews, made the layup, drew the foul and converted the FT for a six-point play. Sam Singer then missed an off-balance jumper and Kravish missed from a couple feet beyond his usual comfort zone. Cal down just six despite shooting 33 percent (10 for 30). Arizona made 47.6 percent (14 for 30). Wallace leads Cal with nine points. Johnson and Ashley each have nine for the Cats.

7:57 1st H: Arizona 21, Cal 17. The Bears are hanging in there. Arizona stretched out to an 18-12 lead with a 10-0 run,  but Cal answered back, including two baskets by Bird. Cal shooting just 35 percent (7 for 20), but has a 14-12 rebounding edge. Wallace has seven points for Cal.

11:48 1st H: Arizona 15, Cal 12. The Bears led 12-8 after a short hook by Kravish and a breakaway dunk by Wallace. But the Cats are coming strong. They have run off 7 straight points, including a monster driving dunk by Hollis-Jefferson. He tried to do the same thing on the next trip down and Bird, attempting to block it, was hit in the face and went to the bench for attention. Crowd is warming up and Cal needs to stem this now or face the consequences. (Bird is back in the lineup).

15:59 1st H: Cal 8, Arizona 6. Three-pointers by Wallace and Mathews helped the Bears overcome three turnovers on their first four possessions. Cal shooting 3 for 6 FG, 2 for 4 from 3-pt. Arizona is 3 for 7.

*****

We’ll give this a try again today after massive internet connection issues Tuesday at the MGM Grand derailed my best efforts.

The top-seeded Arizona team just took the court and the crowd response made it feel like we’re at McKale Center in Tucson. Cal fans are here, but they are greatly outnumbered.

There are so many UofA fans in Vegas that the betting line on this game moved from 16 points to 19 overnight. For all I know, it may still be moving,

Cal (18-14), coming off its 84-59 thrashing of Washington State, will have it hands full in this quarterfinal matchup vs. the Cats. Arizona (28-3) beat the Bears by 39 points one week ago today, and also topped Cal by 23 in Berkeley this season.

But a couple things to consider:

– The No. 1 seed has not won the Pac-12 tournament since 2008, when UCLA did it.

– This one is hard to believe, but Arizona has not won the conference tournament since 2002. Four times since then, the Wildcats have failed to win it as the top seed.

None of that is likely to help Cal and this Arizona team is on a roll, having scored 82 points or more in six of its past eight games.

Enjoy.

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STARTING LINEUPS

Cal: David Kravish, Dwight Tarwater, Jordan Mathews, Jabari Bird, Tyrone Wallace.

Arizona: Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley, Stanley Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, T.J. McConnell.

6

Pac-12 basketball: Cal demolishes WSU

UPDATED

David Kravish missed his first six shots against Washington State, but rarely missed again as Cal posted a decisive 84-59 victory in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament Wednesday.

Kravish scored a career-high 25 points and the No. 8 seeded Bears (18-14) won for just the second time in the past six games. It was their first victory in three tries since the Pac-12 event was moved to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

“It does a lot for our confidence,” said guard Jabari Bird “We’ve just to go carry it over to the next game.”

That will be Thursday’s 12:10 p.m. quarterfinal game against regular-season champion Arizona (28-3). The nation’s fifth-ranked team, the Wildcats beat Cal twice this season, including by 39 points a week ago in Tucson.

The rematch looks like a mismatch and Pac-12 Networks analyst Don MacLean conceded Cal must play almost a perfect game to upset the Wildcats. But he added, “I think for Cal, if they can duplicate what they did today and be as sharp as they were, they have a chance.”

Kravish made 10 of 11 shots after his early misfirings, and had six field goals during an 11-minute stretch spanning the two halves in which the Bears shot 14 of 15. He scored the go-ahead basket for a 17-16 lead with 7:31 left in the half, and the Bears were in command at 47-30 when Christian Behrens converted a layup with 16:15 left in the game.

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1

Pac-12 basketball: WSU game thread

NOTE: Internet issues at the MGM during the game. My apologies. My early game story posted elsewhere on BearTalk.

*****

I’m here at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas for the Pac-12 tournament, which tips off at 12:10 p.m. Wednesday with No. 8 seed Cal (17-14, 7-11) facing No. 9 Washington State (13-17, 7-11).

The Cal-WSU winner advances to a Thursday quarterfinal against regular-season champion Arizona (28-3, 16-1), the nation’s fifth-ranked team. That game also will be played at 12:10 p.m.

The rest of today’s schedule:

– No. 5 Arizona State vs. No. 12 USC, 2:40 p.m.

– No. 7 Oregon State vs. No. 10 Colorado, 6:10 p.m.

– No. 6 Stanford vs. No. 11 Washington, 8:40 p.m.

All of today’s games will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks.

A note regarding Thursday’s games: All fans, including those who do not get the Pac-12 Networks, will have free access to viewing the first three quarterfinals via Pac-12.com and the Pac-12 Now app. Those games include Arizona (possibly vs. Cal), UCLA and Oregon. The fourth quarterfinal, featuring Utah (possibly vs. Stanford), will be carried on ESPN.

4

Basketball: Cal, WSU meet for third time

* Cal vs. Washington State, Wednesday, 12:10 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)

By this time of year, conference rivals know each other well.

When Cal (17-14, 7-11) faces Washington State (13-17, 7-11) collide Wednesday in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, it will be their third matchup of the season.

Each team has won one of the previous meetings, and their coaches know why.

Cuonzo Martin recalls how WSU’s big-man duo of Josh Hawkinson and Jordan Railey combined for 35 points and 17 rebounds in the Cougars’ 69-66 win at Berkeley on Jan. 4.

WSU coach Ernie Kent said the difference in Cal’s 76-67 win at Pullman on Jan. 29 was simple: Jabari Bird.

Bird was injured and did not play in the first meeting, but his presence – and his 12 points and eight rebounds – gave Cal an edge in the rematch by freeing Tyrone Wallace from double-team tactics. Wallace responded by scoring 26 points on 10-for-17 shooting.

“We had no answers for the second time we saw him. A lot of that had to do with Jabari being on the floor,” Kent said. “We’ve got to figure some things out to get him slowed down.”

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3

Basketball: Wallace thanks teammates for all-Pac-12

Cal junior Tyrone Wallace said he doesn’t think most people expected he could earn first-team all-Pac-12 honors this season, but stressed he didn’t do it flying solo.

“It’s a great accomplishment,” Wallace said. “It just goes to show that with hard work you can accomplish pretty much anything. I mean, I don’t think anybody probably thought I would be first-team Pac. I worked hard.

“My teammates helped me get there, coaches trusting me also helped me get there. Just very appreciative.”

Cal coach Counzo Martin said he would have been surprised had Wallace not received the honor from the league’s coaches.

“I’m happy for him, he earned it,” Martin said. “When you’re in the top five in scoring, rebounding and assists in any league . . . that’s just a credit to his work and his ability to make plays.”

Wallace finished the regular season ranked fifth in the Pac-12 in scoring (17.2), fourth in rebounding (7.3) and fifth in assists (3.84).  No other player in the conference was among the top-10 in all three categories.

“What he doesn’t get a lot of credit for is transitioning into a point guard at this level against this type of competition,” said Martin, alluding to the fact that the 6-foot-5 junior played shooting guard a year ago. “To do it night in, night out, it’s not an easy thing to do.”

Wallace was home when he found out through social media that he’d made the all-conference team. He got phone calls from his dad, friends and former coaches.

“I’m happy to have that support back home,” he said. “It was a proud moment.”

0

Basketball: Bears have only one route to NCAAs

The Pac-12 tournament begins Wednesday in Las Vegas, but don’t expect the results of the four-day event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena to create a seismic shift in the NCAA tournament landscape.

The bracket won’t be unveiled until Sunday, but the Pac-12′s fate is all but set, thanks to a season-long body of work that is short of impressive. Barring the unexpected, three Pac-12 teams — Arizona, Oregon and Utah — will receive NCAA invites.

Eight others, including Cal and Stanford, arrive in Vegas knowing that nothing short of winning the league’s automatic bid on Saturday night will get them to the NCAAs. Cal opens the tournament against Washington State at noon, and Stanford closes the first day with an 8:40 p.m. tipoff against Washington.

Only UCLA comes to the Pac-12 tournament on the bubble, with a shot at an at-large bid even if it doesn’t reach the tournament final.

Click here to read my preview of the tournament.

1

Basketball: Wallace earns all-Pac-12 honors

Cal junior guard Tyrone Wallace picked up first-team all-Pac-12 honors as voted by the league’s coaches.

Wallace was one of the league’s most productive and versatile players, averaging 17.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists for the Bears, who open Pac-12 tournament play Wednesday against Washington State.

Oregon senior guard Joseph Young and coach Dana Altman, who guided the Ducks to a surprising tie for second place in the Pac-12, won the league’s top honors.

Young earned Pac-12 Player of the Year after scoring 19.8 points per game for an Oregon team that won 11 of its final 13 regular-season games. He also led the conference in free-throw accuracy and 3-pointers per game.

Altman, whose Ducks were picked to finish eighth in a Pac-12 preseason media poll, was voted the John R. Wooden Coach of the Year. Oregon will be the No. 2 seed in the Pac-12 tournament, beginning Wednesday in Las Vegas.

Arizona’s Stanley Johnson was named Freshman of the Year in a vote of the league’s coaches, Washington State’s Josh Hawkinson was named Most Improved Player of the Year, and Oregon State’s Gary Payton II was chosen as Defensive Player of the Year.

3

Basketball: Pac-12 tournament bracket

2015 PAC-12 MEN’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

Wednesday-Saturday, March 11-14, 2015

MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nev.

Wednesday, Mar. 11

Game 1 – No. 8 CALIFORNIA vs. No. 9 WASHINGTON STATE, 12:10 p.m., P12N

Game 2 – No. 5 ARIZONA STATE vs. No. 12 USC, approx. 2:40 p.m., P12N

Game 3 – No. 7 OREGON STATE vs. No. 10 COLORADO, 6:10 p.m., P12N

Game 4 – No. 6 STANFORD vs. No. 11 WASHINGTON, approx. 8:40 p.m., P12N

Thursday, Mar. 12

Game 5 – No. 8/9 vs. No. 1 ARIZONA, 12:10 p.m., P12N

Game 6 – No. 5/12 vs. No. 4 UCLA, approx. 2:40 p.m., P12N

Game 7 – No. 7/10 vs. No. 2 OREGON, 6:10 p.m., P12N

Game 8 – No. 6/11 vs. No. 3 UTAH, approx. 8:40 p.m., ESPN

Friday, Mar. 13

Semifinal 1, 6:10 p.m., P12N

Semifinal 2, approx. 8:45 p.m., ESPN

Saturday, Mar. 14

Championship Game, 8:05 p.m., ESPN