Football: How to tackle Marshawn Lynch

Colleague Daniel Brown tackled the issue that the New England Patriots will face Sunday in the Super Bowl: How do you tackle former Cal star Marshawn Lynch?

Brown sought the expert opinion of people who should know. Click here for the story.


Football: Latest wideout boosts Cal class to 21

Cal added a another wide receiver to its recruiting class, getting a commitment Monday from three-star prospect Brandon Singleton, who visited campus last weekend after de-committing from Georgia Tech.

Singleton is a 6-foot, 170-pounder from Hahnville HS in Boutte, Louisiana. He also is the state recordholder in the 300-meter hurdles, so he brings track speed. Singleton is rated as a three-star prospect by both Scout.com and Rivals.com.

Singleton joins Aaron Austin, Greyson Bankhead and Kanawai Noa as prospects being brought in specifically earmarked to play wideout. Rivals lists Billy McCrary as an athlete, leaving his future role open.

With Singleton, the Bears now have 21 commits or mid-year signees just nine days out from national signing day.

Rivals now has Cal’s class rated as tied for No. 32 nationally, while Scout boosted the Bears two spots to No. 48. These rankings are very fluid and will change daily — if not hourly — before Feb. 4.

The position breakdown of Cal’s recruits: WR — 4;  Safety — 4; Offensive line — 3; CB — 2; DE — 2; QB — 1; RB — 1; DT — 1; OLB — 1; Ath — 1; TE — 1.


Football: Cal adds sixth DB prospect to class

Cal got an oral commitment Sunday from cornerback Keith Washington, a consensus three-star prospect from Prattville HS in Alabama. Washington, 6-2, 170 pounds, runs a 4.30 40-yard dash, according to Scout.com.

Washington’s commitment boosts Cal’s national ranking to No. 35 by Rivals.com, which gives three of the Bears’ prospects as four-star players, and 15 others as three stars. Scout puts the Bears’ prospective class at No. 50, ranking 18 of their 20 commitments as three-star players.

Washington is the sixth high school or junior college defensive back expected to join the Bears next fall. He is rated by Scout as the No. 4 corner prospect in the state of Alabama.

Washington chose Cal over offers from Duke, Indiana, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina and Missouri, among other schools, according to both Scout and Rivals.


Basketball: Arizona in-game thread

Click here for my game story.

FINAL SCORE: Arizona 73, Cal 50. The Bears have now lost six straight Pac-12 games for the first time in eight seasons. Their 1-6 conference start is the worst since 1991-92. The Bears (11-9) have dropped eight of nine after a 10-1 start. Kravish finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds, Mathews had 16 points and Wallace 13. Only four Cal players scored. Nine players scored for the Wildcats (18-2, 6-1), led by freshman Stanley Johnson, who had 18 points and nine rebounds.

3:36 2nd H: Arizona 67, Cal 46. It’s been over for a while. Johnson has 18 points for Arizona. Ashley, the former East Bay prep star, scored six before fouling out. Kravish has 14 and 10 rebounds for Cal.

15:41 2nd H: Arizona 38, Cal 23. The Wildcats begin to pull away. They have scored on four straight possessions and Tarczewski is going to the FT line for two.

HALFTIME: Arizona 29, Cal 19. The Wildcats outscored Cal 14-2 to end the half, triggered by a 3-pointer by Gabe York. Cal, which had made five straight shots to pull even at 17-all, shot 1 for 4 with two turnovers and two missed FTs the rest of the half. Cal is shooting 36 percent (9 for 25) with eight turnovers. Arizona is shooting 50 percent (10 for 20) with 10 turnovers. Johnson has 10 points for the Cats; Kravish leads Cal with eight. Arizona has a 16-11 rebounding edge and its bench has outscored its Cal counterparts 12-0.

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Football: Cal OT commit visiting Georgia

On the same day Cal commit Nick Buchanan, a three-star offensive tackle from Dunwoody, Ga., began a weekend recruiting visit to Georgia, Scout.com on Friday released its final top-100 California prospects.

Topping the list is De La Salle High defensive lineman Kahlil McKenzie, who is headed to Tennessee.

There are 13 USC commits on the list – 11 of them ranked among the top 41 – and 10 players expected to sign Feb. 4 with UCLA.

Arizona State and Oregon have claims on six of the top-100 from California. Washington and Washington State are each poised to sign five of them, Arizona four.

Cal has three from the state’s elite list, none in the top 50.

Running back Lonny Powell of Sacramento, who already is enrolled as a mid-year high school graduate, checks in at No. 62 on Scout’s list of top CA prospects. Also expected to join the Bears are No. 78 WR Aaron Austin and No. 79 CB Malik Psalms.

There are 22 non-committed players on the list, but Cal is by means a lock to get any of them.

Coach Sonny Dykes seems on pace to land a decent class, with 19 players currently committed. But Scout’s listings are a reminder that the new coaching regime still has ground to cover before it can claim a fair share of the in-state market.

Earlier this week the Bears lost three-star offensive lineman Johnny Capra of Placer High, who flipped to Utah. Now Buchanan is being pulled by Georgia and its SEC rival, Florida.

Cal also is hosting recruits on campus this weekend, including San Diego prep defensive back Frank Buncom IV.

Stay tuned. It’s that time of the year when uncertainty and chaos reigns.


Basketball: With powerhouse Arizona up next, Bears struggle to escape a deepening downward spiral

Unless Cal can somehow duplicate the magic of last season’s home upset of Arizona when the teams meet in Saturday night, the Golden Bears will slip to their worst Pac-12 start in 23 years.

Cal (11-8, 1-5) hasn’t been 1-6 in the conference since the 1991-92 season, when it skidded to an eventual 4-14 mark and ninth place in the Pac-10 in the year before Jason Kidd arrived on campus.

J-Kidd isn’t walking through that door, and first-year coach Cuonzo Martin must work with what he has for now. And what he has is a team flawed by the lack of size, shooters, depth and, by his own admission, toughness.

Cal’s 79-44 loss to Arizona State on Thursday night was not only the Bears’ second-worst home defeat ever, but was ASU’s largest margin of victory in a Pac-10/Pac-12 road game.

If you can remember back that far, there were a couple solid victories – over Syracuse and a Wyoming team that is now 16-3 – during the Bears’ 10-1 start to this season. But even before the stunning defeat to Cal State Bakersfield on the eve of the Pac-12 schedule, there were signs of trouble that were disguised by victories.

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Basketball: ASU game thread

My game story:

Rock bottom doesn’t describe the Cal basketball team’s first-half performance in a 79-45 loss to Arizona State in front of an announced crowd of 7,469 fans on Thursday night.

The Bears went 13 minutes, 2 seconds without scoring, allowing the Sun Devils to zoom into a 34-13 halftime lead in a matchup of teams that entered the night in a three-way tie for last place in the Pac-12 standings.

By the time it was over, Cal had absorbed its second-worst home defeat ever, its worst since a 36-point loss to ASU in 1979.

And the Bears had a seven-day break between games to prepare for this.

“We worked on our offense, trying to get some flow,” David Kravish said of those practices. “That didn’t happen.”

First-year coach Cuonzo Martin took the heat afterward.

“It’s my job as a coach to get our guys ready to play and compete. I didn’t do a very good job of it,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I saw this coming.”

The Bears (11-8, 1-5) have now lost seven of eight games since a 10-1 start and are tied with USC for last Pac-12. And guess what? No. 7 Arizona comes to Haas Pavilion on Saturday night.

“A new day tomorrow,” said guard Jordan Mathews, who led Cal with 11 points. “We’ve got to get ready for Arizona.”

A year ago, the Bears stunned the top-ranked and unbeaten Wildcats 60-58 at Haas.

“We played really hard, we played with a lot of energy, we believed in ourselves,” Kravish said of that victory. Asked if that belief is now shaken, he added, “I believe in every one of these guys.”

Martin stressed, “It’s one loss,” then recalled losing by 41 points to Indiana when he was a freshman at Purdue. “The key is you have to learn from it.”

The Bears’ first-half point total exceeded the five points they scored while shooting 2 for 25 in the opening period of a 57-44 loss to Notre Dame four years ago.

But for sheer lack of artistry, this one was stunning.

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Basketball: Bears return to face ASU

Eight days after its 69-59 home loss to Stanford, Cal (11-7, 1-4 Pac-12) is back at it Thursday night against Arizona State (9-9, 1-4). Tipoff is 8 p.m. at Haas Pavilion.

In the meantime, the Bears focused on fundamentals, coach Cuonzo Martin said this week, and the extra time gave sophomore guard Jabari Bird time to find his rhythm after two games back following a foot injury that sidelined him for 10 outings.

“Getting Jabari acclimated back into the lineup . . . now you have another guy that’s a perimeter threat,” Martin said. “For him it’s just his conditioning, getting up and down the floor. That part has been good, having him back out there.”

Martin did not say whether Bird, who came off the bench in games at UCLA and vs. Stanford, will be back in the starting lineup. My guess: Yes.

Martin said Cal’s struggles after a 10-1 start reveal issues that lurked beneath the surface when the Bears were piling up victories.

Specifically, he talked about a toughness that needs to grow among his players, creating an identity or, as he put it, “a way of life.”

“That’s an area we have to grow in, and it doesn’t come overnight. We’ll get there,” he said. “Obviously, everybody has some toughness. It’s just a matter of reaching for it when you need it the most. When we have adversity, you start searching for that.

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Football: O-line commit flips to Utah

Three-star offensive line commit Johnny Capra of Placer High has flipped to Utah, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Capra, a 6-foot-5, 280-pounder, had committed to Cal months ago. But he visited the Utes last weekend and announced he will sign with them Feb. 4.

Capra’s change of heart lives the Bears with currently just two offensive line commitments — three-star prospect Ryan Gibson of Bay St. Louis, Missouri, and two-star Nick Buchanan of Dunwoody, Georgia.

Cal still has 19 prospects either committed or signed as mid-year enrollees.

It’s unclear whether offensive line coach Zach Yenser’s recent departure for Kansas influenced Capra’s decision. In his brief comments to the Salt Lake Tribune, Capra said only that he was convinced to go with Utah after his visit.


Meanwhile, Louisiana prep wideout and state 300-meter hurdles recordholder Brandon Singleton told the Times Picayune of New Orleans that he has decommitted from Georgia Tech and will visit Cal this weekend.

The 6-foot, 170-pounder from Hahnville, High, has been recruited hard by Miami and Georgia, and also has offers from Cal and Minnesota. He told the Times Picayune is also still is considering Georgia Tech but wanted to be free to consider all his options before signing day.

Scout.com rates Singleton as a three-star prospect and ranks him as the 10th-best wide receiver prospect in Louisiana.



Football: RB recruit Powell enrolls at mid-year

Cal got a jump on letter-of-intent day with the announcement that running back Lonny Powell, who gave an oral commitment in May, has signed a financial aid agreement and is joining the Cal program as a mid-year enrollee.

Powell, a 6-foot-1, 205-pounder from Sacramento High, played in the recent Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl. He is rated as a four-star “athlete” by Rivals.com, a three-star linebacker by Scout.com. The letter-of-intent signing period begins Feb. 4.

“We’re excited about Lonny and his future at Cal, and we’re excited that he is a part of our program,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said in a statement. “Lonny has done a great job in being able to graduate early from high school. He is coming to Cal as a running back but is a unique athlete who was a really productive player on both sides of the football in high school.

“Lonny brings toughness, strength and a strong work ethic to our program.”

Powell, who is expected to begin his Cal career as a running back, played three seasons of varsity football from 2012-14 with his teams combining for a 29-9 overall mark and an 18-3 Metropolitan League record.

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