Basketball: Martin says Bird `has chance to be great’

New Cal coach Cuonzo Martin has no-nonsense expectations for sophomore guard Jabari Bird.

“I think he has a chance to be a great player,” Martin said.

Bird arrived at his father’s alma mater last season with glittering credentials. The 6-foot-6 guard was a McDonald’s All-American at Salesian High and coach Mike Montgomery’s most decorated recruit.

Over his first six games, Bird averaged 14.3 points and looked the part of future star.

Then he sprained an ankle in late December. He missed four games, and struggled to regain his rhythm and confidence. Over his first 16 games after returning, Bird scored four points or fewer in 11 of them.

The postseason arrived in the nick of time for Bird.

He scored 50 points in three NIT games, including games of 20 against Arkansas and 19 against SMU. Bird shot 15 for 21 in those last two games, and was 5 for 9 from 3-point range.

Bird said his strong finish sent him into the offseason feeling good about himself.

“It was a huge help for me, boosting my confidence a lot,” Bird said. “It reminded me that I can still play at this level. It did a lot for my confidence coming into my second year. I just need to build on it.”

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Basketball: Watching my first practice . . . in a while

Saw my first Cal basketball practice with Cuonzo Martin as coach on Thursday afternoon.

It was fast-paced, organized, intense and upbeat.

In fairness, I’m not sure how this compares to the way things were under Mike Montgomery because, frankly, we were never allowed to observe his practices.

“It’s more business-like,” sophomore guard Jabari Bird said. “Guys aren’t playing around as much. It’s more focused in there. It’s a really good approach because we approach our practice like it’s a game.”

Asked what Martin is like as a practice coach, Bird said, “Really focused. He pays attention to all the details. You can’t hide from anything. He’s going to see everything you do on the court, whether it’s good or bad. It’s good for us.”

Martin, who came to Cal last spring from Tennessee, said he’s pleased with the way his new team has adjusted.

“It’s been smooth,” he said. “The guys have done a great working and competing and picking up what we’re trying to do. They have been very receptive. The guys want to be great.”

Martin is particularly happy with senior forward David Kravish, who appears to have added 10 or 15 pounds of upper-body muscle to his frame, now listed as 6-foot-10.

“David Kravish has been such a tremendous leader. He’s made our job a lot easier,” Martin said.

The Bears open their exhibition schedule on Friday, Oct. 31 – three weeks from today – against Cal State East Bay. They make their regular-season debut on Nov. 14 against Alcorn State at Haas Pavilion as part of the 2K Classic.


Basketball: With first practice set for Friday, Cuonzo Martin says of the Bears — `We could be really good’

New Cal coach Cuonzo Martin begins practice with his team Friday, but he’s already excited and encouraged by the Bears’ potential.

“I like this team,” he said this week. “If we can stay healthy, we could be really good.”


Fans can see the Bears for the first time Saturday in an open practice starting at 1 p.m. at Haas Pavilion. The first 250 fans will get free T-shirts, fans will have the chance to win Cal gear including signed basketballs, and players and coaches will be available after for autographs and photos.


Martin said he’s been impressed by the way his players have gone to work in the offseason since his hiring last spring.

“They’ve done a great job. It’s one of the best groups of guys I’ve ever been around,” he said. “They do what you ask them to do, work at a high level, come in and get the extra hours in. That’s what separates programs.”

That work also has created a team chemistry Martin believes will strengthen the club.

“They have a great passion for each other. Rarely have I been around a group of guys that want to see the next guy be successful like these guys.”

One of the team’s early questions is who replaces Justin Cobbs at point guard. Martin knows it won’t be easy, but there are three candidates in junior Tyrone Wallace, sophomore Sam Singer and freshman Brandon Chauca.

Martin said the Bears likely will play small at times, with the 6-foot-6 Wallace sliding to the power forward spot. But he also believes 7-1 freshman center Kingsley Okoroh, 6-8 junior Christian Behrens and 6-6 senior transfer Dwight Tarwater will get the chance to pair with senior power forward David Kravish.

Here is Martin’s quick evaluation of each scholarship player eligible to play this season:

* David Kravish, 6-10 senior forward: No longer the 205-pounder who arrived in Berkeley in the fall of 2011, Kravish has added nearly 20 pounds of muscle since last season and now weighs 240.

“It’s functional weight. He’s bigger, stronger, faster,” said Martin, adding that Kravish is now the clear team leader. “No question about it. On and off the court,  he way he carries himself, he’s one of those guys you want to model yourself after.”

Kravish has been a solid, dependable, understated player for three years. Martin thinks he can be more than that. “I expect him to be a great player. He’s on that path. He’s a guy who plays both ends of the floor and he plays hard.”

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Fooball: Bears in the NCAA rankings

Here’s where Cal fits into the NCAA rankings this week:


1. Baylor 56.8 ppg

2. Texas A&M 51.2

3. Michigan State 50.3

4. Oregon 48.5

5. Cal 47.5


1. Marcus Mariota, Oregon 218.0

2. Deshaun Watson, Clemson 212.7

3. Connor Cook, Michigan State 192.3

4. Blake Sims, Alabama 190.8

5. Jared Goff, Cal 190.2


1. Georgia Tech 19.06

2. LSU 17.92

3. Navy 17.42

4. Cal 17.12

5. Oklahoma State 16.84


121. Cal 93.25

122. Oregon State 94.50

123. Marshall 102.50

124 tie. Texas Tech 105.50

124 tie. BYU 105.50



Football: QB commit Bowers to arrive in January

Cal commit Ross Bowers, rated as a four-star quarterback prospect by ESPN, has signed a financial aid agreement as part of the program’s 2015 recruiting class and will enroll in classes in January in time to participate in spring workouts.

Cal coach Sonny Dykes said in a statement that Bowers is “exactly what we are looking for in a quarterback. He has shown great leadership and does all the things we want a quarterback to do. We’re excited about his future.”

Bowers, a 6-foot-2, 185-pounder from Bothell High in Washington, originally committed to Cal in July. By signing a financial aid agreement, he is able to enroll mid-year after early gradutation from high school.

Bowers is rated as the No. 2 prospect in the state of Washington and the No. 12 overall quarterback in the nation, according to ESPN. He was given three stars by 247Sports, Scout and Rivals.

On the heels of a junior season in which he passed for 2,097 yards and 21 touchdowns for a 9-3 team, Bowers has led Bothell to a 3-0 start this fall and a No. 3 state ranking. He has passed for 688 yards with eight touchdowns and one interception this season.

Bowers, who won’t turn 18 until November, comes off a strong summer camp showing in which he was an Elite 11 finalist, participated in The Opening and was named MVP of the Oregon Nike Football Training Camp.

Bowers’ father John is in his first season as assistant head coach at James Madison University and his mother Joanne is head women’s gymnastics coach at Washington.


Football: 2015 schedule announced

Cal will open the 2015 Pac-12 Conference schedule with a Sept. 26 game at Washington, the conference announced Tuesday night.

The Bears will play at Stanford in the Big Game on Nov. 21, then close the regular season with a Nov. 28 home game against Arizona State.

Their one non-Saturday game will be a Thursday, Oct. 22 matchup at UCLA.

Cal misses Colorado and Arizona on next season’s schedule.

Cal will open the 2015 season with home games against Grambling and San Diego State before its Sept. 19 matchup with Texas.


Sept. 5 – Grambling at Cal

Sept. 12– San Diego State at Cal

Sept. 19 — Cal at Texas

Sept. 26 — Cal at Washington

Oct. 3 — Washington State at Cal

Oct. 10 — Cal at Utah

Oct. 17 — bye

Oct. 22 — Cal at UCLA

Oct. 31 — USC at Cal

Nov. 7 — Cal at Oregon

Nov. 14 — Oregon State at Cal

Nov. 21 — Cal at Stanford

Nov. 28 — Arizona State at Cal

Dec. 4 or 5 — Pac-12 Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium



Basketball: Pac-12 scheduled unveiled

Cal will open Pac-12 basketball play at home against Washington on Friday, Jan. 2, the conference announced Monday. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. and will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks.

The Bears’ two games against rival Stanford will be played on Wednesday, Jan. 14 at Haas Pavilion, and Saturday, Feb. 21 at Maples Pavilion.

Pac-12 favorite Arizona visits Cal on Saturday, Jan. 24, and the Bears visit the Wildcats on Thursday, March 5. Cal closes the Pac-12 regular season on Saturday, March 7 at Arizona State.

The Bears visit UCLA on Sunday, Jan. 11, and play host to the Bruins on Saturday, Feb. 7.

The Pac-12 tournament will again be held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, March 11-14.

Cal will skip its trip to Oregon and does not have home games this season against Colorado or Utah.


Friday Oct. 31 Cal State East Bay% Haas Pavilion 7 p.m. No TV
Thursday Nov. 6 Cal State San Marcos% Haas Pavilion 7:30 p.m. Pac-12
Friday Nov. 14 Alcorn State# Haas Pavilion 7 p.m. Pac-12
Sunday Nov. 16 Kennesaw State# Haas Pavilion 7 p.m. Pac-12
Thursday Nov. 20 vs. Syracuse^ New York, N.Y. 6 p.m. ESPN2
Friday Nov. 21 vs. Iowa or Texas^ New York, N.Y. 2/4 p.m. ESPN2/U
Wednesday Nov. 26 Cal Poly Haas Pavilion 7 p.m. Pac-12
Sunday Nov. 30 Fresno State Fresno, 3 p.m. CBSSN
Wednesday Dec. 3 Montana Haas Pavilion 7 p.m. Pac-12
Sunday Dec. 7 Nevada Reno, Nev. 1 p.m. CBSSN
Wednesday Dec. 10 Wyoming Haas Pavilion 8 p.m. Pac-12
Saturday Dec. 13 Princeton Haas Pavilion 5:30 p.m. Pac-12
Friday Dec. 19 Eastern Washington Haas Pavilion 7 p.m. Pac-12
Monday Dec. 22 Wisconsin Haas Pavilion 6 p.m. ESPN2
Sunday Dec. 28 CSU-Bakersfield Haas Pavilion 7 p.m. Pac-12
Friday Jan. 2 Washington* Haas Pavilion 7 p.m. Pac-12
Sunday Jan. 4 Washington State* Haas Pavilion 3 p.m. Pac-12
Wednesday Jan. 7 at USC* Los Angeles, 8 p.m. ESPNU
Sunday Jan.11 at UCLA* Los Angeles, 4:30 p.m. FS1
Wednesday Jan. 14 Stanford* Haas Pavilion 8 p.m. ESPNU
Thursday Jan. 22 Arizona State* Haas Pavilion 8 p.m. Pac-12
Saturday Jan. 24 Arizona* Haas Pavilion 7:30 p.m. Pac-12
Thursday Jan. 29 at Washington State* Pullman, Wash. 8 p.m. Pac-12
Sunday Feb. 1 at Washington* Seattle, Noon Pac-12
Thursday Feb. 5 USC* Haas Pavilion 8 p.m. FS1
Saturday Feb. 7 UCLA* Haas Pavilion 5 p.m. Pac-12
Thursday Feb. 12 at Colorado* Boulder, Colo. 6 p.m. FS1
Sunday Feb. 15 at Utah* Salt Lake City, Utah 5:30 p.m. ESPNU
Saturday Feb. 21 at Stanford* Stanford, 3:30 p.m. Pac-12
Wednesday Feb. 25 Oregon* Haas Pavilion 8 p.m. ESPNU
Sunday March 1 Oregon State* Haas Pavilion Noon p.m. Pac-12
Thursday March 5 at Arizona* Tucson, Ariz. 6 p.m. ESPN/2
Saturday March 7 at Arizona State* Tempe, Ariz. 11:30 a.m. Pac-12
Wed.-Sat. March 11-14 Pac-12 Tournament Las Vegas, Nev. TBD P12/ESPN
Tues.-Wed. March 17-18 NCAA Tournament First Four Dayton, Ohio
Thurs.-Sun. March 19-22 NCAA Tournament 2nd & 3rd Rounds
Thurs.-Sun. March 26-29 NCAA Tournament Regionals
Sat., Mon. April 4, 6 NCAA Final Four Indianapolis, Ind.

% Exhibition

# 2K Classic regional games

^ 2K Classic semifinals and finals in New York City

* Pac-12 game