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Basketball: Trying to fix his shot, sophomore Tyrone Wallace tells his right hand to back off

Sophomore Tyrone Wallace spent his offseason trying to convince his right hand to mind its own business.

If the message got through, Wallace may have repaired the one glaring weakness in his game — his ability to shoot the ball.

Wallace is a left-handed guard who averaged 7.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists as a freshman last season. He is a willing defender and has grown an inch to 6-foot-5 and gained 20 pounds to 190.

But can he consistently put the ball in the basket?

“Sometimes my right hand gets more dominant and it’s top of the ball and my ball spins out weird,” said Wallace, who made just 22 percent of his 3-point tries last season and barely 53 percent from the free throw line.

“That was definitely a focus to try to get my left hand to be more dominant, use my right hand strictly as a guide.”

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Basketball: Kreklow excited to be healthy

It’s almost with a sense of pride that Ricky Kreklow wears a shiner under his right eye.

For the junior guard, it’s evidence he’s back on the court again.

“I’m excited,” Kreklow said this week. “I’ve had a pretty rough college road, but I’m excited to finally put a good foot forward.”

That wasn’t intended to be a pun, but Kreklow, a transfer from Missouri two years ago, missed all but nine games last season because of a broken bone in his right foot that was reluctant to heal.

Point guard Justin Cobbs describes Kreklow as almost an X-factor on the Bears’ roster.

“People are going to finally see Ricky Kreklow for the type of player he is because he’s not going to have to worry about that foot,” Cobbs said. “He’s Jorge (Gutierrez) with a little jumper. That’s what we need.”

So Kreklow had no complaints last Saturday when, three minutes into the team’s first official practice, he was accidentally poked in the eye during a drill by freshman Jabari Bird.

Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/JeffFaraudo

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Basketball: 5 questions with Lindsay Gottlieb

The Cal women’s basketball team, coming off its first-ever Final Four appearance, begins practice Tuesday.

The Golden Bears were 32-4 last season, shared the Pac-12 title and return three starters to a team projected as No. 3 in the country, according to Lindy’s magazine.

I spoke last week with coach Lindsay Gottlieb about her team. Here’s our conversation:

What do you and your players expect from this encore season?

“I think our baseline for everything has been raised. Our expectations now permanently for Cal women’s basketball have been raised. Does that mean we’re going to go to the Final Four every single year? No, everything has to go right. But if there’s a legacy that team left, it’s there’s a way you play at Cal. You play for each other, play with a lot of heart, play very hard, enjoy it. Now that that’s established, the level of expectation every day in practice is higher.”

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Basketball: Monty embraces earlier practice start

The college football season is just a month old and already college basketball practice is set to begin. Yes, in September.

The NCAA in May voted to move up the beginning of practice for men’s teams by essentially two weeks from its recent start date of Oct. 15. The move comes two years after women’s teams were allowed the earlier start.

“They saw what we were doing and liked the rule,” Stanford women’s coach Tara VanDerveer said. “I think we were the guinea pigs.”

“It makes all the sense in the world,” said Cal men’s coach Mike Montgomery, whose team will begin practicing Saturday. “There’s no negative to it in my mind.”

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Basketball: Cobbs’ recovery going well

Not quite a month after undergoing surgery for a broken right foot, Cal senior point guard Justin Cobbs said he is running on a treadmill with no pain and perhaps ahead of schedule in his recovery.

“Everything’s feeling good,” Cobbs said. “Just taking my time.”

Practice begins Sept. 27 and Cobbs wouldn’t speculate on how extensively he will be able to participate at first. But he’s been assured the foot will be stronger than ever after having a screw put in to stabilize the metatarsal bone.

“I feel really good about it. I’m not worried,” he said. “Just stay healthy and stay focused. I should be back 100 percent.”

Cal’s season opens Nov. 8 against Coppin State.

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Football: Dykes reaching out to Tedford

Among the resources new Cal football coach Sonny Dykes has tried to cultivate in his first eight months on the job is a relationship with his predecessor.

Dykes said during Monday’s Bay Area college football media day that he phoned ex-Cal coach Jeff Tedford about a week after he took the job in December, and intends to talk with him again during the upcoming season.

The purpose of the conversation, Dykes said, was ”more just to let him know, `I know you recruited these guys and I’m going to do everything I can to put them in a situation to be successful,’ ” Dykes said. “Because he cares deeply about his players and wants them to do well.

“I wanted him to know I appreciated the job he did at Cal and appreciate the kind of players he recruited. We had a great conversation. Jeff was super, Jeff was awesome.

“He wants to see the players do well. He loves Cal and loves the players and wants to see everyone do well.”

Tedford, the winningest coach in Cal history, was fired after the Bears went 3-9 last season.

– Dykes said everything about the Bay Area so far has been “better than I anticipated,” and that even includes dealing with the media.

He joked during the well-attended local media day at a San Francisco hotel that he never got this level of attention while coaching at Louisiana Tech in rural Ruston, La.

“I was the only guy who covered my team,” Dykes said. “We had a beat writer who never came to practice. Literally never. He was a great guy, but he never came to practice the whole time I was there.

“I suppose this is a little different.”

– Senior offensive tackle Bill Tyndall, who broke an ankle during spring ball, should be ready for the Bears’ Aug. 31 opener vs. Northwestern, Dykes said.

A starter in five games last season, Tyndall is running and will practice on a limited basis at first when training camp begins next Monday, Dykes said.

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Pac-12 media day: Bears’ tough opening stretch

First-year Cal coach Sonny Dykes said he’d like to eventually adopt an A-B-C system to nonconference scheduling.

The alphabet has been jumbled this season with a season-opening run of Northwestern, Portland State and Ohio State. That’s a three-week stretch involving two 10-win teams from the Big Ten Conference.

With a Pac-12 opener at Oregon looming, the Bears face the prospect of a 1-3 start if they don’t beat Northwestern in the Aug. 31 opener at Berkeley.

“You can’t really look at it that way, but realistically it’s got to be there in the back of your mind,” Dykes said Friday at Pac-12 media day at Sony Pictures Studios. “I’m sure when they scheduled Northwestern, they weren’t coming off a 10-win season.

“At the time, you could see how Northwestern might have been a B team. Obviously, they’re certainly not now.”

Noting that the Bears have contracted future games against Texas, Dykes said he’d like to maintain one high-profile game on the nonconference schedule each year.

“I think it’s good for college football, good for Cal,” he said.

But the arrangement also comes with the very real possibility of losing that game, adding importance to the other two to create a body of work that leads to bowl eligibility.

“Those other two games are really important,” Dykes said. “We hope we get to the point where we win all three of them every year, but you’ve got to give yourself an opportunity to be successful.

“You’ve got to win your nonconference games.”

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Pac-12 media day: Dykes soaks it all in

Wherever he went Friday at Sony Pictures Studios, Cal coach Sonny Dykes was made to feel like a star. Certainly he was a center of attention at Pac-12 football media day.

“This is different for me,” said Dykes, who coached last season at Louisiana Tech. “I went to WAC media day last year and I interviewed myself. I asked some hard-hitting questions of myself.”
 
By comparison, there were hundreds of media members at Friday’s event in Culver City.
 
“It’s good to be in a conference that has exposure and has resources,” Dykes said. “This is why these guys work so hard to play at a level like this and why you coach at all the places you coach to get to a school like Cal and a league like the Pac-12 and the chance to go to the Rose Bowl. That’s the pinnacle of college football.”
 
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Pac-12 media day: Bears feeling healthy

Cal coach Sonny Dykes said virtually all of the players who sat out spring ball with health issues will be at full strength with no limitations when the Bears begin practice Aug. 5.

That includes junior running back Brendan Bigelow, who had offseason surgery on his right knee. Bigelow is expected to be one of the Bears’ top offensive playmakers after averaging 9.8 yards per rush in limited action last season.

The exception could be TE/WR Spencer Hagan, still not fully cleared after surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

“We anticipate him being back. But he had a pretty severe injury. Is he going to be 100 percent? We’ll see,” Dykes said Friday at Pac-12 media day at the Sony Pictures Studios. “We would anticipate he will be back, but can’t say without any doubt that he will be right now.

“He’s the one guy I have a question about.”

Also cleared to practice after sitting out the spring are RB Daniel Lasco (shoulder), TE/WR Richard Rodgers (shoulder), DE Chris McCain (shoulder), DE Brennan Scarlett (hand), CB Stefan McClure (knee), DL Sione Sina (knee), WR Chris Harper (shoulder) and OL Chris Adcock (shoulder).

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Pac-12 media day: Tak McKinley won’t join Bears

Freshman defensive end Takkarist McKinley of Richmond won’t be with the Cal football team this season, coach Sonny Dykes said at Pac-12 Conference football media day on Friday.

McKinley did not qualify academically to enroll at Cal and will attend a Bay Area junior college, Dykes said.

“I’m disappointed for Tak,” Dykes said. “He worked hard and did everything he could to get eligible. He had some room to make up when we signed him and we knew this was a potential issue.

“He put the work in and we wanted to support him and give him every opportunity to get it done. And he will.”

McKinley, from Kennedy High, will become a “free agent” on the recruiting front, with anyone able to pursue his talents. He signed a national letter-of-intent with Cal last February, but the Bears will have to re-recruit him at this point.

Fellow would-be freshman defensive end Garrett Hughes of Centennial-Corona also won’t be with the Bears this season, but is expected to enroll for the spring semester in January.

“Bottom line, just kind of came down to numbers — that was something that communicated during the process,” Dykes said of Hughes. “He had more (academic work) to get done and (there were) some scholarship numbers as well.”

Cal will miss the two young defensive ends, expected to compete for playing time in the Bears’ new 4-3 defensive alignment. But Dykes said linebacker is an area of depth and that outside linebackers such as Brennan Scarlett and Chris McCain will be used at the end spots.