Basketball: Cal-Stanford game thread

FINAL SCORE: Stanford 69, Cal 59. Cal delivered one of its most inspired efforts in weeks, but ultimately had no answer for Stanford’s clutch seniors.

Chasson Randle scored 25 points and Anthony Brown and Stefan Nastic combined for 33 more as the Cardinal maintained its hold on second place in the Pac-12 Conference with a 69-59 victory before an announced crowd of 8,819 at Haas Pavilion.

Brown had 18 points and nine rebounds and Nastic contributed 15 points and nine rebounds, and the three seniors scored 27 of the Cardinal’s final 32 points. Stanford (12-4, 4-1) won for the sixth time in seven games.

Tyrone Wallace had 14 points and nine rebounds for the Bears (11-7, 1-4), but shot just 6 for 22. Cal, which led 31-26 at halftime, lost for the sixth time in seven games after shooting 35.5 percent for the game.

10:29 2nd H: Stanford 47, Cal 43. Dwight Tarwater answered a 3-pointer by Brown with one of his own — the senior transfer making a difference with 8 points and 8 rebounds. But Randle came back with another 3-pointer — this one from about 23 feet. Randle has 19 points.

15:53 2nd H: Stanford 37, Cal 37. Stanford much more aggressive to start the second half — a reversal since the first half. Rebounds are 5-1 for Stanford so far. Brown shoot 2 FTs after the timeout.

HALFTIME: Cal 31, Stanford 26. Bird scored eight points and Wallace had six points, five rebounds and three assists before sitting down with two fouls. Cal shot 38.7 percent in the half, Stanford 41.7. Cal with a 22-14 rebounding edge.

Continue Reading


Basketball: Sean Lampley named to Hall of Honor

Sean Lampley, who retired as Cal’s career scoring leader, has been chosen for induction into the Pac-12 Conference Hall of Honor.

One representative from each conference school will be recognized during ceremonies prior to the Pac-12 tournament championship game on March 14 in Las Vegas.

Lampley, the Pac-10 Player of the Year in 2001, finished his career with 1,776 points, a school record since eclipsed by Jerome Randle. Upon his departure from Cal, Lampley was the only player in school history ranked among the program’s top-10 in scoring, rebounding and assists.

He averaged 19.5 points as a senior and two years earlier was named MVP after Cal’s run to the postseason NIT title.

Others selected to the Hall of Honor were former Arizona coach Fred Snowden and players Ron Riley of Arizona State, Jim Davis of Colorado, Anthony Taylor of Oregon, Jim Jarvis of Oregon State, Dave Meyers of UCLA, Alex Hannum of USC, Casey Jacobsen of Stanford, Danny Cranes of Utah, Jon Brockman of Washington and Bennie Seltzer of Washington State.

Past Hall of Honor selections from Cal include Pete Newell, Kevin Johnson, Jason Kidd, Darrall Imhoff and Shareef Abdur-Rahim.


Basketball: Bird says he’s ready to provide a spark

Declaring that he is “feeling great” after missing 10 games with a foot injury then suffering cramps in his return at UCLA, Cal guard Jabari Bird he hopes to provide his slumping team with a spark against rival Stanford on Wednesday night.

The Bears (11-6, 1-3 Pac-12) have lost five of their past six games, and even leading scorer Tyrone Wallace is being hemmed in by defenses determined not to let him beat them.

“I’ve got to knock down shots, keep the defense honest, help Tyrone out by doing that. I’ve got to play defense, rebound the ball,” Bird said. “Just provide some energy off the bench, be a spark.”

Coach Cuonzo Martin doesn’t want Bird to put too much pressure on himself against the Cardinal (11-4, 3-1), which has won five of six.

“Just play. When you’re thinking, it consumes you and you’re not as effective as you need to be,” Martin said. “You’ve got to play the game.”

Continue Reading


Basketball: As they prepare to clash Wednesday, why Cal and Stanford are headed in opposite directions

Stanford and Cal, which meet for the first time this season on Wednesday night at Haas Pavilion, are headed in opposite directions two weeks into the Pac-12 schedule.

The Cardinal (11-4), which got a split in Los Angeles last weekend, sits alone in second place in the Pac-12 standings at 3-1. Stanford has won five of six.

The Bears (11-6), swept by USC and UCLA, have sunk to a tie for ninth in the conference at 1-3. Cal has lost five of six.

A look at how they compare in four areas helps explain their current trajectories:

Click here to read the rest of this story.


Basketball: UCLA game thread — Bears fall, but Martin says Jabari Bird just had cramps, nothing more

FINAL SCORE: UCLA 73, CAL 54. Jabari Bird’s return to action after missing 10 games ended Sunday with a cramp – nothing more, according to Cal coach Cuonzo Martin. But the news otherwise continues to be discouraging for the Golden Bears.

Cal lost 73-54 to UCLA at Pauley Pavilion, its fifth defeat in six games after a 10-1 start to the season. The Bears (11-6) take a 1-3 Pac-12 record into Wednesday’s home matchup with rival Stanford.

Martin said he has heard nothing that would prevent Bird from facing the Cardinal, even though the sophomore guard limped off the court with 2:30 left in the first half and did not return.

It isn’t serious, Martin said, and not related to the stress fracture in his left foot that Bird suffered Nov. 30. Initially, Martin called it a hamstring injury, then corrected himself.

“Excuse me, cramps,” he said. “They just said cramps. . . . I think he’ll be fine, as far as I know.”

Martin said he held Bird out of the second half because he “didn’t want to chance it.”

Teammate David Kravish, interviewed separately, also referred to Bird’s ailment as cramps. Bird, the former McDonald’s All-American from Richmond’s Salesian High, was not available for comment after a scoreless eight-minute stint.

UCLA (10-7, 2-2) opened the second half with a 16-3 run to take charge. The Bruins completed a weekend home sweep of the Bay Area schools after losing five straight games.

Jordan Mathews scored 23 points for the Bears, hitting 6 of 9 from 3-point range. He is averaging 23.8 points through four Pac-12 games. Kravish had nine points and 14 rebounds for the Bears.

But the Bears struggled again on offense, shooting 40 percent with 16 turnovers. In their past five defeats, the Bears are averaging just 57.0 points.

Continue Reading


Basketball: Struggling Bears visit UCLA

What chance do the reeling Golden Bears (11-5, 1-2 Pac-12) have Sunday afternoon against UCLA (9-7, 1-2) at Pauley Pavilion?

Well, consider the odds that Washington State would open the Pac-12 schedule with three road games and win two of them. The Cougars, who upset Cal a week ago, knocked off rival Washington 80-77 in Seattle on Saturday night.

So go figure.

The Bears are coming off a 71-57 loss at USC, after which senior David Kravish called out his team for being soft. He called the performance “ridiculous.”

Cal has lost four of five after starting the season 10-1.

The Bruins snapped a five-game losing streak Thursday with their 86-81 double-overtime win over Stanford. UCLA got it done by overpowering Stanford inside — freshman forward Kevon Looney had 27 points and 19 rebounds, and junior Tony Parker had 23 points and 12 rebounds.

If UCLA is smart and follows the game plan against Cal used by WSU and USC — to be patient, play a halfcourt game and feed the post — the Bears will have a tough time.

But if the Bruins decide to run — and they are capable — they give the Bears a chance.

My read on the Pac-12 after nearly two weeks is that Arizona and Utah are in a class by themselves. Otherwise, it’s gonna be very tough for most teams to win on the road.

Well, apparently, except Washington State.

PAC-12 STANDINGS: Utah 3-0; Arizona 2-0; Colorado 2-1; Oregon 2-1; Stanford 2-1; WSU 2-1; Oregon St. 1-1; Cal 1-2; UCLA 1-2; USC 1-2; ASU 0-3; Washington 0-3.

SUNDAY’S GAMES: Cal at UCLA, 4:30 p.m. (FoxSports1); Arizona at Oregon State, 7 p.m. (FoxSports1); Stanford at USC, 7 p.m. (ESPNU).


Football: Sonny Dykes talks recruiting

My conversation this week with Cal coach Sonny Dykes on the state of their recruiting with less than three weeks until signing day.

* How have you guys been received since the end of the season? And given that nothing is final until signing day, what do you think of the state of your class so far?

“I’m really encouraged. I think it was pretty obvious to people across the country that we got better. Certainly potential college football players see the trajectory of the program. The first year you’re just trying to hold onto the class they’d recruited here. The second year was tough just because of the kind of season we had. This year I think kids can see where we’re headed and I think they’re excited about it. I feel like we have a lot of momentum.

“We’re a lot further along than we were a year ago. We’ve identified guys a lot earlier. We’ve established much better relationships with coaches and players. There’s just a lot more doors that are open to us now. I’m really encouraged and I think it’s going to continue to get nothing but better.

“There’s four or five key players that we need to close strongly on. If we can do I think we’ll be really excited about this class and ready to start on the next one. The next one will be better than this one.

“That’s what we’re doing – we’re making sure we get better every year. They saw how close we were to being a really good football team in the best league in college football. They see the youth on our team and the number of returning starters coming back. And they get a pretty clear message that we’re headed in a good direction and I think they want to be a part of it.”

Continue Reading


Football notebook: Sonny Dykes rooting for Ducks in title game but wary of Ohio State’s `team of destiny’

Cal coach Sonny Dykes is rooting for Oregon and expects the Ducks to beat Ohio State in Monday’s first College Football Playoff championship game.

But he is intrigued by underdog Buckeyes.

“It’s hard to look at Ohio State’s year and not think they’re a little bit of a team of destiny,” Dykes said. “Just because they’re on their third quarterback and they’ve kind of figured it out.”

Quarterback Cardale Jones will make just his third career start against Oregon, but has passed for 500 yards and four touchdowns in his first two and, at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, has shown himself to be a powerful run threat.

“I wish we had third-team quarterbacks like that guy,” Dykes said of Jones, who began fall camp behind two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett, who finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting this season after Miller was injured.

Still, Dykes will go with Oregon and its Heisman-winning quarterback.

“I think Marcus Mariota is the best player in college football. I’ve said that since before the season started,” Dykes said. “He’s such a difference-maker.”

Dykes, whose Bears have faced both Oregon and Ohio State over the past two seasons, said his allegiance is with the Pac-12.

“I’m definitely rooting for Oregon,” he said. “I think we’re the best conference in the country. The bowl games have proved that, and I think ultimately the national championship will prove that as well.

“I have to pick Oregon, but I do think there’s some kind of magic with this Ohio State team.”


Dykes grew up in Texas, but said he’s cheering for the Green Bay Packers and former Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers to beat the Dallas Cowboys in Sunday’s NFL divisional playoff game.

Dykes is confident that a slightly torn calf muscle will not derail Rodgers.

“This time of year you always want everyone to be healthy,” Dykes said. “But if there’s anyone who can play a little nicked up, it’s Aaron Rodgers. He’s a tough guy, for sure.”


Dykes said he already has identified “a strong pool of candidates” for two vacancies on his coaching staff. He is scheduling interviews to be held at the American Football Coaches Association convention, beginning Sunday in Louisville, and intends to fill both spots before letter-of-intent signing day on Feb. 4.

“Before then, ideally,” he said.

The jobs opened this week when assistant head coach/receivers coach Rob Likens and offensive line coach Zach Yenser accepted positions at Kansas.


Offensive tackle Steven Moore and wide receiver Maurice Harris both underwent shoulder surgeries since the end of the season, Dykes confirmed. “Nothing too significant,” he said of both.

Dykes anticipates both Moore and Harris will be available at some point and at some level during spring practice, tentatively scheduled to begin the second week of March.


Dykes said he is unaware of any other Cal underclassmen who plan to enter the NFL draft after junior wideout Chris Harper made the announcement to do so this week.

“I’m really proud of Chris because I think he’s really matured. I think his best football is ahead of him. I anticipate him doing well,” Dykes said.


Football: Cal provides different salary figures

According to numbers provided to me by Cal athletics, the Golden Bears may not pay their football assistant coaches less than any school in the Pac-12 Conference.

Using figures obtained from the USA Today’s annual coaching salary database, I wrote earlier this week that Cal paid its nine assistant coaches, including coordinators, a total of $2,081,600 in 2014. According to the USA Today, that ranked the Bears last in the Pac-12 and second-to-last among all schools from the Power 5 leagues whose salary information was included in the survey.

Cal is now telling me those numbers are wrong. In the interest of getting this right, here are some of the numbers provided Cal:

– Rob Likens, who left to become offensive coordinator at Kansas, actually made $205,000 in total compensation in 2014, not $135,500, as USA Today reported.

– Zach Yenser, who took the offensive line coach/run game coordinator position at KU, earned $180,000 at Cal, not $111,500.

All of Cal’s other non-coordinator assistants also earned more in 2014 than the newspaper’s database indicated.

According to Cal’s figures, coach Sonny Dykes’  staff earned a total of $2,445,000 in 2014 — which is $364,000 more than the USA Today’s salary total.

This would place the Bears ninth among Pac-12 schools — slightly ahead of Utah, Oregon State and Washington State — not last.

The caveat here, of course, is that if USA Today’s numbers on Cal were incorrect, can we trust that their figures for everyone are accurate?


Football: Bears on way to solid recruiting class

Recruits may be waiting to see if Cal football’s improvement can be sustained before making a mad rush to Memorial Stadium.

With signing day four weeks away, the Golden Bears appear on their way to landing a solid class of newcomers capable of addressing some specific areas of need. But the 20 prospects Cal already has lined up don’t constitute a recruiting haul significantly better than a year ago, even though the Bears made a leap from 1-11 in 2013 to 5-7 in coach Sonny Dykes’ second season.

“They’re developing a good class,” said Adam Gorney, West Coast recruiting expert for Rivals. “They just have to win on the field and kids will take notice.”

Currently, Rivals rates Cal’s class No. 35 in the country and ninth in the Pac-12. Scout has elevated the Bears from 11th in the conference six weeks ago to ninth, but lists them just 49th nationally.

A year ago, Cal was rated No. 44 by Scout, No. 46 by Rivals, and eighth in the conference by both recruiting services.

Click here to read the rest of this story.