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Basketball: Even without ailing Solomon, Bears cruise to win over Utah Valley in NIT

By Jeff Faraudo
Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 at 11:45 pm in Basketball, Gameday

Click here to read our game story.

Senior forward Richard Solomon, the Pac-12′s leading rebounder, sat out with a concussion, but Cal won its NIT opener, beating Utah Valley 77-64 in front of 1,862 fans at Haas Pavilion.

The second-seeded Bears (20-13) advance to a second-round game Monday against No. 3 seed Arkansas. Tipoff is 8 p.m. at Haas. Cal beat the Razorbacks 85-77 in the Maui Invitational back on Nov. 25.

Coach Mike Montgomery said he hopes Solomon can play Monday.

David Kravish had 14 points, 10 rebounds and equaled his career high with five blocked shots.

Justin Cobbs had 13 points and seven assists and freshman Jabari Bird, inserted into the starting lineup, responded with 11 points.

Freshman Jordan Mathews scored 13 off the bench and senior Jeff Powers had 10 points.

Holton Hunsaker scored 22 points for the Wolverines (20-12), regular-season champions of the Western Athletic Conference.


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Basketball: Who are the Utah Valley Wolverines?

By Jeff Faraudo
Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 at 11:58 am in Basketball, Gameday

A couple of words on the Utah Valley Wolverines (20-11), who visit Haas Pavilion on Wednesday night for an NIT opener against the No. 2 seeded Golden Bears (19-13). Tipoff is 7:30 p.m.

The team won the WAC regular-season title with a 13-3 record, then lost 74-69 to Idaho in the league tournament. As a result, according to NIT rules, the Wolverines were given an automatic bid to the NIT.

Utah Valley played two significant non-conference opponents, losing 93-40 at Oklahoma State and 69-54 at Oregon. The Wolverines also defeated two non-Division I foes.

The team is led by 6-foot senior PG Holton Hunsaker, the son of coach Dick Hunsaker, who averages 14.0 ppg and 4.2 apg. Ben Aird, a 6-9 senior center, averages 11.6 ppg and 8.3 rpg.

The Wolverines had an NCAA RPI rating of No. 144 this week. Cal is at No. 63.

NOTE: I am traveling to St. Louis today to cover the NCAA tournament and will not be at Haas tonight. We will have a writer at the game and I will link our story to BearTalk late tonight.

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Women’s basketball: Boyd a Lieberman finalist

By Jeff Faraudo
Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 at 11:37 am in Honors, Women's basketball

Cal junior Brittany Boyd is one of five finalists for the 2014 Nancy Lieberman Award, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame announced. The award goes to the nation’s top point guard.

Boyd, who also has been a candidate for the Wade Tropy, Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy this season, averages 14.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.9 steals for the Golden Bears.

She was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection and a Pac-12 All-Defensive team pick. Boyd leads the conference in steals and assists.

In her most recent game, against Washington State, she had 13 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.

Other finalists for the Lieberman award are Odyssey Sims of Baylor, Jerica Coley of Florida International, Moriah Jefferson of UConn and Heather Butler and Tennessee-Martin.

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Football: Brendan Bigelow battles through hamstring injury in 40-yard dash at Cal’s Pro Day

By Jeff Faraudo
Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 at 1:27 am in Football

NOTE: I am on NCAA basketball duty this week, so Steve Corkran, our esteemed NFL writer, pinch-hit for me at Cal’s Pro Day. Here’s his report from Tuesday.


The moment running back Brendan Bigelow spent months preparing for got off to a fast start Tuesday. Two seconds later it was over, up in smoke as the result of a strained hamstring.

Or so Bigelow thought. Instead, he opted to finish his 40-yard dash so that he at least had something to show for the representatives of NFL teams in attendance at Cal’s pro day at Memorial Stadium.

Bigelow clocked a 4.48-second time in the 40-yard dash, according to several people who timed the event. Not quite the 4.2 Bigelow expected, but pretty impressive for someone who battled through a hamstring injury from the midpoint of his run.

“It’s a shocker because I was expecting like a 4.6 or a 4.7,” Bigelow said. “But I ran a pretty good time, even with a pulled hamstring.”

The 4.48 is a solid time for a running back. Bigelow said he’s hopeful that the 40 or so representatives from 29 NFL teams in attendance factored in his injury and graded him higher.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Basketball: Cobbs settles for NIT, but Cal senior has assembled excellent senior season

By Jeff Faraudo
Tuesday, March 18th, 2014 at 4:17 pm in Basketball, Gameday


This isn’t where Justin Cobbs wanted to be.

“Nobody wants to play in the NIT,” the Cal point guard said a couple weeks ago as the Golden Bears were pursuing an NCAA tournament bid.

But Cobbs and the Bears (19-13) find themselves in college basketball’s consolation tournament Wednesday night, taking on Utah Valley (21-11), regular-season champs of the Western Athletic Conference. Tipoff at Haas Pavilion is 7:30 p.m.

If Cobbs isn’t entirely satisfied by the final chapter of his senior season, he no longer harbors the doubts about his own game that followed him to Berkeley as a transfer from Minnesota in the fall of 2010.

“I just didn’t know if I was good enough,” said Cobbs, who averaged 2.1 points as a freshman with the Golden Gophers before jumping to Cal. “I put expectations on myself to at least go in and contribute, at least help the team in some way. I went in and really didn’t do anything.”

Cobbs has delivered for Cal, even while struggling at times to find a balance between his dual roles as scorer and floor leader.

Click here to read the rest of my story.


Cal announced that (presuming a victory Wednesday) it would host a second-round game against Arkansas (a 91-71 first-round winner over Indiana State) either Sunday or Monday.

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Football: Bigelow, Jackson view Pro Day as chance to show their stuff to pro scouts, at last

By Jeff Faraudo
Monday, March 17th, 2014 at 7:44 pm in Football

When juniors Brendan Bigelow and Kameron Jackson left Cal to turn pro after the 2013 football season, the news was greeted by resounding silence from the NFL.

Neither player was among the more than 300 prospects invited to last month’s NFL combine.

But Bigelow and Jackson, who will take part in Tuesday’s Cal Pro Day workouts at Memorial Stadium, get hope and inspiration from Seattle Seahawks’ linebacker Malcolm Smith, MVP of the Super Bowl.

Smith wasn’t invited to the combine out of college, either.

“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Let it humble you, and let it give you fire,” Smith said in a recent Sports Illustrated interview, when asked what he’d tell other young, overlooked prospects.

“You know, I have the 2011 draft bookmarked on my computer. I’d say once a month, at least, I open it up and scroll through and look at all the names, one through 254. I just want to see all those picked ahead of me and what happened to them.”

For Bigelow, a running back, and Jackson, a cornerback, it’s as if Smith were sitting right in front of them.

“I feel like he’s speaking to a lot of us in the same situation,” Bigelow said.

Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Women’s basketball: Cal seeded No. 7, sent to Waco, Texas to face Fordham on Saturday

By Jeff Faraudo
Monday, March 17th, 2014 at 7:32 pm in Women's basketball

The Cal women (21-9) earned their third straight NCAA tournament bid, as a No. 7 seed in the Notre Dame Regional, headed to Waco, Texas, to face No. 10 Fordham on Saturday.

Tipoff is 1 p.m. PST. The game will be aired on ESPN2.

The Rams are 25-7, including an 11-5 record in the Atlantic 10 Conference.

“It’s always exciting to see your name pop up. I’m excited for our players and the opportunity,” said Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb, who guided the Bears to the Final Four last season.

“I thought we’d be a six or seven. Either way you’re going to have a tough first-round game and an opportunity to probably have to beat someone on their home floor. Whoever it is it doesn’t matter. It’s an exciting opportunity.”

The matchup against an opponent on their home floor would come in the next round, when the Cal Bears likely would face the host Baylor Bears, the region’s No. 2 seed. 

Baylor features senior All-America guard Odyssey Sims, who averages 28.4 points.

This is Cal’s 10th all-time NCAA tournament appearance.


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Basketball: Bears face Utah Valley in NIT

By Jeff Faraudo
Sunday, March 16th, 2014 at 7:31 pm in Basketball

It was no surprise that the Bears (19-13) were bypassed by the NCAA tournament selection committee Sunday.

Instead, they are a No. 2 seed in the NIT and will host a first-round game Wednesday against Utah Valley (20-11). Tipoff is 7:30 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN3.

“You always keep your fingers crossed,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said, when asked if he held out hope for an NCAA bid. “I think we were one win away from getting in, whether it be the Utah game at home or Colorado in the Pac-12 Tournament.

“I think it was that close. At the end of the day, when you look at it in retrospect, you feel like you really put yourself in a tough spot. We’ve got nobody to blame but ourselves. We had so many opportunities to make it a no-brainer, but we just weren’t able to do that.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Live chat: March Madness, Sunday at 4 p.m.

By Bay Area News Group Blog Editor
Sunday, March 16th, 2014 at 8:52 am in Uncategorized

Have questions about the NCAA Tournament and your brackets? Jon Wilner will provide all the answers during a live chat immediately following Selection Sunday.

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Basketball: Pac-12 tournament roundup

By Jeff Faraudo
Friday, March 14th, 2014 at 8:07 pm in Basketball, Gameday, Pac-12 tournament

Here are semifinal results Friday from the Pac-12 tournament at the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas:

UCLA 84, STANFORD 59: This one was never close. The second-seeded Bruins (25-8) had leads of 9-2, 25-4 and 41-21 in the first half on the way to clinching a spot in Saturday’s title game. Kyle Anderson had 13 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, Norman Powell scored 22 points and Travis Wear made all eight of his shots to score 16.

Stanford (21-12), which essentially clinched its NCAA tournament bid with a win over Arizona State the night before, never threatened the Bruins. Dwight Powell scored 16 points and Chasson Randle had 11.

ARIZONA 63, COLORADO 43: The top-seeded Wildcats (30-3) pulled away in the second half to advance to Saturday’s championship game. Pac-12 Player of the Year Nick Johnson included a SportsCenter-worthy alley-oop dunk among his 16 points. T.J. McConnell had 12 points and five assists and Aaron Gordon filled the stat line with nine points, nine rebounds, three assists, three blocks and three steals.

Askia Booker scored 12 points and Xavier Johnson 11 for the Buffaloes (23-11), who shot just 22.7 percent in the second half and 29.4 percent for the game.

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