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Basketball: Previewing the attack-mode Bears

The buzzword heading into Cal’s maiden season under coach Cuonzo Martin: Attack.

“I think we’re going to be on the attack on offense,” senior forward David Kravish said this week. “We definitely have sets, but attacking and getting the other team on their heels is a big component of our offense.”

Added point guard Tyrone Wallace: “For the most part, we’re trying to attack, attack. I think it’s different than before. With Monty, we were a little more half court. With this coaching staff, they want us attacking at all times.”

Martin said that aggressive approach is what this team needs to be successful, beginning Friday when the Bears open their season at home against Alcorn State in the 2K Classic.

“It’s just what you hear every day. If a player hears it every day, that’s what it is. With you saying it, it becomes a part of the DNA, so to speak,” Martin said. “Attack means at both ends of the floor. You have to be aggressive, you have to be assertive.”

Here are a few things worth dissecting as the opener approaches:

* POINT GUARD: Wallace has won the job because he’s more aggressive than sophomore Sam Singer, who will come off the bench for now. And he’s the player on the team most capable of taking the ball all the way to the rim.

Martin said the 6-foot-6 junior, who had eight assists and one turnover in two exhibition games, has done a nice job so far.

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Football: Cal vs. USC facts

CAL AT USC

RECORDS: Cal 5-4, 3-4 in Pac-12; USC 6-3, 5-2.

KICKOFF: 6 p.m. Thursday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

TV: ESPN; RADIO: 810-AM

SERIES HISTORY: USC leads 66-30-5. USC won 62-28 last season and has won 10 straight in the series. Cal’s most recent victory in Los Angeles was in 2000.

STORYLINES: Cal needs one win in its final three games to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2011. A victory over USC would accomplish that and prevent the Trojans from matching their longest-ever wins streak of 11 games (1959-69) over the Bears. . . . Cal hopes to continue a conference-wide trend of success by visiting teams in Pac-12 games. Road teams are 26-13 in conference games, including Cal’s 2-1 record. . . . The Bears expect to have their receiving corps intact for the first time in three weeks with the likely return of Kenny Lawler and Trevor Davis. . . . This is only the second non-Thanksgiving, regular-season game the Trojans have played on a Thursday at the L.A. Coliseum.

INJURY UPDATE: Cal – DE Brennan Scarlett (knee) is out. S Avery Sebastian (quadriceps), WR Trevor Davis (neck) and WR Kenny Lawler (ankle) will play. USC – S John Plattenburg (thigh) is doubtful. FB Soma Vainuku (hamstring) and S Leon McQuay III (shoulder) are probable. LB Su’a Cravens (ankle) will play.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Cal cornerbacks Cedric Dozier and Cam Walker vs. USC receivers Nelson Agholor and JuJu Smith. The Bears — allowing NCAA-worst marks of 376.4 passing yards per game and 33 touchdown passes — will be challenged by the size and skill of Cody Kessler’s primary targets. Agholor, 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, and freshman Smith, 6-2, 210, have combined for 104 catches for 1,364 yards and 13 touchdowns. That will be a stiff test for Dozier and Walker, neither of them 6 feet tall.

STATS THAT MATTER: Jared Goff, with 27 touchdown passes this season, needs one to move even with Kyle Boller (2002) for second on Cal’s single-season list. Pat Barnes (1996) holds the school record with 31. . . . Junior RB Daniel Lasco has scored at least one touchdown in each of Cal’s past eight games. . . . USC junior RB Buck Allen, the Pac-12′s leading rusher with 1,124 yards, has a streak of six consecutive 100-yard rushing performances. He had 135 yards and scored three touchdowns against Cal last year, and is on pace to become USC’s first conference rushing leader since 1989.

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Football: It’s all on the line for Cal, USC

Cal’s struggles against USC — a current 10-game losing streak and only four road victories since 1958 — aren’t primarily the work of O.J. Simpson, Marcus Allen and Carson Palmer.

“The skill position players win the Heisman Trophies,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. “But you look at their history and they’ve always had good offensive and defensive lines. That’s how they’ve built their program over the years.”

Those are the battles the Bears (5-4, 3-4 Pac-12) must win Thursday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum if they hope to topple the Trojans (6-3, 5-2) in a game that could earn Cal bowl eligibility for the first time in three seasons.

“We’ve got to bring the fight to them. It’s a big challenge for the offensive and defensive lines,” Cal defensive tackle Mustafa Jalil said. “I’m 100 percent confident in our team. We’re ready to come down and get some of that Trojan.”

It won’t be easy. It never is against the Trojans, who feed the NFL a consistent diet of talented linemen.

Eighteen USC alums are playing on NFL lines. Since 1970, the school has produced 26 linemen drafted in the first round.

The current Trojans measure up nicely to that legacy. Dykes called junior center Max Tuerk “one of the best linemen I’ve seen.” Junior defensive end Leonard Williams is projected by CBS Sports as the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NFL draft.

Click here for the rest of this story.

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Basketball: A full plate Friday on Pac-12 Networks

Ten Pac-12 basketball teams will make their season debuts on Friday, and the Pac-12 Networks is making all of them available to fans for free on a one-time basis via their Full Court Friday programming on Pac-12.com.

Cal’s opener against Alcorn State at Haas Pavilion is part of the coverage that will start with a pre-game show at 4:30 p.m. and run until midnight.

Twenty-four on-air personalities, including former Cal coaches Mike Montgomery and Ben Braun and ex-Stanford star Casey Jacobsen, will be at 10 sites or in the Pac-12 Networks’ studio in San Francisco.

Mike Yam, Lamar Hurd and Kevin O’Neill will present the pre-game show and will return at about 11 p.m. for a post-game wrapup show. In between,  the 10 games will be aired in three different windows, at 5, 7 and 9 p.m. Ashley Adamson will bring viewers “whip-around” coverage of five games in the 7 p.m. slow.

Here are the game matchups:

At 5 p.m.: Mount St. Mary’s at Arizona and Drexel at Colorado.

At 7 p.m.: Chicago State at Arizona State, Alcorn State at Cal (J.B. Long and Montgomery), Rice at Oregon State (Rich Burk and Braun), Ball State at Utah and South Carolina at Washington.

At 9 p.m.: Coppin State at Oregon, Wofford at Stanford (Ted Robinson and Jacobseb) and Montana State at UCLA.

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Football: Will Cal play chicken in bowl season?

The San Francisco Bowl, formerly known as the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, has a new title sponsor and name: The Foster Farms Bowl.

In its 13th season overall, the Foster Farms Bowl is of potential interest to Cal fans because it will pair teams from the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences on Tuesday, Nov. 30 at Levi’s Stadium.

Cal needs one more victory to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2011.

Gary Cavalli, co-founder and executive director of the Foster Farms Bowl, said the game’s mission remains the same.

“Even though the game will no longer be called the ‘Fight Hunger Bowl’ we will continue our initiatives to fight hunger in the Bay Area,” Cavalli said. “Every ticket sold to the game is a ‘meal ticket’ for a hungry family in the Bay Area, generating donations to our partner organizations – Glide, St. Anthony’s, SF-Marin Food Bank, Alameda County Community Food Bank, and Second Harvest Food Bank.”

The previous 12 games in the bowl series all were played at AT&T Park.

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Basketball: Why the college game struggles in Bay Area

BANG colleague Jon Wilner and I write about why college basketball in the Bay Area isn’t more popular.

Click here to read our story.

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Bay Area attendance figures 

The average attendance for the six Bay Area Division I men’s basketball teams last season, arena capacity and all-time record attendance:

• Cal – Average attendance last season: 7,774. Haas Pavilion capacity: 11,877. Record attendance: 10,839 per game average in 2003-04.

• Stanford – Last season: 5,111. Maples Pavilion capacity: 7,391. Record attendance: 7,391 in 1999-00.

• Saint Mary’s – Last season: 2,654. McKeon Pavilion capacity: 3,500. Record attendance: 3,236 in 2008-98.

• USF – Last season: 2,023. War Memorial Gym capacity: 5,300. Record attendance: 5,207 in 1976-77.

• San Jose State – Last season: 1,772. Event Center capacity: 5,000. Record attendance: 3,012 in 1996-97.

• Santa Clara – Last season: 1,719. Leavey Center capacity: 4,500. Record attendance: 4,141 in 1995-96.

Note: Stanford’s record attendance reflects only figures since 1999-2000.

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NCAA basketball attendance decline

A look at NCAA Division I men’s basketball average attendance in selected seasons since figures first were compiled in 1976:

• 1975-76 — Average attendance: 4,759. Schools playing Division I basketball: 235

• 1979-80 — Average: 5,217. Division I teams: 261

• 1989-90 — Average: 5,643. Teams: 292

• 1990-91 — Average: 5,735*. Teams: 295

• 1999-00 — Average: 5,386. Teams: 318

• 2009-10 — Average: 5,245. Teams: 334

• 2013-14 — Average: 5,014. Teams: 345

* All-time record

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Basketball: Bears set to start same 5 in opener

Met today with Cal basketball coach Cuonzo Martin, who confirmed the Bears will start the same five players in Friday’s season opener against Alcorn State.

Those five are: forward David Kravish, forward Christian Berhens, guard Jabari Bird, guard Jordan Mathews and point guard Tyrone Wallace.

Martin also said freshman guard Brandon Chauca remains on the shelf while the NCAA clearinghouse checks on his eligibility. Martin declined to reveal the nature of what the NCAA is investigating. Chauca worked on the side during Tuesday’s practice.

Will have more on the Bears before Friday’s game at Haas Pavilion.

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Football: Ex-Cal star Mebane out for NFL season

Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane will miss the rest of the season for the Seattle Seahawks after being placed on injured reserve Tuesday with a hamstring injury.

The move was expected after coach Pete Carroll said Monday that the injury suffered in Seattle’s 38-17 win over the Giants was “legit.” The team had been waiting for additional results.

Fox Sports first reported that Mebane suffered a torn hamstring. The loss of the Cal product is a blow to Seattle’s run defense, which ranks fourth in the league at 79.8 yards per game. Mebane has also been in on the most snaps of any of Seattle’s defensive tackles.

Mebane appeared to have been hurt early in the second quarter while chasing down a wide receiver screen. Eli Manning completed a short pass for Reuben Randle and Mebane appeared to grab at the back of his right leg while running after him.

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Basketball: Ivan Rabb won’t be signing Wednesday

Courtesy of Phil Jensen, who covers preps for our staff, here’s an update on Bishop O’Dowd HS five-star forward Ivan Rabb, who said he won’t be picking a school during the NCAA early signing period, which begins Wednesday and runs through Nov. 19.

“I’m just not ready to sign yet,” Rabb said. “I’m not sure where I want to go yet.”

Click here for the full story.

Cal, which is on Rabb’s final five list, is not expected to announce any signings Wednesday.

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Football: Dykes chuckles at silly idea of the day

Sonny Dykes said after practice Tuesday he had not heard about Yahoo! columnist Pat Forde’s published speculation that Dykes might an interested candidate for the vacant Southern Methodist University job.

One year after talk that Dykes’ job at Cal was in jeopardy because of a 1-11 maiden season, he’s now being mentioned as a possible candidate elsewhere.

“That’s how it goes,” Dykes said. “You’re either on one list or the other.”

In defense of Forde, I guess when you’ve got to make 40 (Forde) points in your column, you’re bound to have a couple that don’t have much basis in reality.

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