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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.

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Basketball: USC game thread

Click here for my game story.

FINAL SCORE: USC 71, Cal 57. The Bears (11-5, 1-2 Pac-12) lost for the fourth time in five games after a 10-1 start. Once again, offense was the problem. They finished at 35.4 percent from the field, but were shooting under 30 percent until the final 5 minutes, at which point the Trojans (9-6, 1-2) had a 19-point lead. Cal was 4 for 20 from th3 3-point arc.

Tyrone Wallace scored 21 points — many of them late — and Jordan Mathews added 17.

Cuonzo Martin said he was satisfied first-time starters Roger Moute a Bidias and Kingsley Okoroh contributed enough effort that he intends to start them again Sunday against UCLA. Moute a Bidias had four points, six rebounds, two assists and three turnovers in 25 minutes, and Okoroh had four points, six rebounds and three turnovers in 22 minutes.

David Kravish got into early foul trouble and finished with just eight points on 4 for 12 from the field, to go with seven rebounds.

7:45 2nd H: USC 55, Cal 43. Cal running out of time. Jovanovic, who has 14 points, has scored in the lane three times in the past four minutes. Kravish, with three fouls, cannot challenge him.

11:20 2nd H: USC 46, Cal 37. The Bears got within seven points when Wallace scored on a drive. But he missed the ensuing FT and Nikola Jovanovic answered with a shot from the lane for the Trojans.

14:58 2nd H: USC 42, Cal 31. The Bears scored on their first possession of the half, but are shooting 1 for 11 in the period. The two teams have combined to miss their past 13 attempts from the field. Cal at 11 for 40 (27.5 percent) for the game.

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Basketball: Bears need offensive lift vs. USC

The two least efficient offenses in the Pac-12 collide Wednesday night at the Galen Center in Los Angeles when Cal (11-4, 1-1) meets USC (8-6, 0-2).

Something has to give.

Tipoff is 8 p.m. on ESPNU.

The Trojans, who rank last in the conference in scoring, 3-point accuracy and free throw accuracy, and 11th in field-goal percentage, are 219th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency, according to statistician Ken Pomeroy. USC averages just 98.3 points per 100 possessions.

But Cal isn’t much better off, ranked 192th at 99.9 points per 100 possessions.

For purposes of comparison, Duke leads the nation at 122.0.

When you consider that the Bears are 43rd nationally in adjusted defense, allowing just 92.7 points per 100 possessions, it’s clear their problems are primarily on the offense end.

Cal started the season 10-1, with only a loss to Texas. But the Bears have dropped three of their past four games, including to Cal State Bakersfield and Washington State — both of those at home.

Although the Bears give up six more points per game in their defeats than in their victories, their offense has been the primary culprit. The disparity there is much greater: 73.2 points in wins, just 57.3 in losses.

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Football: Dykes’ statement on coaching exits

Cal coach Sonny Dykes on Tuesday night issued a statement on the departure of assistant coaches Rob Likens and Zach Yenser to positions on the staff at Kansas:

“We wish Rob Likens and Zach Yenser all the best as they enter the next phase of their coaching careers. It is a compliment to your football program when other teams find the coaches on your staff to be attractive hires.

“Throughout the past two seasons Rob and Zach have made many important contributions to our football program, helping it grow both on and off the field, and their efforts helped build a strong foundation for success.

“As always, we will look to continue to hire quality people that are both effective coaches and recruiters. We will fill the positions as quickly as our university process allows with coaches that are the right fit for our program, and share in our philosophy of recruiting and developing the entire student-athlete to ensure success on the field, in the classroom and in the community.”

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Football: Cal’s staff salaries near bottom of Power 5

Former Cal assistant coaches Rob Likens and Zach Yenser got promotions in their new assignments at Kansas.

They also, no doubt, got pay raises.

Likely hefty ones.

At Cal, Likens and Yenser were part of an assistants staff whose combined salaries in 2014 ranked last among the Pac-12 Conference’s 10 public universities and second-to-last among all schools in the Power 5 leagues whose figures are public, according to the USA Today’s annual coaching salary survey.

Stanford and USC, as private schools, are not required to reveal their salary figures.

But it’s safe to say the assistant coaches at both schools are compensated better than those on coach Sonny Dykes’ staff. Cal’s combined staff salary was $2,081,600 – about $1.7 million less than UCLA’s aides are paid — and lower than both Oregon State and Washington State.

Likens, who went from assistant head coach/passing game coordinator at Cal to offensive coordinator at KU, earned $135,500 in 2014. Yenser, promoted from offensive line coach in Berkeley to O-line/run game coordinator at KU, made $111,500 last season.

In Lawrence, Kan., where the cost of living is a fraction of what it is in the Bay Area, whatever paychecks Likens and Yenser collect will go a lot further.

If Cal wants to retain assistant coaches — thus establishing stability on Saturdays in the fall and in recruiting — it will have to find a way to compensate them in a way they keeps them from leaving town.

Here’s how Pac-12 schools rank among assistant coaches salaries (with their national ranking in parenthesis):

  1. UCLA (7)  $3,762,500
  2. Oregon  (15)  $3,277,584
  3. Washington  (17)  $3,250,032
  4. Arizona St. (23)  $3,111,620
  5. Colorado (36)  $2,595,500
  6. Arizona (38)  $2,498,650
  7. Utah (40)  $2,420,000
  8. Oregon St. (42)  $2,347,200
  9. Washington St. (44)  $2,309,124
  10. Cal (52) $2,081,600

It’s hardly surprising that LSU ($5,499,269) and Alabama ($5,213,400) of the Southeastern Conference top the national list.

But here’s a shocker: Only North Carolina (54th at $2,051,667) resides lower in the national rankings than Cal, among schools from the Power 5 conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC).

And get this: The Bears’ assistants are paid less than those at Army, which is No. 43 at $2,326,450.

Note: The USA Today survey does not include information for 13 schools from the Power 5 leagues — Baylor, Boston College, Duke, Miami, Northwestern, Penn State, Pitt, Stanford, Syracuse, Texas Christian, USC, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.

 

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Football: WR Chris Harper to enter NFL draft; O-line coach Zech Yenser follows Rob Likens to Kansas

Cal junior wide receiver Chris Harper announced Tuesday he will forgo his final season of college football to enter the NFL draft as a second assistant on coach Sonny Dykes’ staff was hired away by Kansas.

Offensive line coach Zach Yenser, whose unit made significant strides last fall, will become offensive line coach and run-game coordinator for the Jayhawks, according to multiple reports.

Yenser follows assistant head coach Rob Likens, who was named offensive coordinator for Kansas.

A Cal spokesman said Dykes had no immediate comment on the departure of the two assistant coaches.

KU has not officially announced the hiring of Yenser, but new Jayhawks coach David Beaty had praise for Likens.

“Rob has been a major player in some of the best offenses in the history of college football,” he said. “I have always been a fan of Rob’s ability to develop players who produce at a high level. Rob has learned from some of the best in the country and is as fine of an offensive mind as I have been around. Rob is a man of integrity and character and I cannot wait for our team to be able to benefit from his wisdom.”

Harper, a 5-foot-11, 175-pounder from Northridge, caught 52 passes for 634 yards and six touchdowns last fall. He had 70 receptions as a sophomore and leaves Cal with career totals of 163 catches for 2,030 yards and 13 TDs.

Harper released the following statement.

“Dear Cal Fans,

After having many talks with my family, mentors and coaches I have decided that declaring for the NFL Draft was best for me at this time. Millions of different thoughts and prayers have been put into this educated decision which is why I have decided to enter the draft. These past three years have definitely been some of the best and most memorable years of my life with regards to football, my education, and the endless relationships that I’ve built with my teammates, coaches, ex-coaches and classmates.

“I want to personally take the time out to give a huge thank you to coach Tedford who gave me the opportunity to be a Bear when my offers were very slim and at a time when other collegiate coaches didn’t believe in me. I also want to say thank you to Sonny Dykes and the current coaching staff who gave me the opportunities that were given on the field, and especially to coach Likens who I formed a close bond with in my last season as a Bear. I love everything that Cal had to offer pertaining to football, education and the great culture of the city of Berkeley. I love all of the die-hard Bear fans that made my experience at Cal unforgettable because of their persistent support towards all of us not only when we won but also when we were at our lowest.

“I appreciate everything Cal has done for me and the unbreakable bonds that I’ve formed with so many of my teammates and want to give a last thank you to everyone involved in my success.”

Dykes thanked Harper for his contributions and wished him well in the NFL.

“We look forward to watching his continued success at the next level as he pursues his dream of playing in the NFL and joins a long list of Cal players who have been successful in the league,” Dykes said in a statement.

Harper was part of a deep corps of Cal wide receivers that also includes expected returnees Bryce Treggs, Kenny Lawler, Stephen Anderson, Trevor Davis and Darius Powe. The Bears also redshirted highly rated freshman wideout Erik Brown last fall.

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Basketball: Ex-Cal coach Bozeman back in Bay Area

Todd Bozeman is in his ninth season as the coach at Morgan State, which is far from the center of the college basketball world in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. His team carries a 2-13 record into its game Tuesday night at Saint Mary’s College.

In the blur of a magical season 22 years ago at Cal, Bozeman never imagined his life today.

“Sometimes people act like it was yesterday, but that was so long ago,” he recalled recently. “When my daughter looks at pictures, she says, ‘Dad, you look like one of the players.’ ”

It was 1993 and Bozeman was living large. Named Cal’s interim coach in January of that season, he helped direct Jason Kidd and the Golden Bears to an upset of two-time defending national champion Duke in the NCAA tournament.

At 29, Bozeman was the youngest head coach ever in the Sweet 16.

“I actually thought I would be at Cal for a long time and then maybe go to the NBA. That was my aspiration,” he said. “I didn’t think of leaving Cal. I always thought it was a great place.”

But Bozeman betrayed that relationship and was fired by Cal after the 1996 season for paying $30,000 to the father of a player he recruited to Berkeley. The NCAA responded harshly, banning him from working in the college game for eight years.

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Football: Likens to leave for Kansas OC post

Cal assistant head coach and passing game coordinator Rob Likens will be hired as the new offensive coordinator at Kansas, the Lawrence Journal-World reported Monday night.

Likens, 48, also coached outside receivers for the Bears.

The Journal-World cited a source with knowledge of the Kansas coaching staff.

Likens is joining the staff of new KU head coach David Beaty, hired last month from Texas A&M, where he spent three seasons as wide receivers coach.

Likens contributed to a Cal offense that set a variety of school records last fall, including total passing yards (3,977).

Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin coaches Cal’s quarterbacks and calls plays for head coach Sonny Dykes’ fast-tempo, no-huddle “Bear Raid” offense.

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Basketball: Cal-WSU game thread

Click here for my game story.

FINAL SCORE: WSU 69, Cal 66. A terrible loss for the Bears (11-4, 1-1), on the heels of their upset of No. 21 Washington two nights earlier.  Their seven-game homestand ends with ghastly losses to Cal State Bakersfield and WSU sandwiching a victory over Washington that seemed like it might propel them to big things.

Cal shot just 38 percent against the league’s worst defensive team, their last hope of a comeback evaporating when Jordan Mathews’ 35-foot shot missed at the horn.

It got interesting when WSU’s Ike Iroegbu called a timeout the Cougars did not have with 2.7 seconds left while trying to inbound the ball. A technical foul was called and Mathews made two free throws, pulling Cal within 68-66. DaVonte Lacy then made the second of two free throws with 1.1 seconds left and Mathews missed at the buzzer.

The Cougars (7-7, 1-1), who hadn’t won a Pac-12 road game since Jan. 26, 2013 at Oregon State, dominated in the paint. Josh Hawkinson, a 6-foot-10 sophomore forward, had 18 points and 10 rebounds and 7-foot redshirt senior Jordan Railey scored a career-best 17. Railey came into the game averaging 4.4 points.

Mathews, who scored 31 points in Cal’s 81-75 win over No. 21 Washington two days earlier, had 18 of his 24 in the second half against the Cougars. Tyrone Wallace added 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists, but shot 4 for 14 from the field. Senior David Kravish, coming off a career-high 21 points against UW, scored six points and shot 2 for 9.

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Basketball: Bears try to complete weekend sweep

The Bears (11-3, 1-0 Pac-12) close out a seven-game homestand Sunday with a 3 p.m. matchup against Washington State (6-7, 0-1). The game will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks.

The Cougars jumped out to an 8-0 lead at Stanford on Friday, then imploded in a 71-56 loss. WSU missed 15 free throws to undermine a game early effort.

The Cougars are 0-5 in road games this season and have not won a conference road game since a 71-68 victory at Oregon State on Jan. 26, 2013 – nearly two years ago.

Cal, meanwhile, is coming off an 81-75 win over No. 21 Washington in which sophomore guard Jordan Mathews scored 31 points to miss his career high by a single point.

That victory elevated the Bears’ RPI from No.113 to No. 86. WSU resides at No. 204 according to the computer.

The Cougars’ six wins come over teams with a combined record of 32-46, while Cal has beaten 11 teams with a combined mark of 79-73.

WSU is led by senior guard DaVonte Lacy, who averages 16.6 points but is coming off a nine-point effort at Stanford. He has twice scored 31 in a game this season.

The surprise for first-year coach Ernie Kent is 6-foot-10 sophomore Josh Hawkinson, who has improved his scoring average from 1.2 points a year ago to 15.3. He had 11 points and 15 rebounds against Stanford, but shot 0 for 6 from the field.

Hawkinson leads the Pac-12 in rebounding at 10.8 per game, although the Cougars are last in the conference in rebounding margin.

They’re also last in scoring defense, last in field-goal percentage defense, 3-point defense and turnover margin.

*****

Elsewhere in the Pac-12 on Saturday: Oregon (11-3) rode 27 points from Joseph Young to a 71-59 home victory over Oregon State (9-4) in the conference opener for both teams.

Sunday’s schedule:

USC at Colorado, 11 a.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
UCLA at No. 10 Utah, 1 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
Arizona State at No. 8 Arizona, 4 p.m. (FoxSports1)
No. 21 Washington at Stanford, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)