Cal Bears basketball with Michael Duca: After two straight wins can Cal take on USC in the Southland tonight?

latimes.com photo: USC head coach Andy Enfield, right, yells at forward Nick Rakocevic during the first half against UCLA on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion

Cal Bears basketball podcast with Michael Duca:

#1 Cal (8-8) has won their last two games that has to be a confidence building in this Pac 12 Conference schedule after the Bears lost the Pac 12 opener against Stanford to start conference play.

#2 The two last wins came over Washington State (10-6)  and Washington (11-6) schools with better records and better offense but Mark Fox has made some changes what changes have you seen by coach Fox.

#3 Coach Fox has said he does depend on scoring from Grant Anitcevich and Matt Bradley and they’ve come through in these last two games.

#4 One of the things that Anticevich brought up was the defense was getting better and better with each game.

#5 The real wake up call will be tonight at USC (13-3) against the Trojans can the Bears handle playing on the USC floor and maybe beat the odds?

Cal Bears podcasts with Michael Duca are heard each Thursday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Cal Bears podcast with Morris Phillips: Cal comes off big win over Washington prepares for tough USC Thursday night

calbears.com photo: The Cal Bears Matt Bradley (20) takes a shot over the Washington Huskies forward Jaden McDaniels (0) on Saturday night at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley

On the Cal Bears podcast with Morris:

#1 How important was this 61-58 win for Cal (8-8) to get under their belts on Saturday night at Haas Pavilion

#2 The Bears had been struggling and they was some concern of when they were going to pick up their first win in the Pac 12

#3 The Washington Huskies (11-6) were the odds on favorites coming in they have had a few more successes than Cal but this was one game when the win loss records were thrown out the window

#4 Three players finished in double digits for Cal on Saturday, Matt Bradley (17 pts), Grant Anticevich (13 pts), and Paris Austin (10)

#5 The USC Trojans (13-3) who have won seven of their last eight games, they beat UCLA in their last game 74-63. USC are Cal’s next opponent how do you see Cal handling the Trojans this Thursday the 16th?

Morris is the Cal Bears beat writer and does the Cal podcast each Monday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

 

Bradley’s Banker In Overtime: Cal defeats Washington with dramatic 3-pointer, 61-58

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY, CA–Winning ugly has a new signature: the dagger three off the bank in the final seconds of overtime.

Cal’s Matt Bradley pulled off the feat in the Bears’ 61-58 win over Washington, and while he didn’t gush over his game-winning basket, coach Mark Fox did.

“It was a thing of beauty,” Fox said. “As hard as he’s worked and as much as he’s bought in, he deserved to have that thing go down.”

Bradley’s basket with seven seconds remaining brought an end to what had to be characterized as an ugly ballgame with both teams failing miserably at the offensive end.

Through the conclusion of regulation, the Huskies and Bears had just 98 combined points, 33 missed 3-point shots, with both teams shooting less than 37 percent from the floor. And Cal managed got to the line for a minuscule, four free throw attempts.

The Huskies had an excuse of sorts in the academic disqualification of point guard Quade Green. In Green’s place, 6’6″ Jamal Bey was promoted to the starting lineup with Oakland’s Elijah Hardy in reserve. When Coach Mike Hopkins looked at the halftime stats and saw his club had seven made baskets and five of those were from three, Hopkins sat Bey and inserted Hardy.

But things didn’t improve much: Washington followed their 20-point first half with 34 percent shooting in the second, including 11 misses on 13 3-point attempts.

Cal was faring much better but primarily due to a spirited defensive effort that neutralized Isaiah Stewart, Washington’s leading scorer, with double teams in the post. Cal’s Andre Kelly deserved most of the credit for stopping Stewart by helping and recovering with great zeal.

But Cal’s 28-20 halftime lead dissipated with nine misses in a ten-shot stretch midway through the second half that allowed the Huskies to climb even with 6:39 remaining. But that would be effectively as close as Washington would come to stealing one from behind. Despite their edge on the glass and some, representative defensive moments of their own, UW simply missed too many shots.

“We had to fight from behind, but I still felt when we went up two we could have made some plays, but we didn’t,” Hopkins said. “We’ve got to finish better. We have to finish games.”

In the final seconds of regulation, Nahziah Carter missed a trio of shots, as did Bradley and Grant Anticevich for Cal. Any of those shots would have forged a final minute lead, but none connected, and the game went to overtime.

In the extra session, Bey’s 3-pointer drew Washington even at 52 with 4:08 remaining. The significance? It would be the Huskies’ final made shot of the game, and their alternative plan to subsist on free throws and defensive rebounds would fall short.

That set the table for Bradley in the final seconds, and as implored by Fox in the previous timeout, the sophomore dribbled up to the top of the key and launched from straight away. The outstretched arm of 6’9″ Jaden Daniels caused Bradley to a quicker, higher release but the shot dropped off the bank setting off a celebration with seconds remaining.

The Bears (8-8, 2-1) have sought improvement in a lot of areas since their 4-0 start devolved into a December of losses, and finally that improvement has surfaced at the defensive end. Beating a talented Huskies team and holding them to a dreadful shooting percentage clearly ranks as Cal’s best win of the season to date.

“We’ve gotten a lot better focusing on defense, just knowing that if our shots aren’t falling we’ll win with defense,” Bradley said. “That kind of proved tonight.”

The Bears travel to Los Angeles this week for meetings with USC on Thursday and UCLA on Sunday afternoon.

 

 

Cal Comes Around: Pac-12 home opening win over WSU, 73-66, ends frustrating stretch for the Bears

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY, CA–For the Cal Bears Thursday night everything went wrong, including the lead up. That included a week of practice that coach Mark Fox said was poor, a couple of players got injured, an uneven shootaround, then the start of the game against Washington State, in which the Bears found themselves doubled up, and trailing by 13.

Talk about making your opponent feel comfortable: in the game’s first 11 1/2 minutes, eight Cougars played, eight Cougars scored, and none took or needed more than three shots to get on the board. WSU led 26-13.

But as quickly as things went wrong, they went right: the Bears finished the half on a 25-5 run and never looked back. Cal’s first win in a month, on the critical occasion of the Pac-12 home opener, 73-66 over WSU, seemingly came out of nowhere.

“It took us a while to calm down, and also it took a while to get our defense to the level it needed to be,” Fox said. “And once we were able to stabilize we clawed out of the hole and played fairly stable the rest of the game.”

Matt Bradley led Cal with a career-best 26 points and 10 rebounds, including a three with less than a minute remaining, that increased Cal’s 69-66 lead to six points. Bradley had a different view of the week’s practices than did Fox, but no one could dispute that Cal’s offensive leader had struggled. Coming in Bradley had slumped, shooting just 38 percent from the field since December 1, and only 25 percent from three.

But against WSU, Bradley started early and finished the Cougars late, making 10 of 14 shots, and coming up with some smart decisions when faced with an array of double teams.

“These last couple of games have been pretty rough for me and my team,” Bradley said. “We’ve been trying to figure out here and there but we had a great week of practice.  The only thing, we said, ‘stay competitive, stay fighting hard, and stay tough.'”

“It’s not all on him,” Fox said of Bradley. “But you love the fact that the guy who’s arguably one of your best players is taking that much responsibility.”

Paris Austin contributed a season-best 17 points for the Bears, and Grant Anticevich added 12. Cal played without Juhwan Harris-Dyson and Jacobi Gordon due to injuries.

Washington State was led by C.J. Elleby with 22 points, and Noah Williams who had 16. Elleby is the son of Bill Elleby, who was a scoring guard for the Bears in the 90’s. The Cougars flamed out after their fast start, turning the ball over 22 times, and allowing 32 points in the paint. The Bears shot 55 percent in the first half, and 51 percent for the game.

Washington State, coming off an impressive, come-from-behind, home win over UCLA faces Stanford on Saturday. The Bears host Washington, who were surprised by Stanford’s closing run in Thursday’s loss.

 

 

Cal Bears podcast with Michael Duca: Bears go for their first Pac 12 conference win tonight against WSU

calbears.com photo

On the Cal Bears podcast with Michael:

#1 It’s been a while since Cal (6-8) played it’s last basketball game on Jan 2nd at Stanford (12-2) in a game they lost 68-52 they’ve had a lot of practices since that game.

#2 Talk about Grant Anticevich and Matt Bradley and what they brought to the offense for Cal

#3 The Bears have struggled in the second half of recent games they are in Pac 12 Conference play what do they have to do differently to right the ship.

#4 Morris was saying in his last game recap and podcast that the Bears in their lacked a shot they need to get their offense up to speed.

#5 Tonight they have Washington State (9-5) at Haas Pavilion is the Cougars a good opportunity to get that first conference win?

Join Michael for Cal Bears basketball podcasts heard each Thursday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Cal Bears podcast with Morris Phillips: After Stanford debacle can Bears right the ship against Wazzu Thursday?

calbears.com photo: Grant Anticevich(15) who led the Cal Bears in scoring last Thursday takes the ball on offense at Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto

On the Cal Bears podcast with Morris:

#1 Like the headline said in your article regarding the Bears (6-8) offense from last Thursday’s game at Stanford (12-2) the Bears simply didn’t have a shot

#2 The two top scorers for Cal against Stanford were Grant Anticevich with 16 and Matt Bradley with 13

#3 It wasn’t even a contest as Stanford took it 68-52 for head coach Mark Fox lots of Xs and Os but trying to get any kind of inside game on the Cardinal seemed to prove fruitless

#4 The Cardinal forced 18 turnovers and the Bears just couldn’t recover from something like that

#5 Pac 12 Conference play continues this Thursday night as Washington State (10-5) comes to Haas Pavilion can the Bears get back in the win column against the Cougars?

Morris Phillips does the Cal Bears basketball podcasts each Monday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

No Shot: Bears’ offense disappears in lopsided Pac-12 opening loss at Stanford

By Morris Phillips

STANFORD, CA–The Stanford Cardinal aren’t physically imposing, blessed with great depth, foot speed or rebounding acumen, but they consistently carry themselves as a formidable defensive team.

So far–with non-conference play complete and the Pac-12 schedule in front of them–their portrayal of themselves holds weight. Stanford ranks 13th (out of 350) nationally, allowing just 58.8 points per game, while forcing opponents into 39 percent shooting from the floor.

On Thursday night at Maples Pavilion against rival Cal, Stanford posted even better numbers in their conference-opening 68-52 drubbing of the visiting Bears. Beyond the points allowed and Cal’s 30 percent shooting for the game, Stanford forced 18 turnovers leaving Cal literally in shambles.

“Our team has had an epidemic of turnovers throughout the year,” said coach Mark Fox. “It wasn’t just tonight, and that’s taking nothing away from Stanford, which has a very good defense. We have to get it fixed.”

Cal started fast, seeing results from their pressure defenses that propelled them to an early 7-2 lead. But as quickly as things came together, they fell apart, as Stanford responded with an 11-0 run and never trailed again.

Daejon Davis led Stanford with 20 points, Tyrell Terry added 14, and Bryce Wills 10, as the Cardinal carried through on their intention to attack the Bears in the paint. An early timeout seemed to get the Cardinal refocused.

“We were literally jacking 3’s and not being aggressive going to the basket,” Davis said.

For the second straight game Cal held the edge on the glass, outrebounding Stanford 41-30, but it mattered little once the Bears’ shots weren’t falling. Leading scorers Matt Bradley and Kareem South fared the worst, missing 18 of their combined 24 shots.

“That’s tough for our team to overcome because we just don’t have a lot of other firepower around (Bradley and South),” Fox said.

The Bears have lost 8 of 10 following their 4-0 start, and have yet to win away from Haas Pavilion. What’s worse was the Bears’ paltry point total. They’ve now matched their season-low in points (52) not once, but twice, also in losses to Santa Clara and Duke.

Cal hosts their Pac-12 home opener on Thursday against Washington State with Washington visiting Berkeley on Saturday.

 

 

 

Cal Bears podcast with Michael Duca: Bears-Cardinal to open Pac 12 regular season tonight

calbears.com photo: The Cal Bears Grant Anticevich (15) show taking ball down court will join the Golden Bears tonight at Stanford to face the Cardinal at Maples Pavilion in NCAA Basketball action

Cal Bears podcast with Michael Duca:

#1 The Cal Bears (6-7) have lost three straight games they go into Stanford to play the Cardinal (11-2) tonight how do see the Bears faring tonight?

#2 Matt Bradley continues to lead the Bears in scoring he finished with 15 points against Harvard on Sun Dec 29th will coach Mark Fox go to Bradley in the lead scoring role.

#3 Kareem South came in second in scoring with 13 points in his last game against Harvard what are some things that coach Fox will look from South tonight against Stanford.

#4 The Cardinal are coming off a tough loss to the Kansas Jayhawks last Sunday they were 11-1 before that game the Cardinal seem to be a force to reckon with

#5 It’s the opener of the Pac 12 season and the Bears at Stanford could actually be a rivalry type game how much does coach Fox look forward to the Pac 12 schedule?

Listen to the Cal Bears basketball podcasts each Thursday with Michael Duca and on Mondays with Morris Phillips

Hibernate? No, More Like Dominate: Bears end season on high note, beat Illini 35-20 in Redbox Bowl

By Morris Phillips

SANTA CLARA, CA–The Illini moved the ball, but the Bears moved the needle, making the majority of the big plays in their 35-20 Redbox Bowl victory over Illinois on Monday at Levi’s Stadium.

The Bears captured their first Bowl victory since the 2015 Armed Forces Bowl win over Air Force, and won eight games in a season for the first time in the last four seasons. Most importantly, they seized momentum heading into what should be a promising 2020 season.

“We talked in the locker room about the 2020 team,” coach Justin Wilcox said. “The expectations should continue to rise. There’s no reason why we can’t expect more of ourselves.”

Cal could return as many as 18 starters in 2020, 10 of those on offense. Chase Garbers previewed the upcoming season with an outstanding performance against Illinois, completing 21 of 31 for 272 yards and four scores, and a rushing touchdown as well. The Bears went as Garbers did in 2019, and the month-long break leading up to Monday’s contest allowed the redshirt sophomore to be healthy and effective, as the Cal offense kept the pressure on Illinois throughout.

Garbers was named the game’s offensive MVP, another honor for the quarterback who scored the winning touchdown in the final minute that broke Cal’s lengthy losing streak to Stanford.

“We knew there would be a lot of opportunities out there,” Garbers said. “The receivers did a great job running the right routes and catching the ball. I just had to put the ball where it’s supposed to be.”

The key play of the game may have come with 25 seconds remaining before halftime, and Cal clinging to a 14-10 lead. On the previous, third down play, Garbers was stuffed at the three-yard line, setting up a fourth down decision.

The Bears elected to go for it, passing on a field goal attempt that could have established a seven-point, halftime lead. Instead, Garbers found Christopher Brown Jr. on a swing pass that put Cal up 11.

The vaunted Cal defense had struggled to that point, allowing scores on Illinois’ first two possessions. But the defense stiffened from that point, allowing just one score–a fourth quarter, Reggie Corbin touchdown run–in the second half with Cal ahead comfortably at that point, 35-13.

All-American linebacker Evan Weaver finished the game with nine tackles, falling short in his bid to break the NCAA record for tackles in a season. Weaver finished with 182, short of Texas Tech’s Lawrence Flugence’s total of 193 established in 2002.

The Bears were outgained in total yards 450-395, but they came up with the big plays, like Zeandae Johnson’s sack and strip of quarterback Brandon Peters that ended Illinois’ initial possession of the second half.  Brown contributed Cal’s lengthiest gainer, a 54-yard run in the first half, but Cal’s scoring plays were all executed in the red zone. Garbers threw touchdown passes covering just 2, 3, 4 and 6 yards.

“Our offensive staff did a great job putting a game plan together and trying to dial it up,” said Wilcox, giving a respectful nod to outgoing offensive coordinator, Beau Baldwin and offensive line coach, Steve Greatwood, who announced his retirement in the days leading up to the game. Baldwin previously was announced as the new head coach at Cal Poly.

The Bears open the 2020 season in Las Vegas against UNLV on August 29 in Allegiant Stadium, the new home of the Raiders and the Rebels.

 

Winter Break Tutorial: Harvard schools Cal on the finer defensive points at Haas, wins 71-63

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY, CA–Harvard visited Haas Pavilion on Sunday. It wasn’t supposed to be the educational experience for the Bears it turned out to be.

Chris Lewis scored 19 points, Christian Juzang had 14 as the Crimson compensated for the absence of leading scorer Bryce Aiken with a strong defensive effort in beating the Cal Bears, 71-63.

Harvard held Cal to 37 percent shooting in the first half, 35 percent for the game and never trailed. The visitors from the Ivy League led by 15 at one point in the second half and were never really threatened. Cal’s one statistical advantage–a 13-3 edge on the offensive glass–was merely a mirage. Often Cal missed shots, rebounded and missed again.

Tommy Amaker, the former Duke star and Harvard’s head coach, loved what he saw from his team defensively.

“Our defense is our calling card for our program,” Amaker said. “We’ve built our program around our defense. Our guys give great effort. We play a lot of players so we should be pretty fresh out there. I would love for us to be able to do that on one end and be a little more efficient on the other end. That’s the goal. But certainly was pleased with the team defensive effort that we gave.”

If losing as a Power 5 to an Ivy League opponent wasn’t disconcerting enough, the Crimson did it in a very un-Ivy League manner. They blocked shots. Harvard turned back 11 Cal shots, seven by their starting posts, 6’8″ Mason Forbes and the 6’9″ Lewis.

Aiken, averaging a team-leading 16.7 ppg, was in a walking boot before the game. Amaker didn’t divulge many details regarding his injury, but he was a surprise scratch. Cal was unaware of Aiken’s unavailability until the opening tap.

The Bears have lost seven of nine after a 4-0 start, and now look to their Pac-12 opener at Stanford on Thursday with the conference’s only losing record (6-7) at this juncture. Eight of the 12 members have lost either twice or three times, including Stanford (11-2). Cal is trying to avoid a third, consecutive season in the Pac-12’s basement.

Defense has been a major issue with the Bears, and it was again Sunday. Harvard shot 57 percent before halftime to jump to 34-24 lead at the break. The offense was absence as mentioned, especially from leading scorer Matt Bradley, who missed 10 of his 14 shots, including all six of 3-point attempts.

“We don’t have a ton of guys who are consistent scorers and so the focus of the defense is going to be geared towards certainly Matt. And he’s going to have to really work to move without the ball, and learn to be more efficient,” head coach Mark Fox explained.

“He’s learning how to play the role of a lead role player, and he’s having to do that on the fly. And there’s a lot that comes with that.”

Bradley led Cal with 15 points. Kareem South added 13, and Grant Anticevich had 12.

Harvard cut Cal off at the point of attack as well. Starting point guard Paris Austin and his backup Joel Brown were a combined 2 of 12 shooting, and compiled just five assists.

Cal opens Pac-12 play with three of their first five on the road with a trip to Los Angeles following a homestand against the Washington schools. Given the Bears’ desire to jump out of the conference basement, their conference home opener against the WSU Cougars is an opportunity not to be missed.

Why? When you’re struggling, you don’t run across too many, beatable opponents. That’s Cal’s reality at the moment.