Arizona Uber Alles: No. 3 Wildcats rude guests in runaway, 96-71 win

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY, CA–Cal fans showed up, and Coach Mark Fox left early. Talk about both being out of character.

No. 3 Arizona has a way of leaving opponents, and others, twisted. The Wildcats are that good, that devastating, reference their wire-to-wire, 96-71 win on Sunday afternoon at Haas Pavilion.

“If you look at the completeness of their team with multiple bigs, terrific shooting, an outstanding wing, depth, they are playing like the best team,” Fox admitted. “Their margins of victory.. like today was obviously big, but that’s what it’s been. They’ve been dominant.”

Arizona (16-1,6-0) hit the gas so quickly, skid marks could be seen near the Haas entry ways. They led 17-3, 34-16 and 46-26 a minute after Fox lost his composure, drawing a second technical and an ejection. Cal’s Jordan Shepherd missed his first seven shots, and the Bears misfired on five attempts from distance, part of 7 for 30 shooting to start that left them in a big hole.

“It’s what you hope for on the road, that you come out and from start to finish your team is solid and they execute the plan,” first-year Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “We did a really good job of dictating what they were doing on the offensive end, and then on our end of the floor getting into our movement.”

Talent? The Wildcats have it abundance. Their top eight scorers–with Bennedict Mathurin (17.3 ppg) leading, and Pelle Larsson (6.4) trailing–are all capable of big scoring nights, when needed, on demand. Against Cal, Mathurin struggled (3 of 9 from the floor) as Christian Koloko took over the paint (19 points, 13 rebounds) in the absence of 6′ 11″ Azoulas Tubelis, Arizona’s second leading scorer. Larsson got a turn in the starting lineup and was impressive on both ends. He finished with nine points and two assists in 21 minutes.

Cal’s shrewd plan to get Shepherd going from the perimeter first to then provide space for Andre Kelly and opportunities for Grant Anticevich was immediately foiled. Arizona’s length at the guard spots and quick feet defensively bothered Cal like 16 Wildcats opponents were bothered before.

With assistant Chris Harriman directing the club, the Bears benefitted from Arizona’s careless ball handling to open the second half, but the visitors’ transition game kicked in and Cal trailed 66-40 with 12:56 remaining.

Shepherd led Cal (9-10, 2-6) with 21 points, rebounding from his scoreless start. Kelly and Makale Foreman added eight points each.

The Bears have dropped five straight, three straight at home, with three, tough road games to follow. The Bears have yet to win a road game this season, losing all four to date.

UCLA looms as Cal’s next opponent on Thursday, the Bears’ opportunity to display all the wisdom gleaned from a 60-52 loss on January 8 in Berkeley. The problem is the No. 9 Bruins aren’t coming off a three-week break due to COVID this time, and are unlikely to start sluggishly playing at home.

WE STAYED. COACH YOU HAVE TO STAY TOO: All season, coach Mark Fox has wanted to combine his team’s hustle and flow with an intimidating, loud Haas Pavilion atmosphere. COVID has disrupted his plans, from the canceled and rescheduled games to the stringent vaccination requirements for fans in the building.

Sunday’s gathering of 7,582 represented a breakthrough for attendance this season, despite the hastily arranged gametime layered on top of some pretty, compelling nationally-televised NFL games. But when the game turned lopsided soon after it began, the fans never got a chance to make their presence felt.

Fox had his hand on the proceedings, but he let the referees get involved contrary to the coach’s better judgment.

“My frustration wasn’t just about tonight. My frustration was (about) some things that built up to it,” he said. “The official decided, like in third grade, to instigate a staring contest and, like in third grade, I took the bait and got my second technical and put our team in a tough spot.”

Fox picked up his initial technical two minutes before the second. Afterwards, he framed his actions as positive, saying “if I have to lead the fight, sign me up.”

Others might say his actions weren’t a sign of leadership. Regardless of how his actions were perceived, he’s got two bigger issues, only one that enhances his future in Berkeley: he’s maintained team unity and focus under the most trying of circumstances, but Fox has not reached the baseline for recruiting in a conference driven by talent as much as exemplary coaching.

Cal Bears basketball podcast with Morris Phillips: Bears in the Southland on Thursday to face tough nemesis UCLA; Cal looking to end 5 game skid

Arizona Wildcats guard Bennedict Mathurin (0) Arizona’s leading scorer with guard Kerr Kriisa (25) share a handshake at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley defeating the Cal Bears on Sun Jan 23, 2022 (photo from the Arizona Wildcats)

On the Cal basketball podcast:

#1 Morris from wire to wire the Arizona Wildcats (16-1) were just having their way with the basketball and the Cal Bears (9-10) for a 96-71 win. On offense Benedict Mathurin led the Wildcats in scoring. Mathurin like most of his teammate was getting some nice chances today.

#2 On the Cal defense frustrating getting them to stop the Wildcats inside game hence the kind of success led by Mathurin getting his way on many of his shots.

#3 Morris during the game you mentioned Jordan Shepherd had a tough time getting out of the gate he eventually led Cal in scoring but for most of the game was the only player in double figures.

#4 Morris, talk a little bit about the Cal offense try as hard as they may guys like Andre Kelly and Joel Brown were in single digits for most of the game and Arizona knew about guys like these to shut their game down.

#5 Cal head coach Mark Fox got a pair of technicals and ejected from the game talk about the ejection and how much that impacted Cal’s game.

#6 It’s back to the drawing board for Cal as it’s onto the Southland and the UCLA Bruins (13-2) on Thu Jan 27th at Pauley Pavilion. The last time Cal faced the Bruins in Berkeley on Jan 8th the Bruins were the clear winners 60-52. After getting a dose of the Wildcats on Sunday can Cal come back and make a game of it on Thursday night?

Join Morris Phillips for the Cal Bears basketball podcasts at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Stanford Cardinal podcast with Daniel Dullum: Arizona is just an unstoppable school; Stanford crushed by Wildcats 85-57

Arizona guard Dalen Terry (4) pushes the drive to the basket against Stanford forward Brandon Angel (23) at Maple Pavilion Thu Jan 20, 2022 (AP News photo)

On the Cardinal podcast with Daniel:

#1 Daniel, there was very little doubt that the Stanford Cardinal (10-6) were going to expect trouble out of the visiting Arizona Wildcats (15-1) at Maples Pavilion on Thursday night in a crushing 85-57 defeat.

#2 Daniel talk about the Wildcats leading scorer Oumar Ballo who was balling against the Cardinal with a team leading 21 points.

#3 After scoring a team high Arizona guard Azuolas Tubelis who had 32 points against the Utah Utes last Saturday got shutdown by the Cardinal allowing Tubelis with only four points but five other Wildcat players got into double figures.

#4 The loss is Stanford’s second in a row they lost to the Washington Huskies (8-7) and the Thursday night loss to the Wildcats. Should these two consecutive loses be cause of concern for Cardinal head coach Jerod Haase?

#5 Arizona State (6-9) has lost three of their last four games but won their last game they have played defeating Utah (8-10) by two points on Monday 64-62. ASU comes calling at Stanford this Sat Jan 22 for an 8:00 pm PST tip. Tell us how you see this match up?

Join Daniel for the Stanford Cardinal basketball podcasts Fridays at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

No. 3 Arizona dominates cold-shooting Cardinal 85-57

Arizona center Oumar Ballo (11) is fouled by Stanford forward Brandon Angel, top, at Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto on Thu Jan 20, 2022 (AP News photo)

By Daniel Dullum
Thursday, January 20, 2022

Arizona lived up to its billing as the No. 3 men’s basketball team in the nation on Thursday, routing Stanford 85-57 in Pac-12 play at Maples Pavilion.

Oumar Ballo, a transfer from Gonzaga, was the Wildcats’ leading scorer with 21 points, hitting 7 of 8 field goals and 7 of 9 free throws. Ballo also had six rebounds and two blocks.

Pelle Larsson and Bennedict Mathurin scored 13 points each for the Wildcats, followed by Justin Kier with 11 points, and Dalen Terry with 10 points and nine boards. Kerr Kriisa finished with seven assists, and Larsson had six assists.

Spencer Jones and Maxime Raynaud each scored nine points to lead Stanford (10-6 overall, 3-3 Pac-12), with Jaiden Delaire and Michael O’Connell next with eight points apiece. Harrison Ingram was the Cardinal’s top rebounder with seven.

The Wildcats (15-1 overall, 5-0 Pac-12) used a 16-5 run in the first 10 minutes of the first half to pull away early, as Arizona eventually built a 42-31 halftime lead.

At 13:41 of the second half, Ballo made a free throw to cap an 18-5 run by Arizona to open the second half and pull away for good.

While Arizona shot 55 percent (31 of 56), the Cardinal hit only 30 percent (21 of 70) from the field. Stanford, which was 8 of 15 on free throws, outrebounded the Wildcats 41-31. Arizona forced 17 Cardinal turnovers, and the Wildcats bench outscored Stanford’s 45-26.

The Cardinal host Arizona State on Saturday at 8 p.m. PST.

Cal Bears basketball podcast with Michael Duca: Cal hopes to put an end to four game losing streak Sunday against Arizona

The Cal Bears will really have to be on their A game on Sun Jan 23, 2022 against the Arizona Wildcats at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley and Wildcats’ Azuolas Tubelis their leading scorer (Arizona Sports file photo)

On the Cal Bears basketball podcast with Michael:

#1 Michael it’s a tall order game’s at home at Haas Cal Bears (9-9) are coming off a four game losing streak and host one of the Pac 12’s hottest teams the Arizona Wildcats (14-1) No.2 ranked in the nation on Sunday at noon.

#2 In preparation of the game Cal head coach Mark Fox will be pushing what are some of the things that he’ll need to push against Arizona?

#3 Arizona in their last game crushed the Utah Utes (8-9) 82-64 the Wildcats have been getting great offense help from leading scorer Azuolas Tubelis who scored 32 points to Arizona to the win over the Utes.

#4 Cal will be really leaning on their key offensive scorers in this one Grant Anticevich, Jordan Shepherd and Andre Kelly can they help against the rugged Arizona defense?

#5 All week long it’s been Arizona this and Wildcats that and Cal virtually has been left out of the conversation is there any chance the Bears can change that momentum on Sunday?

Join Michael for the Cal basketball podcasts Thursdays and Morris Phillips Mondays at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Everything’s Different, Geno’s the Same: 37 years later, Connecticut’s Auriemma still pursuing titles

By Morris Phillips

EUGENE, OR–Under these relentless circumstances, and unprecedented personnel issues, only one coach could pull an NCAA title out of his hat.

One. Geno Auriemma, the iconic Connecticut coach, unyielding, principled and funny as ever, now in his 37th year at Storrs.

But first Auriemma needs January to end, and maybe February too. In front of a respectful, but blood thirsty crowd of 9,439, and a national television audience, Auriemma’s Huskies got embarrassed, losing 72-59 at Oregon after they trailed by as many as 24. Missing a pair of All-Americans, Christyn Williams and Paige Bueckers, and a third, transcendent recruit that might grow to become one of the 10 best players ever to play UConn, Azzi Fudd, the Huskies were shorthanded, and their social media star power severely paired.

“It’s another unfortunate blow to an already challenging season and especially when I thought Christyn’s game was playing at a real high level and she had put together a bunch of really good games,” Auriemma said. “It’s another punch in the gut for our team, for everybody.”

Fudd and Bueckers, in a lengthy leg brace, were in attendance and got some playful shots up in the pre-game warm-ups. Williams was not. Expected to play, she was effectively banished when her latest tests landed her in COVID protocols and on a plane alone back to Connecticut. The announcement was a made a mere four hours before tip.

The resurgent Ducks took full advantage, adding a second win over a Top 10 opponent in three days, after they outlasted No. 6 Arizona on Saturday. Connecticut was No. 9, but that number was a nod to them not losing–or winning–a game for weeks.

During the game, Auriemma combined stoicism with concern, and kept teaching. Timeouts were calm, and the slew of missed shots in the first half drew a poker face. Never let them see you sweat, and bring the humor post-game in support.

“It’s been [subpar] coaching,” Auriemma said. “By far the worst it’s ever been and it shows up. It shows up. … I don’t know what language to speak to get my point across. My communication skills are not very good anymore.”

“Our guard play is not good. Plain and simple. I guess that’s something that we’re not used to here in Connecticut. But right now our guard play is not good. And it’s been a real struggle to get some of these guys to understand how to take care of the ball, how to make better decisions.”

Auriemma’s bit about Bueckers being from Hopkins, MN or John Hopkins University got sprinkled in as well, a nod to the star’s ability to concisely describe her rehabilitation as if she were her own doctor.

No matter the prognosis, or the source, Geno the comedian’s just left pleading.

“I just want her back!” he laughed.

“Our guards didn’t play well. Plain and simple and you couldn’t take them out and put somebody else in to get them a breather. Again the game is won or lost by your guards and last year we had the best guard in the country and it was easy to win games. This year we don’t and it’s hard to win games and sometimes basketball is not that complicated.”

Auriemma’s won 11 NCAA titles in a 25-year stretch that represents the breadth and brilliance of his coaching career. The other 12 seasons he’s spent in Storrs, Connecticut weren’t bad. They just fell short of transcendence, just like this season-to-date.

On Monday afternoon, the coach that’s won 111 consecutive games, couldn’t coax 111 successful dribbles out of his club. One shot hit the side of the backboard, another barely scrapped the rim, and another was airball and drew jeers. In a lopsided, second quarter local hero back home Evina Westbrook (Salem, OR) received a genuine and lengthy salute from the crowd. But the senior slumped as well, finishing 3 of 10 with three turnovers.

Missed shots? The Huskies had seven from beyond the arc before Westbrook connected in the first minute of the third quarter. They finished 3 for 18.

Turnovers? Nineteen, and Auriemma gave all 19 a life of their own after the game.

“We stopped scoring, turned the ball over, they scored. Now we’re coming down and throwing the ball away and missing shots. That’s a really really bad combination… really bad,” he said. “Nineteen times we crossed half court and didn’t get a shot at the basket. I don’t know how you beat really good teams doing that.”

“We can’t have that happen, especially in big games like this,” said Olivia Nelson-Udoda. “When things aren’t going well, just pushing through that wall. I think that’s our biggest struggle right now as a team.”

Cal Bears basketball podcast with Morris Phillips: After four straight loses Cal faces one of the Pac 12’s toughest teams in Arizona Sunday

California forward Lars Thiemann (21) and Washington State forward Mouhamed Gueye (35) go for the ball in Sat Jan 15, 2022 contest at Pullman (AP News photo)

On the Cal Bears podcast with Morris:

#1 Morris after winning five in a row the Cal Bears (9-9) has now lost four in a row what’s been the difference in the change?

#2 How tough has it got to be for the Bears after losing the two games to USC (14-2) and UCLA (11-2) and then losing twice again to Washington and Washington State Cal head coach Mark Fox works hard to prepare this team.

#3 Looking at Cal’s last game in Pullman 65-57 against the Washington State Cougars (10-7) on Saturday night the Bears had the lead after the half but couldn’t hold it were the Bears just pressing too much in second half?

#4 We know you mentioned it in your recap that Cal guard Joel Brown who just got out of Covid 19 protocols after a seven day quarantine got to Pullman from Berkeley on a flight and played just a minute. After being away that amount of time from playing did Brown come into the game pretty rusty?

#5 Cal now will host one of the toughest teams in the Pac 12 the Arizona Wildcats (14-1) at Haas Pavilion on Sun Jan 23rd for a noon tip. The Wildcats just manhandled their last opponents the Utah Utes (8-9) in Tucson 82-64. How do you see the Bears approach to fending off the Wildcats this Sunday?

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

NCAA podcast with Michelle Richardson: Abuse and disrespect by Hawaii’s Graham gets him out of program; 7 Georgia players leaving for the NFL; plus much more

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors head coach Todd Graham resigns from the Hawaii program after complaints of abuse and disrespect from current and former players on Sat Jan 15, 2022 (file photo Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

On the NCAAF podcast with Michelle Richardson:

#1 Hawaii head coach Todd Graham had resigned from his post after it was reported that Graham had been accused of being disrespectful and abusive to past and current players on the team. It was also reported that several current players were leaving the program and that Hawaii had their bowl game canceled due to a Covid 19 outbreak.

#2 Safety Lewis Cine, LB Nakobe Dean, WR George Pickens, OL Jamaree Salyer and DL Travon Walker running backs Zamir White and James Cook are all leaving the Georgia Bulldogs program to join the 2022 NFL draft. The players were key in helping the Bulldogs beat the Alabama Crimson Tide in the National Title.

#3 The UCLA Bruins have extended the contract of head coach Chip Kelly, Kelly who was in the last year of his contract got a four year extension. Kelly and the Bruins went 8-4 in the 2021 season and they were set to meet NC State in the Holiday Bowl but the game was scratched due to Covid 19 outbreaks amongst the Bruins players.

Michelle’s Final Thoughts

Join Michelle Richardson for NCAA podcast commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Rough Road: Cal comes up short after halftime again, loses 65-57 at WSU

By Morris Phillips

The road trip that causes the most headaches in the Pac-12 starts in Seattle on a Thursday and leaves you feeling unsettled in Pullman, Washington on Saturday afternoon.

Bad weather, rough flight, slick roads and a quirky opponent in a mostly empty arena throw you off balance, and likely the Washington Huskies shook your confidence as well. Conference ballclubs aren’t at their best after going through the Northwest curveball machine.

The Bears were the latest testees who survived the first half, but finally slipped late in the second, losing 65-57 to Washington State. Cal was swept for the second weekend in a row and had issues trying to score in all four losses. On Saturday, coach Mark Fox was disappointed with the team’s rebounding, and not limiting the Cougars’ opportunities.

“I think it’s the third game in a row on the road where we had the lead at the half and we talked about trying to close it and finish it, and we just didn’t defensive rebound,” Cal coach Mark Fox said. “We forced some misses, we gave up a rebound on free throw that cost us three.”

The back breaking sequence came with 2:52 and WSU’s Michael Flowers at the foul line shooting one-and-one. Flowers missed the first one but WSU rebounded and swung the ball to Flowers for an open three that he buried, extending the lead to five.

“We just didn’t do the right things to close the game in the second half,” Fox said.

Cal scored just 10 points after Andre Kelly got them even at 47 with 9:19 remaining. Flowers contributed 11 of his 13 points in the second half, and Andrej Jakimovski paced the Cougars with 18 points.

In seven of Cal’s nine losses–and three of the last four games–they’ve scored 60 points or fewer.

Cal starting guard Joel Brown attempted to fly from the East Bay to Pullman on Saturday morning after he cleared COVID restrictions that left him home isolation for seven days. Brown arrived after the game started and played just one minute when it became apparent he couldn’t ramp it up after a week without physical activity or basketball.

“You just take a roll of the dice and say, ‘Is it going to be like he can just step in here and we keep rolling?'” Fox said. “And you can tell he wasn’t ready and out of synch and understandably so.”

Shepherd led Cal with 17 points, Kelly had 12 and a season-best 14 rebounds.

The Bears return home to Haas Pavilion to face No. 6 Arizona on January 23 at noon.

Stanford Cardinal basketball podcast with Daniel Dullum: Stanford on roll sixth win in last seven games; Defeats WSU 62-57 Thursday night in Pullman

Stanford forward Brandon Angel, right, takes a shot over Washington State forward Andrej Jakimovski. Angel scored 16 points against Jakimovski and the Cougars at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman on Thu Jan 13, 2022 (AP News photo)

On the Stanford Cardinal basketball podcast with Daniel:

#1 The Stanford Cardinal (10-4) are on a roll they have now won six out of their last seven games picking up the sixth win against the Washington State Cougars (9-7) in Pullman 62-57.

#2 The Stanford one two punch at work again with the Spencer Jones at the top of the leaderboard with 16 points followed by Jaiden Delaire with 14 points.

#3 Stanford is cruising with four straight wins and even with the previously not playing a game since Dec 23 and getting their first game back on Jan 11th they look as if they haven’t missed a step.

#4 Stanford top rebounder James Keefe with six grabs was key in getting the ball back to his teammates.

#5 The Cardinal head to Seattle for Sat Dec 15th theatre against the Washington Huskies for a 3:00 pm PST tip. The Huskies have been playing .500 ball in their last six games winning three out of their last six games including a win against the Cal Bears on Wednesday night 64-55. How do you see this match up between the Cardinal and Huskies on Saturday?

Join Daniel Dullum for the Stanford Cardinal podcasts Fridays at http://www.sportsradioservice.com