Stanford Pummels Bulldogs On The Road

stanford womens bb

By Joe Lami

The Stanford Cardinal returned to action after their holiday break on Saturday with a successful trip to Fresno.  The number four-ranked Cardinal were victorious by the score of 86-54.

Fresno State came into the matchup with a record of 6-4, with three wins in the last four.  Saturday marks the second straight loss for the Bulldogs, as they were defeated last weekend by the Dons of San Francisco 76-47.

Fresno State kept it close in the first half and actually held the lead at two different points in the game.  The Bulldogs kept within two baskets with the score being 22-18 until around the nine-minute mark, and that’s when the Cardinal were able to take over.  Stanford started a two-minute 11-0 run with eight to go.  Fresno State would eventually stop it with 5:42 to go in the first half, but not before the Stanford lead would be stretched to 33-20.  Baskets were then being traded back and forth before the half would end with the Cardinal leading 43-31.

The second half would see the Cardinal scoring 43 points as well.  This time, however, they were able to hold the Bulldogs to only 23 points.  Stanford had an incredible start to the second half, as they were able to outscore the Bulldogs 16-2 to give them the big 69-33 lead.  The Cardinal would not look back as they would coast for the win.

Chiney Ogwumike had yet another outstanding performance as she led the Cardinal in scoring, with 20 points.  The All-American Senior added ten rebounds to record the double-double.  Taylor Greenfield was right behind Ogwumike, scoring 18, a season high and tying her career high.  Amber Orrange had 15 for the Cardinal and added six assists.  Mikaela Ruef had an outstanding game, as she contributed in everyway, recording eight assists, seven rebounds, five points and adding a block and a steal.

Alex Sheedy, who recorded the double-double, with 15 points and 11 rebounds, led the Bulldogs.  Guard, Taylor Thompson also saw double digits in scoring with 14 of her own.

Fresno State ends their non-conference play with loss, as their record drops to 6-5.  The Bulldogs are scheduled to start up Mountain West action on New Year’s Day, where they will travel to Las Vegas to take on the 3-9 Rebels.

With the win the Stanford Cardinal up their record to 11-1, as they end non-conference play.  They will return to action after the New Year to start conference play, as they will host the Oregon Ducks on January 3.

Michelle Richardson on the NCAA

 by Michelle Richardson
Auburn 34 Alabama 28: This was one of the most exciting games and exciting might not be even the right word to use that’s how great it was and at the very end of the game when Chris Davis returned the ball from a botched field goal for over 100 yards that’s how you want to win the game. Auburn did this against their arch rival and you can’t ask for anything more. The game was great it was pretty evenly matched the time of possession was about the same. Alabama has about 1:34 left and couldn’t hold the ball and Alabama had more penalties they had six penalties for 45 yards.
Auburn had only three penalties for 21 yards, Auburn had a fumble and they had a turnover and Alabama had no turnovers and there were no interceptions so the game was played well. It was just one of those things. How do you explain it, you just can’t explain it was one of those things that makes football in November so exciting and I tell people over and over it’s great when football season starts but November it is the time of the year that’s when you know who the real deal and whose not.
Remember what it doesn’t matter what happens in September or October in football but it’s November it’s all about what happens in November because that’s when the games really matter. People play these games and know they have to win them because these are the ones that have to be won in order to advance to the next level for bowl games. Auburn let it be known they won it. I can’t tell you Alabama wasn’t in it maybe they thought they should be looking forward to the SCC Championship instead of concentrating on the game that was in front of them.
Pac 12 Championship: Stanford is made up of a group of very poised young men and they can play anywhere as they play this Championship in Arizona State this coming Saturday night. They have more issues amongst their peers than on the field. Arizona State is not going to let you just walk in and take over by no means and their not going let you do this last dynasty stuff. Stanford is going to go in there and play but it’s believed that Stanford can and should go down there and pull off a win.
It will be a good game and who would have thought this would be the year that it would be Stanford and Arizona State to represent the Pac 12 as everybody had Oregon picked to win and these teams proved otherwise. Oregon was just a little bit over hyped and that’s why they play the games. That’s why the games are played. Somebody isn’t just going to show up and get handed the title. Stanford had a tough loss against USC in their last loss but it ended the season with a 10-2 record.
Stanford is in the Pac 12 Championship and have earned a spot in the BCS bowl and Arizona State who quietly dominated for the most part the Pac 12 south. It’s going to be a great game and it’s evenly matched but I have still have Stanford coming out on top. I wouldn’t be surprised however if ASU shows us a little something something on Saturday night.
Villanova 88 Iowa 83 Big Ten/ACC hoops: Honestly this was a great game with Villanova winning it on Saturday and I take nothing away from either team but I’ll be honest with you it’s too early. This tournament was a great tournament and these were great games but don’t talk to me until you get to conference play. It’s December and January you’ll be in the conference play and you’ll be getting beat up and we might not see these teams again and then again you might not.
It’s like the last week in August or the second week in September when their still beating up on Liberty or Appalachian State. Lets all kind of calm down we’ve seen some really good basketball so far, there’s some very exciting players out there for Iowa and this was really a good game. Villanova was all over the floor with players like Jayvaughn Pinkston with 14 points and James Bell at guard he had 20 points and then they had Chris Jenkins, Josh Hart had 14, also they had key help from Ryan Arcidiacono.
This game came down to bench play and Villanova had three people on the bench that was in double figures and that’s a good showing that was very large. This was a great game and I can’t wait to see more games like this and it’s just the beginning and we have to wait until they get into conference play.
Michelle Richardson does NCAA commentary each week for Sportstalk Radio

California teams dominate in battle for top spot in NHL Pacific

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary

SAN JOSE–The Sharks played like a Stanley Cup Champion during this five game homestand in which they won all five games at SAP Center. The Sharks now head to the road to face Toronto, Pittsburgh, Carolina, and Minnesota for a four game road trip. The Sharks concluded their five game homestand with a overtime win against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night 4-3. These were no doubt the two best teams in the Pacific in the NHL.

This was a very physical game there were five fights already in the first period. These two teams don’t like each other and these are two excellent teams as a matter of fact I was looking at the Western Conference there are three teams from California that occupy the top three spots in the Pacific San Jose, Los Angeles, and Anaheim. One of those teams is going to win the conference those are the best three teams right now and they have the best chances to stay all the way through.

I like the Sharks chances their playing very tough and one other team in the Western Conference that is tough is the Chicago Blackhawks and watching the NHL this last month the western teams are much more physical and they dominate the Eastern Conference which is interesting and for many years it was the east but now the west rules they seem to have bigger players, faster players more physical and the Sharks have a very good mixture of players so it’s going to be a good season for the Sharks.

 

Sharks play by play announcer Dan Rusanowsky before the game on Saturday night the voice of the Sharks for radio told me to keep my fingers crossed he thinks this might be the year but we said that last year too. The Sharks are very aggressive and their aggressive again on Saturday night as they fought the Ducks from a 3-3 tie to win in overtime 4-3. There is still a lot of game left and they have lost only one game in San Jose this year and the Ducks are undefeated at home.

The Sharks are now 18-3-5 with 41 points and the Ducks are 18-7-4 with 40 points, this is a real good homestand that the Sharks put on with wins over Tampa Bay, New Jersey, L.A., St. Louis, and Anaheim. The game on Saturday night was a big game for the Sharks because right after Saturday’s win they flew to Toronto to begin a four game road trip which starts on Tuesday night. The Sharks will be playing seven games in nine days which includes a brief return to San Jose for two games before heading back out again for another three games on the road.

The Sharks delivered on Saturday night and it was a good rivalry and it’s not a like the Dodgers and the Giants because that’s baseball since their days in New York. This is a very good rivalry, if the Sharks ever had a rival they have to look at the Ducks and the Kings. The Ducks are a very good team and organization they play in a beautiful place the Honda Center and a few years ago it was known as the Arrowhead Duck Pond just across from Anaheim Stadium from Highway 57.

The Ducks have a good thing down there and they get the crowds down there and a population of 354,000 people live in Anaheim almost like the size of Oakland. San Jose has over a million but it’s a good rivalry and we like to see these three teams in the Pacific Conference and the three teams I like their odds are the Kings of Los Angeles, the Ducks of Anaheim and the Sharks of San Jose. Like I said before one of those three teams from California is going to win the Pacific and the Western Conference.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez does News and Commentary each week for Sportstalk Radio

Bears punt away another one, this time to USC, 62-28

USC-CalBy Morris Phillips

Coach Sonny Dykes turned 44 Saturday, but admitted during this time of the year, football coaches don’t celebrate anniversaries, holidays or birthdays.  So when asked, Cal’s coach said his team’s dismal showing on the field didn’t add to or subtract from the occasion.

Jackson Bouza played his last game at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, and despite the 62-28 loss to USC and his Bears’ 1-9 record, he remained resolute: he wouldn’t change anything about his four years at Cal.

And Jared Goff—as best as he can—is moving on after throwing for the least impactful 255 yards and three touchdowns one can imagine.  With equally-hapless Colorado up next on the schedule, Goff said he’ll be ready, regardless of what transpired with the Trojans.

What normally is a big game with USC was anything but on Saturday for Cal.  Instead, it was hard to watch, hard to play in, and even harder to explain afterwards.  The Bears snuck back into the game briefly at 21-14 in the second quarter, only to experience an avalanche of USC points that left them trailing 55-14 midway through the third quarter and well on their way to an eighth straight loss.

Given that backdrop, Dykes, Bouza and Goff deserve all the credit for attempting to put a hopeful spin on their dire situation.  But that they did in the postgame interview room with all three steadfastly maintaining that better days are ahead for Cal football.

“In a weird sort of way, the experience they have gotten this year and the hard luck will help our team respond faster,” Dykes said.  “We are going to get this thing right, I don’t have a doubt in my mind.  I feel more strongly about that right now than I did December 5th when I was hired.”

But before the Bears can prepare for a feast, they might have to—even privately–come to grips with how they got so hungry in the first place.

The Bears haven’t won a game against a Divison I opponent in over a year.  They’ve lost all but one game this season by at least 14 points, and have routinely fallen behind from the start.  On Saturday, USC’s Javorius Allen blew through the Cal defense for 43-yard touchdown run, and the Trojans had a 21-0 lead over Cal before the first quarter had expired.

Injuries and inexperience are hurting Cal more than anything.  That continued on Saturday when middle linebacker Hardy Nickerson was felled by a foot injury.  Nickerson, himself just a redshirt freshmen, had been counted on to call the defensive signals and get the Cal defenders in the right alignment pre-snap.  Without him, that job fell to true freshman Chad Whitener, and the Bears’ defense suffered as USC averaged nearly nine yards per carry, and saw maligned quarterback Cody Kessler have an error-free game.

“We missed a lot of checks, and rolled the coverage the wrong way several times,” Dykes said when asked about Nickerson’s early exit. “We got out of position as a result, and when you get out of position, you are trying to recover, and when you are trying to recover, you are diving a people’s legs and it looks bad.”

For Cal, with injuries and inexperience commonplace—Dykes reminded everyone that only three seniors have places among Cal’s top 44 players—capable special teams are still supposed to be a given.  That’s one of Dykes’ hallmarks along with his high-octane pass attack.  Dykes explained that his Louisiana Tech teams always excelled on punt and kickoff coverage, and here at Cal, he starts several practices each week with special teams’ drills.

Ah, special teams can save the day.   Just not on Saturday.

First the Bears allowed Nelson Agholor to return a punt 75 yards for a score less than two minutes into the game.  Then USC’s Soma Vainuku blocked a punt in the second quarter that teammate Josh Shaw returned 14 yards for a 35-14 Trojans’ lead.  Just a couple minutes after that, Agholor struck again, this time with a 93-yard punt return.

Goff gamely attempted to keep his team in the game, and got a big assist from emerging freshman receiver Kenny Lawler, who has caught five touchdown passes in two games.  But Goff plays in a high risk, high reward system that so far hasn’t reaped many rewards.  Once again, the Bears couldn’t strike deep, and Goff had to look short.  So while Goff chucked it downfield 52 times, he only had 255 yards passing.   When the turnovers and sacks are factored in (and on Saturday the Bears had just one sack, and no interceptions) Goff’s five-yard average per pass attempt just isn’t high rewards enough for a major college team to have success.

With the loss, the Bears haven’t beaten USC since the epic triple-overtime win in 2003.  The Bears hadn’t surrendered as many as 62 points to the Trojans since the 1930’s.  And yes, three punt return touchdowns for USC ties an NCAA record and equals a Pac-12 conference record that stood unmatched since 1954.

Next week, the Bears travel to Boulder to face Colorado, which probably will be Cal’s last opportunity for a win this season with No. 4 Stanford after that in the season finale.

Bears growl but fall short against Arizona

Arizona-Cal

By Morris Phillips

In the absence of actual wins, the Cal Bears have been relegated to attempting to grab small victories wherever they can manage.

In losing to Arizona 33-28 on Saturday–and falling to 1-8 on the season—the Bears found themselves in a winnable game in the second half for the first time in Pac-12 play.  In a season this trying, adversity on the scoreboard has been a constant.  But this time out, the Bears experienced something new: down 26-21, with the ball, and a chance to take the lead, late in the third quarter.

The feeling didn’t last long as Jared Goff’s poorly thrown pass was picked by Arizona’s Jonathan McKnight deep in Cal territory.  McKnight’s pick set up the Wildcats for the winning score, B.J. Denker’s 14-yard touchdown run four plays later.   But afterwards, both teams acknowledged that they had been in a hotly-contested fight.

“The fact that we played better today against a good team shows them that we are certainly making progress and heading in the right direction,” Coach Sonny Dykes said.  “They’ll take something from that.  But our goal is to win the ballgame, regardless of who we play.”

“I anticipated some adversity,” Arizona Coach Rich Rodriguez said.  “When you got a team that can throw it as well as they do and they can throw it well and have some explosive receivers, you know you’ve got a chance.”

The Bears lost their seventh consecutive game, but fell by fewer than 14 points for the first time in 2013.   Is it a victory for a school with the recent history and NFL impact that Cal has had to not get blown out?  Yeah, when this season’s team features inexperience at nearly every significant position, a new coaching staff installing a high-risk system, critical injuries and defections, it is.

Goff threw for 289 yards and four touchdowns, but saw two passes picked—both in the second half. And in the critical category for Dykes’ hyper attack, the Bears ran just 82 plays.  What’s supposed to happen under Dykes’ Air Raid didn’t on Saturday: the Bears failed to seize momentum by missing on 12 third-down conversion opportunities and fell well below the preferred 100 plus plays and an edge in time of possession.

The game was basically lost in hefty chunks of the first two quarters where Cal failed to expand on a 7-0 lead built in the first five minutes.  Instead, Ka’Deem Carey—who finished with 152 yards on 32 carries—and B.J. Denker ran the Wildcats to 19 consecutive points and a five-point halftime lead.

According to Rodriguez, in an attempt to stop Carey, the Bears loaded up inside aided by their superiorly-sized defensive tackles.  But Arizona adjusted, running Carey to the boundaries where he picked up some healthy gains.   Once Carey was established, Denker found room inside when he need to scramble, and the two-pronged attack exposed Cal’s glaring lack of quickness in their back seven once again.

Denker’s third rushing touchdown came on the read option, and given Cal’s depleted numbers on defense, the strategy of running right at the Bears seemed unfair and left Cal grasping throughout.   Arizona rolled up 448 yards in total offense, but on a stat sheet with a lot of symmetry, Arizona’s ability to run and run often was the only difference.   The Wildcats had 51 rush attempts, nearly doubling Cal’s 26, and that allowed Arizona’s engine to churn slightly smoother than Cal’s.

“Had we turned the ball over we would have lost,” Rodriguez admitted.  “We’ve got some good players but we’re not going to overwhelm anybody.  We’re just not there right now.”

Where the Wildcats are is in the thick of Pac-12 South’s race to the conference’s championship game.  Arizona won for the second straight week on the road and they get UCLA back in Tucson next Saturday with a chance to improve to 7-2 and inject their team into the Rose Bowl conversation.

The Cats were recently in Cal’s shoes, trying to rebuild in an increasingly challenging BCS conference with little or no positive reinforcement on a weekly basis.  In fact, Arizona dropped 13 of their next 15 games in a dismal stretch spanning 2010 and 2011.  But Rodriguez has won some recruiting battles over the last couple of seasons, and the Wildcats’ fortunes have switched.

On Saturday, freshman Scooby Wright dumped Darren Ervin in the end zone for a safety that gave Arizona its’ first lead, 9-7.  Fellow freshman Samajie Grant made nine catches—all in the first half—to help the Wildcats grab control..

Cal’s got loads of talent in their freshman and sophomore classes as well, and on Saturday, Kenny Lawler Jr. turned the most heads.  Lawler caught three touchdowns and his leaping one-handed grab that drew Cal closer in the third quarter was a highlight reel grab.

The Bears get a visit from USC next Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Cal allows to many big plays in 41-17 loss to Washington

By Morris Phillips

The Cal Bears ran 89 offensive plays, amassed nearly 500 yards in total offense and committed just three penalties and one turnover on Saturday night.

But the Bears were blown out, dropping a 41-17 decision to Washington and falling to 1-7 on the season, in which they lost each time by at least two touchdowns.

How’s that?

While the Bears continue to post respectable offensive numbers, their defense has been simply offensive, allowing 643 yards to the Huskies, including UW running back Bishop Sankey’s 241 yards rushing.

Sankey’s 59-yard touchdown run capped a lopsided first half that ended with Cal trailing 24-7.   The Bears fell behind 17-0 in the first quarter when their offense pushed the snooze button and went three-and-out on four of their first six possessions.

“Right now, we’re just not executing well enough on either side of the ball that we need to beat a good football team,” Coach Sonny Dykes said.  “Washington is a very good football team.  We just have to go back to work.”

The Bears continue to deal with numerous injuries and defections, especially in the back seven of their defense, where the team allowed numerous big plays on Saturday.  Besides Sankey’s big touchdown run before the half, the Bears allowed UW quarterback Keith Price and Jaydon Mickens to hook up on touchdown passes of 68 and 47 yards, the second of which put the Huskies up 31-7 two minutes into the second half.

Washington came into Saturday’s game off three straight losses to the Pac-12 elite and with numerous injury concerns of their own.  The team also paid tribute to long time coach, Don James, who passed away this week due to complications with pancreatic cancer at the age of 80.  The emotion surrounding the loss of James appeared to propel the Huskies, especially in building their early lead.

Jared Goff got the start for Cal and completed 32 of 54 passes for 336 yards and one touchdown pass to Chris Harper. Goff played into the fourth quarter and third-stringer Austin Hinder finished up.   Goff put up decent numbers, but was sacked five times and couldn’t get the Bears in the end zone, especially critical after the Bears narrowed Washington’s lead to 10 early in the second quarter.

The Bears have dropped 11 straight games to FBS competition and haven’t beaten a Pac-12 opponent in over a year.  In addition, the Bears got bad news this week when reports surfaced regarding the team’s poor performance in the classroom.   While athletic director Sandy Barbour addressed the academic issues, taking the blame for the player’s deficiencies, Dykes had to answer for the team’s play on the field.

“We’re not about losing or moral victories, but our guys play hard.  We have really good kids with great character.  I’m proud of them from that standpoint.  We just have to get better,” Dykes said.

The Bears return to Berkeley next Saturday to face Arizona, who won 44-20 at Colorado on Saturday.