Bears head to Colorado for nonconference contest


Bears head to Colorado for nonconference contest

Sept. 9, 2011California Golden Bears (1-0) vs.Colorado Buffaloes (0-1)
Coverage begins Saturday at 12:30pm on CSN California

BOULDER (AP) -- The Cal Golden Bears have inside information about Colorado's offense and quarterback Tyler Hansen, and not just because they faced the Buffaloes last year.

Eric Kiesau, the Bears' new passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach, was the Buffs' offensive coordinator under Dan Hawkins. So, he shared his knowledge of his former pupils, particularly Hansen, with Cal's defensive coaches as they prepared for Saturday's kickoff in Boulder.

The game won't count in the Pac-12 standings because it was scheduled as part of a home-and-home series before the Buffs bolted the Big 12.

When the Buffs hired head coach Jon Embree, who brought Eric Bieniemy with him from the pro ranks to serve as his offensive coordinator, Kiesau went even farther West, along with fellow former Buffs assistant Ashley Ambrose, Cal's defensive backs coach.

"Coach Kiesau is a great guy, I love the guy," Hansen said. "The last two years when he was my coach was a lot of fun. I've become close to his family. So it's going to be fun to see him. I've talked to him a couple of times since he left. So maybe he knows my weaknesses, I don't know if he does or doesn't but it will be fun to play him."

Kiesau said he's trying to keep his emotions in check this weekend.

"I don't want to sound cold when I say this but I want to be disconnected when I go back and take it as a business trip and understand what we're trying to do and go there and play a game," Kiesau said. "I know these kids on a personal level. I'm very close to some of them. They still text me now and then. Some texted me about the game.

"The only advantage is I know them on an athletic level, just what they do personally. They're going to have scheme and X's and O's, which will be very different from when I was there."

Kiesau was on the losing side of the Bears' 52-7 throttling of the Buffaloes in Berkeley last season.

"They'll use last year's game as motivation for this year," Kiesau said. "We have to make sure that we're prepared and we're ready for this game because Colorado plays a little different brand of football at home than on the road."

Indeed, Embree said during fall camp that he was eager to host Pac-12 teams at high altitude.

"We're not going to make it a big deal," Kiesau said. "We're going to go out there and play. You can't let it get into your mind that it will affect you because once your mind goes it will affect your body."

Cal coach Jeff Tedford has told his team, which beat Fresno State 36-21 in its opener last week, "You may be short of breath, but you'll recover quickly so don't panic about it."

"I think it's a mental thing," Bears tailback C.J. Anderson said. "We're not the type who are going to come out and say we're tired. That's not our mojo. That's not what we do."

With the coaching turnover at Colorado, Tedford said he hasn't watched film of last year's blowout.

"I haven't looked at it at all," he said. "It's just different, totally different."

Embree sneaked a peek, and he didn't like what he saw at all.

"Lack of effort, that disturbed me the most," said Embree, who lost his head coaching debut 34-17 at Hawaii last week. "I don't feel like we competed very well last year. I felt like we just kind of were just hoping, waiting for the clock to run out so we could get off the field. I mean, that's what it looked like watching it."

"I thought the effort was there," Buffs defensive tackle Conrad Obi said. "I didn't think we executed at all."

Although this game doesn't count in the conference standings, don't expect any letup from the new Pac-12 foes.

"You don't play any different because it's a conference game or a non-conference game," Tedford said. "You just do everything you can to try to prepare to win the game. It doesn't really matter."

Rewind: Warriors 'weren't on the same page' in loss to Memphis

Rewind: Warriors 'weren't on the same page' in loss to Memphis

He is a cheerful presence, a terrific teammate with considerable knowledge of how basketball should be played at the NBA level.

Only in exceedingly rare cases, though, is Anderson Varejao able to produce for the Warriors, and he’s no help at all when most of his teammates fail to show up.

Such was the case Saturday night in Memphis, when the Warriors, with Varejao starting at center in place of Zaza Pachulia, submitted their worst performance – worse, even, than that stunning setback to the Lakers on Dec. 4 – of the season in a 110-89 loss to a shorthanded Grizzlies team that, even when fully healthy, has difficulty scoring.

Though Varejao was a special level of awful, he was not alone in his ineptitude.

“It was one of those nights, you know,” Kevin Durant told reporters in Memphis.

Stephen Curry was careless on offense and indifferent on defense. Klay Thompson struggled with his shot and, therefore, his game. Draymond Green didn’t bring his usual energy but picked up a technical foul for beefing with an official. Durant didn’t meet his usual standard but acquitted himself relatively well.

The Warriors were smashed by a team of castoffs and hopefuls circulating around the established talents of Marc Gasol, Tony Allen and Zach Randolph. Most of the damage, however, was self-inflicted – as in 23 turnovers, resulting in 30 points for the Grizzlies.

Asked what went wrong with the offense, Warriors coach Steve Kerr didn’t hesitate.

“Everything,” he said. “Poor decision-making, poor ball-handling, good defense on their part. They were denying a lot of things and trying to knock us off our cuts, and they did a good job of that.”

So bad were the Warriors that Kerr, joked about his job status.

“I just checked with Bob,” he cracked, referring to general manager Bob Myers. “I’m not fired. I called him just to make sure.”

It was that kind of night, laughably bumbling, the kind of showing that has led to the firing of coaches on shaky status. It was stunning to watch the best team in the NBA, take the court at FedEx Forum and performed as if scrimmaging for season-ticket holders at team headquarters.

With stars Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons and Vince Carter out with injuries, the Grizzlies owned the night from the start, leading by as much as 30.

“We weren’t on the same page,” Thompson said. “We were trying to force too many things. We weren’t patient enough. When you play a team like that that plays at a slow pace you have to be patient. You can’t play at a fast pace like we have in the past. You have to be patient. You have to move the ball around the perimeter. You have to trust each other. It’s a bad night.”

The Warriors were playing without Andre Iguodala, who was resting, and Kevon Looney, who was nursing a sprained right ankle. Pachulia, with a contusion on his right wrist, was a late scratch.

The result was Varejao joining Green, Durant, Thompson and Curry in the starting lineup. It didn’t take long to get ugly, as Memphis took leads of 29-11 in the first quarter and maintained a double-digit lead until the final buzzer.

Varejao played 18 minutes and contributed five rebounds, two assists, one steal and two turnovers. He took only two shots, missing both, and finished minus-21.

“We definitely missed Zaza,” Durant said, “but that’s not the reason why we missed the basketball game. We waited too long to try to be physical. Once we started it was a little too late.

“We definitely want to have all our guys there, but sometimes it’s not in play. We still have to go out there, and play a better game than we played tonight. It’s just one of those games we have to throw out and get ready for the next one tomorrow.”

Well, that’s all there is to do. Every team, no matter how gifted, will have nights when its members stagger about like zombies. The Warriors have had two in 24 games.

The upside of this one was that Kerr could pull his starters early in hopes of preserving them for a game Sunday against the defective but frisky young Minnesota Timberwolves.

Rewind: Sharks get the bounces in imperfect win against Hurricanes

Rewind: Sharks get the bounces in imperfect win against Hurricanes

SAN JOSE – The Sharks’ performance over the Hurricanes on Saturday night at SAP Center won’t be one that the team re-watches and reflects back upon as a model for how they want to perform.

Still, after deserving better in last Wednesday’s loss to Ottawa, and maybe even Friday’s defeat to the rival Ducks, there was a sense that the 4-3 win was essentially an evening out of their recent luck. San Jose had just 20 shots on goal, tying their season low, but four of them beat Cam Ward. That includes the second period when their shooting percentage was a lofty 50 percent (four shots, two goals).

“It’s good to see the puck go in for a few guys,” Joe Pavelski said. “The bounces – that’s why you just have to keep playing. I would have thought we would have won the other two games before this one.”

Pete DeBoer said: “I think when you look at the week, out of the three games we played, it was probably our poorest of the three. But we found a way to win, and the other two we lost, maybe we deserved better. That's hockey.”

After falling behind 2-0 in each of their last two games, the Sharks jumped on the Hurricanes just 12 seconds in when Patrick Marleau scored on a two-on-one with Joe Thornton.

Aaron Dell was surely chuffed after that one. In a previous start against Carolina on Nov. 15, the first-year backup stood on his head but got no support in a 1-0 loss.

“It’s a good feeling to get one right away,” Dell said.

The difference in the game was the Sharks’ pair of second period goals, after they had leads of 1-0 and 2-1 wiped away. Logan Couture’s redirection of a Brent Burns shot put San Jose ahead to stay, 3-2, while Kevin Labanc’s second goal in as many nights on the rebound of a Dylan DeMelo blast was the necessary insurance, and the game-winner.

Labanc now has three goals in his last five games, generating the type of offense that was expected from others on the team, but just hasn’t come.

“It’s a confidence booster, that’s for sure,” Labanc said of scoring in consecutive games. “It’s just momentum, and you ride with it. You just keep going, and whatever opportunities come by you, you’ve just got to make sure it goes in the net.”

DeBoer said: "For a team that's had trouble scoring, he's one guy that's consistently scored for us. The puck follows him around. … He's done a great job, and he's a hard guy to remove from the lineup just because of how he's playing and how he's contributing.”

At the end of a three-game California road trip, Carolina pushed hard to start the third down 4-2. Derek Ryan’s power play goal brought the ‘Canes back to within one, and the way the ice was tilted over those first four minutes, it looked like the Sharks might be in trouble.

Instead, they buckled down in the defensive zone despite missing defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who is “day-to-day” with a lower body injury after leaving in the second period, according to DeBoer.

"They have a lot of talented guys on the team that can make plays,” said Paul Martin, who got the most fortuitous bounce of the night when his first period slap shot went in off of defenseman Brett Pesce's skate. “For us, it was just trying to find a way to win at that point, take care of our own zone, and Deller made some big key saves when we needed them."

Dell’s biggest stop came with about 20 seconds left, when he challenged Jeff Skinner on a rebound try – one of 11 shots for the Hurricanes forward – and saw the backhander hit him in the chest. He’s now 3-1 in his nascent NHL career.

“The last minute six-on-five is always a really, really long minute,” Dell said. “I think we played it pretty well.”

Carolina had plenty of zone time over the final two minutes with Ward pulled for an extra attacker. But this time, it was the Sharks’ opponent that never got that necessary bounce.