Cal Coasts Past Northridge 80-63 in Season Opener

Cal Coasts Past Northridge 80-63 in Season Opener


BERKELEY (AP) -- Jorge Gutierrez had a career-high 18 points and eight assists, Markhuri Sanders-Frison added 15 points and 10 rebounds and California won its season opener 80-63 over Cal State Northridge on Tuesday night.

Gutierrez, the lone remaining starter from last year's Pac-10 championship team, took only four shots but made 13 of 15 free throws. Eight came in the final seven minutes for the Golden Bears, who extended their home winning streak against nonconference opponents to 20.

More importantly, Gutierrez provided much-needed stability for a team that is short on experience.

"Your point guard, his job is to keep those young people and get them in a position to be successful," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. "I thought Jorge did a really good job of that. That's what he's got to do at that position. That means as a point guard he's doing his job."

Cal overcame a sluggish first half and led by as many as 21 despite missing 11 of 16 3-pointers.

Rashaun McLemore scored a career-best 24 points to lead Northridge (0-2).

The Bears won their first conference championship in 50 years last season but are in rebuilding mode this year after losing Pac-10 Player of the Year Jerome Randle and three other starters to graduation.

Gutierrez and Harper Kamp are at the heart of Cal's makeover. Both showed why against the Matadors.

In his first game since replacing Randle at point guard, Gutierrez ran an offense that at times looked rusty and at other times sharp. The eight assists were a career high for Gutierrez, while his 18 points were three better than his previous best.

Kamp, who sat out all of 2009 recovering from knee surgery, had 12 points and seven rebounds. That enabled Cal to keep the game close until Gutierrez got the offense going in the second half.

"I was pretty nervous," said Kamp, who briefly came out of the game after rolling his right ankle. "My stomach was hurting all day. I was just thankful to be back out there."

The Bears have never lost to the Matadors in six games. Cal beat Northridge in 1995 but later forfeited the game due to NCAA violations.

Northridge, only two years removed from appearing in the NCAA tournament, kept it close in the first half but went scoreless for more than six minutes early in the second. The Matadors missed seven straight shots during the drought and never recovered.

"The second half our mentality changed a little bit, and we started to settle for quick shots and 3s," Northridge coach Bobby Braswell said. "This was the perfect example of being a young team where we played a great first half ... and instead of building on that, we just changed our mind-set."

Northridge's Michael Lizarraga, who attended the California School for the Deaf in nearby Hayward, scored a career-best 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting.

Cal's inexperience showed early. The Bears went more than five minutes without a field goal, missed eight of 12 free throws during one stretch and repeatedly struggled trying to get the ball inside against Northridge's zone defense.

"We've got to allow these young kids to learn," Montgomery said. "We're not going to get any better if we can't get these young guys to learn what it's like. They're going to make mistakes. We just have to hope they learn from their mistakes."

The Matadors, who lost to UCLA 83-59 in their opener Friday, led by five on McLemore's step-back 18-footer with 3:55 to go in the first half. The Bears later tied the game before McLemore's free throw gave Northridge a 37-36 lead at the break.

Northridge, 2-for-12 on 3-pointers in the loss to the Bruins, had six in the first half.

Sanders-Frison scored four straight points for Cal coming out of the break, and Allen Crabbe added five points as part of a 13-0 run that pushed the Bears' lead to 51-39.

Curry: 'There's nothing that's going to derail' 2016-17 Warriors

Curry: 'There's nothing that's going to derail' 2016-17 Warriors

Here in the age of ubiquitous social media and rampant hyper-scrutiny, following a summer during which they tilted the balance of power in the NBA, the Warriors embark on a season in which they may be the most inspected and analyzed team in American sports history.

Their ability to handle this overload of attention will determine whether the next eight months are good, great or magical – or a colossal disappointment.

Regardless of talent level – the Warriors four All-Stars – it is incredibly difficult to consistently crush opponents while also navigating potential distractions, managing the inevitable discord and deflecting the harsh radiance of what surely will be ceaseless public glare.

“The only thing that matters is what happens in the gym every day,” coach Steve Kerr says. “And that’s our job as a coaching staff, to address dynamics as they arise, whether it’s on the floor or off. And I’m sure there are going to be lots of off-the-floor dynamics that we’ll have to get through this year.”

The sideshows are well under way. There is Kevin Durant’s much-debated decision to leave Oklahoma City and sign with the Warriors. There is the back-and-forth over how this will affect Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. There is the curiosity about Draymond Green, partly regarding his role but mostly regarding whether he can keep his white-hot emotions from overriding his considerable intellect, a subject well-chronicled as the preseason came to a close.

“You could nitpick all you want,” Curry says. “You could chime in here and there. But at the end of the day, we’re all competitive. We’re all our own person. We’re all in this thing together. It’s a ‘You take shots at Draymond, you take shots at the whole team kind’ of mentality.”

There it is, Curry indicating the Warriors are ready and willing to circle up, close ranks, link arms and spend 82 games unleashing their abundance of firepower upon the rest of the NBA.

The Warriors are a team always seeking a reason to turn up their ferocity, scanning the globe for slights and insults and anything else that will lead them to believe that you don’t believe. They will have plenty of ammunition.

They’re coming off a devastating loss in the NBA Finals, where they became the first team to take a 3-1 series lead and not finish the season with a championship. They engineered the biggest acquisition of the summer, signing megastar forward Durant. They’re reading that their incumbent Green is on a path that could destroy everything they’ve built.

And, for the heck of it, they’re being told they no longer have a rim protector.

Here’s what the Warriors hear: Their 2015 title was a fluke, they’re trying to game the system to create a super team, their good chemistry is a hoax, they’ll be giving out free tickets to easy buckets. And, more important, that some folks may be out to get them by prodding them to say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing or otherwise wreck what they believe is a championship roster supported by an enthusiastically ambitious culture that begins with CEO Joe Lacob

It was Lacob’s comment last season about the Warriors being “light years ahead” of NBA competitors that after the Finals loss became a whispered phrase of derision, a soft jab at the CEO’s propensity for glorifying his product. But that line has company. There is the Draymond Factor, the KD Decision and the fact that Andre Iguodala and Curry are in the final year of their contracts.

And there is, above all, the suspicion that the magnification of the Warriors will lead to an insane thirst for information/comment that could nudge any guileless or agenda-pushing member of the organization into deep and treacherous water.

Kerr has on multiple occasions referred to preponderance of attention devoted to the team, adding that the players “have their guards up” when dealing with media. Whether players dilute their comments will depend on that player. All are on alert.

“But at the end of the day, it’s just enjoying yourself and just trying to enjoy the game of basketball, because it can be fun," Kerr said.

If these Warriors have fun while being unified and productive, they can indeed be magical, capable of exceeding 70 wins. They can top 60 even while surviving a few bumps. They can probably win 50 even while slowly unraveling.

There was, after all, only one basketball issue during the preseason that give reason for pause. New starting center Zaza Pachulia is going to have difficult handling big men highly skilled in scoring, such as Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins. That, however, is a small problem given the paucity of such centers in today’s NBA.

Other than that, these Warriors are built to punish defenses, assaulting teams with a barrage of 3-point shots. As long as they can keep their minds on the principles of basketball, as designed by Kerr and his staff, they’ll be playing deep into June.

“We just keep moving forward,” Curry says. “There’s nothing that’s going to derail us. That’s basically the gist of it. So our goal is to not let anything come into that locker room that’s not from us, and we do a pretty good job of that.”

That has been the recent history of this group. But history has never put an NBA team through what the Warriors are about to face.

Raiders snap count: Riley over James; Murray a feature back

Raiders snap count: Riley over James; Murray a feature back

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Malcolm Smith was fully recovered from a quadriceps strain, ready to assume his typically extensive workload at weakside linebacker.

That allowed the Raiders to make a personnel change in the middle. They started relative newcomer Perry Riley at middle linebacker over rookie sixth-round pick Cory James, a young player forced into action due to Ben Heeney’s ineffectiveness and health.

Riley has six seasons and 72 starts to his name, given the Raiders experience at a position expected to make reads and checks and communicate information to teammates before the snap.

Riley fared well in that spot in Sunday’s 33-16 victory over Jacksonville, with a pair of tackles in 100 percent of the defensive snaps. He was Pro Football Focus’ highest-rated Raiders defensive player, with positive marks against the run and pass.

It was uncertain how much Latavius Murray would play in his return from turf toe, but the Raiders did not attach a short leash. Murray played 42 snaps and had 20 touches in this game.

He was the feature back in this one, a new approach after the Raiders used a near-even split with DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard. That wasn’t the case this time. Washington got the start but played just 13 snaps and six touches. Richard only had two touches in limited action.

Murray sparked the Raiders run game, with 18 carries for 59 yards and two touchdowns. The work left him no worse for the wear, a positive sign for a team that needs Murray running strong.

Let’s take a look at the entire Raiders snap count:

72 – OL Donald Penn, OL Gabe Jackson, OL Austin Howard, OL Rodney Hudson, QB Derek Carr
71 – OL Kelechi Osemele
68 – WR Amari Cooper
50 – WR Michael Crabtree
49 – TE Clive Walford
47 – WR Seth Roberts
42 – RB Latavius Murray
25 – FB Jamize Olawale
17 – WR Andre Holmes, Mychal Rivera
13 – RB DeAndre Washington
12 – OL Matt McCants
11 – OL Denver Kirkland
5 – WR Johnny Holton
4 – RB Jalen Richard
1 – OL Jon Feliciano

67 – CB Sean Smith, S Reggie Nelson, CB David Amerson, LB Perry Riley
66 – S Karl Joseph
63 – LB Malcolm Smith
60 – DE Khalil Mack
57 – LB Bruce Irvin
52 – CB DJ Hayden
42 – DL Denico Autry
34 – DL Jihad Ward
21 – LB Shilique Calhoun, DL Justin Ellis
20 – DL DL Darius Latham, DL Dan WIlliams
7 -- DL Stacy McGee
4 – S Keith McGill
2 – CB TJ Carrie

29 – Darren Bates, Nate Allen
25 – Andre Holmes, Jamize Olawale
24 – Shilique Calhoun
23 – Johnny Holton, Mychal Rivera
16 – Cory James, Sebastian Janikowski
14 – Antonio Hamilton
13 – Jon Condo, Marquette King
12 – Clive Walford
11 – Jon Feliciano
10 – Jalen Richard
9 – DJ Hayden, Karl Joseph
7 – Matt McCants, Denver Krikland, Gabe Jackson, Kelechi Osemele
6 – RB DeAndre Washington, Donald Penn
4 – TJ Carrie, Dan Williams, Darius Latham, Denico Autry, Bruce Irvin, Khalil Mack
3 – Justin Ellis
1 – Jihad Ward, Amari Cooper, Austin Howard
NOTE: Snap counts taken from official NFL game book