Warriors with a shot in San Antonio?


Warriors with a shot in San Antonio?

March 21, 2011

WARRIORS (30-40) vs.

Coverage begins at 5 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- With sizable leads in the Southwest Division and the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs have started looking ahead to the postseason by giving their top players some rest.

Given their 25-game home winning streak against the Golden State Warriors heading into Monday night's game between the teams, it may not matter who Spurs coach Gregg Popovich decides to rest.

With a 7 12-game advantage over Dallas, San Antonio (56-13) is closing in on its eighth division title in 11 seasons. The NBA's best team also has a 6 12-game lead over the Los Angeles Lakers for the West's No. 1 seed.
RELATED: NBA conference standings

That helped make it easy for Popovich to give star forward Tim Duncan his first night off this season Saturday as the Spurs defeated visiting Charlotte 109-98. Starting guard Manu Ginobili also played just 19 minutes - far below his season average of nearly 31.

Rookie Tiago Splitter got his first NBA start in place of Duncan, but it was reserve forward Steve Novak who proved more pivotal with a season-high 19 points. Fellow bench players Gary Neal added 15 points and George Hill had 12.

"It was great to have the bench come in, so Manu (Ginobili) wouldn't have to play too many minutes," Popovich said. "I wanted to play Tony (Parker) even less, but he's the youngster of the group. Everyone off the bench came in and did a great job."

Even with his team's large leads in the division and conference, Ginobili said the Spurs starters might get only get one or two nights off over the final 3 12 weeks of the regular season.

"We got to keep in shape and keep playing. Because when you realize the playoffs are here you don't want to lose your conditioning," Ginobili said.

The Spurs' conditioning has rarely been an issue of late against the fast-paced Warriors (30-40). The 25-game run at home is the NBA's longest active streak against one opponent, and San Antonio has won 11 in a row in the series.

Duncan played just 18 minutes in a 111-94 win over Golden State at the AT&T Center on Dec. 8, finishing with eight points and five rebounds. Parker, meanwhile, had 19 points to lead six players in double figures. DeJuan Blair was one of those with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

REWIND: Highlights -- Spurs 111, Warriors 94

Golden State got a career-high eight 3-pointers and 31 points from Reggie Williams in that game, but Stephen Curry sprained his right ankle in the second quarter. Curry was held to 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting Sunday when the Warriors suffered their fourth consecutive defeat and fourth in a row on the road, 101-73 at Dallas.

REWIND: Warriors can't overcome slow start in Dallas

Golden State, averaging 103.1 points, had just 10 in the fourth quarter against the Mavericks and missed 24 of 33 shots in the second half. The 73 points were the team's second lowest-scoring total this season.

"It was just an off night for guys. Guys couldn't find their shot," forward Dorell Wright said. "I feel like shots that we usually make were going in and out, and we were just missing it. It's like that at some times. So, we've just got to let this one go and get ready for tomorrow."

Ginobili has averaged 20.5 points on 54.0 percent shooting in his last four games against Golden State. San Antonio has also limited the Warriors' Monta Ellis to 18.7 points - 5.7 below his team-leading average - on 34.8 percent shooting.

Report: Shanahan 'almost certain' to accept 49ers' offer

Report: Shanahan 'almost certain' to accept 49ers' offer

Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is reportedly “almost certain” to accept the 49ers’ offer to become head coach.

Shanahan is the lone remaining candidate among the six individuals who interviewed with 49ers executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe. The 49ers plan for a second interview with Shanahan and a job offer, a source told CSNBayArea.com. Shanahan is expected to accept the 49ers’ offer, reports Michael Silver of the NFL Network, citing sources familiar with both parties.

The 49ers continued to work Tuesday evening on the process of narrowing down the general manager choices, a source said. Shanahan is expected to play a role in the select the team’s next GM, sources said.

On Tuesday, Seattle offensive line coach Tom Cable and Seahawks co-director of player personnel Trent Kirchner removed their names from consideration for the vacant coach and general manager positions. The 49ers fired Chip Kelly and Trent Baalke after the 49ers' 2-14 season.

One source said Cable and Kirchner believed the 49ers were using them as leverage to hire Shanahan. Cable interviewed with 49ers co-chair Denise DeBartolo York over the phone on Tuesday, NFL Network reported.

The 49ers are allowed to interview Shanahan for a second time after the Falcons’ NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. The 49ers are prohibited from hiring or making a formal contract offer to Shanahan until the Falcons' season has concluded.

The top remaining candidates for the general manager job are believed to be Green Bay executives Brian Gutekunst and Eliot Wolf, Arizona's Terry McDonough and Minnesota's George Paton.

Wilcox embracing challenge, will change the way Cal looks on field


Wilcox embracing challenge, will change the way Cal looks on field

BERKELEY — With more than a half-century without a Rose Bowl berth, tougher academic standards than most Pac-12 schools and lackluster fan support in a pro-sports focused market, there are plenty of hurdles for a football coach at California.

Coach Justin Wilcox took the job for the Golden Bears because he embraces those obstacles and he wants players who feel the same way as he seeks to rebuild a program that has one winning record in the past five years and no conference championships since 1958.

"When you come here, there are challenges," Wilcox said at his introductory news conference Tuesday. "You don't come here and go through school and just go through the motions. You'll be challenged in the classroom, challenged on the football field and learn to interact in a dynamic society. I believe in that and that helps guys grow."

Wilcox faces many hurdles in his new job replacing the recently fired Sonny Dykes less than three weeks before national signing day. He has to put together a coaching staff, evaluate the players already on campus and try to keep together, and even add to, a recruiting class that committed to a different staff.

Athletic director Mike Williams fired Dykes after four seasons on Jan. 8 because he wanted a coach committed to Cal instead of flirting with other jobs and needed someone who could excite a fan base that often stayed away from Memorial Stadium in recent years as the Bears teamed porous defenses with sometimes exciting offenses while posting a 19-30 record.

Williams had five finalists for the job but chose a former Cal assistant with a defensive background and familiarity with the Pac-12 as an assistant for seven years at three schools in the conference.

"He truly gets this place, he truly gets coaching in the West," Williams said. "He came in and was very organized and thoughtful. He knew what he wanted to do and who he wanted to hire. ... It's a special place and I think he'll treat it as a special place."

While Dykes flirted with job openings at Houston and Baylor this past offseason in part because of his concern about increased academic standards for recruits, the Bears hope Wilcox is someone who wants to stick around after more than a decade of being on a self-described "windy" path as a top defensive coach.

The former Oregon defensive back began his coaching career in 2001 as a graduate assistant at Boise State. He spent three years as linebackers coach under Jeff Tedford at Cal from 2003-05 when the Bears nearly ended their Rose Bowl drought during a 10-win season with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback in 2004.

Wilcox has spent the past 11 years as a defensive coordinator with stops at Boise State, Tennessee, Washington, Southern California and finally Wisconsin, where he helped the Badgers field a top 10 defense and win the Cotton Bowl.

Wilcox has worked and played for many successful coaches, including Tedford, Chris Petersen, Dan Hawkins, Mike Bellotti, and Paul Chryst.

"I've been extremely fortunate to work for and with people I learned so much from," he said. "Each step along the way, I've seen it done a lot of different ways. I'm not trying to be any of those people. I always try to take pieces and make it my own."

Wilcox has begun putting together his staff, having hired former Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin as offensive coordinator and longtime Oregon offensive line coach Steve Greatwood to fill that role on the Bears.

The Bears will look very different under Wilcox than Dykes. Wilcox said he will recruit tight ends as Cal moves from the spread "Bear Raid" offense that relied on four receivers almost exclusively to a more balanced offense with tight ends and more power concepts.

While he will delegate most of the offensive responsibilities to Baldwin, Wilcox said he will be more involved on defense where he wants to find players who can fit into his base 3-4 system.

Cal ranked 125th in total defense, 127th in scoring defense and 122nd in yards per play out of 128 FBS teams last season on the way to a 5-7 record.

"Every second is critical right now," Wilcox said. "I will not sacrifice the long-term good of the program for what everyone wants which is certainty. Things will happen quickly. I understand the recruits have some anxiety about the situation and there's emotions involved. That's totally understandable. I'd feel the same way."