Big Game Blowout -- Stanford Takes Back the Axe


Big Game Blowout -- Stanford Takes Back the Axe


BERKELEY (AP) -- About the only fight California put up against Stanfordcame before the pregame coin toss when the Golden Bears came out on thefield en masse jawing at their rivals.Stanford's players responded, andthat bit of trash-talking ended in a standstill. After that, theseventh-ranked Cardinal turned the day into a Big Game blowout.Andrew Luck threw two touchdownpasses and led Stanford to scores on all eight possessions he played asthe Cardinal beat California 48-14 on Saturday for its most lopsidedwin in the rivalry in 80 years."Our guys really kept their cool andI think that was a big difference today," Stanford coach Jim Harbaughsaid. "They kept their poise. I don't like that kind of football whereyou try and talk and intimidate. ... Just play football. Shut up andplay football."That's what the Cardinal (10-1, 7-1Pac-10) did to win for just the second time in the past nine gamesagainst the Golden Bears (5-6, 3-5).Luck completed 16 of 20 passes for235 yards and added 72 yards on the ground. Stepfan Taylor ran forthree scores as the Cal defense, which shut down No. 1 Oregon'shigh-powered spread offense in a 15-13 loss just one week ago, had noanswers for Luck and the Cardinal's power game.Luck managed to atone a bit for lastyear's struggles against Cal, when he completed 10 of 30 passes andthrew a game-sealing interception deep in Cal territory with just overa minute left in a 34-28 loss."I definitely had some motivationcoming off last year's disappointment," Luck said. "That being said, itwas a new year and you can't really dwell on the past too much. But Idid get a little extra motivation from that experience."Twenty-eight years to the day afterStanford was stunned on this same field by The Play, Luck made sure theCardinal could not be done in by a five-lateral kickoff return throughthe band for the game-winning touchdown this time. Stanford even got apep talk from John Elway, the losing quarterback in that 1982 game.Luck led the Cardinal on touchdowndrives of 95, 86, 90 and 61 yards in the first half. He threw touchdownpasses to Zach Ertz and Doug Baldwin and bowled over safety SeanCattouse on a 58-yard run that set up Stanford's first touchdown.Luck also engineered touchdowndrives on the first two drives of the second half, then led theCardinal to a field goal in the fourth quarter as the offense neverslowed down until he left the game in the final minutes."It's hard to slow down Stanfordconsistently," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "They're the most completeteam (we've played). They obviously have the best quarterback. In myopinion, he's the best quarterback in the country. He's an accuratepasser. He doesn't make mistakes. He puts the ball right between thenumbers. He's big and strong. When he pulls it down, you can'tarm-tackle him, he has speed and athleticism."Brock Mansion fumbled the first snapfrom center, and that was an omen for how this day would go for Cal.Mansion threw two interceptions, lost a fumble and finished 19-for-37for 173 yards.Shane Vereen ran for 63 yards,giving him a career-high 1,061 for the season, and Cal got its firstscore on a 17-yard TD pass from receiver Keenan Allen to Marvin Jonesearly in the fourth quarter to make it 45-7.Cal scored on another trick play inthe closing seconds as Isi Sofele took a lateral from Allen and scoredto help the Bears avoid matching the most one-sided loss in the historyof this rivalry. Stanford beat Cal 41-0 in 1930.The Bears now need to win theirseason finale at home next week against Washington to be eligible to goto a bowl for an eighth straight season.The Cal players decided in the morning they would all come out for the opening coin toss to challenge the Cardinal."We wanted to show we wereemotional, we were here and we were ready to play this game," Cattousesaid. "We wanted to let them know we were here."The officials quickly defused thesituation by calling offsetting personal fouls and ejecting Stanfordreserve receiver Jamal-Rashad Patterson."When all that stuff happened, wekind of got anxious to get out there on the field," Baldwin said. "Itkind of hyped us up a little bit more than we expected it to."Mansion then fumbled two of the first three snaps from center, losing the second to set up a field goal by Nate Whitaker.Richard Sherman intercepted a passfrom Mansion to end Cal's second possession. Stanford capitalized witha 95-yard TD drive, capped by Taylor's 3-yard run. The drive washighlighted by Luck's 58-yard run that included the shoulder knockdownof Cattouse."It kind of snowballed from there," Vereen said. "It's kind of tough to rebound. We shot ourselves in the foot offensively."

Fultz a perfect fit, but do Kings have assets required to trade up?

Fultz a perfect fit, but do Kings have assets required to trade up?

It’s lonely at the top, which is where Markelle Fultz sits on almost every 2017 NBA Draft board. The Brooklyn Nets should be set for the next decade with a big time scoring point guard. Instead, it’s the Boston Celtics who have no choice but to take Fultz with the No. 1 overall selection after a savvy trade that sent veterans Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets for a stack of picks and players back in 2013.

Fultz can do it all. He’s deadly from the outside, he can take you off the bounce and he has elite passing skills to boot. In a draft packed with star potential, specifically at the point guard position, the freshman from Washington stands out well above the rest.  

It would take a major shake up at the top for Fultz not to have his name called first on draft night, but there are plenty of very talented players sitting on the board behind him. Here is a deeper look at the potential top overall selection.

The Positives:
Fultz has tremendous size, length and athleticism for an NBA point guard. He measured in at 6-foot-5, 195-pounds with a 6-foot-10 wingspan and has a frame built to take on muscle. At just 19-years-old, he is already well defined physically and has plenty of room to grow and get stronger.

A crafty, high-end scorer, Fultz changes speed and direction well and has an advanced Euro-step for a young player. He averaged 23.2 points in 35.7 minutes a night for the Huskies while shooting 47.6 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from three. He can score from all three levels, finish well above the rim and play through contact.

In his lone season in college, Fultz showed that he is not only a legitimate scoring threat, but he is a willing passer and an unselfish teammate. While Lonzo Ball is considered the true pass first point guard of the draft, Fultz had a higher assist rate (35.5 to 31.5) and lower turnover rate (13.4 to 18.2) than the star guard from UCLA.

Fultz rebounds well for his position, averaging 5.7 rebounds per game at Washington. He also has potential as a defender, posting 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks, although he is a work in progress on that end of the floor.

Known as a high-character kid and tireless worker off the court, Fultz has the entire package. He can also play the lead or shooting guard spot, which will come in handy if the Celtics decide to pair him with All-Star Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt.

The Negatives:
9-16 is a concern. Great college players should be able to will their team to victory, even if the talent around them is suspect. Washington was certainly worse off without Fultz down the stretch, losing their last six while he sat with a knee injury.

Shot selection and sloppy ball handling was also an issue this season. In Fultz’ defense, he played with a group that lacked overall talent and those issues might eventually disappear when he’s added to a roster that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.  

Fultz is a quality chase down defender, but he fell asleep on plenty of plays or didn’t show a consistent fight on the defensive end. Lack of focus allowed for plenty of back cuts. He also showed an inconsistent effort fighting through screens.

He’s a work in progress on the defensive end, like most young players coming into the league. Most of these issues can easily be coached out of him at the next level.

Fultz has an advanced feel and tons of room to expand his game. On the court, he resembles another former Husky in Brandon Roy. Fultz is much further along than Roy was at the same age, but possesses both the ability to score from anywhere on the court, as well as rebound and set up his teammates.  

It’s hard to imagine the Celtics passing on Fultz with the top overall selection, but if they do, teams will scramble trying to move up to select him. He would fit perfectly in the Kings starting backcourt alongside sophomore Buddy Hield, but Sacramento lacks the assets to move from five to one, Fultz’ likely landing spot.


Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale


SAN FRANCISCO -- The blisters on Johnny Cueto's middle and index fingers that limited his effectiveness in his last few starts haven't yet completely healed.

But the two-time All-Star is learning to pitch with them.

Cueto threw six strong innings and Brandon Crawford drove in three runs as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Sunday.

Cueto (5-4) bounced back from his roughest stretch as a Giant. He was 0-3 with a 4.33 ERA in his previous four starts.

"They're not bothering me like they were before," Cueto said through a translator. "I'm just getting used to it but I have to continue pitching until they get better."

The Giants won their third straight home series and posted their 11th victory in 18 games overall.

Crawford's two-run single highlighted a four-run second against R.A. Dickey (3-4) that made it 6-0.

Matt Kemp had three hits for Atlanta. But the Braves couldn't get much going against Cueto, who allowed one run on six hits and a walk. Cueto struck out eight, including five in a row at one point.

"He did what he needed to do to get us out," Kemp said. "We had chances to score runs and we didn't. I think in this series we really didn't do a good score of scoring runs."

Dickey allowed a season-high seven runs (six earned) on six hits and five walks in six innings.

"This can be a challenging place to throw because of the wind because it swirls so much," Dickey said.

Eduardo Nunez and Gorkys Hernandez each had two hits for the Giants. Joe Panik tripled to start the second-inning burst.

Cueto had two productive at-bats, bunting a runner to second in the second inning and driving in a run with a sacrifice fly in the third.

"It's always nice to have a lead and I thought Johnny was the sharpest he'd been this year," Giants catcher Buster Posey said. "Hopefully it's something he can build on. The changeup was working really well and his command of the fastball was really good."

Posey was 0 for 2 with two walks. He hasn't struck out in 55 consecutive plate appearances.

The Giants scored the game's first run when Nunez came around from third when a knuckleball glanced off catcher Kurt Suzuki glove in the bottom of the first. The play was ruled a passed ball. Asked if he had any empathy for the plight of his counterpart, Posey said "Yes, no question. It's not fun to hit, it doesn't look fun to catch, either."

Hernandez made a diving catch in the gap in left-center robbing Emilio Bonifacio of an extra-base hit with one out in the seventh inning.

Braves: 2B Brandon Phillips left in the fifth for pinch-hitter Jace Peterson. Phillips fouled a ball off his foot in his last at-bat in the third.

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner will start his throwing program on Friday, manager Bruce Bochy said. Bumgarner will start out playing catch and make five rehab starts. The 2014 World Series MVP suffered a separated left shoulder in a dirt biking accident. "The progress is happening," Bochy said. "I think he sees light at the end of the tunnel." ... Slumping rookie INF Christian Arroyo was out of the lineup on Sunday and his playing status appears uncertain. Arroyo, who turns 22 on Tuesday, is 0 for 19 in his last five games. "I'll talk to him, about what his situation is," Bochy said. "I'm definitely planning on giving him a couple of days" off.

Braves: RHP Julio Teheran will make his first career start against the Angels in Anaheim on Monday. He is 3-9 with a 5.63 ERA in 15 career interleague starts.

Giants: LHP Matt Moore will face the Nationals for the second time in his career. He was with Tampa Bay when he gave up two runs in five innings against Washington in 2012.