Cal hires longtime Chip Kelly assistant, ex-49ers coach

Cal hires longtime Chip Kelly assistant, ex-49ers coach

BERKELEYCal head coach Justin Wilcox announced Tuesday that Jerry Azzinaro has agreed to become the Golden Bears' defensive line coach. Azzinaro has coached for 35 seasons at the collegiate and professional levels including the last four campaigns in the NFL with Philadelphia (2013-15) and San Francisco (2016). His most recent collegiate coaching position was at Oregon (2009-12).

"Jerry Azzinaro is regarded as one of the top defensive line coaches in the business," Wilcox said. "The success he had and expertise he gained in over three decades as a collegiate coach gave him the opportunity to work in the NFL the past four seasons and add to his vast knowledge of the game. I'm looking forward to Jerry bringing to our football program everything he has experienced at both the collegiate and professional levels."

"I'm excited to be joining the coaching staff at Cal," Azzinaro said. "Justin Wilcox is putting together a tremendous staff that will have the expertise and knowledge to capitalize on an opportunity to build one of the top programs in the Pac-12 and the nation."

Azzinaro has coached four first-round NFL Draft picks during his career in Arik Armstead (San Francisco, 2015), DeForest Buckner (San Francisco, 2016), Dwight Freeney (Indianapolis, 2002) and Dion Jordan (Miami, 2013).

Azzinaro finished his recent four-year NFL tenure in San Francisco in 2016, where he reunited with former Oregon defensive ends Armstead and Buckner with the latter earning a spot on the league's Pro Football Writers Association All-Rookie team. Buckner finished the season with 73 tackles and a team-high-tying 6.0 sacks.

Azzinaro's three campaigns in Philadelphia began with a playoff season, an NFC East title and a 10-6 regular-season record that was a six-game turnaround from 2012. The Eagles tied for third in the NFL with 31 takeaways.

In 2014, the Eagles' matched their 10-6 mark of the previous campaign but fell just short of the playoffs despite a defense that tied for the second-most sacks in the NFL (49.0) and ranked tied for fourth in yards allowed per carry (3.7). Defensive end Fletcher Cox earned second-team AP All-Pro honors registering 61 tackles, 4.0 sacks and three fumble recoveries, while defensive end Vinny Curry had a career-high 9.0 sacks.

Cox had another big season in 2015 with career highs of 71 tackles and 9.5 sacks that led to a second straight second-team AP All-Pro selection and his first Pro Bowl pick.

During his four years at Oregon, the Ducks played in BCS bowls each season and in the BCS National Championship Game following the 2010 campaign. Oregon also won Pac-10 titles in each of his first three seasons, reached the Pac-12 championship game in his fourth and posted an overall record of 46-7.

Oregon led the Pac-12 in sacks twice (2009, '11) and tackles for loss once (2010) during Azzinaro's tenure that began in 2009 when the Ducks paced the Pac-10 and ranked tied for 14th nationally in sacks (36.0, 2.77 spg). Defensive end Kenny Rowe led the league and ranked tied for ninth nationally in sacks (11.5, 0.88 spg) while also earning Rose Bowl Defensive Player of the Game honors after his 3.0 sacks equaled the contest's single-game mark.

In 2010, the Ducks won their first 12 games before falling to Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game. Oregon led the Pac-10 and ranked seventh nationally in tackles for loss (97.0, 7.46 tflpg) while finishing second in the conference and 12th nationally in scoring defense (18.7 ppg).

Oregon led the Pac-10 and ranked fifth nationally in sacks (45.0, 3.21 spg) in 2011 when the Ducks finished 12-2 overall and defeated Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl with Jordan earning all-conference honors.

His final season at Oregon in 2012 ended with a Fiesta Bowl victory and a 12-1 record as the Ducks led the nation in takeaways (40) and turnover margin (1.62). Jordan earned first-team all-conference honors for the second straight season and was selected third overall by the Miami Dolphins in the 2013 NFL Draft after combining for 24.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks during his two all-conference campaigns.

Azzinaro also had three stints as a defensive coordinator at Duke (2004-06), Massachusetts (1994, 1997) and American International College (1987-91). He began his career as a graduate assistant on defense at his alma mater American International College (1982-84) and has also had other stops at Westfield State (1985), Western New England (1986), Massachusetts (1992-93), Boston College (1995-96), Maine (1998) and Syracuse (1999-2003).

Azzinaro mentored defensive end Freeney during an All-American career at Syracuse that would lead to seven Pro Bowl and four All-Pro selections as well as a Super Bowl XLI champion. Freeney was a unanimous All-American as a 2001 senior at Syracuse and earned first-team All-Big East honors in each of his final two campaigns in 2000 and 2001. The 1999 Syracuse team finished 10-3 overall and ranked No. 14 in the final national polls.

Azzinaro played linebacker at American International College (1978-81) and led his team in tackles as a 1981 senior. He received his bachelor's degree from the school in psychology in 1982 and his master's in educational psychology in 1985.

Cal Bears media services provided this report.

Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

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Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Josh Jackson declared for the NBA draft on Monday after one of the best freshman seasons in Kansas history, one marked by plenty of highlights on the floor and a few distractions off it.

The 6-foot-8 swingman, who is considered a certain lottery pick, was the Big 12 newcomer of the year after averaging 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds. He helped the Jayhawks to a 31-5 record and its 13th straight regular season Big 12 title before losing to Oregon in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

Jackson signed with former NBA player B.J. Armstrong of Wasserman Media Group.

"After thoroughly consulting with my family, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA draft and pursue my dream of playing professional basketball," Jackson said in a statement Monday.

"I am very thankful for all of the support I have received from my coaches and teammates at Kansas," he said, "and I look forward to starting my career in the NBA."

Jackson was the nation's No. 1 recruit when he signed with the Jayhawks out of Prolific Prep Academy in California. He immediately earned a spot in the starting lineup, teaming with national player of the year Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham to form one of the nation's top backcourts.

With natural athleticism and ability to slash to the basket - not to mention defensive chops that are rare among freshmen - Jackson quickly established himself as one of the nation's top draft prospects.

His importance was never more evident than in the Big 12 Tournament, when he was suspended by coach Bill Self following a series of off-the-court issues. The top-seeded Jayhawks stumbled in a quarterfinal loss to TCU, ending their run at the conference tournament before it really began.

He returned for the NCAA Tournament and played well in wins over UC Davis, Michigan State and Purdue, but was hamstrung by foul trouble and managed just 10 points in a season-ending loss to the Ducks.

Jackson's suspension came following an incident outside a Lawrence bar in December, when a member of the Kansas women's basketball team got into an altercation with Jackson's teammate, Lagerald Vick.

Jackson followed the woman to the parking lot and the woman said he kicked her car and caused hundreds of dollars in damage. He pleaded not guilty last week in Douglas County District Court to one misdemeanor count of criminal damage to property and a trial is scheduled for May 24.

His attorney, Hatem Chahine, said he was planning to file for diversion.

Jackson also was ticketed in February after he struck a parked car and fled the scene, and that drew Self's ire when he didn't tell his coach about the incident until several weeks later.

His decision to declare for the draft came a week after teammate Svi Mykhailiuk announced he would skip his senior season. But unlike Jackson, the 6-8 sharpshooter has not hired an agent and could withdraw his name by May 24 and return to the Jayhawks.

Redemption: Year after heartbreak, UNC outlasts Gonzaga to win title

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AP

Redemption: Year after heartbreak, UNC outlasts Gonzaga to win title

BOX SCORE

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It's OK, Carolina, you can open your eyes.

An unwatchable game turned into a beautiful night for the Tar Heels, who turned a free-throw contest into a championship they've been waiting an entire year to celebrate.

Justin Jackson delivered the go-ahead 3-point play with 1:40 left Monday and North Carolina pulled away for a 71-65 win over Gonzaga that washed away a year's worth of heartache.

It was, in North Carolina's words, a redemption tour - filled with extra time on the practice court and the weight room, all fueled by a devastating loss in last year's title game on Kris Jenkins' 3-point dagger at the buzzer for Villanova.

"Just unreal that we get a second chance at this," junior Theo Pinson said, recounting a pre-game conversation with teammate Joel Berry II. "Not a lot of people can say they can do that. I told him, `We're about to take this thing. I'm about to give everything I got.' I knew he would, too, We just didn't want to come up short again."

But to say everything went right for Roy Williams' team at this Final Four would be less than the truth.

The Tar Heels (33-7) followed a terrible-shooting night in the semifinal with an equally ice-cold performance in the final - going 4 for 27 from 3-point land and 26 for 73 overall.

Gonzaga, helped by 8 straight points from Nigel Williams-Goss, took a 2-point lead with 1:52 left, but the next possession was the game-changer.

Jackson took a zinger of a pass under the basket from Pinson and converted the shot, then the ensuing free throw to take the lead for good. Moments later, Williams-Goss twisted an ankle and could not elevate for a jumper that would've given the Bulldogs the lead.

Isaiah Hicks made a basket to push the lead to 3, then Kennedy Meeks, in foul trouble all night (who wasn't?), blocked Williams-Goss' shot and Jackson got a slam on the other end to put some icing on title No. 6 for the Tar Heels.

Williams got his third championship, putting him one ahead of his mentor, Dean Smith, and now behind only John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski and Adolph Rupp.

"I think of Coach Smith, there's no question," Williams said. "I don't think I should be mentioned in the same sentence with him. But we got three because I've got these guys with me and that's all I care about right now - my guys."

Berry recovered from ankle injuries to lead the Tar Heels, but needed 19 shots for his 22 points. Jackson had 16 but went 0 for 9 from 3. Overall, the Tar Heels actually shot a percentage point worse than they did in Saturday night's win over Oregon.

Thank goodness for free throws.

They went 15 for 26 from the line and, in many corners, this game will be remembered for these three men: Michael Stephens, Verne Harris and Mike Eades, the referees who called 27 fouls in the second half, completely busted up the flow of the game and sent Meeks, Gonzaga's 7-footers Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins, and a host of others to the bench in foul trouble.

The game "featured" 52 free throws. Both teams were in the bonus with 13 minutes left. Somehow, Collins was the only player to foul out.

Most bizarre sequence: With 8:02 left, Berry got called for a foul for (maybe) making contact with Karnowski and stripping the ball from the big man's hands. But as Karnowski was flailing after the ball, he inadvertently grabbed Berry around the neck. After a long delay, the refs called Karnowski for a flagrant foul of his own.

"I'm not going to talk about refs," Karnowski said. "It was just a physical game."

Zags coach Mark Few handled it with class, calling the refs "three of the best officials in the entire country," and insisting they did a fine job.

He might have wanted further review on the scrum with 50 seconds left. The refs were taking heat on social media for calling a held ball, which gave possession to the Tar Heels, on a pile-up underneath the Carolina basket. It set up the Hicks layup to put Carolina ahead by 3. One problem: Meeks' right hand looks to be very much touching out of bounds while he's trying to rip away the ball.

"That was probably on me," Few said. "From my angle, it didn't look like an out of bounds situation or I would have called a review. That's tough to hear."

The Bulldogs (37-2), the Cinderella-turned-Godzilla team from the small school in the West Coast Conference, tried to keep the big picture in mind. Twenty years ago, this sort of run at that sort of place looked virtually impossible. With less than 2 minutes left, they had the lead in the national title game.

"We broke the glass ceiling everyone said we couldn't break," junior forward Johnathan Williams said.

And North Carolina got over a hump that, at times this season, felt like a mountain.

"They wanted redemption," Williams said. "I put it on the locker room up on the board - one of the things we had to be tonight was tough enough. I think this group was tough enough tonight."