Cal takes play-in status in stride


Cal takes play-in status in stride

BERKELEY -- A month ago, this probably isn't the way the Golden Bears imagined the Monday after Selection Sunday would play out. Instead of prepping for a Thursday or Friday tipoff in the NCAA Tournament, the Bears were scrambling to get out of town for a Wednesday matchup in Dayton, Ohio. They're not prepping for an NIT game, like many of their Pac-12 counterparts, but it's still not that assured seed they sought.

But as coach Mike Montgomery put it, his team is still playing -- and is playing in college basketball's grandest of all tournaments.

Montgomery was in high spirits as the team boarded a bus outside of Haas Pavillion just after 1 p.m. Monday afternoon.

He joked that the team better be ready for the task at-hand, as it's "do or die." He admitted the Bears hadn't had much time to digest the 12th-seeded play-in route that awaits. Cal was left in agony on Sunday, as it was one of the final teams to be revealed for the Big Dance. And once their ticket was punched, there's been no time to waste for the Bears.

The PR staff quickly dug up notes of past and present tourney facts for the Bears, while the coaching staff searched for any and all file on South Florida. Meanwhile, the players practiced one last time in Berkeley before boarding the bus for the airport.

The team is scheduled to arrive at the game site at 10 p.m. And rather than practice at the arena Tuesday, the practice has been moved off-site to accommodate security detail for President Barack Obama, who will be attending the first play-in games scheduled for Tuesday night.

The Bears then take the court Wednesday, hoping for their 25th victory of the year. The last time the team had a 25-win season was back in 1960 when the Bears were the tournament runners-up.

I've been told USF (not that USF, South Florida) is a team that doesn't allow its opponent to score more than 55-to-57 points a game, but then again, they usually only score 59 -- so this could be a close game. The uniqueness of this team, is that the Bears may wonder who to guard on Wednesday as South Florida does not have one player averaging more than 10 points a game -- USF seems to spread the scoring route.

The Bears didn't just pack carry-ons for this trip to Ohio. They brought out the big suitcases, hoping to extend this trip into Nashville. A win Wednesday, means they'll face No. 5 Temple Friday in Tennessee.

So, is there more to prove being that Cal was assigned to the play-in game? When asked about that, Montgomery just said the team has to show-up ready to play, if not ready yet.... and then he reiterrated they are proud to be in the tournament because although they may be on the outskirts of this 68-team depth chart, they are at least contenders.

And what do seedings really matter when it comes to the Madness of March? Just ask last year's Virginia Commonweath.

Pac-12 basketball teams near Barcelona terrorist attack safe


Pac-12 basketball teams near Barcelona terrorist attack safe

Men's basketball teams from Oregon State, Clemson and Arizona were staying at a hotel in Barcelona, Spain, near where a van drove into pedestrians on Thursday, but team officials said everyone was safe.

Spanish police have confirmed they are investigating the bloodshed in Barcelona's historic Las Ramblas district as a terror attack. The area is a popular summer tourist spot.

Tulane also was playing in Barcelona, but it was unclear if they were staying in the same hotel as the other teams.

Oregon State assistant coach Gregg Gottlieb posted to Facebook: "We are all luckily ok. Our hotel/restaurant is located right on Las Ramblas. This tragedy happened right in front of us as our team just sat down for pregame meal. Thoughts and prayers for all those that are were hurt."

The Beavers' game Thursday night was canceled. It was supposed to be the first of a five-game tour.

Clemson was scheduled to play Thursday night against a Spanish All-Star team.

"We've been in contact with our men's basketball program currently in Barcelona and the entire travel party is safe and secure. Their exhibition game for tonight has been cancelled and the team will return to Clemson as previously scheduled tomorrow morning. Our thoughts are with the people of Barcelona," the South Carolina school said in a statement.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell confirmed in a text to The Associated Press that the three teams were staying in the same hotel.

"We are fine. Thankful to be safe and together," Brownell wrote.

Tulane athletic director Troy Tannen confirmed via social media that the Green Wave players and staff were safe.

Replying to a Twitter inquiry from a Portland television about whether the team was OK, Oregon State head coach Wayne Tinkle responded: "Yes we are, happened directly in front of our hotel while we were having a team meal in the restaurant, so senseless and sad! All accounted4."

Oregon State said it has not yet determined the remaining schedule for the team, which was supposed to be on the exhibition tour until Aug. 25.

A spokesman for Arizona said the Wildcats have canceled their third and final exhibition of their tour and "are currently working on travel plans to return home."

The future of Cal athletics, or lack thereof


The future of Cal athletics, or lack thereof

Your education dollars are always at work, so it is with pride and bewilderment that we report that the University of California’s incoming class (2021, for those few who can get out in four years) marched to Memorial Stadium and formed the world’s largest human letter.
It was . . . wait for it . . . a “C.” A 7,196-person-strong “C.”
But the school, as it occasionally does, missed a golden opportunity to seize a golden opportunity. All they needed to do was have a quick whip-round, get $55,586.44 from each and every one of the captives . . . er, students, and they could have wiped out their entire athletics deficit in one night.
You see, while forming gigantic letters is always fun (or as the kids used to say when double negatives didn’t mean voting, never not fun), Cal is staring at quite possibly the bleakest future a major athletic university ever has. The athletic department, whose chief officer, Mike Williams, has just announced his intention to quit, is over $400 million in debt between construction costs, ambition, shrinking allegiance and the absence of a Phil Knight-level sugar daddy to buy the pain away.
And before you blame Williams, he inherited this indigestible planetoid from his predecessor, Sandy Barbour, who grew it from her predecessor, Steve Gladstone, and hastened it from . . . well, you get the drift. 
Cal’s been blowing through money it hasn’t been taking in for years upon years, didn’t realize the deficit-cutting benefits of the Pac-12 Network (because they largely don’t exist), and the day of reckoning looms closer and closer, especially now that new chancellor Carol Christ (no apparent relation) described the deficit as “corrosive” and has insisted that the athletic department have a balanced budget by 2020.
In short, the school may only be able to afford a lower-case “C” before too long. Maybe in comic sans.