It's the Big Game

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It's the Big Game

I know. Its pretty arrogant to think of Saturdays little get together at Stanford as the Big Game. There are probably a lot of games being played around the country this weekend that would fit that category, but for those of us who were born and raised in these parts, even though it can sometimes be a misnomer, for all its hokeyness -- its the Big Game.

In fact, if Harvard and Yale can refer to their yearly tussle as simply, The Game -- I think we here in the Bay Area are perfectly within our rights to add Big to the name. And this year it actually could rightly be called the Kinda Sorta Biggish Game. Stanford had its sizable bubble burst last week and Cal can at least now ponder a post season trip to -- well, to its home stadium this year, AT&T Park. Cmon, the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl is a bowl game isnt it?

PREVIEW: Cal vs. No. 8 Stanford

If the Bears can somehow manage to hand the Cardinal its second straight loss, Stanford will have gone from the National Championship Game to the Fiesta Bowl, to one of those other bowl games watched only by relatives and shut-ins. One thats sponsored by some product that is only used in areas where John Deere is the biggest name in transportation.

The truth is, the Big Game is the only time all year that the suits who inhabit the caverns of the financial district pick their heads up out of the big book of pork belly futures to nudge the Old Blue in the next cubicle about how the Bears havent been to the Rose Bowl since the Eisenhower administration. Thats usually met with a comment like, I think a dancing tree is a pretty stupid mascot. So much for football season. Back to the big board.

And thats why they call it the Big Game folks.

As to the contest itself, Stanford gets the game at home, and thats a good thing considering they got run out of their own building -- not to mention any hope of an undefeated season -- a week ago against Oregon. The very best news for Stanford -- Cal isnt Oregon.

KILLION: Big Game huge for Tedford

With that said, it wouldnt shock me if the Bears came down the peninsula and handed Stanford another serving of humble pie. For no other reason but that the Big Game is the personification of every sports clich that was ever spoken. Throw the records out in this one. You just dont know when its a traditional game. Stranger things have happened. Well you know what? You can, you dont, and they have -- those are the clichd answers to the clichd questions.

I dont really think Cal will win the game. Stanfords run defense is too good -- against everyone but Oregon that is -- and Cal doesnt throw it very well. Defensively, I like the Bears, but Andrew Luck is due for a game that he simply goes out and wins. Thats what I think will happen.

RATTO: Big Game intrigue

The Bears arent going to the Rose Bowl again, I do think the Tree is a pretty stupid mascot, and Id really like to know when to jump back into the pork belly market. But, like everyone else, Ill be watching the Big Game as I have for the past half century. And, why not?

Its the Big Game.

Cal promotes Wyking Jones as next head men's basketball coach

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Twitter/Calmensbball

Cal promotes Wyking Jones as next head men's basketball coach

BERKELEY – Wyking Jones, who has served the past two seasons as a Golden Bear assistant coach and has nearly 15 years of experience in collegiate coaching, has agreed to become the next men's basketball coach at the University of California. Over the course of his career, he has been a part of teams that have won a national championship and advanced to a pair of Final Fours, set all-time win records and been conference-leading defensive units.

"I am very excited to announce Wyking Jones as our next men's basketball coach at Cal," Director of Athletics Mike Williams said. "We conducted a thorough search, looking near and far and talking to people all around the country. We consulted with several Cal basketball alumni, as well as a multiple NBA and college coaches – some of the most experienced basketball minds in the game. Ultimately, we came back to where we started and found what we wanted right here in Berkeley.

"Wyking exudes all of the characteristics we want in a head coach," Williams added. "He is a person of high character who understands what it takes to thrive on and off the court. He has an affinity for Cal and its values, he has developed strong relationships with the student-athletes he coaches, and he has experienced success at the highest levels of the sport. Over the two years he has been in Berkeley, we have seen without a doubt that Wyking can coach, teach and be a leader of young men. We fully believe our men's basketball program is on an upward trajectory, and Wyking is poised to continue that momentum and take our program to even greater heights."

A California native who grew up in Inglewood, Jones played for and graduated from Loyola Marymount. Following a brief professional career, his coaching stops have taken him to Louisville, New Mexico and Pepperdine, in addition to his alma mater. Jones has mentored over a half-dozen current NBA players, including Cal's Jaylen Brown, who was the No. 3 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.

While an assistant coach at Cal, Jones helped the Bears to a combined 44-24 record and reach the postseason twice. In 2015-16, Cal finished 23-11 overall, third in the Pac-12 and received a No. 4 seed to the NCAA Tournament – the highest in the history of the program. This past year, the Bears posted a 21-13 mark and earned a berth to the National Invitation Tournament.

Charged with coaching Cal's big men, Jones helped forward Ivan Rabb become a two-time All-Pac-12 performer and Brown earn All-Pac-12 and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors in 2015-16. In addition, center Kingsley Okoroh, who will return for his senior season next year, set a school record with 74 blocks this past season.

Over his two years at Cal, the Bears' defense has led the Pac-12 in points per game and field goal percentage allowed both seasons – 67.3 ppg and 39.6 percent in 2015-16 and 63.4 ppg and 40.0 percent in 2016-17.

Jones' connections to the Bay Area run deep as his wife Estrella was born and raised in Berkeley and his sister-in-law, Dr. Na'ilah Suad Nasir, serves as UC Berkeley's Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion and has been a Cal faculty member since 2008.

"I am extremely excited to be taking over at Cal as the new men's basketball head coach," Jones said. "To be able to lead this incredible group of men is a dream come true for me. When I left Louisville and decided to come home to California, I was stepping out on faith, but I knew in my heart this was where I needed to be. Coach Martin left an unbelievable foundation for the program and we will work hard to continue to elevate Cal basketball. I want fans to know that I'm excited to coach these guys, not only for what they can do on the court but to continue to cultivate them as young men."

Jones enjoyed tremendous success at his stops prior to moving to Cal. During his four seasons under head coach Rick Pitino at Louisville from 2012-15, the Cardinals compiled a 123-30 record, reached two Final Fours and captured the 2013 NCAA title. Louisville also completed the 2014-15 season with a 27-9 record, advancing to the regional final.

Prior to Louisville, Jones served two seasons on the coaching staff at New Mexico with then-head coach Steve Alford where the Lobos won a combined 52 games, including a school-record 30-victory campaign in 2009-10, finishing with a No. 8 ranking in the Associated Press national poll.

From 2002-06, Jones spent five seasons at Pepperdine where he was the Waves' recruiting coordinator. He got his start in coaching at his alma mater, Loyola Marymount, during the 1996-97 season. In addition, Jones served as the travel team manager for the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) from 2006-09.

As a student-athlete, Jones was a standout at LMU from 1991-95 under head coach John Olive, scoring 1,076 points and collecting 493 rebounds. He was a two-time All-West Coast Conference selection, highlighted by a 19.7 ppg average as a junior. Jones earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from Loyola Marymount in 1995.

Following graduation, Jones played professional basketball from 1995-2001 in Italy, France, Japan, Lebanon and South Korea. He also served on the staff at Nike Elite Youth Basketball four two years from 2007-08. Jones and his wife, Estrella, have a son, Jameel and a daughter, Zoe.

What They're Saying …

"I'm ecstatic about the news. Coach Wyking is great with the players, knows his spots and gives us the confidence to go out there without looking over our shoulders." – freshman guard Charlie Moore

"I was recruited by Coach Wyking when I was first looking at schools. We were two California guys in Kentucky who started out as rivals but remained close. I saw him being able to do great things, and to start his head coaching career with him as my head coach is the best thing I could picture happening. Having him as my head coach now is one of the best things I could ever see." – senior forward Marcus Lee

"Wyking is a five-star recruiter, a five-star coach and a five-star person. I'm so happy for him and his family." – Louisville head coach Rick Pitino

Wyking Jones Year-by-Year

Fulltime Assistant Coach

Year     School Record Postseason

2016-17          California         21-13  NIT (1st round)

2015-16          California         23-11  NCAA (1st round)

2014-15          Louisville          27-9    NCAA (Elite Eight)

2013-14          Louisville          31-6    NCAA (Sweet 16)

2012-13          Louisville          35-5    NCAA (Champion)

2011-12          Louisville          30-10  NCAA (Final Four)

2010-11          New Mexico     22-13  NIT (2nd round)

2009-10          New Mexico     30-5    NCAA (2nd round)

Cal media services

Ex-Warriors, Kings coach withdrawns from consideration for Cal job

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AP

Ex-Warriors, Kings coach withdrawns from consideration for Cal job

BERKELEY — Nevada coach Eric Musselman said Wednesday he has withdrawn his name for consideration for the coaching vacancy at California, committed to continuing to build the Wolf Pack program after the school's first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007 in his second season.

Musselman's team captured the Mountain West Conference regular-season crown and tournament title, a program first. The Wolf Pack lost in the first round of the NCAAs to fifth-seeded Iowa State last week as a No. 12 seed to finish 28-7. While he originally signed a five-year contract through the 2019-20 season, Musselman is working to finalize a new five-year deal that would keep at the school for the long haul.

"My family and I are so excited about Nevada," he said in a text message to The Associated Press. "I love our players and the bond we have created as a team and on campus and in the community."

The 52-year-old Musselman interviewed in Berkeley for the Cal opening to replace Cuonzo Martin, who resigned from the Golden Bears last Wednesday and was named Missouri's new coach the same day. Martin was formally introduced Monday.

Cal is not announcing the names of anyone brought in to interview for the head coaching vacancy.