Stanford's Ogwumike sisters eager to face Griner

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Stanford's Ogwumike sisters eager to face Griner

STANFORD -- Stanford sisters Nnemkadi and Chiney Ogwumike are thrilled to take on one mighty, Mile High challenge: stopping 6-foot-8 Baylor star Brittney Griner and the unbeaten Lady Bears.It's a matchup they've both been eagerly waiting for as they lead the Cardinal (35-1) into their fifth straight Final Four this weekend in Denver riding a school-record 32-game winning streak. Nneka Ogwumike faced Griner in an AAU game back in high school, and that's when she insists she learned to shoot 3-pointers because scoring in the paint was a big problem. But the senior feels like everybody else in the country has already faced Griner, and now she's finally getting that chance in her NCAA tournament farewell.

Chiney Ogwumike knows Griner will alter shots and block her fair share, too."I think we have a tall task ahead of us, no pun intended," Chiney Ogwumike said with a grin before practice Wednesday. "I expect my shot to get blocked quite frankly. Embrace it."Stanford is an underdog for a change, and that's fine with 26th-year coach Tara VanDerveer. She hasn't received any text messages, emails or calls with tips on how to pull off the upset against the Bears (38-0)."Everyone just says, Good luck, our money's on Baylor,'" she said, only half-joking.VanDerveer has a couple of tall male practice players who have played as Griner in the past - like last March when Stanford figured it might face Baylor at the Final Four. That was before Texas A&M pulled off a surprising victory against the Bears in the regional final and then beat the Cardinal in the national semifinals on the way to an improbable championship.VanDerveer won't even mind if Griner dunks against her team. It's good for the women's game, after all."That adds excitement," the Hall of Fame coach said. "It's two points. We're not going to have a breakdown about it. As long as it's not the winning basket. If Brittney Griner dunks, I hope she slams a couple home in warm-ups. I'll be sitting right there cheering. She's a special player."Nneka Ogwumike is a load to handle herself, so Baylor's defense will have its hands full. Ogwumike, the likely No. 1 pick in next month's WNBA draft, had 39 points and 10 rebounds in Stanford's 76-60 victory over No. 5 seed South Carolina in the regional semifinals, then added 29 points and nine boards in an 81-69 win over Duke in the Fresno Regional final Monday night."Honestly, if Nneka was 6-8 I'd be terrified of her," said Chiney Ogwumike, who grabbed 17 rebounds in the Duke win. "Her game would be ridiculous. She said, March madness turns you into a monster.' She's playing out of her mind."While these Final Four trips are becoming familiar each March, students and others in the community are stopping the Stanford players and coaches a little more frequently lately considering they all know that Griner and Co. are up next.In fact, VanDerveer was at the grocery store and got startled when she grabbed a carton of milk from the refrigerator only to have a man on the other side loading it congratulate her."Nneka and I went to get Jamba Juice yesterday and got stopped," Chiney Ogwumike said. "Someone said, Are you those twins?' We're like, Yeah, we're the twins.'"In truth, Chiney is the sophomore. Yet both know it's going to take one impressive sister tag-team act to move into the title game and have a chance at the program's first championship since 1992."I'd rather do that than go against tiny little people," Nneka Ogwumike said of going up against Griner's big body in the middle.She doesn't remember a lot from that game against Griner, except that they played at Rice and "it was hard for me to score, obviously."Griner's game was still developing and Ogwumike recalls she was figuring out her fundamentals. How tall was Griner then?"Taller than me," Nneka Ogwumike quipped.VanDerveer is counting on another balanced performance come Sunday night at the Pepsi Center after she got contributions from much of the roster in the win over Duke. While Nneka Ogwumike will run the show, the rest of the team is looking to take some pressure off its All-American forward - especially considering things will be all the more difficult dealing with Griner inside on both ends of the floor.Even 6-3 forward Joslyn Tinkle might find herself helping on Griner. Tinkle - daughter of Montana coach Wayne Tinkle - is eager to prove herself any way she's needed. A year ago as a sophomore, she didn't get off the bench in the NCAA semifinals after playing in every game up to that point.That fueled her for months, and she became a regular starter in January. Tinkle hit three 3-pointers and finished with 13 points, four rebounds and three assists against the Blue Devils on Monday."I just love to be out there, regardless of where I am," Tinkle said. "I'm doing my best to do whatever it is needed for our team."And it's certainly going to take a little something from everyone to get by Griner."We know that we're capable of more. Right now, I'm going in and just enjoying every moment," Nneka Ogwumike said. "It's not every day you play against someone like her. I'm excited. I feel like I'm the only one in the country who hasn't played her."

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.