Oregon prepares to visit Cal in matchup of struggling Ds
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — The last time Oregon traveled south to play California, the teams wound up scoring a combined 100 points.
Two years later, it’s hard to imagine the scoreboard getting much less of a workout when the defense-challenged Ducks (2-4, 0-3 Pac-12) and Bears (3-3, 1-2) meet Friday night.
Oregon is surrendering 41.8 points per game — 125th nationally out of 128 FBS teams — and is coming off a 70-21 loss two weeks ago to No. 5 Washington. Cal ranks 123rd, allowing 40.0 points per game, and has not held the Ducks under 43 in a game since 2010.
Cal coach Sonny Dykes, whose Bears lost 59-41 to Oregon at Levi’s Stadium in 2014, can relate to the Ducks’ defensive downturn.
“Sometimes when you can’t stop the run, it makes it hard to play good defense,” he said. “We’ve dealt with that at times this year. It’s hard the way people play offense now.”
For Oregon, which began the season ranked No. 24 but hasn’t won since Sept. 10 against Virginia, getting a win over anyone would provide an “immeasurable” boost to the team’s confidence, coach Mark Helfrich said.
Helfrich wants practices to be tougher than games, convinced that will lead to success.
“Now it’s a matter of, ‘Hey, when you’re going against this guy who’s a fifth-year senior and you’re a redshirt freshman, or there’s 50,000 screaming people — whatever the situation — you execute exactly how you practice,’ ” he said. “That’s all we need. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Cal’s tendency is to throw the ball, but the Bears ran for a season-high 317 yards two weeks ago at Oregon State. That has the Ducks’ attention.
The game will be broadcast in the Florence area on FM 104.1 and in Mapleton on 103.1 KCFM beginning at 4:30 Friday. When the Siuslaw Viking football game is concluded, the game will migrate to 106.9 fm KCST.
WASHINGTON ST-LEACH FINED
Washington State’s Mike Leach fined $10,000 reprimanded
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Washington State football coach Mike Leach was fined $10,000 and reprimanded Thursday by the Pac-12 Conference for comments about the Arizona State football program.
During a press conference Monday, Leach again accused the Sun Devils of stealing signs.
“Conference rules prohibit Pac-12 member institutions from disparaging each other and discrediting other institutions,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in statement.
“Information or accusations relative to rule violations must be handled by institutions filing those concerns with the Conference office through a formal process, and institutions must refrain from discussing those concerns publicly.”
On Monday, Leach turned his attention to Arizona State and coach Todd Graham ahead of the Cougars’ game Saturday night at Sun Devil Stadium.
“I think they still steal signs, and we’ll have to keep an eye on that,” Leach said Monday. “That is a very unsavory practice they have, so we’ll have to do what we can to defend against it.”
Leach said he heard rumors about microphones and cameras.
“They have a whole command center,” he said.
Scott noted in his statement that there are no playing rules that restrict a team from observing an opponent’s offensive or defensive signals.
“The NCAA playing rules (1-4-11-a, b and f) cover what audio and video equipment is prohibited in the team area, coaching box and coaches’ booth, and specifically state that any attempt to record, either through audio or video means, any signals given by an opposing player, coach or other team personal is prohibited,” Scott said.
Washington’s Plum has moved on from Final Four appearance
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Kelsey Plum is putting it all behind her: the accolades and everything she accomplished in a record-setting junior season that included Washington’s Final Four run.
“I’m just going to be blunt: I’m over it. Moved on,” Plum, the Huskies’ all-time leading scorer, said Thursday at Pac-12 media day. “I’m working on what I can get better at as a player, as a leader, as a person.”
Washington is picked to finish third in a preseason poll by the Pac-12 coaches in a dominant conference that sent four teams to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time. UCLA was chosen to win the league for the first time since 2000, with Stanford second.
The Bruins, who had the nation’s top recruiting class two years ago, received eight first-place votes and 116 points. Coach Cori Close said “I believe in this group,” and she has the team and talent to play for a national championship if all goes right.
WESTERN CONFERENCE PREVIEW
It’s still the Warriors as the team to catch out West
For Golden State, 73 is irrelevant. Only one number matters, and it’s 16.
The Warriors’ chase of being the greatest team in NBA history last season fell short in a big way, when the team that posted the best regular-season record of all time blew a 3-1 lead in the finals and lost the title to Cleveland.
So entering this season, any talk of setting another win record — even after adding Kevin Durant — would be foolish. The only thing the Warriors are interested in is getting the 16 postseason wins that would secure a second championship in three years, and they’ll again be the consensus pick to get out of the Western Conference for the third straight season.
“They’re as good as it gets in the NBA,” said new Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton, who most recently was a Warriors assistant.
Much of the look of the West has changed. Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett — all champions, all future Hall of Famers — are now all retired as well. And there’s new coaches in Sacramento (Dave Joerger), Memphis (David Fizdale), Minnesota (Tom Thibodeau) and Houston (Mike D’Antoni), along with Walton taking over for the Lakers.
But the targets in the West, they remain the same. It’s still the Warriors, then San Antonio, and from there it might be anyone’s guess.
Surprises last season, the Blazers won’t surprise anyone this time around. All-Star snub victim Damian Lillard is among the elite.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.