Tag: Pac-12

Cuonzo Martin
Associated Press

Cal players come together through weekly life chat sessions

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BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) Each member of the California basketball team has his own definition of what it is to be a man, a recent topic of conversation for the Golden Bears during one of their weekly chat sessions focused more on life than athletics.

This is just one focal point for second-year Cal coach Cuonzo Martin as he tries to best prepare his players for anything that might come up during college or later on – from a difficult family or personal matter to an unforeseen crisis or world event.

“It’s good to hear each other’s opinions on certain issues,” guard Sam Singer said Wednesday. “There are going to be arguments on certain things, we’re not going to see eye to eye but for us to be able to communicate through those disagreements and come to a solid conclusion is something that will help on the court as well. They’ve been very productive.”

Martin started this at his first coaching stop, Missouri State.

“It’s just really about life, not necessarily about basketball,” he said.

The meetings they call “Real Talk” happen on a weekend day in the locker room after breakfast, led by director of basketball operations Marco Harris. Martin turns up from time to time if he happens to be around, but if he joins in it is clear he is a peer and not an authority figure so that everyone feels comfortable speaking his mind openly and honestly.

“We just talk about different subjects of life, different things going on around the world,” said guard Tyrone Wallace, who returned for his senior season rather than entering the NBA draft. “It is a team-builder. We get to learn from each other as well as the coaches and the staff who attend. It’s just a chance for us to be together and bond.”

That process began during the team’s August tour of Australia.

Martin is all about providing examples from his own path. Perspective is one of those teaching points. He used to be so devastated by a loss it would ruin his entire day.

“It took me years to learn it’s just a ballgame,” he said. “When I was able to embrace it I was probably 23 years old.”

One thing Cal doesn’t need to discuss is the high expectations for this team, with the national spotlight already on the Bears and their star-studded freshmen. The group features what’s considered a top-five recruiting class in the nation led by local forward Ivan Rabb out of Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd High and Jaylen Brown from Marietta, Georgia. Both will make an immediate impact for the Bears, who finished 18-15 and eighth in the Pac-12 at 7-11.

Now, the belief around Berkeley is that the Bears can contend for a conference title again not to mention an overdue NCAA Tournament run. The Bears last made the tournament in 2013 and took a six-point loss to eventual Final Four participant Syracuse. In 2009-10, Cal captured its first conference regular-season crown in 50 years.

“I don’t think we read too much into stuff on the outside,” Singer said. “We’re all very motivated, so we set high expectations for ourselves. We know what we want to accomplish and know how good we can be, so it’s up to us to determine how we do it with all the potential we have.”

Junior Stephen Domingo, a transfer from Georgetown who gets his first chance for the Bears after coming back home to the Bay Area, has been impressed with how the young players have participated in the chat sessions. Their on-court play is generating serious interest, too, considering the gathering of NBA scouts in the stands at Haas Pavilion on Wednesday as Cal went to work.

“These are some of the most mature freshmen I’ve ever met,” Domingo said. “They know how to carry conversations past basketball. It’s a great group of guys Coach Martin brought in. Jaylen, Ivan, Roman (Davis), they’re wise beyond their years, so they can talk about any controversial issue. It’s nice to know they’re well-rounded young men.”

PHOTO: Arizona State gets new jerseys

Bobby Hurley  recently named men's basketball coach at Arizona State, waves as he is introduced during an NBA basketball game between the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday, April 14, 2015, in Phoenix. (David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic via AP)

Arizona State will be upgrading to new adidas uniforms this season, the school announced in a release late this week. While the tops for the jerseys are outlined in a classic Arizona State design, the shorts come with the new pitchfork logo, making for a nice contrast of styles.

The Sun Devils will also have home whites in this design and the team also gets custom adidas colorways of the Crazylight Boost 2015, D Lillard 1, DRose 6, and JWall 1 signature shoes.

Overall, a nice upgrade for Arizona State and this design is pretty easy to agree with. With former Sun Devil James Harden recently inking a $200 million deal with adidas, it’s probably a smart move for the company to make his school look fresh.

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Washington forward out with fractured wrist

Lorenzo Romar
Associated Press
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To say that Washington has some roster turnover to deal with this season would be an understatement, as Lorenzo Romar’s program bid farewell to eight players through either graduation, transfer or dismissal. In their place are nine newcomers, with this class considered by some to be the best recruiting haul Romar’s reeled in during his tenure at Washington.

Given the overall lack of experience the newcomers will have to produce from the start, but in the case of freshman forward Marquese Chriss there will be some missed practice time. Chriss suffered a fractured wrist last month, and while the injury will result in some missed practice time he’s expected to be back in time for the Huskies’ season opener against Texas November 14 in Shanghai.

The 6-foot-9 Sacramento native is part of a front court that includes newcomers Malik Dime and Noah Dickerson, with all three needed to be contributors for a team looking to end a four-year NCAA tournament drought. Washington may lack experience, with guard Andrew Andrews being the team’s lone senior, but they don’t lack for bodies heading into the 2015-16 campaign.

That depth should allow Washington to play faster on both ends of the floor, something that has not happened consistently in recent years. The biggest need for improvement comes on the defensive end, where over the last three seasons the Huskies have struggled mightily.