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Golden Nuggets: The Play in Lego

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Ross Bowers speaks on his first Big Game. Nam takes a look at how the new coaching staff has improved key Cal players.

The Play

Football

Videos

  • Tim DeRuyter talks about how the defense has looked in practice and sings the praises of Jordan Kunaszyk.
  • Justin Wilcox talks about how the defense has to make a “team effort” to stop the Stanford offense. David Ortega and his parents (both Cal alums) are name-dropped in the talk. Says the team knows whats at stake and is focusing on the game rather than the rivalry and bowl eligibility. (I think that’s what he said, anyway)
  • Bowers talks about what the bye week did for the players’ recovery and talks about the Stanford secondary and elite defensive tackle Harrison Phillips. (More on Phillips from Ryan Gorcey here) Bowers says the pressure and emotions from the USC rivalry (including the long losing streak) may have contributed to his mistakes late in that game so he plans to focus less on the Big Game pageantry this time.
  • Cal resumed practice on Tuesday and Beau Baldwin is encouraged by how the team handled the bye week and shedding off the rust. Beau, like Justin the next day, says the team has to focus on the game and not distract themselves by thinking about the Big Game pressure. (paraphrased - “The tough part about the game is not the rivalry, its that Stanford is pretty good”) Near the 8 minute mark he talks about Ross Bowers.

Articles

Long after a late practice this week, three reporters asked for a little assistance so they could pose for a post-interview photo with Ross Bowers.

Don’t look now, but the Cal quarterback might be becoming a star.

Or maybe, this is exactly the right time to look.

Bowers will get his first shot Saturday at leading a team into a Big Game, and the outcome will impact the Bears’ chances of playing in the postseason as well as the legacy of the sophomore.

“Trust me. There have been some lows of the lows, but I’m still out here playing football,” Bowers said. “I get to be with my best friends and coaches, who genuinely care about me and my teammates. It’s a great opportunity. It’s a true blessing. It’s hard to not love being out here, whether you’re 0-10 or 10-0. I’m sure it’s a little bit more fun to be 10-0, but I’m still doing what I want to do every single day.

“I’m kind of living my dream.”

  • SF Chronicle (who did the above article as well) has the Big Game as one of this weekend’s most captivating games.

With two weeks left in the Pac-12 regular season, USC has wrapped up the South Division’s spot in the conference championship game, and the North won’t be decided until Washington and Washington State play Nov. 25.

That left Saturday’s rivalry game between Cal and Stanford as a popular topic during Tuesday’s conference calls with the head coaches.

The teams are taking decidedly different approaches to the 120th Big Game.

The Bears are trying to avoid becoming the first team in the history of the rivalry to lose eight straight times and are one win from earning what would be a surprising bowl berth.

  • Stakes are high for both teams this Saturday, as the Lobsterbacks have a North title and a Heisman trophy to worry about as well, this East Bay Times article seems to talk about the Furd more than us but its still a good read.
  • Daily Cal’s Andrew Wild tortures himself by envisioning a scenario where Stanford can get a playoff spot... but says its to make it even more sweeter if Cal ruins it.
  • Trace’s breakdown of the Stanford Cardinal.
  • Nam and Trace take a look at the players that has benefited the most from the new coaching staff.

Picks

Does anyone really want to know if anyone thinks Cal will win? This morning’s been depressing enough...

But okay, fine

Jon Wilner and SB Nation’s Bill Connelly have Cal covering the 16 point spread but losing outright.

When I checked Yahoo Pickem... 75% of players pick Furd to COVER the 16 point spread... Yeah. I shouldn’t have checked. Sorry.

Did anyone pick Cal? Let me know in the comments. I guess if SOMEONE has to do it. It’ll be me. I pick Cal! Cal’s taking back the axe! There! Hooray!

Basketball

  • Get to know the new Cal Men’s Basketball players in a new series called “Fast Break”. This week, Jules Erving. It looks like I didn’t see this series before, they already did one for Paris Austin and Jacob Orender.

1. Basketball Influences

Erving's father Julius -- better known as Dr. J -- played 16 seasons between the ABA and NBA, winning four MVP awards and an NBA title with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1983. Aside from his basketball lineage, Erving's favorite athlete is LeBron James, while the player he strives to emulate on the court is Draymond Green.

"My favorite athlete is LeBron James because of the impact he has not only on the game but outside of the game, so I look up to him as a role model," Erving said. "I also like Draymond Green because he plays so well on both ends of the court. I try to play my best on defense and offense, so I try to relate my game as much as I can to him."

I’ve had this conversation – or some derivation of it – several times since our schedule came out. So, I thought I’d take this blogging opportunity to answer the question of how this series came about.

Or, as some people have asked more bluntly, what was I thinking?

Glad you asked.

While our conference schedule is set by the Pac-12 and we have no control over it, coaches actually get to craft the non-conference slate. You have to work with other schools, of course, and around school/holiday dates, and within your university’s criteria or budget parameters, but generally the schedule before conference play has the signature of the head coach on it.

I’m thoughtful and intentional about everything I do with our program, and scheduling, an important component, is no exception. A lot of things go into it. We try to have a balanced schedule, one that produces a strong RPI, yet gives us the chance to grow as a team. We want to play teams with various competitive styles to prepare us for the rigors of the Pac-12. We like to travel to interesting places when possible, and also play the schools nearby so local fans from both sides can attend.

Above anything else in my thought process, however, is my desire to give our players the best experience I possibly can while they are a student-athlete under my watch at Cal.

Misc.

  • I haven’t really had time to cover all the recruits the Olympic Sports teams have signed this month, and now there seems like way too many to catch up, but I’d check out CalBears.com as there have been some great signings!
  • Daily Cal breaks down a somewhat successful season (first winning season in six years, but didn’t make the postseason) for the Field Hockey team.
  • I showed you the Men’s Gymnastics uniforms in the previous GN, now here’s the new women’s leotards! It looks like they will have 3 variations.
  • Cal Volleyball has some big, must-win games against two pretty good teams from Los Angeles. Bailee Huizenga has the details in her blog.
  • Twice a year, all student-athletes are required to watch a presentation by a guest speaker. This semester, the speech was by Dr. Clarence Lee, a decorated war veteran, and here’s a recap.
  • EDIT: Just released. Jose Carrera-Garcia writes about his third post-season game in his final blog entry.

You can find me at Men’s Soccer’s postseason game and the basketball game tonight, and of course the Big Game (just bought my ticket last night) and maybe the Sunday VB game. Go Bears!