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Carmen Policy part of BASHOF’s 2017 class

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 06:00:00 UT

Carmen Policy, the front-office mastermind of Eddie DeBartolo’s ownership, is one of five people to be announced Monday as the latest inductees into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame. The class also includes jockey Russell Baze, Olympic volleyball star Kerri Walsh Jennings, former Giants third baseman Matt Williams and Bill Cartwright, the USF alum who went on to become an NBA mainstay. Policy joined the 49ers in 1983 as the club’s vice president and counsel, and he proved to be a man of wisdom and perspective as the team scored Super Bowl victories in 1985, 1989 and 1990. Policy was named the NFL’s Executive of the Year in 1994 by the Sporting News and Pro Football Weekly in a vote of NFL executives and owners. In 2006 he passed Laffit Pincay Jr., who had been the sport’s leading rider with 9,530 victories, and Baze kept racing until the age of 57. Prestige beckoned at tracks around the country, but Baze preferred to work mostly at Golden Gate Fields, where he racked up 54 jockey titles, and Bay Meadows, where he earned 40 more. Time and again, her Olympic Games appearances became must-see viewing, and in tandem with Misty May-Treanor, she won gold medals in beach volleyball in 2004, 2008 and 2012. After giving serious thought to retirement, she found a new partner in April Ross, and although they were defeated by Brazil at the ’16 Rio Games, their successful fight for the bronze medal brought countless hugs, tears and admiration. Walsh Jennings is local all the way, having starred at San Jose’s Archbishop Mitty High School, then moving on to Stanford, where she became the second player in NCAA history to be named first-team All-American in all four seasons she played (1996-99). After a long coaching career, Cartwright returned to USF last March as director of university initiatives, helping mentor students and develop connections with USF alumni and the San Francisco community.



Warriors chasing unique brand of history

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 00:54:41 UT

Monday evening arrives like a long-awaited film premiere. The Cleveland Cavaliers are in town, riding a four-game winning streak against Steve Kerr’s club dating to last season’s Finals. In the league’s long history, no team reached the pinnacle behind three phenomenal outside shooters and only marginal inside presence. Plenty of championship teams had unlimited scoring potential, but always with that inside option: Figuring out a halfcourt set with three of the greatest shooters the league has ever seen, only rarely even considering a down-low option, minus that vital element of rim protection on defense? The 1990-91 Warriors played to uproariously jubilant crowds at (what was then called) the Oakland Coliseum Arena with Chris Mullin averaging 25.7 points, Mitch Richmond 23.9 and Tim Hardaway 22.9. The Cavaliers think they can rough up the Warriors, play with their instincts, inflict some more self-doubt. [...] you know, you’re a Millennial. Appalled by last week’s disgrace in Oklahoma City, where the last 24 seconds of the Thunder-Rockets game took nine minutes to play, Commissioner Adam Silver called for change because “obviously, people, particularly Millennials, have increasingly short attention spans.” In reality, the Millennials joined Baby Boomers, children of the Great Depression and the Ben Franklin Fan Club in complete disgust. [...] how about that Millennial who studies a sporting event with undivided attention, drawing fresh and intriguing conclusions? The last time the Cavaliers visited Oracle, it was Game 7 of the Finals and a seminal moment for coach Tyronn Lue, only months into the job. Stop being so passive! Then Lue repeated those words, in essence, in front of the team at halftime. What’s going to change, exactly, if the Kings and DeMarcus Cousins follow through with their planned contract extension through 2023?



Replacing an iconic sportswriter, with class

Fri, 23 Dec 2016 23:07:27 UT

Mark Foyer seemed to be everywhere at once, filling pages of the Half Moon Bay Review with stories, features and commentary on the local high school to the great delight of athletes and their parents. The nature of the disease leaves no guarantee when or even if a patient will fully recover, but Foyer believes he will. [...] in the interim, a very generous and hard-working fellow has stepped in. Having John fall into our lap,” said Review editor Clay Lambert, “was like manna from heaven. Murphy is only a part-time employee of the Review, hired after the paper sent out a desperate plea via Craigslist, but he reaches out to the wide expanse of Half Moon Bay High School sports — freshman teams, junior varsity, varsity, soccer, wrestling, volleyball, water polo, whatever is in season — in his weekly dispatches. A friend since grade school, Menlo School boys basketball coach Keith Larsen, describes the 60-year-old Murphy as “a man with zero ego” and “about as laid-back a person as you’ll ever find.” [...] he works with special-education children who would be lost without the proper guidance. Working mostly for daily newspapers, Murphy passed through San Mateo, Watsonville, Victorville, San Bernardino and Riverside over the years, later hooking up with Prep2Prep, featuring high school coverage in California and several other states. Not once, he says, did he ever aspire to cover major sports or be a big-time columnist. In a Review piece published in August, Lambert wrote, Other sportswriters would have longed for bigger stages and more important contests — and he did find ways to cover national and even international events, often on his own dime (a track and field aficionado, Foyer attended the World Championships in Edmonton, Paris, Helsinki, Osaka and Berlin in the 2000s). The walls of Foyer’s hospital room are decorated with cards, photos, letters and Facebook posts from well-wishers. Within days he was in the emergency room at Mills-Peninsula Hospital, his body essentially shutting down, and he has yet to return home. Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a rare autoimmune disorder that attacks the peripheral nervous system and leaves the body in a paralysis-like state. Learning to swallow, feeling slight movement in his legs and fingers, standing up (with assistance) for two or three minutes in physical-therapy sessions, or sensing a bit of pain in the hip — “the muscles are waking up,” he says. Among the posted newspapers clippings is a Review column from Murphy, headlined “Call me interim bard until Foyer gets back.” “It’s really remarkable,” said Traci Yerby, whose son, Ryan, was recently featured for his accomplishments in two sports and the classroom. The kids always loved seeing all his articles, and John has taken it over so well. The Sporting Green is highlighting a series of “Holiday Heroes,” all of whom are making the world a better place through sports.




Craig Sager — A distinctive voice silenced at age 65

Fri, 16 Dec 2016 20:31:03 UT

Sager waded into some tense situations in his time, always with a thin smile and a look of utter calm. Because he worked for Turner Sports, Sager never got the chance to work the NBA Finals — until last year, when he returned to action after a two-year absence. In a glowing tribute to his reputation, TNT granted his temporary release so he could work part of the Warriors-Cleveland series for ESPN/ABC. “Craig was as vital to the NBA as the players and coaches,” commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. A story I’ll never forget, from Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins: Sager perched on a barstool regaling strangers with a story about Dennis Rodman, who went AWOL from the Pistons in 1993 and planned to commit suicide, until Sager tracked down the Worm on the second floor of a Detroit strip club.



Wake Forest scandal: When radio broadcasters go wrong

Fri, 16 Dec 2016 02:58:21 UT

Across the college football landscape, play-by-play broadcasters tend to be fiercely protective of the local team, often venturing deep into “homerism” and giving opponents no credit whatsoever. From a Bay Area standpoint, imagine Cal analyst and former quarterback Mike Pawlawski secretly telling Stanford all about the Bears’ Big Game strategy. Louisville, a resurgent team featuring Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson, was among the apparent beneficiaries. “Among the communication were a few plays that were sent and then shared with our defensive staff,” Jurich said in a statement. Over the years, Petrino has been involved in shady recruiting practices, taking new jobs without following protocol, and having an affair with a 25-year-old former volleyball player he had hired while coaching Arkansas (details emerged after Petrino crashed his motorcycle with her as a passenger).



Soannie Torres, wife of ex-Giant Andres Torres, dies of cancer

Thu, 8 Dec 2016 22:37:59 UT

Soannie Torres, wife of ex-Giant Andres Torres, dies of cancer “We send our sincerest, deepest sympathies to Andres and his family,” Giants president Larry Baer said in a statement. Andres Torres, who has been in retirement since 2013, signed with the Giants as a free agent in January of 2009. In 2013, he batted .250 in 103 games and announced his retirement at age 35. Jorge Ortiz, a longtime Bay Area-based sportswriter who shares Torres’ Puerto Rican heritage, recalled Soannie as an absolutely lovely woman, smart, strong and the person who kept Andres centered.



Scorned surfer Bianca Valenti on a mission

Tue, 8 Nov 2016 23:52:03 UT

Valenti surfs Mavericks more often than any woman in the world, but she was named only a first alternate to the event. Because she has been a strident voice in favor of the women’s big-wave surf movement, there was speculation that the contest organizers, Cartel Management, left her out for political reasons. There has been so much outrage from the women’s surf community over Valenti’s exclusion, it seems possible she could surf the Mavericks contest after all — perhaps as part of a seven-woman heat. In the wake of Cartel’s announcement, Valenti has surfed big, beautiful Mavericks twice and the challenging Ocean Beach twice in near-maximum conditions. The idea at “Jaws” is to run the women’s heats with the swell either on the rise or the decrease, leaving the maximum-size waves to the men (an agreement that has brought no complaints from the women, due to Peahi’s extremely dangerous conditions) over a two-day period.




Cal, Stanford and their opposite paths

Mon, 7 Nov 2016 16:54:25 UT

The Big Game should be especially nutty this year, and it looms as a potential turning point in head coach Sonny Dykes’ tenure at Cal. The relentless Washington Huskies steamrolled Cal 66-27 to remain unbeaten (9-0) and demand respect in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings. Cal’s defensive backs were mercilessly torched by quarterback Jake Browning, the Huskies rolled up 704 total yards, and Cal’s defense — good lord, is it awful — was about like always. (Silly you, wondering about the starting time; of course it’s 7:30 p.m.) The Cougars took early losses to Eastern Washington and Boise State but have matched Washington’s 6-0 conference record. The Bears need two wins in their final three games to qualify for a bowl, and if they lose to WSU, that means taking down Stanford (Nov. 19) and UCLA (Nov. 26) in consecutive weeks. Sources indicate that the starting time for the Big Game, a special event that brings together Bay Area friends, associates and families in a mood of high anticipation, won’t be announced until a week ahead of time. Though Webb was typically prolific Saturday night, unleashing his arm 47 times, Stanford closed out its victory over Oregon State with 29 consecutive running plays. Shaw made a plausible point afterward, saying the plays were working, as well as burning up the clock, and besides, he loves that sort of thing. Shaw felt compelled to replace Ryan Burns after the first seven games, and Keller Chryst hasn’t been an improvement (just 60 passing yards against OSU). Oddly ranked fifth by the CFP committee last week behind a team with one loss (Texas A&M), the Huskies realized they can’t ease up for the rest of the season, not even for a second, if they want one of the four playoff spots. Washington is unbeaten in the Pac-12, operating an NFL-level passing game and absolutely crushing people.



Mavericks permit extended 1 year, women added to contest

Thu, 3 Nov 2016 16:11:18 UT

[...] Cartel Management got a slap on the wrist, and one of surfing’s most popular big-wave surfers found herself on the outside. Seeking a four-year extension of its permit to hold the event, Cartel was instead granted merely a one-year extension and told to “come up with a plan,” in the words of Commissioner Mark Vargas. Somewhat disheartening, to those familiar with the local scene, was the exclusion of San Francisco’s Bianca Valenti, who was named first alternate behind two of the first women surfers to ride Mavericks, Sarah Gerhardt and Jamilah Star, and Hawaiian standouts Keala Kennelly, Paige Alms, Emy Erickson and Andrea Moller. Despite having a year to develop a coherent plan,” said Susan Jordan, director of the California Coastal Protection Network, “Cartel came in at the last minute and has only now attempted to construct one. Mavericks surfer Savannah Shaughnessy, who will be out at least a year because of knee surgery, and photographer Nikki Brooks, who has shot big-wave surfing for years. “There are only a handful of women who are able to surf Mavericks at this level,” said contest board member Cassandra Clark.



Cal crushed by relentless USC, 45-24

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 06:46:40 UT

Cal took the field as the Pac-12’s worst team in rushing yardage allowed, at 270 per game, and USC (5-3, 4-2 Pac-12) parlayed a 260-yard first half into 398 rushing yards for the night and a staggering 629 yards total. [...] went the Bears’ 13th straight loss to the Trojans and a potentially grim outlook for the rest of the season. Quarterback Davis Webb had his moments in defeat, completing 34 of 53 passes for 333 yards with touchdown hookups to Tre Watson and Melquise Stovall, but he was no match for his counterpart’s pure efficiency. USC’s student body aside, there were thousands of empty seats in every section of the storied Memorial Coliseum — perhaps a fitting turnout for an episode of little suspense. Jones’ 61-yarder triggered a drive that climaxed impressively when Darnold, a major factor in the Trojans’ revival since replacing Max Browne, threw a 3-yard touchdown strike to Darreus Rogers. Darnold tossed a screen pass to a wide-open Jones for a 16-yard touchdown, and although the rain had yet to arrive, it felt as if a storm was unloading on Cal’s ever-vulnerable defense. By forcing a fumble and then recovering one, he set up Webb’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Watson and a 27-yard field goal by Matt Anderson.



Little hope for change in Pac-12 scheduling

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 06:27:42 UT

LOS ANGELES — As the Pac-12 schedule grinds on, frustrated fans wonder if there’s any future relief from night games, weekday matchups and undisclosed starting times. Commissioner Larry Scott addressed the media before Thursday night’s game, issuing reminders that the television contract — approved by university chancellors savoring the financial windfall — runs through 2024 and, “There’s not a lot of flexibility.” Asked about Cal players facing back-to-back weeknight games during a particularly demanding academic stretch, Scott said, That hasn’t been a parameter, academic schedules per se, so it hasn’t come up at any of our discussions. Any words of encouragement for fans who cherish afternoon games? Try to fathom quarterback Aaron Rodgers being replaced, or the Bears handing USC its only loss of the season — 34-31 in triple overtime at Memorial Stadium in 2003. Reggie Robertson had won the Bears’ quarterback job at the start of the season, and although he lost it to Rodgers, Robertson entered in the third quarter after a Rodgers interception and kept Cal in the game. Rodgers would lead Cal to an 8-6 finish, including a 52-49 victory over Virginia Tech in the Insight Bowl. USC wound up 12-1, beat Michigan 28-14 in the Rose Bowl and earned the season-ending No. 1 ranking in the AP poll.



Previewing Cal’s big test at USC

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 00:04:28 UT

The Trojans are revitalized and, unlike the defensively challenged Bears, can be exceptional on both sides of the ball. Nobody expects the Bears to catch Washington or Washington State in this division — both teams are 4-0 — but it would earn the Bears some national attention and keep alive their hopes for a postseason bowl appearance (it takes six overall wins; Cal is 4-3 going in). Favorite receiver Chad Hansen, so supremely efficient on pass routes, difficult catches and field awareness, is expected to return from an ankle injury. A fierce storm (at least by L.A. standards) is forecast to arrive sometime tonight, and if it starts raining during the game, the running game will be crucial for both sides. If the Bears continue their recent success — Khalfani Muhammad has rushed for 313 yards over the last two games, Tre Watson 288 — who knows?




NBA Western Conference preview

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 04:39:29 UT

NBA Western Conference preview NBA Western Conference preview L.A. CLIPPERS (53-29): Can’t understand the preseason excitement about a team that never quite delivers. Hopelessly incompetent owner Vivek Ranadive not accountable for anything. L.A. LAKERS (17-65): The players have energetically bought into Luke Walton’s approach. SAN ANTONIO (67-15): Head coach Gregg Popovich calls the Warriors “an anomaly” in that nobody can match their small-ball game. Harrison Barnes fighting heavy skepticism as a go-to guy, which the Mavs want. Hope for the playoffs if Marc Gasol and Mike Conley somehow stay healthy. New head coach Dave Fizdale was once a Warriors assistant. HOUSTON (41-41): It’s all up to James Harden, who says he wants to pass the ball (he’s got the skills) and play defense. Chances of that over 82 games: none, assuming it’s just an average club and vulnerable to malaise. NEW ORLEANS (30-52): Anthony Davis is hurt again (ankle), and that’s a disturbing pattern. [...] though, this halfcourt offense is bound to stall. PORTLAND (44-38): Damian Lillard says he’s too proud to join a “super team,” and he has a dynamite partner in C.J.McCollum, but the Blazers need some work. Injuries to Favors and Gordon Hayward slowed the preseason buzz, but this team is a threat, having added Joe Johnson, Boris Diaw and efficient PG George Hill. MINNESOTA (29-53): The NBA’s best up-and-coming team with Karl-Anthony Towns already a prime-time center.



NBA Eastern Conference preview

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 04:32:39 UT

NBA Eastern Conference preview Dwight Howard is back home, boldly defying his critics, but he’s a demand-the-ball guy who has no post-up game — and head coach Mike Budenholzer likes a blur of offensive movement. Al Horford is gone, and point guard Dennis Schroder will make ’em miss the departed Jeff Teague. CHARLOTTE (48-34): One look at the center position (Roy Hibbert, or possibly Cody Zeller) and it’s instant gloom. [...] there will be special moments from Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who returns from shoulder surgery. Making Frank Kaminsky the ninth overall pick (2015) sounded risky at the time, and little has changed. TORONTO (56-26): Built around the dynamic DeMar DeRozan-Kyle Lowry backcourt once again, but the Raptors’ streak of division titles will end at three. [...] head coach Jeff Hornacek got a tremendous break when Phil Jackson said he wouldn’t have to play the triangle offense. Lin shouldn’t be that vital on any team, but this could mark a career rebirth under new head coach Ken Atkinson, an assistant during “Linsanity” in New York. The mood will brighten considerably if the supremely talented Joel Embiid, who has missed two seasons with foot problems, fulfills his preseason promise. Mike Dunleavy’s a nice addition for three-point shooting. Kyrie Irving intends to be the NBA’s top point guard, no questions asked. Andre Drummond needs to improve on that 35 percent free-throw shooting. MILWAUKEE (33-49): The league’s most intriguing experiment: 6-10 Giannis Antetokounmpo running the offense as a point guard-forward. With Khris Middleton out, recently acquired Tony Snell becomes the starter at shooting guard.



It’s an all-Maui affair in Heavy Water event

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 06:13:10 UT

The thrills came early, but perhaps most impressive was the finish of Wednesday’s Red Bull Heavy Water event, an 8-mile stand-up paddling endurance test from Ocean Beach to the St. Francis Yacht Club. After more than an hour of punishing physical challenge — too much for some of the competitors to handle — three men from Maui powered their way to finish at full throttle, looking as if they had plenty to spare. Victorious Connor Baxter, second-place Kai Lenny and third-place Zane Schweitzer have been friends and competitors since they were kids on Maui, each proficient in multiple disciplines. The original 40-man field was diminished because of travel commitments when the race was delayed a day, and three competitors failed to complete the race. [...] 20 grand is good money in the surfing world, and endurance paddling is something these athletes would do for free. Surveying the launching spot at the north end of the Great Highway around 11 a.m., an exuberant Lenny proclaimed, We’ll have some carnage out there. With a solid swell in progress, the competitors had to paddle out through the treacherous Ocean Beach shorebreak three times before heading northward to the Golden Gate Bridge. Baxter, still running up the beach, decided to paddle out about 30 yards north of Lenny, and the decision paid off. Smiling and gracious in defeat, Lenny looked reasonably tired but hardly exhausted — a near-inconceivable state after what he called a total grind.