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Too much CoCo for CiCi at West of the Bank Classic

Sun, 6 Aug 2017 04:31:16 UT

Bellis leaves on Sunday morning for her next tour stop, Toronto, and won’t be able to catch the final, but it should be an afternoon treat (2 p.m.) for those in attendance and an ESPN2 audience. Madison Keys knocked off Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza 6-3, 6-2 in the evening semifinal, setting up a significant match in the hierarchy of American women’s tennis. The Williams sisters rank so far above the rest, it’s difficult to remember the last time another American woman won a Grand Slam event (it was Jennifer Capriati, at the 2002 Australian Open). No one is quite certain what gets into Muguruza at the majors, but the spectacle can be wondrous — she also won last year’s French Open, defeating Serena Williams — and very much for real. On the regular tour, not so much. Muguruza struggles with her motivation and consistency, and she never found her rhythm against Keys, who had a 3-17 lifetime record against top-5 players (Muguruza ranks fourth) heading into the match. Called “the future of American tennis” by the great Chris Evert several years ago, she’s still just 22 and savoring her renewed good health. There was a bit of suspense in the first set when Bellis, trailing 2-1, had a break point at 30-40. Vandeweghe rallied to clinch that game with an ace, then broke Bellis’ serve for a 4-1 lead — a game that ended when Bellis tried a backhand drop shot but missed wide. Bellis did manage to break serve — a first for Vandeweghe in the tournament — for 5-3, nailing it down with a cross-court backhand winner, but Vandeweghe broke right back, taking advantage of a double-fault (at 15-30) and wrapping it up with a big cross-court forehand.



At home and in charge, Bellis routs Kvitova at Stanford

Sat, 5 Aug 2017 06:55:44 UT

Up against two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals, Bellis staged a commanding 6-2, 6-0 victory in an hour and two minutes, thrilling a packed house at the Taube Family Tennis Center. The second semifinal, requiring a separate ticket at 7 p.m., will be a big-time showcase of power tennis between Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, who defeated 20th-ranked Ana Konjuh 6-1, 6-3 earlier in the day, and Madison Keys, back from a lingering wrist injury and looking solid after defeating Lesia Tsurenko 6-4, 6-3. Vandeweghe had an easy quarterfinal run as well, 6-2, 6-3 over fourth-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Alone in her apartment, Kvitova was attacked by a knife-wielding man who gained entry on the pretense of checking the utility meter. Kvitova fought back with a vengeance and the man fled, but not before inflicting wounds that lacerated the tendons in all four fingers and thumb on Kvitova’s left hand. [...] Kvitova won one of those events, the Wimbledon warm-up tournament in Birmingham, England. Everyone knew she could play, that she’s a fighter and a problem solver, and that the future looked pretty good. Double-faults (six) consistently set her back, and Bellis was by far the steadier player from the baseline, often turning defense into offense with her lightning-quick footwork and court sense. Within moments of the first game, she cracked a running cross-court backhand winner to earn herself the first of many break points. At set point, she delivered a clean, perfect ace — her only one of the match — right down the T. Closing out the game for 4-0 in the second set, she went to the slice on a running forehand for a stunning cross-court winner. With everyone in the press room focusing on Bellis, Kvitova was not asked to come in for an interview. [...] she offered insight into her mental state earlier in the week, saying, The worst was in Paris (the French Open, her first tournament upon returning), when I couldn’t put the bad thoughts away. Saturday marks the first-ever meeting between Bellis and Vandeweghe, 25, who reached the 2012 Stanford final (losing to Serena Williams) and has beaten a number of top-20 players — including Muguruza, Angelique Kerber, Johanna Konta and Caroline Wozniacki — this year. Without question, Vandeweghe and Keys are considered the top American heirs to the throne so comprehensively shared by the Williams sisters.



Darrall Imhoff, who helped Cal win NCAA title, dies

Mon, 3 Jul 2017 02:23:12 UT

Darrall Imhoff, who helped Cal win NCAA title, dies Darrall Imhoff, the starting center on Cal’s 1959 NCAA championship team and an NBA player for 12 seasons, died Friday evening near his home in Bend, Ore. Friends said Mr. Imhoff was playing miniature golf when he had a heart attack and collapsed. Earl Shultz, a fellow freshman who went on to play on the 1958-59 team, immediately dismissed Mr. Imhoff as any kind of player. The turning point came in a game at USC in Mr. Imhoff’s sophomore season. “Big, tough guy named Jim Hanna went up for a hook shot, and Darrall sent it all the way to halfcourt,” Shultz recalled. He had Bob McKeen (a former Cal forward) work with Darrall every day in practice, working on positioning, center moves, little hook shots. “The kind of players Pete had, they might not be the material I’d pick,” said UCLA’s John Wooden in a 1990 interview. Mr. Imhoff wound up being a teammate of West’s on the 1960 Olympic team, coached by Newell and featuring a number of future NBA greats. Mr. Imhoff was the Knicks’ starting center that night. Two nights later, the teams met again at Madison Square Garden. Newell was proud to proclaim that all of the players on the ’59 championship team graduated, although it took Mr. Imhoff a while. The previous season, facing the last of Russell’s championship teams with the Boston Celtics, Mr. Imhoff averaged 18.2 points and 16.4 rebounds in a five-game series loss in the Eastern Conference semifinals.



The prodigy: Judge on display in Oakland

Fri, 16 Jun 2017 06:25:17 UT

Things to know about Aaron Judge, in town with the Yankees this weekend and the hottest story in baseball: Looking hopeless at the plate last season, when he hit .179 and struck out 42 times in 84 at-bats, Judge worked diligently on his patience and plate discipline — and is now a threat for the Triple Crown, including his major-league-leading 22 homers. When the Oakland Coliseum had charm — no Mount Davis, clear views of the Oakland hills — there was a strip of ice plant beyond the bleachers and the long cement wall. Teammates scoffed Sunday when Judge’s massive blast against the Orioles was measured at 495 feet, longest in the big leagues so far this season. The mind drifts back to other gargantuan power hitters, such as Frank Howard and Mark McGwire, but at 6-foot-7 and 282, Judge is the largest position player in MLB history. Why not something more elaborate? “I don’t want to put all my cards that I’m going to be in New York and then go to Triple-A,” he said. Maris had 27 homers by the end of June, following up with 13 in July, 11 in August, nine in September and the final blast Oct. 1, the last day of the season. With Judge and teammate Gary Sanchez (20 homers in a 53-game stretch last year) leading an awe-inspiring youth movement, some wonder if the Yanks need to focus on Bryce Harper in the 2018 free-agent market.



Warriors need only to stay in character

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 23:34:28 UT

Warriors need only to stay in character Enough with the unrest over the same teams meeting in the NBA Finals for the third straight year. In a team game - a concept so well defined by the Warriors - LeBron cuts a figure so large and imposing, nothing is beyond the Cavaliers’ reach. Kevin Durant, just 48 minutes away from his lifetime dream, needs to be a devastating force around the basket and beyond the three-point line. What’s unlikely to happen is the sight of a Warriors team lacking the motivation that befits a series of this magnitude. “Every player has to get himself ready, based on his own personality,” coach Steve Kerr said before Monday night’s game. The Warriors will have a game on their hands if Tristan Thompson owns the boards, if J.R. Smith hits a couple of outside shots, if Kyle Korver and Deron Williams are ready to deliver a few big shots off the bench. Kevin Love, who has played well in the series, could be a difference-maker if he throws down a couple of three-pointers and establishes some sort of defensive presence.




Warriors’ Attles wins lifetime achievement award

Mon, 5 Jun 2017 03:28:38 UT

Warriors’ Attles wins lifetime achievement award Attles and fellow coaching legend Hubie Brown were honored at the NBA Finals Sunday with the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement award, presented annually by the National Basketball Coaches Association for “special contribution” over the years, joining a prestigious list of honorees including Pat Riley, Lenny Wilkens, Tommy Heinsohn, Jack Ramsay, Dick Motta, K.C. Jones and Tex Winter. Attles was an obscure, fifth-round draft pick out of North Carolina AT&T and figured he had no chance to make the team, but he wound up playing 11 years as one of the toughest, most defensive-minded guards in the league. Attles started out as a player-coach, replacing George Lee, with 30 games left in the 1969-70 season, and when he was promoted to full-time duty in 1971-72, he became the first African American man to hold that distinction in any of the major sports. [...] when the Warriors reached the 1975 Finals against Jones’ Washington Bullets, it was the first time two African American coaches had faced each other - another American pro-sports landmark. Just as Attles’ Warriors won the 1975 title in a four-game sweep - “the biggest upset in the history of the three major sports, in my opinion,” said team mainstay Rick Barry - Brown coached the Kentucky Colonels to the ABA title that season, winning the finals in five games over the Indiana Pacers. Brown went on to coach the Hawks, Knicks and Grizzlies over a 13-year NBA coaching career. Most of the publicity went to K.C. Jones as a backcourt defender, because he was on more of a sexy team (the Celtics), so people tended to overlook Al.



Jack O’Neill, surfing innovator, dies in Santa Cruz

Sat, 3 Jun 2017 01:44:34 UT

Jack O’Neill, a giant in the surfing industry and the man credited with inventing the surfer’s wetsuit, died Friday at his home near Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz. The death of the eye-patched, bearded and rugged man, who lived out his last years in a house perched on the eroding cliffs along Monterey Bay, was confirmed by a spokesman for the company he founded in San Francisco in 1952. Mr. O’Neill devoted his life to the sport and the ever-improving quality of surfboards, and his shop in Santa Cruz thrived over the decades, but he forever will be known as, in the words of local surfer Peter Mel, as “the man who brought comfort to cold-water surfing.” After serving as a pilot in the Naval Air Corps in the 1940s, Mr. O’Neill moved to San Francisco in 1949 and joined a hardy bunch of bodysurfers who braved the chilly waters of Ocean Beach, wearing sweaters and other makeshift gear before retreating to the warmth of bonfires on the beach. The use of neoprene, a staple to this day, already had been implemented in the U.S. Navy based on a design by University of California physicist Hugh Bradner, said surfing historian Matt Warshaw. “When I was about 20 years old and just beginning to make surfboards, Jack drove up in an old Jaguar to see how I was doing,” said Bob Wise, who opened his first shop on Wawona Street, “right around the corner from Jack’s first shop,” in 1968. [...] I’ve got a bunch of boards around, and he says, ‘You know, you’ll never make any money making surfboards. Wise remembered one of his shop employees, Ralph Ehni, wearing an early O’Neill model for an Ocean Beach surf session in the early ’70s. In 1972, Mr. O’Neill lost the sight of his left eye in the process of testing one of the early surf leashes — cords attached to the body so boards wouldn’t wash to shore after a surfer wiped out. “The first leashes were made of surgical tubing, about 6-8 feet long, and they were attached to your wrist,” Wise recalled. Warshaw recounted one surfing contest when everyone was gathered on the beach watching the competition, and then came Mr. O’Neill from the other direction, lofting over the sand in a hot-air balloon, flying a banner advertising his products.




Steve Kerr gets visit from Commissioner Adam Silver

Fri, 2 Jun 2017 06:37:24 UT

Steve Kerr has been a hidden figure during this year’s playoffs, lurking behind the scenes and doing everything he can to have some presence while still unable to coach the Warriors. Acting head coach Mike Brown and the players appreciate even the slightest glimpse of him, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had a brief chat with Kerr before Thursday night’s Game 1 of the Finals. [...] I think that, as Steve said, this should be one of the great moments of his storied basketball career, and instead he’s going to be sitting in the locker room rather than being out on the floor coaching his team. Silver also addressed the issue of healthy players sitting out games for rest, a matter that came to a head when Kerr rested four players for a regular-season game against San Antonio. What we’re learning is not the 82 games, or the length of the season, it’s the time between games, and that there’s a direct correlation between fatigue and injury.




Did Michael Jordan face a Finals team this good?

Thu, 1 Jun 2017 23:52:35 UT

The specter of Michael Jordan looms over every NBA Finals, a testament to the man who played in six of them and never lost. Before breaking through with his first title in 1991, Jordan definitely faced teams of this caliber — and he came up short, at a time when the Chicago Bulls were still building a competent team around him. They lost to the 1986 Boston Celtics, unquestionably one of the greatest teams of all time, in a first-round sweep (although Jordan scored an astounding 63 points in Game 2). When the Bulls finally broke through against Detroit, in the 1991 Eastern Conference finals, the shift in the hierarchy was swift and decisive. Chicago won in a four-game sweep against the deep and experienced Pistons of Thomas, Dumars, Mark Aguirre, Vinnie Johnson, Bill Laimbeer, John Salley, Dennis Rodman and James Edwards. Match those guys against today’s Warriors; that would be a show. Charles Barkley, Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle and Tom Chambers? Explosive and well-seasoned, but still, not enough shooting to hang with the Warriors. [...] they didn’t play Golden State’s brand of defense.



Warriors and Cavaliers player capsules

Wed, 31 May 2017 23:32:42 UT

Warriors and Cavaliers player capsules Thirsting with desire after the conclusion of last year’s Finals, and likely to redeem himself in a big way. The Cavs’ wing defense has major issues against Curry, a constant blur. Draws a tough defensive assignment in Kyrie Irving. Passing, screening, defending, rebounding, leading the break, coach on the floor — there’s nobody quite like Green. Starting center slipped into the shadows against San Antonio after the Kawhi Leonard incident and a heel injury. People kept predicting his high-flying act would be slowed in the playoffs, but it hasn’t happened yet. Likely to play ahead of Pachulia and McGee when it really matters. Warriors love his passing, mid-range shooting and high-level court intelligence. A true gem out of the draft’s second round, McCaw earned significant playing time and showed a veteran’s poise. Looks as if he’s ready to take big shots, should it come to that. Coach Mike Brown has a tough time finding slots for McAdoo, usually in blowout situations. Had a nice Game 2 against San Antonio with nine points and five rebounds in 11 minutes. Just when the opposition becomes exasperated by the torrent of outside shots, Livingston steps in with his deadly mid-range jumper. Teammates embraced his cool demeanor last year, and he has blossomed into a true shooting threat, inside or out. Played 6:32 in Game 2 against San Antonio (1-for-3, rebound, steal) and 1:54 in Game 4 (1-for-1, two rebounds, steal). A nickname well-earned. Self-proclaimed “best player in the world” making his seventh consecutive Finals appearance. Unstoppable on the drive and simply can’t be guarded if he’s hitting from outside. Hit the series-clinching three-pointer over Stephen Curry in last season’s Game 7. Fearsome offensive rebounder and a concern for the Warriors’ big men. A natural lefty, he switched to shooting with his right hand four years ago. [...] comfortable in a Cleveland uniform and now indispensable. Great rebounder and outlet passer, and can be dangerous from three-point range. Believed to be a career knucklehead, he’s been on good behavior since joining the Cavs. Watch out if he hits from deep; many more are likely to follow. The Warriors are still upset he wasn’t called for a foul on Kevin Durant at the end of Cleveland’s one-point win Christmas Day. Amazing to think he broke into the league in 2001 (with New Jersey). Late-season pickup has been invaluable as the backup point guard to Irving, and he had an electrifying first half (14 points, 5-for-6 shooting) in Cleveland’s series-clinching win over Boston. The Cavs’ only consistent defender on the wing, he faces a monumental assignment in this series. The man of many hairstyles fashions a conventional look of late. Plays sporadically off the bench and sometimes without much effect. [...] one of the best catch-and-shoot deep threats of recent years, and very dangerous. At a springy 6-11, Frye abandoned the low post when he got to Phoenix (2009-14) and became a deadly deep threat. Shooting 54.5 percent — and 52.6 from three-point range — in the playoffs. Tough, volatile swingman signed on the last day of the season for the second year in a row — and he’s back in the Finals at 36. Had an influential stretch in the Cavs’ Game 2 win last year. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft out of Arizona, he signed with the Cavs in February but steadily regressed. A teammate of LeBron’s going back to the Miami days, he’s also making his seventh straight trip to the Finals. Small forward has played only 21 minutes in the playoffs.



In his non-reaction, Buster Posey was right

Tue, 30 May 2017 22:45:50 UT

The Giants’ catcher took some heat Monday when he stood in place, no reaction at all, to the sight of Bryce Harper charging the mound and triggering a brawl with pitcher Hunter Strickland. The Giants don’t want Posey involved in any sort of physical confrontation that doesn’t strictly involve the game. Nearly three years after the 2014 postseason, when Harper hit two homers off Strickland, the Giants’ pitcher made it clear he’s still not over it. Harper was seen barking at Strickland during his home run trots back then, probably because Strickland stared at him all the way around. By igniting that brawl, Strickland put every single teammate in jeopardy. Imagine Posey, Brandon Crawford or a fellow pitcher getting injured over some lame retaliatory mission. Hunter Pence and Jeff Samardzija nearly did get hurt, Pence during the act of dragging a crazed Strickland off the field.



Warriors’ Mike Brown and the revenge factor

Tue, 30 May 2017 17:20:35 UT

Mike Brown, the man filling in for Warriors coach Steve Kerr, strikes everyone as one of the nicest people in the world. On Tuesday morning’s conference call with ABC broadcasters Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson, it was made clear that Brown — twice fired by the Cleveland Cavaliers — harbors a simmering fury. “I think it’s going to be fascinating to see how often Mike Brown praises Cleveland management and ownership for the great job they did,” Van Gundy said, while behind the scenes wanting to bust their ass after firing him (the second time) after just one year. Having been fired myself, I know you’re not a fan right away of the people who let you go. Van Gundy on the Warriors’ superiority: I just think they’re head and shoulders above everybody else in the NBA. When you’re the prohibitive favorite in the Finals over a team with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love...I mean, you’re a heck of a team. Jackson, on the teams getting so little opposition in the playoffs so far: These teams are so good, and so disciplined, they make other teams not look as legit as they are.



Warriors-Spurs matchups

Sat, 13 May 2017 22:00:00 UT

Warriors-Spurs matchups Bruce Jenkins’ series matchups Offense Spurs Warriors LaMarcus Aldridge is alive and well in mid-range shooting heaven. [...] there’s always a sleeper with this team. Nothing could be more frightening than the Warriors’ offense with nearly a week off to get completely healthy. There’s no way Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant post a collective stinker. [...] they have a great playmaker in Draymond Green. Defense Kawhi Leonard is the league’s best two-way player. The springy Green and Jonathon Simmons can be excellent. The play of Aldridge and Pau Gasol (effective? limited?) will dictate Gregg Popovich’s reliance on big men. Best in the league, because it never lets up. The Warriors hope to slow Aldridge’s revival and prevent Mills and Green from hot streaks. Thinking along with Popovich is an insider’s delight, because no strategy is guaranteed. To say the least, this marks his biggest postseason challenge in years. Pressure-filled episodes will be heavily scrutinized. Intangibles There’s a well-earned mystique to the Spurs, and a sense they will never descend into mediocrity. Kerr’s absence suggests vulnerability, but it has yet to be seen. Green, offended by defeat in December or June, keeps the team relentlessly motivated.



Warriors vs. Blazers: Who has the edge?

Fri, 14 Apr 2017 04:02:49 UT

Warriors vs. Blazers: Who has the edge? Bruce Jenkins’ series matchups Offense Trail Blazers Warriors Damian Lillard has been known to win games virtually by himself, and C.J. McCollum is a worthy backcourt partner. The return of Kevin Durant will be a beautiful thing to watch if Stephen Curry doesn’t have to make sacrifices. No team in the league comes close to the Warriors’ scoring potential. Defense Nurkic is a rim-protecting factor, and Al-Farouq Aminu is a long-limbed defender. The team’s defensive motivation comes and goes. The Warriors rank at or near the top in all of the key categories, and the eye test works even better. Draymond Green, who should win Defensive Player of the Year, sets the tone — especially late in games. Recent years have found the Blazers’ roster in constant transition, but Terry Stotts always finds a solution — and strong second-half finishes. Steve Kerr has his entire roster plugged into a festival of screens, cuts and ball movement. [...] he won’t let the team get complacent defensively. Chemistry Lillard sets the tone, never self-obsessed and always looking out for his teammates’ best interests. Even if the Blazers return home down 0-2, they’ll figure on a quick reversal of fortune. It’s not easy blending three legendary shooters into a flow, but Curry, Durant and Klay Thompson have the perfect temperament. [...] the bench players’ roles have been solidified. Intangibles With Lillard not afraid to speak up, the Blazers resent the idea of the Warriors’ “super team” and won’t be afraid to get a little nasty on the court. Again, Nurkic’s presence is vital. The team isn’t quite as fiercely driven as last year’s, with records in sight, but it’s close. Bench strength, notably Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, is key.




Predictions for the NBA first-round playoff series

Fri, 14 Apr 2017 01:11:25 UT

Predictions for the NBA first-round playoff series The Grizzlies made the playoffs despite missing Mike Conley for an extended period, moving low-post genius Zach Randolph to the bench and wasting $94 million on Chandler Parsons. [...] head coach Dave Fizdale, who once worked for the Warriors, made all of the pieces fit. By far the biggest first-round series from a national perspective, with stat-laden superstars Russell Westbrook and James Harden going head-to-head. Houston guard Patrick Beverley, who likes to claim he’s the best defensive backcourt player in the league, should be watched closely. Coach of the Year favorite Mike D’Antoni changed everything with Houston’s roster, now full of team-oriented players and a lot of good shooters. The Clippers performed so miserably before a late-season rush, people were forecasting the end of an era, with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick eligible to depart as free agents this summer. Little was at stake, but Utah put on a nice show at Oracle Arena on Monday night with several key players (including Gordon Hayward) missing. Rondo, dealing with a wrist injury, may have limited playing time. The Celtics are all about bold, brilliant coach Brad Stevens and a tough defensive unit led by Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley. Isaiah Thomas will be watched closely; if the Celtics falter in the playoffs, he could be trade material with the No. 1 overall draft pick looming. Ex-Cal forward Jaylen Brown hopes to showcase the vast improvement he’s made of late. A disappointing performance here could lead to major rebuilding. Cleveland tinkered with its roster right up to the final day of the regular season, seeking a defensive upgrade. Point guard Jeff Teague sprained his left ankle in the season’s final minutes but is expected to play. The Pacers’ playoff euphoria is about to wear off, quickly. The Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo is a genuine original, not just now but in NBA history, and there’s no real answer for his ridiculously long, springy game. The loss of Jabari Parker was offset by Khris Middleton’s return, and only a lack of consistency holds Jason Kidd’s team back. Toronto counters with the exceptional backcourt of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, back after missing 21 games with an elbow injury, and the acquisitions of defensive-minded Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker have made a huge difference. Washington needs this series, badly, and won’t settle for anything less than the conference finals.