Warriors-Raptors cheetsheet: Rematch comes with Steph, Draymond in place

The Warriors (19-9) will look to earn their sixth straight victory Wednesday night when the Raptors (22-7) come to town.

Here’s everything you need to know about the matchup…

When/Where: Oracle Arena, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSBA,ESPN)

Raptors’ projected starters: Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard

Raptors stock report: Toronto has struggled since the last time these two teams matched up, going 3-3 over its last six games.

Over the stretch, all-star guard Kyle Lowry — who made just 4-of-14 shots in the last matchup — is averaging just 3.8 points, 8.3 assists on 14.3 percent from the field.

Still, the Raptors and Lowry have shown hope, handing the Clippers their worst loss of the season, beating them 123-99 in Los Angeles on Tuesday night. Lowry scored 21 points, adding seven assists and five rebounds.

The Raptors have also been dominant this season on the second night back-to-backs, going 5-0 in such games.

Last time (Nov. 29): Warriors 128, Toronto 131 OT

With Stephen Curry and Draymond Green out of the lineup, Kevin Durant scored a season-high 51 points, including two 3-pointers in the final minute to force overtime. Klay Thompson added 23 points.

Things to look for:

Steph is back

While last month’s performance without the sharpshooter was admirable, Golden State could use a boost from Curry.

This season, he’s averaging 30.1 points on 51.3 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range. When Curry is on the floor, the Warriors are posting a 121.9 — seven points higher than the league’s highest rating (114.4).

Curry played well against the Raptors last season, averaging 27 points, five rebounds and seven assists in two games.

Will the bench have a repeat performance?

Two weeks ago, the Warriors’ bench had its best performance of the season, totaling 38 points. Jonas Jerebko had 20 points, nine rebounds and three assists in 33 …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports

      

College basketball: An early look at Bay Area’s NCAA chances

March is just around the corner, so it seems appropriate to take a first look at how the Bay Area is likely to fare on NCAA tournament Selection Sunday (and Monday).

A month and change into the season, let me provide an early reality check:

— Local men’s teams could be left on the outside for a second year in a row for the first time since 1985 and ’86. USF seems the best bet to avert that scenario.

— Two Bay Area women’s teams — Stanford and Cal — should get the nod. Saint Mary’s hopes to make it three local entries in the bracket for the first time since 1999, but the Gaels have work to do.

Here’s a team-by-team assessment of each team’s prospects, ranked by their chances:

MEN

USF (8-1): The Dons, seeking their first NCAA bid since 1998, are off to their best start in decades. Their NET computer ranking (the new RPI for men) is No. 21 — highest of any team in California. Their only loss was to unbeaten and 14th-ranked Buffalo. The problem: their schedule. By the time West Coast Conference play begins, the Dons already will have faced eight teams with a NET ranking of 245 or worse. NCAA chance: Still less than 50-50.

Saint Mary’s (7-4): The Gaels, regrouping after the loss of three all-WCC players last season, have won four in a row. But they couldn’t get a bid last year when they were 28-5 on Selection Sunday, and this team isn’t likely to go 21-1 the rest of the way. NCAA chance: Long odds.

Stanford (4-4): The Cardinal missed a great chance to pull off a road upset of Kansas that would have done wonders for its resume. Stanford has played a challenging schedule, but has nothing to show for it. To get to the tournament, …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports

      

Charlie Montoyo shares how he’ll approach some of Blue Jays’ biggest challenges

LAS VEGAS – When Charlie Montoyo first got the chance to coach third base for the Tampa Bay Rays, someone asked him if he was ready for the challenge of handling that responsibility at the big-league level.

His response, as a veteran of countless minor-league games: “Yeah, I’ve been practicing for 18 years.”

Now the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, Montoyo faces similar questions as he prepares for his first big-league managerial gig. His answer has stayed consistent.

“It’s kind of the same feeling,” he said while addressing the media at the Winter Meetings Tuesday.

“So there’s not a feeling that you’re a rookie?” Laughing, Montoyo dismissed the question. “No, no, no.”

Decades into his professional baseball career, the 53-year-old Montoyo sounds confident that he’s ready for his biggest challenge yet: managing a rebuilding Blue Jays team coming off an 89-loss season. Montoyo arrives in Toronto exceptionally well respected throughout the baseball industry. Some of his longtime friends have gone out of their way to sing his praises at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Still, Montoyo will face plenty of challenges in his first season leading the Blue Jays and his answers Tuesday offered some insight into how he’ll approach them.

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Source:: Sportsnet.ca

      

Stanford women’s volleyball devoted to reclaim NCAA title

In “Confessions of a Winning Poker Player,” Jack King said, “Few players recall big pots they have won, strange as it seems, but every player can remember with remarkable accuracy the outstanding tough beats of his career.” It seems true to me, cause walking in here, I can hardly remember how I built my bankroll, but I can’t stop thinking of how I lost it.

— Mike McDermott, in the movie “Rounders”

The odds are stacked in favor of top-seeded Stanford in its quest for an eighth NCAA women’s volleyball championship this week in Minneapolis.

But for Kathryn Plummer, the back-to-back Pac-12 player of the year, the memory of last year still stings. Especially after the 6-foot-6 outside hitter helped propel the Cardinal to a national title as a freshman in 2016, before bowing out in the semifinals as a sophomore.

“Losing always sucks and we don’t want to feel that again,” Plummer said. “My goal after we won the national championship my freshman year was to never know what it was like to lose in the postseason, and unfortunately we had that experience last year. But I think our team has kind of redefined itself and I think we’re more prepared for postseason and definitely for this stage just because we’ve had more experience with each other as a team.”

John Dunning retired as head coach in 2016 after bookending his 16 years on The Farm with national titles.

Stanford hired Kevin Hambly as his replacement and the Cardinal went 30-4, its season over after a five-set loss to eventual runner-up Florida.

“Last year it was kind of like putting pieces together and I think this year we’re a lot more balanced and have better relationships with each other,” Plummer said. “And I think that this stage and the environment won’t get the best of us …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports

      

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