Scout­ing the Bay Area teams

The sea­son opens Fri­day night for five Bay Area squads

The Mercury News Weekend - - SPORTS - By Jeff Fa­raudo Cor­re­spon­dent

Here’s the skinny on the Bay Area col­lege bas­ket­ball teams, all but one of which opens its sea­son Fri­day night.

CAL BEARS

Coach: Wyk­ing Jones (first sea­son). 2016-17: 21-13over­all, 10-8and tied for fifth in the Pac-12(NIT). What has changed: Al­most ev­ery­thing. Gone are coach Cuonzo Martin (to Mis­souri), for­ward Ivan Rabb (Mem­phis Griz­zlies), guard Jabari Bird (Bos­ton Celtics), point guard Char­lie Moore (Kansas Jay­hawks) and cen­ter Kam Rooks (San Diego State). First-time head coach Jones will try to stitch to­gether a team with a ros­ter fea­tur­ing six fresh­men.

Who towatch: Se­nior for­ward Mar­cus Lee is home af­ter three sea­sons at Ken­tucky. The 6-foot-9na­tive of An­ti­och will pair with re­turn­ing cen­ter Kings­ley Oko­roh to give the Bears size and ex­pe­ri­ence in­side. Ju­nior guard Don Cole­man, who scored a ca­reer-high 26points in last sea­son’s fi­nal game, is an ag­gres­sive, high-en­ergy player. What will hap­pen: The in­ex­pe­ri­enced Bears were picked 11th in the Pac12­me­dia poll and their chances of ex­ceed­ing that pro­jec­tion might de­pend on howwell they ex­e­cute Jones’ plan for a full-court press­ing de­fense.

Sea­son opener: Fri­day vs. UC River­side at Haas Pavil­ion, 9p.m. For com­plete sched­ule, go to www.cal­bears.com STAN­FORD CAR­DI­NAL Coach: Jerod Haase (14-17 in sec­ond sea­son at Stan­ford, 94-70in sixth sea­son over­all).

2016-17: 14-17over­all, 6-12 and tied for ninth in Pac-12.

What has changed: The ex­pec­ta­tions. Stan­ford’s play­ers and coaches are count­ing on an NCAA tour­na­ment bid af­ter nine losses in their fi­nal 12games a year ago. Most of the per­son­nel re­turns, but fresh­men point guards Dae­jon Davis and IsaacWhite should have im­pact. Who towatch: Reid Travis got a med­i­cal hard­ship waiver af­ter miss­ing most of the 2015-16sea­son, so he re­turns as a ju­nior. He found his groove late in last sea­son, av­er­ag­ing 19.8 points, 9.6re­bounds and shoot­ing 62per­cent over the fi­nal nine games.

What will hap­pen: Stan­ford should score near the top of the na­tion in strength of sched­ule with at least eight games vs. pre­sea­son Top-25teams by the end of Jan­uary, in­clud­ing non­con­fer­ence games against North Carolina, Florida, Kansas — and pos­si­bly No. 1Duke. Sea­son opener: Fri­day vs. Cal Poly at Maples Pavil­ion, 4p.m. For com­plete sched­ule, go to www.gostan­ford. com SAINT MARY’S GAELS

Coach: Randy Ben­nett (362-156in 17th sea­son).

2016-17: 29-5over­all, 16-2 and sec­ond in theWest Coast Con­fer­ence (NCAA tour­na­ment).

What has changed: The No. 22Gaels were picked first in theWCC coaches poll, the first time since 2001the nod did not go to Gon­zaga. “I wish it meant some­thing,’’ said all-WCC for­ward Calvin Her­man­son. “In our eyes, Gon­zaga is still the team to beat.” The Gaels lost their two top de­fend­ers, guard Joe Ra­hon and for­ward Dane Pineau, but picked up grad­u­ate trans­fer guard Cullen Neal of Mis­sis­sippi. Who towatch: Se­nior cen­ter Jock Lan­dale (16.9points, 9.5re­bounds) was pegged as the na­tion’s 10th-best player by Sports Il­lus­trated. Her­man­son (13.1points) is a ver­sa­tile scorer, and point guard Em­mett Naar en­ters his se­nior sea­son need­ing 231as­sists to break Matthew Dellave­dova’s school record of 731. Whatwill hap­pen: One of the na­tion’smost ef­fi­cient of­fen­sive teams, the Gaels will fight it out forWCC supremacy with Gon­zaga, as usual. A sev­enth NCAA bid in 14years is the min­i­mum goal.

Sea­son opener: Satur­day vs. Saint Fran­cis at McKeon Pavil­ion, 5p.m. For com­plete sched­ule, go to www.sm­c­gaels.com SANTA CLARA BRON­COS

Coach: Herb Sen­dek (17-16 in sec­ond sea­son at SCU, 430-311in 24th sea­son over­all). 2016-17: 17-16over­all, 10-8and tied for fourth in theWest Coast Con­fer­ence.

What has changed: The Bron­cos move for­ward with­out Jared Brown­ridge, the school’s No. 2all-time scorer (2,313points). But they picked up a valu­able as­set in Bay Area na­tive Henry Caruso, a grad­u­ate trans­fer from Prince­ton, where he av­er­aged 15 points as a ju­nior be­fore an in­jury cut short his 2016-17 cam­paign.

Who towatch: Guard K.J. Fea­gin (14.9points, 4.4as­sists) missed 14games last sea­son be­cause of in­jury but con­verted 49per­cent of his 3-point tries in the other 19games. Fea­gin will pair in the back­court with fel­low ju­nior Matt Hauser (10.3 points, 5.2as­sists).

What will hap­pen: With the ar­rival of a four-man fresh­man class, Sen­dek has more pieces than a year ago, when the Bron­cos won three more games than the sea­son be­fore. Ex­pect a lit­tle more still. Sea­son opener: Fri­day vs. La Verne at the Leavey Cen­ter, 7p.m. For com­plete sched­ule, go to www.san­taclarabron­cos.com SAN JOSE STATE SPARTANS Coach: Jean Pri­oleau (first sea­son). 2016-17: 14-16over­all, 7-11 and tied for eighth in the Moun­tainWest.

What has changed: A whole bunch. Coach Dave Wo­j­cik re­signed for per­sonal rea­sons af­ter get­ting SJSU closer to .500than it has been since 2011. Then star for­ward Bran­don Clarke (17.3points, 8.7re­bounds) trans­ferred to Gon­zaga. So, an­other SJSU re­boot.

Who towatch: The Spartans hired Colorado as­sis­tant Jean Pri­oleau to run the pro­gram and he in­her­its for­ward RyanWe­lage (13.2 points) and red­shirt fresh­man for­ward Keith Fisher III, a for­mer L.A. City Player of the Year, who had 16 points in the team’s sec­ond ex­hi­bi­tion.

What will hap­pen: The Spartans have had one win­ning sea­son since 1994, and they were pro­jected to fin­ish 10th in the 11-team Moun­tainWest this sea­son. Pri­oleau, who used 12play­ers in each of two ex­hi­bi­tion games, will try to whit­tle his ro­ta­tion down to some­thing that can gen­er­ate suc­cess. Sea­son opener: Fri­day vs. An­te­lope Val­ley at the Event Cen­ter, 7p.m. For com­plete sched­ule, go to www.sj­sus­par­tans.com USF DONS Coach: Kyle Smith (20-13 in sec­ond sea­son at USF, 121-95in eighth sea­son over­all). 2016-17: 20-13over­all, 10-8and tied for fourth in theWest Coast Con­fer­ence.

What has changed: The Dons won’t sneak up on any­one this sea­son. Last year, af­ter be­ing picked ninth in theWCC, USF tied for fourth and­won 20 games in Smith’s de­but sea­son. Only lead­ing scorer Ron­nie Boyce is gone among the ros­ter’s top 10 point pro­duc­ers.

Who towatch: Ev­ery­one. The Dons ex­celled last sea­son be­cause of depth, de­fense and a school-record 2993-point­ers. Smith might even go deeper to his bench with the ar­rival of four new­com­ers, in­clud­ing 6-9Es­to­nian for­ward Taavi Jurkatamm and guard Ja­ma­ree Bouyea. What will hap­pen: USF should be as good or bet­ter than a year ago, but the climb near the top of the WCC be­comes very steep. Gon­zaga, Saint Mary’s and BYU have held down the top three spots the past three sea­sons, and that will be tough to change. Sea­son opener: Fri­day vs. Long Beach State atWar Me­mo­rial Gym, 8p.m. For com­plete sched­ule, go to www.usf­dons.com

ERIC RISBERG — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Cal cen­ter Kings­ley Oko­roh, left, and for­ward Mar­cus Lee, right, an­swer ques­tions dur­ing the Pac-12’s NCAA col­lege bas­ket­ball me­dia day.

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