Editorial: Elect Hoffmeister and Nakamura to Concord City Council

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 05:35

Click here for a complete list of our election recommendations.

Concord officials have demonstrated excellent and awful leadership during the past four years.

The city has financially weathered the pandemic because of prudently cautious fiscal management. And it is tackling the city’s homeless challenge in a broad and thoughtful approach.

But the council’s decision last year to select a developer with a history of environmental violations for the massive Concord Naval Weapons Station project revealed how special interests still dominate Concord politics. That selection was the key issue in our recommendation for the two contested City Council races on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Voters who are troubled by the council’s decision should reelect Laura Hoffmeister in District 1, who supported another developer team, and elect Laura Nakamura in District 5.

Concord deserves high praise for its fiscal management since the Great Recession when it had to cut staff by over 100 people, or roughly 20%, as it nearly exhausted its budget reserves. Unlike many cities, it didn’t try to hire them back the following decade.

Instead, it’s been a leaner operation. City leaders have wisely tried to maintain a strong budget reserve of about 30% of annual general fund expenditures. That approach, along with more than $10 million of cuts, including staff concessions and freezing of positions, helped the city weather the early part of the pandemic. And it has left funding available to tackle homelessness and protected money that has been earmarked for needed road repairs.

But the developer pick for the Concord Naval Weapons Station project was troubling. The council caved to labor unions when it picked a consortium led by the Seeno construction family over two other development teams, despite the Seeno companies’ history of environmental and other legal violations.

Seeno was chosen on a 3-2 City Council vote after the last developer bailed because it said that the council’s demands for exceptionally costly labor agreements made the project financially unworkable.

The city and the Seeno-led consortium are now hammering out a term sheet for the $1 billion-plus residential and commercial project that covers an area half the size of the city of Pleasant Hill and would include 13,000 housing units and millions of square feet of office and commercial space. That part of the deal is supposed to come back to the council in January.

Laura Hoffmeister candidate for Concord City council, District 1. (Courtesy of Laura Hoffmeister)Laura Hoffmeister  District 1: Laura Hoffmeister

Hoffmeister, who has served on the council for 25 years, is by far the best informed of the three candidates running for the District 1 seat in the northeast section of the city. She was one of the two council members who voted against the Seeno consortium, arguing correctly that the city had a better option in the three-company field.

She has been a staunch defender of the city’s smart budgeting practices and reserve fund, noting that it would enable the city to keep running in case of another economic downturn or an emergency such as an earthquake.

Her opponents are Quinne Anderson, a customer advocate at a biotech company, and Robert Ring, a mortgage loan officer. Neither have experience serving on any city boards or commissions.

Ring last viewed a City Council meeting more than a year ago. He defends the selection of Seeno as the master developer for the weapons station and questions the size of the city’s budget reserve. Anderson seems to just be figuring out the details of the weapons station deal and the city’s finances.

Concord City Council candidate Laura Nakamura. (Photo courtesy of Laura Nakamura)Laura Nakamura  District 5: Laura Nakamura

The District 5 race in the southeast part of the city features two problematic candidates.

Incumbent Tim McGallian was appointed to a vacancy in 2017 and elected to a full term in 2018. He has a strong handle on city finances, is a staunch defender of protecting the city’s strong reserves and backs the current development of a strategic plan to help the homeless.

Challenger Laura Nakamura, a cardiac sonographer and a member of the city’s Community Services Commission, was less thoughtful in her answers, waffling between whether she wanted to maintain the 30% reserve fund or spend more of it. She impatiently pressed for more-immediate spending on additional homeless services rather than wait for the recommendations of the strategic plan that she also says she supports.

But the decider for us was the weapons station developer selection. Nakamura is clear that she would not have backed the Seeno consortium. McGallian voted for the consortium, saying he looked past the troubling environmental record of the family’s businesses because there are other members of the consortium. We find that logic unconvincing given the large role the Seeno family business will play in the project.

Certain votes are so important that they can’t be overlooked. McGallian does not deserve another term. Nakamura would have a learning curve, but at least she’s right on the city’s most important development decision of a generation.

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Editorial: Cupertino needs overhaul. Elect Fruen, Mohan and Bono

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 05:30

Click here for a complete list of our election recommendations.

Cupertino has become the Silicon Valley poster child for city mismanagement since the election of a majority of Better Cupertino members to the City Council in 2018.

Unchecked Nimbyism. Ongoing fights with the state over housing projects. Constant turnover of city staff at the highest levels. And the fiasco that is Vallco, the 50-acre wasteland in the heart of the city that has stood for years as a symbol of the council’s incompetence.

J.R. Fruen 

Meanwhile, as the City Council keeps blocking affordable housing for young families, teachers and workers, Cupertino’s prized schools continue to suffer. Enrollment is dropping at alarming rates, forcing the Cupertino Union School District to take the prudent step of closing two schools this year.

Yet the Better Cupertino members of the City Council, which has no jurisdiction over the school district, fought that, too, believing the council should have a say in decisions regarding schools.

Cupertino deserves better.

Eight candidates are seeking to fill three seats on the City Council that are currently held by Better Cupertino supporters.

Mayor Darcy Paul is termed out. Councilman Jon Willey is not seeking reelection. Vice Mayor Liang-Fang Chao, one of Better Cupertino’s founders, is running for a second term in office.

Voters should end Better Cupertino’s hold on the City Council by electing J.R. Fruen, Sheila Mohan and Claudio Bono.

Troubled city

Cupertino, population 60,000, is best known for being the home of Apple. It’s one of the wealthiest Bay Area cities, with the median price of a home hovering in the $2.5 million range. It has built only 249 new housing units and 48 affordable housing units since 2019.

Sheila Mohan 

The city has had four city managers in the last four years, with the latest, Pamela Wu, taking over in August. Her predecessor, Jim Throop, lasted just six months on the job. The city is also plagued by turnover in other key staff positions, including deputy city manager following the recent departure of Katy Nomura.

Then there’s the Vallco debacle.

In 2018, the Cupertino City Council approved the Vallco Town Center under the conditions of Senate Bill 35 — a law that requires cities not building enough housing to fast-track qualifying projects.

The plan called for about 2,500 housing units, office and retail space and $270 million worth of community benefits that would include a major performing arts center, a new City Hall and emergency response center and a multimillion-dollar gift to the city’s elementary and high school districts. But after the election of a pro-Better Cupertino council in November, the plan went awry. Better Cupertino eventually filed a lawsuit against the city in 2019, claiming the redevelopment didn’t qualify for approval under SB 35.

A Santa Clara Superior Court judge ruled against Better Cupertino in May, saying that the project qualified for SB 35 status. Meanwhile, the plan changed. The latest, massive version calls for seven 20-story towers with 2,400 units of housing (half affordable housing), approximately 1.9 million square feet of office space and about 400,000 square feet of retail uses. No City Hall. No Performing Arts center. No gifts to the school district.

Fruen, Mohan and Bono

Fruen and Mohan are the standout candidates in the race.

Claudio Bono 

Fruen nearly won a seat on the council in 2020 when he finished 1,300 votes behind Councilwoman Kitty Moore. He is an attorney who is the policy director for Cupertino for All, the nonprofit he cofounded that is focused on housing and transportation in Cupertino. Fruen advocates utilizing local control and the state-mandated Regional Housing Need Allocation process to increase production of all levels of housing near job centers and major thoroughfares.

He is knowledgeable about the city’s finances and wants to end the  micromanaging of city staff that has contributed to excessive turnover.

Mohan’s 25 years of experience working in local government is a major plus. She is a retired Santa Clara County senior finance manager who previously served as Union City’s Director of Administrative Services. Her knowledge of Cupertino’s financial challenges is only exceeded by her sense of how the council and city staff should interact. Her highest priority is to ensure that every tax dollar generated in Cupertino goes toward the betterment of the city rather than “on unproductive litigation.” She has served on the city’s Fine Arts Commission and Library Commission.

Bono’s connections to developers are troubling. But his election would stand as an improvement over any of the other candidates. Bono is general manager of the Cupertino Inn and president of the Cupertino Chamber of Commerce. He lacks Fruen and Mohan’s knowledge of Cupertino’s finances or political experience, but he would put an end to the NIMBY approach that has hurt the city for far too long.

Rest of the field

In addition to Chao, the other candidates include former Councilman Steven Scharf, Yuko Shima and Govind Tatachari. Moon Kyu Choe did not respond to our interview request and should not be considered a serious candidate.

Chao and Scharf were co-founders of Better Cupertino. They are running with Tatachari in an effort to retain their group’s dominance of Cupertino issues. They have done enough damage. Don’t give them another four years to devastate Cupertino.

Shima, whose primary interest is in environmental sustainability, is a newcomer to Cupertino’s political scene. We would like to see her stay involved in Cupertino and gain more experience.

Fruen, Mohan and Bono are the better choices. Voters should choose them in the Nov. 8 election.

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Zach Wilson’s return brings excitement back to Jets offense

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 05:19

Predictable. Dull. Repetitive.

Those words describe the Jets’ offense during the first three weeks of the season. Sunday will be the day to see if anything changes with Gang Green’s offensive attack.

After being cleared by doctors earlier this week, quarterback Zach Wilson will start against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Wilson has been out the last six weeks due to a bone bruise and a meniscus tear he suffered during the Jets’ preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on Aug. 12.

Four days later, Wilson flew out to Los Angeles to have surgery on his right knee. Before the season opener against the Baltimore Ravens, the Jets ruled Wilson out until Week 4 as they wanted him to be right, physically and mentally.

“It’s just cool for him,” Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said. “Whether it’s Zach or anyone that’s missed time because of injury, you just want to see them on the grass. So, he gets to be out there. He put in a lot of work to put himself in this position to get back.

“I don’t think anyone really knew after the injury, particularly right when it happened, what was going to happen and how long he was going to be out. So, to get him back and going into Week 4 and I know he feels 100 percent healthy and he’s going to go play his game.”

The Jets offense needs Wilson like a camel could use water in a hot desert. In the three games Joe Flacco started for Wilson, Gang Green found the end zone just five times. Four of those came during the 31-30 victory against the Cleveland Browns in Week 2.

Flacco is sixth in passing yards (901) but a lot of that came when the Jets needed to throw the ball down the field after being down multiple scores. An example of this is Flacco leading the league in pass attempts (155).

In last weekend’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Flacco completed 28-of-52 passes as he threw for 285 yards and two interceptions. He was also sacked four times and lost two fumbles.

Wilson hasn’t played in nearly two months, but the Jets expect him to add another dimension to their offense. With his right knee 100%, Wilson can escape the pocket to evade pressure from defenders.

Wilson may need to be on the move against the Steelers as they love to bring pressure from linebackers and even their secondary at times. In three games, the Steelers defense has nine sacks, which ranks eighth in the league.

The offensive line right now is in chaos as left tackle George Fant was placed on injured reserve due to a knee injury. Gang Green is already missing Duane Brown, who is also on injured reserve because of his shoulder.

Conor McDermott will likely start at left tackle in Fant’s place. Wilson’s mobility will be an added addition to the Jets offense, and so will his rocket-like arm. At this point in his career, they’re certain throws Flacco cannot make that Wilson will be able to.

The Jets with Flacco used a lot of short passes because of his inability to move outside the pocket. Wilson has the arm strength to stretch defenses and create potential big plays.

“It’s an exciting time for everyone,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said about Wilson possibly adding a spark to the offense. “Zach is the piece to the puzzle.

“There’s a lot of things we need to fix offensively, defensively and special teams and that’s our focus. Hopefully, we can all raise the level of our games and make a smooth transition.”

Wilson will join a Jets roster with more weapons than he had during his rookie season. Gang Green drafted running back Breece Hall to team up with Michael Carter and signed tight ends Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah. The team also drafted rookie Garrett Wilson, who has made instant dividends.

In three games, Wilson has caught 18 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns. The Jets drafted the former Ohio State star to get Zach Wilson a down-the-field threat that can put pressure on opposing defenses.

The two players didn’t work together a lot throughout training camp. But they’re excited to build their chemistry throughout the season, starting against the Steelers.

“He’s a freak athlete,” Zach Wilson said. “I mean that’s what makes him special, and I think that’s not just him. We got a lot of guys that are like that.

“He’s a freak, he’s hard to stay in front of, he’s hard to throw the ball to sometimes because he’s faking me out. So, it’s getting that chemistry, watching those guys, and we’ve learned a lot about Garrett [Wilson] in the past weeks of having him on our team, so we’re starting to get comfortable with the way that he’s going to do things, and you can definitely trust he’s going to get it done.”

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Bob Raissman: Get ready for the Monday morning quarterbacking as Zach Wilson returns to Gang Green

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 05:18

If Zach Wilson turns in a far-from-fabulous performance Sunday against Pittsburgh, in his first start of the season, Robert Saleh will preach patience for the second-year quarterback.

The real question is will the media display its usual propensity for ledge-jumping, having no tolerance for yet another highly touted Jets quarterback who doesn’t quickly live up to the hype? Especially a cat like Wilson, who, with much la-di-da, was selected by the Jets with the second overall pick in the 2021 Draft.

If the Jets lose to a highly beatable Steelers team, and Wilson has a poor passing day with a couple of interceptions (throwing one touchdown pass in garbage time) it won’t take long to figure out which way the wind is blowing. Will the media follow Saleh’s Jetsian lead and show some restraint in their critiques?

The first signal will come from the tone and substance of the questions boss scribes ask both Saleh and Wilson during their postgame interview sessions in Pittsburgh. Prior to that, when SNY’s panel of Jets analysts (Bart Scott, Willie Colon, Connor Hughes) issue their takes on Wilson’s sub-par performance, they will provide evidence of the kind of pressure, and expectations, the quarterback will face going into Week 5 against Miami. Scott is the key here. Even though he is allied with the Jets, he never holds back.

If Scott goes off on Wilson, his negative analysis will trickle down to other Gasbags. Like ESPN’s Mike Greenberg, a noted Jets fan. While Scott’s words would reinforce any negative vibes delivered by Greenberg, this man needs no tutor when it comes to ripping a Jets quarterback not living up to team-manufactured expectations. Greenberg and Scott have the forum to double-team Wilson on “Get Up.” Greenberg can immediately follow up the Jets bashing for two hours on his own ESPN Radio show.

About the same time Greenberg is expanding on his Wilson soliloquy, Joe Benigno will be torching Wilson during his weekly appearance on WFAN’s marathon midday show. This is the same show where an unchallenged Benigno implored Saleh to go with Mike White after the Joe Flacco-quarterback Jets lost the opener to Baltimore. One week later, Benigno, in classic flip-flop mode, returned to FAN and kissed Flacco’s tuchis after the veteran QB led the Jets to a 31-30 win over Cleveland.

So, shortly after the Steelers tilt, all interested parties will know, (at least in the minds of the media, and droids on social media) which direction the Wilson scenario is headed. Chances are, should he turn in a stinker, Wilson will be wrapped in a negative cocoon. Yet, in this ever-changing Free World, where the unwashed masses are searching for someone to believe in, the negative bent could be replaced with a more optimistic approach. Green and White rabble-rousers might actually identify some bright spots in Zach Wilson’s dark day.

But don’t hold your breath.

LIVING UP TO THE MOMENT? YES

Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network suits are already talking about producing an Aaron Judge Yankeeography. Will Judge be a willing participant in such a production? And if Judge leaves the Bombers, will the project remain in cold storage after he bolts the Bronx?

That would be sad. YES has accumulated so much Judge material it would be a shame if it wasn’t pulled together into a full-length documentary. What YES produced Wednesday night, after Judge hit No. 61, was high-quality and moving. After Michael Kay made the historic call, the cameras took over.

YES struck gold.

The reaction shots provided evidence that the production team knew it had added time (the game was stopped) and wisely slow-played it. So, viewers got multiple majestic replays of Judge’s missile into the Jays’ bullpen, the relieved reaction of Judge’s mom Patty and her hugging it out with Roger Maris Jr. Judge, standing near the dugout with helmet over heart was another classic shot. And there was the Yankees’ reaction as they watched the ball going out. And a one-of-a-kind replay of Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in a paper cup toast.

There was more. It was all accomplished on the fly. On the line was the chronicling of baseball history. For Judge, it was a great moment. A moment YES’ crew more than lived up to.

KAY CONFUSION

Michael Kay continues to confuse.

During his ESPN-98.7 afternoon drive radio program, which is simulcast on YES, Kay said he will “never” question how someone spends their money. Yet in a matter of seconds, he questioned why Mets fans had not been showing up at Citi Field in greater numbers as the Mets battled for the NL East lead.

Sure sounded like he was chiding fans for not spending whatever is left of their dwindling disposable income on Mets’ tickets. Perhaps Kay should factor in the anemic economy, and its inflationary component, while making his gratuitous financial assessments.

(NOT) SPEAKING OF KYRIE

Thoughts of time healing the rift between Kyrie Irving and Stephen A. Smith, and the Nets superstar philosopher eventually making an appearance on “First Take,” disappeared last week.

Irving continued taking issue with Smith for previously characterizing him as a malingerer. For the record, SAS didn’t give a damn. Smith: ”Kyrie and I will probably not speak again in life.” Man, that’s a long time.

“I’m not losing a minute of sleep over it,” SAS said on FT. Then, Smith actually revealed the secret to his success. And why he can live without Irving.

”I don’t have to talk to you,” SAS said. “I get paid to talk about you.”

AROUND THE DIAL

The Remote Warrior, YES’ Paul O’Neill, said Aaron Judge has sometimes not “been able” to take batting practice. Considering O’Neill is not at the ballpark (he does the games from his Ohio home) how would he even know? … ESPN’s Robert Griffin III should stop whining. In a Monday night pregame interview with Saquon Barkley, RGIII threw a pity party for the Giants running back. RGIII disparaged all the “haters” who dared cast aspersions on Barkley. Very lame. … Russ Salzberg is bringing his “Get a Load of This” podcast to the YES app. Since the app has a video component, Salzy will likely do a ‘cast while taking his famous sweaters out of mothballs. … Even the NFL-Crazy Manning Brothers, on their MNF soiree, thought Jerry Jones, and the folks in his Giants Stadium suite, overreacted when they exchanged kisses after the Cowboys scored. Unfortunately, Jones glommed plenty of airtime (he was also interviewed during the pregame show) during Cowboys-Giants. ESPN suits know where their NFL bread is buttered. … Most of MLB’s national TV partners (TBS, Fox, ESPN, MLBNetwork, Apple TV) dispatched crews to work Judge’s potential 60, 61 HR games. They all came up zippo. As things turned out, the two historic HR games aired — only on YES. … Listened carefully to ESPN’s new MNF broadcast team, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, and can safely report they sound exactly the same as they did on Fox. Amazing!

* * *

DUDE OF THE WEEK: BEN SIMMONS

Give the mercurial Nets alleged star credit. He sat down and gave in-depth, thoughtful answers to J.J. Redick’s popular podcast outlet. In early sessions, Simmons has also handled the media covering the team well. Simmons seems to understand what to do on the road back.

DWEEB OF THE WEEK: BRANDON STALEY

For his questionable decision making. The Chargers coach allowed Justin Herbert, his struggling and ailing quarterback, to stay in the game (late fourth quarter) in a no-win situation. San Diego was down 28 points to Jacksonville. Staley made excuses, saying Herbert wanted to stay in the game

DOUBLE TALK

What Kayvon Thibodeaux said: “There’s 11 people for a reason. It’s a team sport for a reason.”

What Kayvon Thibodeaux meant to say: “Sorry, but I’m no one-man wrecking crew.”

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Opinion: Social housing can solve Bay Area’s affordable housing crisis

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 05:15

Rent in the Bay Area is still too high for most working-class people. The affordable-housing crisis has gotten so bad that the Milpitas Unified School District recently asked parents to rent rooms in their homes to teachers struggling to afford a place to live. In the East Bay, the Antioch City Council recently approved rent stabilization protections for tenants against landlords who attempted to raise rents by $500 a month or more.

As a poverty, housing and urban policy expert and an assistant professor at San Jose State University who is rent-burdened (paying more than 30% of one’s annual income on housing costs) despite living in faculty housing on campus, I know that the viable solution to address the affordable housing crisis in the Bay Area and across the state of California is social housing.

Last year, the average monthly fair market rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the Bay Area was nearly $2,200. In San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, the average monthly rent is nearly $3,000, in which case any household making under $79,000 annually would be rent-burdened. Social housing would offer relief by providing rental housing at below market rents to those with financial need.

Here is how social housing should work:

First, housing is treated as a public good rather than a private commodity. This means that the public or nonprofit sector assumes responsibility for production and maintenance to ensure permanent affordability for everyone.

Second, social equity promotes equal status among residents regardless of background or socio-economic status. While anyone can live in social housing, the principle of social equity mitigates undue privilege or influence of one group over another, such as high-income over low-income tenants.

Lastly, democratic resident control collectively gives social housing tenants meaningful influence over the decisions that shape community life. It values their feedback and participation and takes policy recommendations seriously.

Social housing is also good economic policy. According to Data for Progress, social-housing programs would create hundreds of thousands of skilled, living-wage jobs for people looking for work. This may be a contributing reason for why, according to polling from Data for Progress and the Justice Collaborative Institute, more than 60% of Democrats, Republicans and Independents combined support a federal social-housing program.

Moreover, social housing already has proven to be an effective solution to affordable-housing production in cities in Europe and Asia such as Vienna, Norwich and Singapore.

In California, Assemblymembers Alex Lee, Wendy Carillo and Ash Kalra have introduced AB 2053, the California Social Housing Act of 2022 that would establish a statewide social-housing program responsible for eliminating the gap between housing need and housing production. The bill would ensure that no Californian pays more than 30% of their annual income on housing costs by the year 2050. Moreover, all housing units produced would be protected for the duration of their existence from being sold or transferred to the private real estate market, ensuring permanent affordability.

The California Legislature should pass AB 2053. Assemblymembers Lee, Carillo and Kalra need your support for the bill, which failed in the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance.

The affordable-housing crisis in the Bay Area needs a remedy. The lives of working-class Californians depend on the implementation of viable solutions. For me, the choice is clear based on my decade of experience working on affordable-housing issues and studying housing and urban policy.

Social housing for all is the solution.

Michael R. Fisher Jr. is an assistant professor of African American studies at San José State University and an affiliate scholar at the Metropolitan Policy Center at American University. He is also a Public Voices Fellow with the Op-Ed Project.

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NIH to fund unproven ALS drugs under patient-backed law

Seattle Times - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 05:03

The U.S. government will soon spend $25 million to help patients access experimental drugs for the incurable illness known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Categories: Local News

New Burkina Faso Coup Raises Question About Security

N.Y. Times - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 05:00
A military officer removed another military leader who had seized power only eight months ago. Whether he can do better is another question.
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Half Moon Bay holds off Menlo-Atherton for league-opening victory

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 05:00

HALF MOON BAY – On one of those nights that characterizes this coast-side community, with a thickening fog settling over the pumpkins patches with Halloween looming, Half Moon Bay struck the first big blow of the Peninsula Athletic League football season.

In a Bay Division opener between teams ranked among the Bay Area News Group’s Top 25, the No. 19 Cougars used a fourth-quarter touchdown and a late defensive stand to beat No. 7 Menlo-Atherton, 22-21, on Friday night.

“It kind of validates what we’re all about,” Half Moon Bay coach Keith Holden said. “It’s not perfect and sometimes it’s ugly, but we’re scrappy and we’re going to play hard. It validates our blue-collar work ethic.”

M-A (2-3), playing without University of Oregon-bound receiver Jurrion Dickey, out indefinitely with an unspecified injury, had first-and-goal at the Half Moon Bay 6-yard line with 1:35 left. However, three penalties and an 18-yard sack by blitzing Ayden Courtney took the Bears out of the range of gifted field-goal kicker Dash Franklin. A fourth-down heave by Billy Johnson was knocked down at the goal-line by Dio Lucido with eight seconds left.

Half Moon Bay (5-0) won with a power running game despite a size disadvantage. P.J. Modena, hampered by a torn meniscus he injured playing baseball last spring, rushed for 131 yards on 24 carries and scored two touchdowns. He had to be removed from the game in the second quarter because of the pain, but on the Cougars’ decisive drive – one that took 17 plays to cover 54 yards – Modena carried 13 times, often while dragging defenders for extra yards.

HALF MOON BAY, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 30: Half Moon Bay's Liam Harrington (9) throws the ball against Menlo-Atherton in the second half at Half Moon Bay High School in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)HALF MOON BAY, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 30: Half Moon Bay’s Liam Harrington (9) throws the ball against Menlo-Atherton in the second half at Half Moon Bay High School in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group) 

Twice he converted on fourth down, and the Cougars were content to pick up two or three yards per play because the math added up to keep the chains moving, being willing to use all four tries.

“P.J.’s a monster,” quarterback Liam Harrington said. “He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s strong. He does not care. He will put his head down and run through anyone. It’s awesome. And we love him for it.”

But on fourth-and-goal from the 4, Holden’s calculations called for the first pass in the series and the play quickly fell apart because of Menlo-Atherton’s pressure. Flushed to his left and trying to bide time before being knocked out of bounds, Harrington floated the ball to the back corner of a crowded end zone and into the hands of Owen Miller for the go-ahead touchdown with 7:50 left.

“It was just a reaction play,” Harrington said. “It was meant for our backside tight end, but the play was kind of busted and I just found a soft spot,”

Miller said. “We’ve been playing with each other for a really long time, we’ve got pretty good chemistry, So, he’s scrambling. I’ll try to find a spot and he’ll try to find me … And it’s a touchdown – six points.”

Said M-A coach Chris Saunders, “We had it defended, we had it sniffed out. We’ve got to stay in coverage. That’s been one of our Achilles heels. Against Del Oro (a 42-13 loss), we gave up 35 points on broken plays.”

HALF MOON BAY, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 30: Menlo-Atherton's Jayden Moss (3) fails to catch the ball against Half Moon Bay's Kai Zanette (45) in the second half at Half Moon Bay High School in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)HALF MOON BAY, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 30: Menlo-Atherton’s Jayden Moss (3) fails to catch the ball against Half Moon Bay’s Kai Zanette (45) in the second half at Half Moon Bay High School in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group) 

M-A was set to rely on running back Sherrod Smith, who got the team back in the game earlier with a 78-yard touchdown run in which he bolted through the line seemingly before Half Moon Bay even knew he had the ball. That led to 21 unanswered points after the Bears trailed 15-0.

But Smith, who finished with 154 yards on 17 carries and scored two touchdowns, was stripped of the ball and Half Moon Bay’s Connor Heath recovered, leading to a 27-yard field-goal try in an effort to clinch. But the low kick was blocked by Johno Price, giving M-A one last chance with 3:47 left, only for the Cougars to hold.

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“It took everything that we had,” said Modena, who has rushed for 782 yards this season. “That’s Cougar Pride for us. That’s what this team and this community is all about. I’ve been playing with these guys for seven years, since Pop Warner. We need each other. We push ‘til we can’t no more.”

M-A coach Chris Saunders said he changed to a more run-oriented gameplan in Dickey’s absence, but it was clear the Bears missed him. So did Half Moon Bay.

“I was disappointed,” said Harrington, a two-way player. “I really wanted him to play. We don’t get to play against guys like that every day. If he were to play, that would have been awesome. We were expecting him to play. We wanted that challenge.”

HALF MOON BAY, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 30: Menlo-Atherton's Johno Price (2) runs with the ball against Half Moon Bay at Half Moon Bay High School in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)HALF MOON BAY, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 30: Menlo-Atherton’s Johno Price (2) runs with the ball against Half Moon Bay at Half Moon Bay High School in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)  HALF MOON BAY, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 30: Half Moon Bay's Kai Zanette (45) catches the ball against Menlo-Atherton in the first half at Half Moon Bay High School in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)HALF MOON BAY, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 30: Half Moon Bay’s Kai Zanette (45) catches the ball against Menlo-Atherton in the first half at Half Moon Bay High School in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)  HALF MOON BAY, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 30: Half Moon Bay's Liam Harrington (9) runs with the ball against Menlo-Atherton's James Gray (15) in the first half at Half Moon Bay High School in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)HALF MOON BAY, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 30: Half Moon Bay’s Liam Harrington (9) runs with the ball against Menlo-Atherton’s James Gray (15) in the first half at Half Moon Bay High School in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)  HALF MOON BAY, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 30: Menlo Atherton's Jordan Masuisui (43) runs with the ball against Half Moon Bay's Connor Heath (13) at Half Moon Bay High School in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)HALF MOON BAY, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 30: Menlo Atherton’s Jordan Masuisui (43) runs with the ball against Half Moon Bay’s Connor Heath (13) at Half Moon Bay High School in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group) 
Categories: Local News

California High rides a balanced offense to a comfortable win at Granada

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 04:45

LIVERMORE – The California High School football team fired on all cylinders in a 38-7 victory over host Granada on Friday night.

California (4-1), 16th in the Bay Area News Group rankings, was balanced offensively in its dismantling of the Matadors (2-4). Junior Grizzlies quarterback Jayden Macedo connected with six different receivers for his 195 yards passing. Four Cal ball-carriers rushed for more than 40 yards, including Macedo (42). The Grizzlies scored on six of their first seven possessions.

Defensively, the Grizzlies limited Granada to 159 total yards, including 23 yards passing. The Matadors’ only touchdown occurred with two minutes and 45 seconds left in the game.

On special teams, Cal’s Jayden Shah was perfect with his kicks, converting all five of his point-after-touchdown attempts and nailing a 28-yard field goal on the last play of the first half.

“I thought our guys came out focused,” said California coach Danny Calcagno, whose squad had a bye last week. “We had a good week of practice, they put the work in and executed what we needed to do.”

Macedo completed 15 of his 20 attempts, threw three touchdowns and no interceptions.

“Jayden’s been doing awesome for us,” Calcagno said. “Every week, he’s getting better. He’s feeling more comfortable back there.”

Devan Love also had an outstanding game for Cal. The junior rushed for a game-high 95 yards and had a team-leading 69 receiving yards, including a 33-yard touchdown reception in which he timed his jump perfectly to nab the ball on a downfield pass from Macedo.

Cal opened the game by marching 81 yards to score on a 16-yard dart from Macedo to Cole Fokas. In the first quarter, Macedo completed his first six passing attempts of the game to six different receivers.

After a three-and-out by Granada, California drove 59 yards to the Granada 3 before failing to convert a fourth-down play. But the rest of the Grizzlies’ drives would result in scores until their final drive of the game with less than 90 seconds remaining.

After the touchdown pass from Macedo to Love gave California a two-touchdown lead with 5:01 left in the first half, the Grizzlies got the ball back in the red zone after a fourth-down run by Granada in the punting formation failed to pick up a first down. On the next play, Macedo found Nabi Wahab for a 16-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Wahab finished with a game-high five receptions for 49 yards.

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Cal ended the first half scoring with Shah’s field goal, then the Grizzlies’ Nicholas Boudreau reached the end zone on runs of 35- and 8-yards to finish his team’s scoring. The junior rushed for 47 yards in the game, and teammate Sayyidi Abdul-Kareem added 56 yards on the ground.

Granada broke the shutout with a three-yard touchdown run by Quinn Boyd. Teammate AJ Martin led the Matadors in rushing with 80 yards.

Matadors coach Marc Moses said his squad was missing five starters on both sides of the ball, including all three defensive linemen.

“Had a lot of injuries,” he said. “That’s no excuse anyway. They had our number tonight.”

Categories: Local News

Testing trouble adds to disorder in Uganda’s Ebola response

Seattle Times - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 04:39

In a remote Ugandan community facing its first Ebola outbreak, testing trouble has added to the score of challenges authorities face.
Categories: Local News

Phillips brothers lead Lincoln-San Jose to a rout of Branham

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 04:30

SAN JOSE — Phillips to Phillips has a nice ring to it for the Lincoln High School football team.

Senior quarterback Tayden Phillips threw the passes and freshman wide receiver Kyan Phillips was on the receiving end, making five catches for 149 yards as Lincoln rolled to a 40-12 victory over Branham in a non-league matchup between two teams that were both undefeated heading into the game.

Lincoln’s pass attack served as complement and counterpoint to its ground game featuring diminutive workhorse running back Salvador Espinoza, all 5-foot-7 and 140 pounds of him, who carried 23 times for 144 yards and scored three touchdowns

But that brotherly pass combo has some high-level chemistry going for it. A couple of the catches Kyan made were on the difficult end of the spectrum, under tight coverage with a small window for success.

“He does things you can’t coach,” Lincoln coach Kevin Collins said.

And when big brother Tayden went out for one play after taking a hit on a kickoff return, it was the freshman brother who took his place at quarterback.

“It’s cool,” Collins said. “Their parents work at the school and I was in their wedding.”

Tayden Philips, who has already made a trip to New Hampshire to visit Dartmouth and is heading to Cal Poly for a visit today, rushed for 54 yards and two touchdowns and completed 8 of 10 passes for 189 yards.

Lincoln's Salvador Espinoza (3) runs with the ball to score against Branham's Dylan Rodriguez (8) in the in the first quarter of a High School football game in San Jose, Calif., Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Photo by Josie Lepe)Lincoln’s Salvador Espinoza (3) runs in for a touchdown against Branham on Friday night. (Photo by Josie Lepe) 

Lincoln (5-0) led 7-0 after one quarter then exploded for four second-quarter touchdowns to make the score 33-0 at halftime. The Lions went in for another TD, Espinoza’s third of the game, on the first possession of the third quarter to make it 40-0.

“We played really well tonight,” Collins said. “The big guys all showed up.”

Linemen Francisco Martinez, Louie Catano, Brian Contreras and Dais Macias all turned in outstanding performances.

Elias Antillion scored two touchdowns for Branham (5-1), on an 18-yard run in the third quarter and a 2-yard run in the fourth.

Branham quarterback William Augenstein carried 20 times for 135 yards. He was 12 of 27 passing for 126 yards but suffered his first two interceptions of the season — a one-handed grab by Tayden Phillips in the end zone to thwart an early Branham scoring threat, and a sideline theft by Roman Lawrence that he returned 30 yards for a touchdown.

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Lincoln opens Blossom Valley Athletic League Mt. Hamilton Division play Thursday at Christopher. Branham will attempt to rebound in a BVAL Santa Teresa Division game at home against Gilroy on Friday.

“Kevin Collins has been here longer than I’ve been alive,” Branham coach Stephen Johnson said. “I have nothing but respect, hats off to Lincoln. We got hit in the mouth. It was a humbling experience the kids needed. So now are they going to lay down and quit or are they going to respond and come back stronger? We’ll learn about the character of our team, starting Monday.”

Branham's Anthony Gutierrez (18) tackles Lincoln Salvador Espinoza (3), at the two-yard line in the second half of a High School football game in San Jose, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Photo by Josie Lepe/Special to the Bay Area News Group)Branham’s Anthony Gutierrez (18) tackles Lincoln Salvador Espinoza (3), at the two-yard line in the second half of a High School football game in San Jose, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Photo by Josie Lepe/Special to the Bay Area News Group)  Lincoln's Salvador Espinoza (3) scores a touchdown against Branham's Anthony Gutierrez (18) Gunnar Paedon (13) in the in the first quarter of a High School football game in San Jose, Calif., Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Photo by Josie Lepe)Lincoln’s Salvador Espinoza (3) scores a touchdown against Branham’s Anthony Gutierrez (18) Gunnar Paedon (13) in the in the first quarter of a High School football game in San Jose, Calif., Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Photo by Josie Lepe)  Branham's Elias Antillion (2) leaps to score a touchdown against Lincoln in the in the second half of a High School football game at Lincoln High in San Jose, Calif., Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Photo by Josie Lepe)Branham’s Elias Antillion (2) leaps to score a touchdown against Lincoln in the in the second half of a High School football game at Lincoln High in San Jose, Calif., Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Photo by Josie Lepe)  Lincoln's Salvador Espinoza (3) celebrates with Jason Armer (12) after scoring a touchdown against Branham in the in the first quarter of a High School football game in San Jose, Calif., Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Photo by Josie Lepe)Lincoln’s Salvador Espinoza (3) celebrates with Jason Armer (12) after scoring a touchdown against Branham in the in the first quarter of a High School football game in San Jose, Calif., Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Photo by Josie Lepe)  Lincoln's Tayden Phillips (7), and Kyan Phillips (33) celebrate touchdown against Branham High in the in the second quarter of a High School football game in San Jose, Calif., Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Photo by Josie Lepe)Lincoln’s Tayden Phillips (7), and Kyan Phillips (33) celebrate a touchdown against Branham High in the second quarter of a High School football game in San Jose, Calif., Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Photo by Josie Lepe)  Branhams' Elias Antillion (2) scores a touchdown against Lincoln in the second half of a High School football game at Lincoln High in San Jose, Calif., Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Photo by Josie Lepe)Branhams’ Elias Antillion (2) scores a touchdown against Lincoln in the second half of a High School football game at Lincoln High in San Jose, Calif., Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Photo by Josie Lepe) 
Categories: Local News

Brooks: In the U.S. and across the globe, boys and men are struggling

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 04:30

If you’ve been paying attention to the social trends, you probably have some inkling that boys and men are struggling, in the U.S. and across the globe.

They are struggling in the classroom. American girls are 14 percentage points more likely to be “school ready” than boys at age 5, controlling for parental characteristics. By high school two-thirds of the students in the top 10% of the class, ranked by GPA, are girls, while roughly two-thirds of the students at the lowest decile are boys. In 2020, at the 16 top American law schools, not a single one of the flagship law reviews had a man as editor-in-chief.

Men are also struggling in the workplace. One in three American men with only a high school diploma — 5 million men — is now out of the labor force. The biggest drop in employment is among young men ages 25 to 34. Men who entered the workforce in 1983 will earn about 10% less in real terms in their lifetimes than those who started a generation earlier. Over the same period, women’s lifetime earnings have increased 33%. Pretty much all of the income gains that middle-class American families have enjoyed since 1970 are because of increases in women’s earnings.

Men are also struggling physically. Men account for close to 3 out of every 4 “deaths of despair” — suicide and drug overdoses. For every 100 middle-aged women who died of COVID up to mid-September 2021, there were 184 male deaths.

Richard V. Reeves’ new book, “Of Boys and Men,” is a landmark, one of the most important books of the year, not only because it is a comprehensive look at the male crisis, but also because it searches for the roots of that crisis and offers solutions.

I learned a lot I didn’t know. First, boys are much more hindered by challenging environments than girls. Girls in poor neighborhoods and unstable families may be able to climb their way out. Boys are less likely to do so. In Canada, boys born into the poorest households are twice as likely to remain poor as their female counterparts. In American schools, boys’ academic performance is more influenced by family background than girls’ performance. Boys raised by single parents have lower rates of college enrollment than girls raised by single parents.

Second, policies and programs designed to promote social mobility often work for women, but not men. Reeves, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, visited Kalamazoo, Mich. where, thanks to a donor, high school graduates get to go to many in-state colleges free. The program increased the number of women getting college degrees by 45%. The men’s graduation rates remained flat. Reeves lists a whole series of programs, from early childhood education to college support efforts, that produced impressive gains for women, but did not boost men.

Reeves has a series of policy proposals to address the crisis, the most controversial of which is redshirting boys — have them begin their schooling a year later than girls, because on average the prefrontal cortex and the cerebellum, which are involved in self-regulation, mature much earlier in girls than in boys.

There are many reasons men are struggling — for example, the decline in manufacturing jobs that put a high value on physical strength, and the rise of service sector jobs. But I was struck by the theme of demoralization that wafts through the book. Reeves talked to men in Kalamazoo about why women were leaping ahead. The men said that women are just more motivated, work harder, plan ahead better. Yet this is not a matter of individual responsibility. There is something in modern culture that is producing an aspiration gap.

Many men just seem less ambitious. College women are roughly twice as likely to enroll in study abroad programs as college men. In 2020, amid COVID, the decline in college enrollment for male students was seven times that of female students. As Reeves puts it: “It is not that men have fewer opportunities. It is that they are not taking them.”

I come away with the impression that many men are like what Dean Acheson said about Britain after World War II. They have lost an empire but not yet found a role.

Ambition doesn’t just happen; it has to be fired. The culture is still searching for a modern masculine ideal. It is not instilling in many boys the nurturing and emotional skills that are so desperately important today. A system that labels more than one-fifth of all boys as developmentally disabled is not instilling in them a sense of confidence and competence.

Masculinity has gone haywire. Reverting to pseudo-macho cartoons like Donald Trump and Josh Hawley doesn’t help.

David Brooks is a New York Times columnist.

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Column: Coach Matt Eberflus sends 2 clear messages — he wants to keep the Chicago Bears roster healthy, and practice matters

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 04:24

Sitting through news conferences with NFL coaches and trying to find something that isn’t filled with clichés or basically repeating principles can be challenging.

It’s called coach-speak, and often the coach’s goal is to make it through 15 minutes by saying very little.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is legendary for his ability to say nothing of interest, although he occasionally can be incredibly insightful when it comes to minutiae involving an aspect of special teams or the history of the game.

For a good stretch, former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith would talk about “getting off the bus running,” and Matt Eberflus often references his HITS principle, although he gets a good number of questions about it.

Two things Eberflus said this week stood out, though. The first was an announcement Wednesday that the Bears decided to shorten practice for the next two weeks. You can link it back to his belief in HITS. The Bears have been practicing for about 1 hour, 40 minutes on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and that was trimmed by about 15 minutes, perhaps a reaction to injuries during practice last week to cornerback Jaylon Johnson (quad) and strong-side linebacker Matt Adams (hamstring).

Johnson will miss his second straight game Sunday against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium, and Adams is doubtful. Johnson played exceptionally well in the first two games, and if you were to hand-pick two games for him to miss, they probably would be the Houston Texans and Giants, who have a thin cast of wide receivers. The good news for the Bears is rookie wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. appears ready to make his NFL debut after a lingering hamstring issue that popped up in mid-August.

“We shortened it because we want to stay fresh,” said Eberflus as his team embarks on a stretch beginning Sunday that has them playing three games in a 12-day span with a trip to the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 9 and a home game against the Washington Commandars on Oct. 13.

The Bears, like all teams, use GPS tracking devices on players in practice that provide useful data to show how fast they move, and Eberflus said coaches review the information. By shortening practice, the first-year head coach can continue to preach his mantra that you can’t “play hard and live soft,” hopefully protecting his players by taking some reps and running away.

The other interesting nugget came Monday. Eberflus was asked why the team flip-flopped the rotation at right guard, starting Lucas Patrick and then bringing in Teven Jenkins, who started the first two games. The cycle remained the same — the linemen rotated every two series — but Patrick got first crack. The offense sustained more drives when he was in as he logged 41 snaps to Jenkins’ 22.

“It’s about practice,” Eberflus said. “We evaluate practice. Wednesday is a big day for us, Thursday and Friday. We thought Lucas did a good job of practicing. Teven did a nice job on Thursday and Friday but needs to have a better Wednesday for him to step into that role.”

The frank assessment was interesting from the standpoint that Eberflus was critical of Jenkins’ performance. You can classify that as real talk from the coach, an interesting way of handling the situation. Maybe the Bears feel as if Jenkins will respond when prodded. Maybe it’s a message Eberflus wanted the entire team to hear. Whatever the case, players talked about it afterward.

“They did express it to me,” Jenkins said. “I was not feeling my best last week, overall health-wise, some illness. I just ended up carrying that over to practice. Ultimately that practice, as you heard from coach, wasn’t that good, and that is what led to it.

“I never want to bother people, especially my coaches. I don’t want to be taken out for anything. So I’m trying to push through it, and sadly my play was affected by it. (Walking off the field that day), you start questioning — did you give it your all today? It’s one of those situations.”

How did Jenkins feel about the coach sharing the assessment publicly?

“It’s him just trying to hold me accountable to a better standard,” Jenkins said. “That’s all.”

The Bears have an interesting dynamic with Patrick and Jenkins rotating, and it certainly sends the message that the linemen, at least, need to be pushing to improve daily. What happens in the middle of the week is considered essential to what will happen on Sundays.

Everyone can understand and accept that, and it circles back to the HITS principle. Perhaps Eberflus will continue to share key details that are driving some of the decisions, especially when they support his overarching message.

Scouting report

Kayvon Thibodeaux, Giants edge rusher

Information for this report was obtained from NFL scouts.

Kayvon Thibodeaux, 6-foot-5, 258 pounds, was the No. 5 pick in the draft out of Oregon this year, the second edge rusher to come off the board after the Detroit Lions selected Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson with the No. 2 pick. Thibodeuax made his debut Monday in a loss to the Dallas Cowboys after missing the first two games with a right knee injury suffered in the preseason. He had one tackle and tipped one pass but didn’t get any heat on quarterback Cooper Rush in 37 snaps.

“He’s a real interesting rusher,” the scout said. “He’s at his best using his strength. His lower body is a little rigid. He’s not a super flexible, bendy edge rusher like Von Miller or even a Robert Quinn. He is more of a power rusher. Based on his college tape, he does have pretty good hand usage. He’s got high-end closing speed, so he has the short-area burst to close on the quarterback. He probably needs to improve his hand usage and technique even more. There will be situations where he can overpower an offensive tackle, set him up, get him on his heels and top him over at the point of attack.

“Because he is a little limited in his hip movement, his hand usage is so important to really developing as a rookie and a pro. Braxton Jones will have to get depth off the snap to be able to anchor and set his base earlier versus a power rusher like Thibodeaux. The best comp for Thibodeaux is Jadeveon Clowney. That lower body tightness is noticeable on tape. So how does Clowney win? With an elite first step off the ball and the ability to get offensive linemen to set earlier and then run through them. His physical profile is different from Thibodeaux, but they are similar pass rushers.”

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Categories: Local News

Patrick Williams — after a summer of ‘hell’ workouts with DeMar DeRozan — is ready to prove himself in his 3rd Chicago Bulls season

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 04:23

Offseason days with DeMar DeRozan start at 5 a.m.

Patrick Williams learned the lesson the hard way, bleary eyed as he sat shotgun in DeRozan’s car on the short drive to the gym in Los Angeles.

“Five on the dot,” Williams said. “Not 5:01, not 4:59 — 5 a.m.,” Williams said. “You can’t be pulling in the parking lot at 5 a.m. We probably got there at 4:30. I was still sleepy when he came to pick me up.”

Those early mornings were the payment for a transformative summer with the Chicago Bulls veteran leader.

After Williams had a frustrating season dominated by a left wrist injury, DeRozan knew the young forward needed guidance heading into his third season in Chicago. He set the itinerary for the third-year forward’s offseason: take a trip to Los Angeles and learn how to prepare with the best.

“Even before the season ended last year, I was telling him how important this summer is for him,” DeRozan said. “He didn’t really understand why I was saying it. But coming into his third year, so much experience and understanding of what needs to be done is gained in your first two years. You kind of let it all out going into your third year.”

“Me telling him that wasn’t to put pressure on him. It was more so giving him the comfort of him understanding what he can do on the court.”

DeRozan relished the opportunity to put Williams through hell, grinning slyly any time he was asked about their summer together. Williams wouldn’t give away the full workout — which DeRozan originally developed with Kobe Bryant — but emphasized the daily routine was designed to be grueling.

The pair started with a “tough lift” at 5 a.m. focused on core exercises, taxing their bodies to exhaustion before hitting the court. Their morning workouts often emphasized double- and triple-team drills, replicating game situations with added defenders to force creativity and efficiency in finishing.

“If that wasn’t everything, then he’s different,” Williams said.

DeRozan preferred the early-morning workouts so he still could spend time with his family, dedicating the bulk of his days to time with his children before heading back to the gym for a late workout.

In the evenings, DeRozan welcomed Williams to his inner circle, taking him to dinners and outings with his family. The connection was organic — all DeRozan asked in exchange was a promise by Williams to pass on the mentorship to a younger player later in his career.

For Williams, those weeks offered a lesson in life as much as in basketball: Take care of your body, take care of your family, keep things simple.

“You just get a deeper appreciation for who (DeRozan) is as a person,” Williams said. “Of course, we know the player that he is, but I really got a deeper appreciation for who he is as a person, the way he thinks about things. He sees and thinks about things that a lot of people wouldn’t.”

With starting point guard Lonzo Ball expected to miss several months after undergoing left knee surgery, Williams stands to be one of the most important players on the roster this season.

The Bulls, who were the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference last season, emphasized consistency in the offseason, opting to make only two major acquisitions — Andre Drummond and Goran Dragić. As a result, only a few players have the ceiling to make a leap — and Williams is at the forefront.

The wrist injury limited Williams to a modest nine points and 4.1 rebounds in 17 games last season. But a healthy Williams could be a game-changer — if he can find the confidence to approach the rim with more aggression.

That could put pressure on a 21-year-old who struggled to find his footing in his first two seasons. But after months on the sideline during rehab, Williams welcomes the anticipation for his role this season.

“I wouldn’t say I feel pressure,” Williams said. “To me, it’s exciting to have people in your corner, to have people who have your back and want to see you do well. It’s definitely a challenge. It would be a challenge for anybody. But for me to be the player I want to be and for us to be the team we know we can be, I know I play a part in that.”

Williams felt he was overweight last season, particularly when he watched film over the summer. So he used the offseason to experiment with his body, using different lifting approaches to settle into a more comfortable weight.

Although Williams said he weighs the same as last season, his upper body was visibly slimmer in the first week of training camp.

“I wasn’t able to move the way I wanted to,” Williams said. “Coming back from the wrist injury, obviously you’re not able to lift as well as you want to, to do everything in the weight room you want to. So this summer was a chance to really lock in. … I feel a little bit more athletic. I just feel ready.”

Williams took only six shots per game in his second season. He often stuttered on his way to the basket, hands tentative as he took the ball to the rim or attempted a jumper.

It’s not surprising for a young player whose season was marred by injury to hesitate while returning. But Williams can’t show the same hesitancy this year.

For coach Billy Donovan, encouraging Williams’ aggression will be a key in the early weeks of the season. But even if the Bulls draw up plays to put the ball in the forward’s hands, Donovan said the confidence to finish comes down to Williams.

“You can put him in situations where you’re featuring him or put him in an action to get him to be aggressive, but he’s going to have to balance it himself,” Donovan said. “There’s got to be a flow and a randomness to how he’s playing as he makes decisions.”

Bulls fans have been waiting for Williams’ breakout moment ever since he was drafted with the fourth pick in 2020. In the last year, however, that has drained into frustration as the forward struggles to adjust to his role.

Newly healthy and invigorated by his summer with DeRozan, this season offers a chance for Williams to reintroduce himself.

“I look at every year like a make-or-break year,” Williams said. “I looked at my rookie year that way, my second year that way. This year is the exact same way. At the end of the day, it’s basketball. There’s no need to put any extra pressure on yourself or psych yourself out. Just go play basketball.”

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Categories: Local News

Klay Thompson says he ‘feels great’ as Warriors play it safe with star wing

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 04:17

SAITAMA, Japan – Klay Thompson was disappointed but not surprised by the Warriors’ decision to sit him for their first two preseason games this weekend in Japan.

The Warriors training staff told Thompson last week that participating in the first two preseason games was a “long shot.” Golden State ultimately ruled Thompson out for the Japan games out of an abundance of caution with their condensed start to training camp.

“I am a little sad because I wanted to show these fans a great time,” he said Saturday night. “But I understand we have very big goals to hit and our training staff did such an incredible job with me last year. I’m not going to force their hand when they literally prepared me for a championship run.”

After being out for two full seasons, the Warriors slowly brought Thompson back this year, managing his workload by restricting his minutes and not allowing him to play in back-to-back games. He seemed to be returning to his previous form during the playoffs when he logged a team-high 792 minutes in 22 games.

Despite playing in a total of 52 games last season, Thompson was hesitant to participate in five-on-five scrimmages this summer partially because he ruptured his Achilles tendon playing in a pickup game in Los Angeles about 16 months after he tore his ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals.

“It was really hard for me to get out there,” he said. “It’s like a mental block in a way. I’m gonna face it one day, but this season was so taxing just coming back, it was hard to win a championship and a month later play. It was a lot but I look forward to playing summer basketball again.”

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Thompson went through his full warm-up routine and did some lateral drills before heading into the locker room before the Warriors’ preseason opener Friday. He had another workout Saturday afternoon before the fan fest, where he was pushed so hard that he said it “felt like two” sessions.

“I feel great,” Thompson said. “I’m excited for this season. Like it’s hard to even put into words how excited I am.”

The Warriors will play another preseason game Sunday before returning to the Bay Area. Thompson anticipates the lead-up to Golden State’s third preseason game on Oct. 8 at Chase Center will be a “very big week” for him.

Though he’s sidelined for the games, Thompson was still able to give fans a show at NBA Japan Games Saturday Night.

Thompson joined Stephen Curry in a two-person 3-point contest in front of more than 20,000 fans at Saitama Super Arena. He made all but four of his 16 shots as the Splash Bros. coasted to an easy victory over Moses Moody and Jordan Poole.

“I love shooting the basketball especially on the same team as Steph,” Thompson said after the win. “I’ve gone against him twice in the 3-point shootout so it was nice to have a combination of great shooting. It was nice to humble Jordan Poole.”

And of course, Thompson said he’d jump on the opportunity to win another 3-point shooting title at NBA All-Star Weekend.

“I want to win multiple,” he said. “Steph has multiple. Larry Bird has multiple so it’d be cool to be in that category.”

Categories: Local News

ASK IRA: Is Heat’s Nikola Jovic on course for a waiting game?

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 03:30

Q: Nikola Jovic was born when Kyle Lowry was at Villanova. That’s insane. – Eric.

A: Actually, Nikola Jovic was all of one year old when Kyle Lowry began his collegiate career in 2004, but that’s besides the point. What is most relevant is the contrast in ages and how the Heat are in win-now mode because of Kyle’s age. It is why that even for all the pleasantries that Kyle and Erik Spoelstra had Friday for Nikola, Jovic’s prime time for the Heat (if he remains with the Heat) could well come after Kyle’s Heat tenure expires. Nikola is raw but eager. His time will come. Just not now. That doesn’t mean that there can’t be moments this season, just that it would be wise not to expect too many.

Q: Tyler Herro deserves to be paid, especially if we have Duncan Robinson at $90 million riding the bench, with Tyler having outplayed him. Wouldn’t be mad if he left. – Lowell.

A: First, Tyler Herro is under contract for this season, so he isn’t going anywhere unless the Heat send him somewhere. And the Heat aren’t sending him anywhere unless a blockbuster presents itself. In the end, Tyler’s deal, whether from the Heat or elsewhere, will come in at an average far exceeding Duncan Robinson’s five-year deal. It’s just that once extended, he cannot be traded, which is why the delay. Nothing to get made about.

Q: Ira, I can’t help but to think that the Heat could save considerable dollars on Tyler Herro by signing him before the season starts. My thought would be that chances are pretty good that he will increase his signing value if he has this season to do that. Therefore, don’t you think they should go ahead and sign him and maybe save a little money, and, most importantly, secure Tyler Herro? Your thoughts? – Brent, Wellington.

A: There is a risk-reward element from both sides. If the Heat act now, then perhaps they could get ahead of Tyler Herro’s growth curve. But if Tyler waits for that growth curve, an injury could leave him with regrets. Victor Oladipo, and previous money not taken, is a stark example within clear view for Tyler. So, again, for both sides, risk-reward.

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Categories: Local News

Making Friends

N.Y. Times - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 03:23
A psychologist and friendship expert has advice for how to make friends as an adult.
Categories: Local News

Firefly Aerospace reaches orbit with new Alpha rocket

Seattle Times - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 03:20

Firefly Aerospace has reached orbit with its new rocket.
Categories: Local News

Powerful earthquake shakes Indonesia’s Sumatra, kills 1

Seattle Times - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 03:12

A strong and shallow earthquake ha shaken Indonesia’s Sumatra island, killing a resident, injuring 11 and damaging more than a a dozen houses and buildings.
Categories: Local News

Horoscopes Oct. 1, 2022: Brie Larson, stick close to loved ones

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 03:00

CELEBRITIES BORN ON THIS DAY: Brie Larson, 33; Zach Galifianakis, 53; Esai Morales, 60; Julie Andrews, 87.

Zach Galifianakis. (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for New York Magazine)Zach Galifianakis. (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for New York Magazine) 

Happy Birthday: Emotions will be at a premium this year. Use your energy wisely, and you’ll come out on top. Don’t stray from the truth or your plans. Staying on track and doing your best to avoid interference from those looking out for their interests will help you reach your destination intact. Stick close to loved ones. Your numbers are 8, 15, 21, 24, 30, 39, 42.

ARIES (March 21-April 19): You’ll learn if you participate in community or family events or reunions. Listen, ask questions and make suggestions, and you will team up with someone who has something to contribute to help you reach your goal. Romance is in the stars. 5 stars

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): An open mind will help you better understand what’s within your grasp. Do your due diligence regarding how you earn your living. Update your skills and parlay something you’re good at into a fruitful future. 3 stars

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Keep life simple, conversations honest and your money in a safe place. Overindulgence will put you in a precarious position that can affect a relationship with someone with the wherewithal to help you get ahead. Work on self-improvement and discipline. 3 stars

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Take better care of your health, reputation and home. Someone will make you look bad if given the opportunity. Be on your best behavior, and don’t commit to anything you cannot do. Focus on ideas, creativity and getting along with others. 3 stars

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Have fun with friends, family or people you share a hobby with. Getting out and about will broaden your outlook regarding what’s possible and who can help you. Personal improvement will open doors that were closed in the past. 5 stars

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Share accurate information. Consider your sources before you pass along data to others. If someone doesn’t fact-check properly, you’ll be the one who bears the blame. Don’t let anger set in when caution, truth and choice of words are the paths to success. 2 stars

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): A trip or attending a lecture or exhibit will be enlightening. Personal growth and entertainment will go together. Leave nothing to chance, engage in conversations and research whatever interests you. A reunion will help you reconnect with someone special. 4 stars

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Make a difference. Size up what’s happening around you and adjust what isn’t working for you. Express your concerns and offer solutions that you can put in place. A gain will mirror a loss. Update your home. 3 stars

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Don’t bend under pressure. Look for opportunities that let you use your physical skills and qualifications to bring about positive change. An older relative or friend will concern you. Lend a helping hand, and a reward will follow. Romance is encouraged. 3 stars

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Moderation will help you avoid insult or injury. Take a pass if invited to a gathering that could put your health at risk. Time spent at home will give you a chance to improve your personal life and surroundings. 3 stars

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Reach out to someone who is doing something you want to pursue. The connection will lead to inroads that will help you cultivate skills, experience and knowledge that groom you for success. Invest time and money in your appearance and education. 4 stars

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): You’ll have plenty to contribute verbally, but don’t let your emotions slip into the conversation, costing you your reputation. Choose each word carefully to avoid saying something you regret. Turn a challenging situation into a positive experience, and you’ll overcome adversity. 2 stars

Birthday Baby: You are fun-loving, appealing and friendly. You are sensitive and curious.

1 star: Avoid conflicts; work behind the scenes. 2 stars: You can accomplish, but don’t rely on others. 3 stars: Focus and you’ll reach your goals. 4 stars: Aim high; start new projects. 5 stars: Nothing can stop you; go for gold.

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Categories: Local News

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