Dec 3, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings shooting guard Ben McLemore (16) controls the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha (25) during the third quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Sacramento Kings 97-95. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Bay Area Buzz 12/4: Ben McLemore Learning; Saint Mary’s Women Start Hot; 49ers Have Something To Prove


Sacramento Kings Rookie Ben McLemore Still Learning

One night it’s Klay Thompson, two nights later it’s Russell Westbrook, and this Friday it’s probably Kobe Bryant.

So, Ben McLemore. How was your day? How is your week looking?

Only a few months ago, the Kings rookie gave up college textbooks for NBA playbooks, eager to pursue a pro career and avoid academic distractions. But these day jobs can be overwhelming, too. Every game is a pop quiz, every practice an adventure, every flight mere hours away. Even throwing down a clean, nasty dunk can be a challenge.

“There is so much you have to learn,” McLemore said after practice Monday, a slight smile creasing his boyish features. “Being a shooter, you have to move without the ball to get your shot, try to find it different ways, but with the same motion. How I shoot in practice is how I want to shoot in the game. Run the floor, get going, just play basketball.”

That works fine for the Kings. Better than fine, actually. Right now, the only people who like McLemore more than the Kings are the Warrriors, with Thompson foremost among them. The former Southern California high school star, who set an Arco Arena record with seven 3-pointers during his senior season in 2008, was back in town and back at it again Sunday. This time, he eclipsed his personal best with eight threes – the first three defended by McLemore.

Ailene Voisin, Sacramento Bee

Saint Mary’s Gaels Look To Challenge Gonzaga In WCC

Saint Mary’s coach Paul Thomas sat in his office last Sunday evening, splicing together video highlights to show his team at practice the next day.

It was a typical night, and an atypical one, all at the same time. Because not since Thomas arrived in Moraga, a small, bucolic, college campus nestled in the hills east of Oakland and Berkeley, had he had quite so much material with which to work.

The Gaels are 7-0, the best start in school history. They have wins over Washington — a Pac-12 team picked to finish in the top half of an improved conference — Alabama (SEC), Butler (Big East) and Toledo, last season’s MAC champion.

Saint Mary’s is not only positioning itself as a worthy challenger to Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference, but for its first NCAA tournament berth since 2001 (when current Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves was at the helm). After four straight appearances in the WNIT, the Gaels have been building toward this, winning a combined 62 games the past three seasons.

“I’ve been preaching the same thing every year since I got here six years ago,” Thomas said. “When the players decide they are going to do this and execute as a group, and be accountable to one another, then you’ve got something. We are reaching our potential. I do not think we’ve reached it yet. But we feel very good about where we are.”

The Gaels returned four starters, led by senior Jackie Nared, who transferred to Saint Mary’s after spending her freshman season at Maryland. It was a huge change in venue in every way, from the size of the school to the pedigree of the program. She went from a team that assumes it will finish the season in the NCAA tournament to one that is fighting hard to get back there for the first time since most of its players were in elementary school.

–Michelle Smith,

49ers Have Something To Prove Against Seattle

A former NFL coach named Bill Parcells once said: “You are what your record says you are.”

Jim Harbaugh, coach of the 49ers, does not necessarily agree. Or disagree.

“It’s pretty catchy,” Harbaugh said Monday about Parcells’ bromide, but he deferred comment when asked if the 49ers deserve their 8-4 record, saying: “I don’t think it’s that relevant. What’s relevant is, our fate is in our hands. It’s good for all of us to keep that in mind at all times.”

Truthfully, both statements are good to keep in mind, at any time. Because both are relevant.

Parcells’ statement is correct because the 49ers have an 8-4 record that they have earned, good and bad. Winning any NFL game is an achievement. But with an offense best described as sporadically intermittent, the 49ers have defeated just one team that currently owns a winning record — Arizona. That’s worth second place in the NFC West standings, behind Seattle.

“Not where you’d like to be,” Harbaugh acknowledged.

He is correct, however, about the 49ers’ fate being in their hands regarding the playoffs. They own the second wild card spot and can win out to clinch the postseason.

But in terms of what the 49ers really are … and whether they are going to be relevant in the Super Bowl conversation … we’ll discover that definitively Sunday when they play the Seahawks at Candlestick Park.

Win or lose, the 49ers are not likely to finish as division champions. Seattle can retain the NFC West lead even with a defeat at Candlestick. And the Seahawks have a cake schedule the rest of the way (at New York Giants, home against Arizona and St. Louis).

–Mark Purdy, San Jose Mercury News

Tags: Ben McLemore NBA NFL Sacramento Kings Saint Mary's Gaels San Francisco 49ers Women's Basketball

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