The college football season is only a month old and already college basketball practice is set to begin. Yes, in September.

The NCAA in May voted to move up the beginning of practice for men's teams by essentially two weeks from its recent start date of Oct. 15. The move comes two years after women's teams were allowed the earlier start.

"They saw what we were doing and liked the rule," Stanford women's coach Tara VanDerveer said. "I think we were the guinea pigs."

"It makes all the sense in the world," said Cal men's coach Mike Montgomery, whose team will begin practicing Saturday. "There's no negative to it in my mind."

Montgomery said the change makes sense given that the start of the game schedule has crept into early November.

Teams will be allowed 30 practice days over a 42-day span leading to their openers.

"I think you're going to see better basketball early. The past few years basketball in November was bad, teams were not ready to play," said Montgomery, adding that the more gradual buildup could reduce injuries.

VanDerveer's team won't begin workouts until Oct. 7. "September's a little early," she said. "I like where we're starting."

MEN

CAL: The Bears, coming off a second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, lost Pac-12 Player of the Year Allen Crabbe to the NBA draft, but welcome a strong five-man recruiting class, topped by former Salesian High prep All-America guard Jabari Bird. Senior point guard Justin Cobbs is expected to be healthy in time for the season after undergoing foot surgery in August.


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STANFORD: A big year for coach Johnny Dawkins, given a mandate by athletic director Bernard Muir to get the Cardinal to the NCAA tournament after a five-year drought. Dawkins, 93-73 in five seasons, has the talent to get there with four returning starters, including forward Dwight Powell and guard Chasson Randle.

SAINT MARY'S: The Gaels, one of four programs in the country with 25 wins the past six seasons, move on without departed star guard Matthew Dellavedova. Three double-digit scorers return and freshman forward Calvin Hermanson, a two-time state player of the year in Oregon, figures to be in the mix. Randy Bennett will not be eligible to coach for five games beginning with the start of West Coast Conference play, as part of NCAA sanctions levied against the program.

SANTA CLARA: The Broncos, in their seventh season under coach Kerry Keating, will have a different look without three departed 1,000-point scorers, including guard Kevin Foster, the all-time Bay Area scoring leader. Back is senior guard Evan Roquemore, also a 1,000-point man. Joining the team is senior forward Jerry Brown, a transfer from Fresno State who is immediately eligible as a grad student.

SAN JOSE STATE: The Spartans will enter the Mountain West Conference under new coach Dave Wojcik, who spent the previous three seasons as associate head coach at Boise State. The top returnee is senior forward Chris Cunningham, who averaged 10.7 points and 9.0 rebounds last season, but Wojcik brought in seven newcomers, six of them freshmen.

WOMEN

CAL: It's encore time for the Bears, on the heels of the greatest season in school history. Four of the top six scorers are back from a 32-4 squad that shared the Pac-12 title and reached the Final Four for the first time. The Bears are hoping for a November return from forward Gennifer Brandon (12.3 points, 11.1 rebounds), who had surgery in early August to repair a recurrent right tibial stress fracture.

STANFORD: Tara VanDerveer needs nine victories to become the fifth Division I women's coach to reach 900 for her career. All-America senior forward Chiney Ogwumike (22.4 points, 12.9 rebounds) will try to lead the Cardinal back to the Final Four, after missing last season for the first time since 2007. Senior guard Toni Kokenis retired for medical reasons during the offseason.

SAINT MARY'S: The Gaels, 23-11 a year ago, are positioned to compete near the top of the West Coast Conference. Coach Paul Thomas welcomes back two of the WCC's top players in senior guard Jackie Nared (16.6 points, 8.7 rebounds) and senior forward Danielle Mauldin (13.6 points, 10.8 rebounds).

SANTA CLARA: The Broncos, under coach Jennifer Mountain, will try to improve on last season's 14-16 record. The key returnee is Diablo native Ricki Radovich, a senior guard who averaged 10.5 points a year ago.

SAN JOSE STATE: The Spartans are switching gears in a hurry after the Aug. 30 resignation of two-year coach Tim La Kose. Jamie Craighead was hired from Sacramento State, and she inherits an improving roster led by junior guard Ta'Rea Cunnigan (19.8 points) and sophomore center Riana Byrd (11.4 points, 10.9 rebounds).

Follow Jeff Faraudo on Twitter at twitter.com/JeffFaraudo.