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This whole game was Jim Halpert exclaiming, "What is going on?"

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Good win. Especially for the seniors. Good look to start Alters and him getting the first two rebounds of the game. Pretty much a like for like game when compared to the Oregon upset. We jump out on a 24 point run and they never go on a meaningful run to shrink it below double digits. Happy for Shep that he went off. Happy for Grant who had his family in attendance after not having them around during the Covid year even with his surgery. Happy for Makale to drain some of his signature pullup 3s. Happy for Andre to be celebrated for his 4 year development track here through 2 coaches and a different recruited coach. Was a good feeling for yesterday.

Now…. Here comes the actual conversation about the future of the program.

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Feb 27, 2022·edited Feb 27, 2022Author

People need to be reminded that Haas Pavilion and the crowd can be one of the best in the conference with an exciting team. Last night showed that. Legit the sleeping giant crowd for Cal. We just need to give it some more care to that building and fans. They deserve better and more. But also need to know yesterday isn’t going to bleed into next year. The excitement is still sucked out of the program as a whole. Last night with the other games happening on campus, giveaways, P-Lo, Furd, player-alumnis, axe, night game, was the perfect setting to get a great crowd.

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Feb 27, 2022·edited Feb 27, 2022

Exactly, Rob. Look at what was needed to create that atmosphere, and Fox still did his level best to put the crowd to sleep with that dreadfully brutal 2H offensive display.

Gotta expect more of the same, or maybe even a step back, next year. And I have zero expectations that Knowlton will make a change, or that Fox will make a change to his staff or approach.

I see a guy that made a career out of Trent Johnson’s recruits at a mid-major...he got 9 seasons in Athens which should be terrifying to Cal fans with aspirations for a Tournament bid before 2030.

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Given that we were picked to finish last, and instead may finish 10th, with losing our best player and having some good wins, I don't believe we can bash Fox all that much. Yes, he must recruit better. But ask Oregon how Cal played? Ask the Trees? What we saw last night was some beautiful basketball effort and execution, given who we have. I went into this year with very low expectations, losing Bradley, and have been very pleasantly surprised by the improvement of players and overall play of the team. Disappointed in the record, yes, but impressed by the team and improvement of players. We have to give Fox credit where credit is due.

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We played well both against Oregon and Furd. But did you look at their shooting numbers? And how many open/good looks they missed. Oregon shot WAYYYYY below their average. About half their average. Furd is arguably the worst offensive FG% team in the conference. There is nuance but two wins can’t mask for 3 years of zero improvement and zero recruiting hits.

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eh, furd game we played great D

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I think it's fair to give him credit where it's due, but I think it's also fair to ask if this is good enough for year 3. It certainly could have been worse, but I'm not convinced he got the most out of this roster (which he is mostly responsible for putting together BTW). Proud of how these guys fight and I do think the team culture is healthy, but this is not CYO basketball. The man gets paid millions of dollars. The fact remains that whatever gains we have made under Fox have not resulted in fans returning, nor have they resulted in wins. We are way off the college basketball radar and it's difficult to expect that to change in any appreciable way in year 4. It's a tough job, but that's whey these guys get paid they way they do. It's fair to expect more.

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Is it? 5 years/8.25 million. You can Google Wyking's. But the one has no bearing on the other.

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Feb 28, 2022·edited Feb 28, 2022

Fair point - they were picked to finish last, and an utter collapse by a team that went to the Elite 8 last year will prevent them from doing so, which was an unexpected break. But as Nick has pointed out, this Cal team is remarkably similar statistically to those from the previous two seasons under Fox. Despite the consistent effort, the team is still expected to finish 5-15, and when the caveat of "who we have" enters, it's fair to ask who is responsible for the collection of talent on the team, no?

One could actually argue this team is underachieving, given there is seemingly enough talent on the squad that a more capable Head Coach with a better offensive system might have been able to work with...there are pieces. It's not NCAA Tournament talent, but with a roster that goes 10-11 deep and boasts no fewer than 6 capable shooters with 3 point range, 3-4 more wins were definitely possible. Why did Fox never take advantage of the depth and ratchet up the D to a pressing, half-court trapping style like he did v Wazzu, when it worked very well. It's a logical question.

The kids absolutely play hard...no one has said any different. Even noted curmudgeon Don McLean acknowledges this every Cal telecast he does. They like each other, and root for each other, and I love seeing how happy they get when they do get a W. It's fantastic. Fox gets credit for the effort...but when having your kids play hard is one of the most common remarks people say about you, it's fair to question the longterm outlook of the program under the current stewardship, no? I mean, can we honestly look at a team that will most likely finish 5-15 in the P12 and is almost certainly losing it's top 3 scorers and a top bench option and say they are any closer to making the NCAA Tournament then they were 5 years ago? It's a fair inquiry.

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Maybe it would have been better, maybe not...we don't know that. We probably beat Stanford at Maples, but Lars has acquitted himself nicely in AK22's absence and while we have missed him, the record may not be all that much different given Grant's awful shooting slump the last 2/3's of the season and Shepherd's inconsistency. This team didn't really play efficient basketball with Kelly, and definitely not much without him.

That said, I totally hope Kelly is back. Lars' inability to be a threat from outside allows opposing defenses to really pack the lane...Kelly can hit the jumper from the L, which helps open things up...we just struggle to hit 2-pt shots, as the Mountain schools at home weekend attests to.

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Getting a starters minutes usually does that for an upperclassmen 7-footer

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Feb 28, 2022·edited Feb 28, 2022

Would love to see Lars develop a nice little set shot from the L for next year...teams are playing off of him as his minutes have increased because he's not a threat to shoot the ball from anywhere but around the bucket. He's probably never going to be a jump shooter, but he obviously worked on and improved his FT shooting...if he can develop a little set shot from various spots just outside the key, like his stroke from the line, that would make him and the team better next year.

It will be interesting to see if incoming 4* PF ND Okafor gets the standard Mark Fox Freshman treatment (6-8 mpg maximum), or if his talent transcends Fox's clearly established biases towards more limited upperclassmen...him being an impact player alongside AK22 or Lars could be interesting.

Also wonder if Thorpe, Bowser, Klonaras and Hyder are with the team next year....

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Judging from his little tape available I’d put ND as the backup 5. He’s really raw but athletic.

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Feb 27, 2022Liked by BentPawn

What a nice win to send off Coach Fox with. #thankyouforyourservice

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Feb 27, 2022·edited Feb 27, 2022

The win is great and you'll take it, of course. A final home victory for Grant Anticevich is nice, who through no fault of his own is inexorably linked to the worst 5 year stretch in program history - the fact that he didn't transfer at some point is a testament to his commitment to Cal, and should be applauded...likewise Andre Kelly - hopefully AK22 returns, as there's maybe/perhaps a path to potential respectability with him on the block in '22...I've liked what Makale Foreman has brought to Berkeley in the 2 years...Jordan Shepherd spent more time at not one but two other schools than he did at Cal, so watching him walk seemed kinda meh...I have no real affinity.

But this shouldn't distract us from the fact that like the Bears, Stanford is bad, and an 18 point 2H is right on brand for Fox...that's no way to reward a bunch of former players in the stands. ;-)

This team has some pieces...would love to see what they'd do with a competent offensive mind at the helm. Unfortunately, in today's college basketball, kids not named Grant Anticevich commit to a coach, not a school, so if you make a change, chances are pretty good you lose Celestine, you lose Alajiki, etc. - guys that can be decent nucleus and probably pretty good players were they in a better scheme.

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Stanford should always be crushed.

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It's not enough, but it goes a very long way for me to see how hard the team plays and their esprit de corps. They also simply outplayed the tree, with better passing, spacing and defense. It will take us making the tourney for me to be really happy, but I can't knock Fox for how he leads the team he has. He needs more and better horses. He may never bring them on, and he would need to move on, but he's no dumpster fire like Wyking or some other Pac12 coaches of late. Seeing that Kidd and Randle and Lampley were there, is wonderful. They wouldn't show if it was going to be embarrassing.

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Wish we can add Randle to coaching staff. He can teach shooting and PG play.

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Unfortunately, we’ve got 15 years of evidence that suggests Fox doesn’t get more and better horses...this is what he is.

If there was ever a program could use an Ed Gray, it’s this one.

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Jimmy, I've thought about this for a while and just have to observe that most of us here can be nega-Bears once in a while, but it sure seems that most every post you provide is just super negative all the time about Fox and even the team. If you really feel that way, well, you are a champion nega-Bear for sure. I've been active on every version of this forum since it began, and have had my frustrations with coaches and teams. But at heart, it's all Go Bears. I don't get much sense of you being Go Bears. I hesitate to call this out and yet would appreciate your perspective on why it's such a constant theme of your posts, besides us all wanting the team to be better? I ask sincerely.

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Feb 27, 2022·edited Feb 28, 2022

Calbear91,

I post a lot, and not to quibble with you, I do say plenty of positive things. When there are positive things to post, fella, I often comment on them. Alajiki, for one, and hope for his Irish compatriot ND Okafor next year; AK22 - my fingers are crossed he returns...love that kid; Lars’ improvement is another...the possibility for a potentially good ‘22 nucleus...when I see something positive I comment on it, even an appreciative shout out to Grant above. I am constantly mentioning that the kids play hard, no matter what. You’re never going to wonder where I am coming from, tho - as a former coach, I don’t sugarcoat things....and to a lot of people, there’s not a lot of positive about the program right now. Yesterday, for instance - good win...but a disastrous 18 point 2H is part of the story...should we ignore it? Not mention it?

I’m the same year as Jason Kidd, and played against him in HS. I was a season ticket holder for 15 years during the Braun/Monty years...back when the team was most often competitive, and Cal hoops is by far my favorite sport, with some most positive memories. I was in attendance when they were like up 8 at the under 8 v UNC in Syracuse in ‘97...to see what it has become is disappointing to say the least.

I appreciate your candor, but what you call nega-bear is actually just realism, in my opinion....it’s the eye test, from a critical, discerning eye. There is a large segment of the fan base that does not even give an iota of crap about the program because of what it has become. They don’t watch the games...hell, they don’t even comment on the W4C boards...they’ve quit on the program...I have not - I’m passionate about the team...I love the program and want it to succeed, and don’t think the current regime has the sand to do it. You may think Fox can get us to the Dance...great - I have a different view.

I also wasn’t raised in the era of the participation trophy. Hell my handle is from a movie where all the coach wanted to do was win. I do get a kick out of your endless positivity, misguided as I may find it. You do you...the world needs people that are even more positive than the glass-is-half-full folks...it’s all good. Way to go....there’s two sides to every story.

But I’m hardly the only one that was a) disappointed in the Fox hiring; and is b) less than enamored with his recruiting/coaching over now 3 seasons. Some people post things based on what they want to see happen....I post things based on what I actually do see happen, and what the statistics tell us...and they tell us this is one of the roughest stretches of Cal Men’s Basketball in the last 50 years.

Wanting Fox to suddenly morph into something that his entire coaching career has shown he is NOT, is kind of naive...Cal sports is not for the faint of heart. Apologies if you have a different opinion...I respect yours, just disagree with it. But we’re both Cal fans, that bleed blue and gold. The people that still bother to watch the MBB games and take the time to post on them - we’re a community within the community. And though I may have a more critical view than others, I nonetheless respect my community.

GO BEARS!!

Jimmy C.

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I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and one thing I love most about UC Berkeley is our history of vigorous free speech and inclusion of many points of view. It's nice to hear you explain a few things. I don't agree that somehow you see things clearly and somehow my head is in the clouds. I'm not polyanna. We may be on a different sides of a spectrum of optimism versus pessimism, but just as it doesn't make you a fool, neither am I. It's enough to say we want to see Cal win more, and for Fox to recruit better. My fundamental point is that there is also good happening, and Fox deserves that share of credit instead of being constantly referred to as a total loser. The vast majority of us here have no interest in a coach that wins on the court and loses in ethics. We don't need another Bozeman. That's why we love Wilcox, as he runs a top notch program and beats good teams once in a while. We are a World Class University first, athletic program far second. Fox does a great job of being a coach we can be proud of as far as his players going to class and graduating. That goes a very long way. None of us want what a Sean Miller here, damn the wins!

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Feb 28, 2022·edited Feb 28, 2022

Not saying your head is in the clouds, nor am I saying you're necessarily wrong. Again, to each his own...my style when it comes to Cal fandom is just different and I acknowledged that. Maybe it's because you have kids and I don't...who knows.

I took umbrage with your assessment that all I am is a nega-bear, and that there is less Go Bears! in me than there is in you and the sunshine pumpers simply because I am more critical of the program. That's not the case at all...and I've agreed that there is good happening...to tell you the truth, I was as surprised as anyone to see that despite seemingly improved play to the eyes, statistically they are pretty much the same as in '19 & '20. I thought they've looked better, tho the efficiency stats say different, as does the record.

It's a mistake though to think that because I question Fox's ability to recruit elite players or field an elite team that I want a corrupt, shady, suede-shoe operator running the program. However, as it pertains to both Fox and Wilcox, to say they are the ONLY HC's out there that have players that both play hard and graduate is just bull....plenty of head coaches have teams that give maximum effort, graduate their players, AND field winning teams. Why not Cal?

That said, what Sean Miller was vilified for at U of A is practically sanctioned now in the NIL-era...just gotta be smarter. Get a car wash in Tucscon to funnel that money to Ayton as part of an NIL deal...Dr. Dre is paying Caleb Williams $2M to wear Beats. ;-)

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Great game. Great crowd, except that the "F U Stanfurd" chant was utterly classless.

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Watching on Pac 12 network, I thought I heard that and agree it was classless and beneath Cal.

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I agree. It's not clever. It's better to be clever Cal fans with something somewhat obtuse than flat out nasty in $C style.

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Perfectly fine imo if the student section are the ones doing it. Against Furd. No other opponent needs that. Well. Maybe Texas. But outside of that none.

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Sorry, Rob, but you couldn't be more wrong. As much as I hate Furd, the rivalry has always been one of mutual respect. But even if we're playing u$c, or any team the whoring Mack Brown might be coaching, that kind of chant is out of bounds. If the students were to find a "Let's Go Brandon" version of the chant, that's fine, but to be yelling "Fuck You Stanfurd" is crass, unoriginal, and as I stated previously, classless. (And this is coming from someone who knew every word in the book by age 4, and who was never shy about using that vocabulary in the right situation.) We're better than that.

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Nice win.

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Another great basketball article and interesting charts. Thanks Alex!

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This weekend was hoops heaven for me. 3 games in 2 days (WBB, MBB, and my first Warriors game).

The most important game was a win (the other 2 were losses)

This game had it all and I hope the students who attended experienced just how fun basketball games for your college can be.

Going to the new Chase arena to see a NBA game was quite a different experience. Some things better (fantastic score board and sound system, seats, store, food), but other things worse (prices), and somethings just different (I didn't realize they sometimes play music even during play)

But for me it wasn't close to the game experience of the Cal v Stanford game. The biggest difference, was how much I love the team and school.

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