Cal men's basketball is 0-7, the worst start by a major college hoops program in 40 years
The Mark Fox era needs to end. It's over.
Our recaps of Cal men’s basketball Florida trip and two losses to TCU and Clemson will be condensed and brief.
Because frankly, there isn’t much more interesting to say about this team while Mark Fox is still coaching it.
Cal fell to TCU 59-48 on Friday, then followed it up with a 67-59 loss to Clemson on Saturday.
The TCU loss was easily one of the worst performances of the season, as Cal encountered a top-25 Horned Frog defense that smothered the life out of the already challenged Bears offense. Cal produced an appalling 1-to-3 assist to turnover ratio, handing the ball back to TCU 19 times and only producing six buckets off of passes.
TCU actually shot worse than Cal, but +12 on turnovers and +9 on offensive rebounds handed the Horned Frogs 21 more scoring opportunities. Cal only managed 30 points in the first 30 minutes of action and spent the rest of the game trading baskets until the inevitable double-digit defeat.
Clemson was a bit more normal—Cal turned the ball over only 11 times and managed 9 assists. This time it was the shooting that betrayed them. Cal shot 15% from three (their second worst shooting performance on the season), and 39% from the field overall. Cal kept it close through halftime before a 15-2 Clemson run at the start of the second broke it open.
Devin Askew led Cal in scoring with 12 vs. TCU and 18 vs. Clemson, and Lars Thiemann joined in with 12 and 15 respectively. Cal has one place where they excelled in Florida—getting to the free throw line, where they attempted 43 free throws in all. They missed 11 vs. TCU but did go 18-20 vs. Clemson, led by Kuany Kuany (7-8 FT) and Askew (6-7 FT).
Sam Alajiki played well against TCU but got hurt and missed the Clemson game.
There are 363 teams in Division I college basketball. Here is where Cal currently ranks among those 363 teams in key categories.
58.4 points per game (356th)
9.6 assists per game (349th)
29.2 three point % (313th)
40.8 FG % (302nd)
16 turnovers per game (326th)
While pace is arguably important in some of these counting stats—Cal is currently the third-slowest team in college basketball—the Bears are now down to 267th in offensive efficiency according to Ken Pomeroy.
These are historically bad numbers, ones reserved for bottom dwellers of one-bid conferences.
Cal is at the bottom of college basketball. This is absolute negligence of the highest order.
Cal is now 0-7, which is not only the worst start in program history, it’s the worst start by any major college basketball program in four decades, according to ESPN.
I do not have to tell you how HARD it is for a college basketball team to lose seven non-conference games in a row. The same way college football teams get their FCS matchups to get a quick win, all teams schedule multiple buy games to pad their win total.
Here is a sample of who Cal has lost to in 2022-23, most of these buy games.
UC Davis, who had never beaten Cal.
UC San Diego, who has swept Cal.
Southern, who has 5 wins vs. Power 5 teams all-time.
Texas State, who had never beaten a Pac-12 team before last week.
Cal plays at home to USC, and then goes on the road to top-15 Arizona. 0-9 beckons.
Cal is going to be favored against maybe three more teams on their schedule: Eastern Washington, UT-Arlington, and maybe the Oregon State home game. The Bears are staring at the cold reality of perhaps the worst record by a major program in college basketball history if this continues.
The Mark Fox era is at an end. It’s just a matter of when.
It is up to the Cal athletic department to decide when to make the call. Everyone nationally is turning their eyes to the Bears. Every day that passes with Fox still in charge is an embarrassment to the program, its players, its fans.
In his latest message to Cal fans, Jim Knowlton expressed that no one is more frustrated than himself, along with Mark Fox for not meeting expectations. I can assure you that is not the case, as Bears fans have spent the last year hounding the athletics department with images of a very popular Internet browser.
But let’s take him at his word. It’s clear Fox’s frustrations are not turning into answers. Will Knowlton use his frustrations to come to the only ready conclusion?
What are the expectations for Cal men’s basketball from the department? I don’t know the answer, and as long as this humiliation goes on and Knowlton makes the call, I’m not sure he does either.
Please. Just let it end.