Mark Madsen gives his opening remarks and vision as the new Cal men's basketball coach
For those who missed it, a full transcript of Mark Madsen's state of the California Golden Bears.
Thanks again to Bentpawn for covering the Mark Madsen presser in person and Nick for breaking down Madsen’s coaching bona fides. For those who haven’t been able to catch it, Write for California is providing you with a full transcript of his opening remarks to the media on Monday.
I could not be more excited to be here today. The last time I was in this gym I was coaching at Stanford and an altercation broke out. I ran out to the court to try to break it up and ended up getting suspended. The time before that it was an absolute battle and I was actually a player on the court. It is an honor to be here today.
I grew up about 20 minutes away in Danville. I played at San Ramon High School for kind of an East Bay legend John Raynor. I have memories of going throughout this whole area ... had battles at Riordan, at De La Salle…
I want to turn the clock back to 1992. I was a young player in high school trying to find my way. I had never played a minute of varsity basketball, so John Raynor, my head coach, he kind of entrusted me to his assistant, Jim Barrons, who played here under Pete Newell in the program.
Jim was able to get me on an official visit to Cal. It was my first visit as a recruited athlete. I went over to Harmon Gym and I watched Jason Kidd practice. Lamond Murray was on the team, Monty Buckley was on the team. I was blown away at the talent level of the basketball team. I was in heaven.
Lou Campanelli was the coach. I went into his office, I'd barely played any high school basketball, but they treated me incredibly well. Then they took me to the football game and I was just enjoying myself. At some point somebody walked up the stairs and was walking across the aisle way and the entire crowd just started yelling at this person. The chant was simple -- 'Take off that red shirt.'
Later there was a coaching change and my recruitment dropped off … but that was my first introduction to Cal. But that team continued to do so well. They ended up making the Sweet 16, losing to Kansas. That team caught almost my entire high school as fans.
A couple years later in 1994 they won 20 games and it seemed like every girl in my high school was in love with Randy Duck. Lamond Murray came over to our high school to judge the dunk contest. I was surrounded in a lot of ways with Cal graduates and people affiliated with Cal.
The first time I played here at Cal, I had to guard Tony Gonzalez. Tony Gonzalez punished people out there. I left the game with bruises, I left the game beat up. Over the years, when I played Cal, Mike Montgomery would yell at me, 'Keep Tony off the glass. Keep Sean Lampley off the glass.' We had some epic battles.
The history of Cal basketball is winning and winning at a high, high level. Obviously, the national championship, multiple Sweet 16s, repeated NCAA tournaments. I'm going to do everything in my power and we will restore Cal basketball to that level of play. We will recruit and develop great players, players like Leon Powe, like Jaylen Brown, Kevin Johnson, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Jerome Randle, Sean Marks.
We will focus on several pillars and make that our hallmark.
Recruiting. I want to put up a chain-link fence around the state of California and keep the best California players at Cal. We will be aggressive in the transfer portal. When players enter that portal that are great basketball players and great students, we're going to be all over them. We're going to be all over them and we're going to bring them here to Cal. We're going to recruit nationally and internationally and have great success doing that.
Player development will be a hallmark of what we do here. I want to go back in time and talk a little bit about professional development at the professional level. Phil Jackson, one of my mentors (I talked to Phil last week), when I got to the Lakers he talked about the four pivots that were necessary to run the triangle offense. The outside turn, the inside turn, the outside reverse pivot, the inside reverse pivot. And he always talked about the four pivots. Any player that has played for Phil Jackson knows about the four pivots.
Well, Kobe took the four pivots to the highest level. He would get to practice sometimes hours before practice started and work on the four pivots from left block, left elbow, right elbow, right block, and he mastered the pivots. By having tremendous footwork it allowed him to rise up over defenders. While they were stuck on the ground, because of great footwork he was elevating over the top. His legacy of hard work will always be in my mind and we will bring that same element of hard work and dedication to player development to Cal and focus heavily on that.
Style of play, I want to play fast. I want to play uptempo. I want to play a style of play that will focus on the unique strengths of every player we have in the program. We're going to do everything we can to create a family atmosphere with our players. The players at Cal I'm going to try to treat like my own children, which I think is hugely important to create that atmosphere.
Preparation: There's an old saying -- hard work doesn't guarantee you anything, but without it you don't stand a chance. No one will outwork our staff or our players. Our staff will be world-class. I'm in the midst of finalizing key staff members and we will update you as we have more to announce there.
NIL: I believe that Cal in some ways is already on its pathway to becoming a national leader in NIL, in accordance with all NCAA rules and in accordance with all the mandates and statutes set out by Congress. I'm incredibly excited and encouraged by NIL.
But I want to point out -- Name, Image and Likeness is not pay to play. It is absolutely not pay to play. And in speaking with some of the leadership of the collective here, I'm incredibly impressed because they're talking about all the things that the athletes can do beyond the court -- getting out in the community, giving of themselves in other ways to help youth. And that is part of the shared vision that gets me excited to be here at Cal.
Admissions. Cal is the best public education in the world. In the world. And we need to cast a broad net. I don't want a player, a prospective student-athlete to be penalized because maybe his high school doesn't offer enough AP courses. And in talking with university leadership, I'm extremely encouraged at the case-by-case basis at which admissions will look at each student-athlete. I think that's a sign of a great institution.
Past players and coaches. I have been mentored by great coaches and great players. I stay in touch with them and they are my friends. I will draw on each of them as we embark on this journey together.
There is absolutely no reason why Cal cannot be restored to the rich tradition that has been such a part of this university and this athletic department. But it's going to be a team effort, it's going to be collaborative, we're going to work together. It's going to involve admissions, leadership, alums, donors, boosters and we're going to do it together.
I have a vision in the not-too-distant future of hanging banners here in Haas Pavilion. I have a vision in the not-too-distant future of traffic jams of people coming across the bridge to this arena to watch this style of play and this brand of basketball and the players in the Cal program.
I have a vision of greatness with Cal basketball. I could not be more excited to be here today.
Imagine being able to tell recruits "I watched Kobe became Kobe (RIP) and will bring that into my coaching." That also builds a major bridge to SoCal.
The "treat them like my children" thing is more a pitch to parents whose kids are leaving home so it doesn't bother me (it would on the pro level, though). Plus he has a recently expanded family so it's on his mind. I do like how he discussed relaxing academic criteria through a social justice lens that mirrors a broader admissions debate. It's subtle, but shows he may have the skill to make progress with our administration.
I know player development is his focus but am hoping he also pulls in some good players from the portal. At least he has the full off-season. But I am seriously amped about next season.
Classy comments by a classy gent. In the professional world, I always winced at the “we’re a family” analogy. It seemed paternalistic and overly familiar. We weren’t a family. We were coworkers, bosses, etc.
In a sports setting, it still gives me pause. Can’t we just be players and coaches and friends?
It’s a widely accepted term at work and play, so I get it and accept it. But, heck, it’s my comment and I’m sticking to it.