If you’ve spent any time parousing the world wide web, you’ve likely come across a comments section, message board, or tweet surrounding the NCAA legality of Cal’s most recent recruiting class. A brief history lesson on California sports and its fiscal management before we return to even greater levels of reality:
Cal has always stunk at money. They announced the elimination of five sports due to budget constraints in 2010 (including their Rugby program and its 26 titles and the baseball program which would go on to the 2011 CWS and is arguably a better Bay Area budget underdog than Moneyball). Financing of their upgraded Cal Memorial Stadium has been widely criticized, an upgrade balked at while Jeff Tedford had Cal football on the cusp of Rose Bowls. Todd Bozeman was a coach at Cal.
Now please remove your foil hat and come in close for this: Cal did a great job recruiting. They secured the third ranked class in the country and they didn’t send a bagman with the heaviest satchel into anyone’s living room. Of course Yanni Hufnagel could be throwing Dre McGee-esque parties starring the Madame of Berkeley and none of us – especially Cuonzo – know anything about. But this is recruiting. Grow up Peter Pan, Count Chocula. These are kids making decisions with a ton of whispers and shouts in their ears. Nothing is given. Nothing should be expected. Yes a kid from Marietta, Georgia can play at Cal. It’s happened before. And yes a kid from Oakland can play at Cal. It’s happened before. Coach Cuonzo Martin has got one helluva basketball team and they’re going to play at Virginia. Tune in. Ultimately I don’t care if this team’s Scout.com page looks like the Milky Way – it’s time to compete and this is a team sport played across 30+ games. Nothing has been awarded these Bears. Most certainly nothing earned.
What I love about them
From inside the Haas Pavilion for Cal-Stanford, I observed things. This is what I went home thinking about after an entertaining 69-59 Cardinal win.
1) Basketball Players are Big
I laud you to finagle yourself into excellent basketball tickets. They are a dish best served free so always say ‘yes’ when offered tickets. It remains my life’s greatest regret that I adhered to a study schedule (yes, that was a component of college life for me) rather than accept the owner (owner, as in: Man who shelled out cash to make decisions) of the San Diego Padres’ tickets. Of note, I did not study and watched the entire game on television. I digress. When you’re up close for a basketball game you get to see exactly how seven feet fills up a lane. Suddenly, ‘points in the paint’ isn’t a statistic, it’s a goddamn Purple Heart. Length isn’t so much a draft component, it’s the tentacles of The Kraken.
2) Adam’s an Architect
By: Spencer Smith
The Pac-12 this year is Utah, Arizona and the field. And while pretty much no one expects the other 10 programs to challenge the Utes and Wildcats for a conference crown, there is still plenty to be played for.
There’s an amoeba of mediocrity in the middle (say that five times fast), one that starts after the aforementioned front-runners and ends at a much more uncertain place. Stanford, UCLA, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State are in there. Washington State is making a case for being in there. Washington, Cal and Arizona State are desperately trying to convince you they are still there. USC plays basketball. Continue reading
We never really ever talked about the Cuonzo hire. So, for the record, it was a great parting gift from Sandy Barbour. This partnership is mutually beneficial in that Cal gets a coach, fresh off a Sweet Sixteen who is young and hungry and has proven he can win. For Martin, he gets himself into a situation where he’s actually wanted. That’s right, Bruce Pearl and Tennessee fans seemingly had a Gone Girl relationship. There were FIRE CUONZO petitions with upwards of 20K signatures. No thanks and Bruce wound up at Auburn. So Cuonzo got himself a cozy pad in Berkeley and a decent roster, too. One concern: they say the Bay Area can make you soft. Cuonzo’s teams play hard. Time will tell.
Why I Love Them: