Risky Decisions with Some Recent Coaching Extensions

Posted by EJacoby on July 12th, 2012

In the past few days alone, three power conference schools have provided their head coaches with multi-year extensions after seasons that showed solid progress. South Florida head coach Stan Heath received a new six-year contract last Friday, California rewarded Mike Montgomery with a two-year extension on Monday and Iowa provided Fran McCaffery with a massive seven-year deal yesterday. Notice a trend here? Cal has won just three NCAA Tournament games since 1997, never entering the Dance higher than a #6 seed. Iowa hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2001 and has qualified for the Tourney just twice in the past decade. And USF hadn’t even qualified for the Big Dance since 1992 before last year. Yet each team made enough strides in 2011-12 that was apparently enough to convince school administrators that each coach was deserving of several more years of service. Is there a risk that comes with locking up a head coach after a limited track record of success? These three schools are taking a solid gamble in hoping that relatively small sample sizes are enough to suggest a trend of future success.

Fran McCaffery will be manning the Iowa sidelines for the next seven years (AP Photo)

California, Iowa, and South Florida have all struggled with various levels of mediocrity over the past two decades and been largely overshadowed by their football programs. Cal would appear the biggest name of the three, having produced some exciting teams going back to the days of Jason Kidd and Lamond Murray in the early 90s. But the Golden Bears have surprisingly never received better a top-five seed in the NCAA Tournament nor advanced past the Sweet Sixteen since 1980. Iowa has actually had better historical success, receiving a top-four NCAA Tourney seed five times since 1980, though advancing past the Sweet Sixteen just once with a subsequent loss in the 1987 Elite Eight. USF, meanwhile, had never won an NCAA Tournament game in program history before last year’s two victories, making it just twice before in the early 90s as low seeds.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

California Week: What To Expect In 2012-13

Posted by Connor Pelton on June 22nd, 2012

After a week’s worth of breaking down the Golden Bears, it is time to give a way-too-early preview as to their chances in 2012-13. With five newcomers, three of whom are expected to play very big roles, and five returnees who will carry an even bigger load than they did last season, there are plenty of questions whose answers will remain unknown until we get a chance to see this team in action. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t make predictions. Simulating basketball in our minds is the closest we’re going to get to the real thing until late October, so here we go.

Cal’s Leading ScorerAllen Crabbe. The one-two punch of Crabbe and Justin Cobbs will have opposing defenses scrambling all night long. Cobbs can definitely score the ball, but the Bears are better with him distributing. With Cobbs dropping dimes to Crabbe, sharpshooting transfer Ricky Kreklow, and incoming freshman Tyrone Wallace, defenses will eventually be so preoccupied with the trio of shooting guards that they forget about the point guard. That’s when he can make his move. Similar to last season, this will be a team with balanced scoring. Crabbe, Cobbs, Kreklow, Kravish, and Solomon could all be averaging 8+ PPG by season’s end.

The Potential On This Year’s Roster Should Have Cal Fans Packing Haas Pavilion On A Regular Basis, Like On This Unknown Night When Jordan Farmar Is Attempting To Convert A Jumper Into The Teeth Of The Straw Hat Band. (credit: Arun Nevader)

Cal’s MVPJustin Cobbs. Just as Cobbs could very well win the scoring title, Crabbe could very well be the team MVP. But we already named Crabbe as the leading scorer, and taking two titles is just plain selfish. If Cobbs can find that balance we were talking about above of taking only good shots and always looking to pass first, he will be by far the most important part of coach Mike Montgomery’ s offense. And as we all know, defense may win championships, but good offense wins MVP awards.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

California Week: Will Improvement on the Offensive Glass Be Key to a Good Season in 2012-13?

Posted by Connor Pelton on June 22nd, 2012

For a team that made the NCAA Tournament in 2011-12, California’s extra scoring opportunities per game rate was quite low. The Golden Bears only averaged 1.9 ESOPG last season, which came in at 91st in the nation and sixth in the Pac-12. That’s not terrible, but it only converts to nearly four points per game, five if you throw a three in there. Take a team like VCU for example. The Rams averaged 7.7 ESOPG last season, meaning that they gained nearly 16 extra points a game if they had converted all of those (and that’s assuming all of the extra buckets came in the form of two-pointers). VCU finished the season with a record of 29-7, and 20 of those 29 wins were decided by 14 points or less. But the Rams earned all of those extra points, mainly because of the great work that coach Shaka Smart and company do stressing the importance of offensive rebounding.

Season

Team

Extra Scoring Chances

National Ranking

2011-12

California

1.9

91

2010-11

California

-1.3

236

2009-10

California

0.6

142

2008-09

California

-0.1

170

2007-08

Golden State

N/A

N/A

2006-07

Golden State

N/A

N/A

2005-06

Golden State

N/A

N/A

2004-05

Golden State

N/A

N/A

2003-04

Stanford

1.5

95

2002-03

Stanford

0.8

117

h/t to TeamRankings for statistics

Allen Crabbe and Richard Solomon will be the key to those extra opportunities in 2012-13. Sophomore forward David Kravish was by far the leader among 2012-13 returnees in offensive rebounding, so he will serve as a catalyst for the other guys. Kravish averaged two ORPG last season, which is a good number, especially for a young and wiry freshman. But after him, things dropped considerably for the Golden Bears. If they can bring their extra scoring opportunities per game up to four, and convert three of those possessions a game for a total of say, seven points, it could be a very good year for Cal. The Bears lost five games by seven points or less in 2011-12, and if they could have won three of those their final regular season record would have been 27-6. Then, all of a sudden your Pac-12 champions are in the mix for top three NCAA seed, not playing in Dayton on the Wednesday before the Tournament even starts. While that may seem like a stretch, it can all be solved with just a few more offensive rebounds each game.

Of course, none of this is as easy as I’m making it sound. This will take an entire team effort, not just by the bigs and coaching staff. An important part of offensive rebounding is having your guards shoot the ball when your forwards and centers are in a position to get that rebound, not sitting on the wing or on top of the free throw line. While Crabbe and Justin Cobbs are great shooters, if they can make sure that their shots come in the rhythm of the offense, the Bears will see their offensive efficiency skyrocket.

Share this story

Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week One

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 14th, 2011

Here’s a look at the power rankings that Drew and I have compiled after the first week of games. Here we go!

1. California, 2-0: The preseason favorite Golden Bears rolled in their first two games of the season. On Friday night they faced an overmatched and undertalented UC Irvine team where Allen Crabbe led California with 24 points. Last night they faced George Washington in the regional round of the CBE Classic, thrashing the Colonials for an 81-54 victory. Up Next: 11.15 vs Austin Peay

Crabbe led all Golden bears with 24 points in Friday's win (credit: Jeff Gross)

2. Arizona, 3-0: After a loss and a closer-than-comfort win in its two exhibitions, all eyes were on Tucson this week to see how the Cats would perform in their first three games. They didn’t overwhelm any of their mid-major opponents by any means, but eight-, nine-, and ten-point victories over some reasonably solid competition earns them the second slot in our power poll. Up Next: 11.17 vs St. John’s in New York City

3. Washington, 2-0: The Huskies have won the first two games of the World Vision Classic and will go for the sweep tonight. Shooting guard C.J. Wilcox has led the team in both of its victories, going for 22 points against Georgia State and 19 points against Florida Atlantic. Combo guard Tony Wroten, Jr., as expected, has led the plethora of newcomers with 12.5 PPG. Up Next: 11.14 vs Portland

4. USC, 1-0: Despite only defeating a bad Cal State Northridge by seven points on Friday night, the Trojans come in at fourth in our power rankings. Three players, Aaron Fuller, Dewayne Dedmon, and Maurice Jones all led SC with 16 points a piece. Dedmon had the most impressive performance though, adding eight blocks and three rebounds to his stat line. Up Next: 11.14 vs Nebraska

5. Stanford, 1-0: The Cardinal gave Central Arkansas a rude awakening in their first game as a fully eligible Division I team, drilling the Bears 91-52. Aaron Bright led five Cardinal players in double figures with 16 points and four assists. Up Next: 11.14 vs Fresno State

T6. UCLA, 0-1: UCLA had a terrible loss to open up the season, a 69-58 defeat at the hands of Loyola Marymount at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. The Bruins looked inept on offense but the defense was even worse, letting LMU shoot 66.7% (10-15) from behind the arc. If the Bruins want to live up to the expectations that have been set for them, they need to improve that perimeter defense. Up Next: 11.15 vs Middle Tennessee Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Pac-12 Team Previews: California

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 7th, 2011

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be previewing each of the Pac-12 teams as we head into the season.

California Golden Bears

Strengths.  In a league filled with teams looking to freshmen and sophomores for leadership, seniors Jorge Gutierrez and Harper Kamp will lead this team. Both of them earned all-Pac-10 honors last season as well, so the talent is definitely there. Sophomore guard Allen Crabbe is also back, meaning that California returns their top three scorers from last season. One of the Pac-12′s most improved is also back at point guard in junior Brandon Smith. Smith is an assist machine and a great manager of tempo, whether the Bears want to slow it down or speed up. Challenging him for the starting point spot will be Minnesota transfer Justin Cobbs. Cobbs is known for his solid passing ability, but he lit it up with his jumper against UC San Diego last Tuesday. Cobbs led all scorers with 17 points in the exhibition.

Gutierrez will be looked at to lead the Golden Bears this season

Weaknesses.  The Bears lose forward Markuri Sanders-Frison, meaning they will have a drop of almost two rebounds per game to their next highest returning rebounder. For a team that has aspirations of a three seed or higher in the NCAA Tournament, they certainly did not make it easy on themselves with their nonconference schedule. They will play neutral site games against Georgia and either Notre Dame or Missouri, a home game with Weber State, and road games against San Diego State and UNLV.

Nonconference Tests.  If they can get out of the five-game stretch mentioned above with a 2-3 record, the Bears will be fine going into Pac-12 play. The neutral site games are part of the CBE Classic, which means the Bears will have a chance to prove they belong with a few of the nation’s best on a national stage. The SDSU meeting is a return game from last season, while the matchups with the Wildcats and Runnin’ Rebels are the beginning of a new series. The rest of their slate should all be easy victories, as you could make a good case that George Washington is the toughest team left on the schedule.
Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story