Cuonzo Martin is the new Cal basketball head coach: How do you feel, Golden Bears?

There is nothing more important to me right now than your emotional state.

Vlad Belo: I openly advocated for Travis DeCuire on this site. I wanted to continue what Monty started. Why wouldn't I? I enjoyed these last six years of generally competent basketball.

Nonetheless, I have to say that this feels like a good hire. I don't know if I'd say "home run," but I'll give it a triple. Martin's teams improved in win total each year at Missouri State and Tennessee. He appears to be a high character guy and he helped to improve Tennessee's APR, so we have some track record of him being good with academics. His recruiting classes at Tennessee showed he has recruiting chops, I have no doubt that he will get up to speed quickly recruiting the fertile California recruiting ground. And he comes from the Gene Keady coaching tree. Say what you want about Keady's personality, demeanor, or infamous combover, but Keady could coach. Keady calling Martin the "best leader" he ever had in his career is high praise.

We will see how it plays out in reality but I have a good feeling about this one.

Vincent S: Nervous, but excited. Nervous, because our players and incoming recruits have built strong relationships with Travis. Excited, because if it wasn't Travis, Cuonzo seems like the type of coach I would be proud playing for if I were a player. He seems to come with high character recommendations and from the (little) tape I've seen of his teams, they play good, solid defense and efficient offense in spades - a conclusion supported by various efficiency metrics. In addition, the fact that Tennessee's players are being reported as publicly supporting his move, to me, speaks volumes about their respect for him. I want someone who can represent Cal in the future with class, dignity and respect. I think we got him.

Ruey Yen: I don't profess to know much about Cuonzo Martin when the news first broke, but after watching his press conference and reading about his Tennessee and Missouri State teams, I think this is a great hire.

From the emphasis on academic as discussed in his introductory press conference. I can't help but think

Cuonzo Martin graduates (his players)!
Cuonzo Martin graduates (his players)!

similar to that famous scene from the original Beverly Hills 90210.


I think his track record and the renew emphasis by Cal Athletics to make sure that our student-athletes are indeed that bodes well for the team to remain solid and great without compromising the educations of the players (by having a whole bunch of one and dones who never bother to step inside the classroom).

The fact that his Tennessee team is a very impressive 7th according to kempom is very reassuring, even if his team plays a very slow pace to offset a very very short rotation (which might remind us of Monty). All these combined with his young age makes me pretty content with our new men's basketball coach hire.

Reef: On a scale of 1-10 I give this hire an 8.5, a 10 being Greg Popovich with Sean Miller in the package as his lead recruiter.

He's a leader who cares about young men and their overall development. He's a motivator. He's an excellent teacher of fundamentals. He's plenty smart and he understands the conceptual and spatial aspects of basketball that lead to good possessions on both ends. I take minor points off because (a) his in-game and opponent-specific adjustments are a little rough right now, and (b) his recruiting track record is not great. That said, my sense is he's smart enough to figure out the (a), and for (b)...I just can't imagine kids not wanting to play for this guy.

At this point in Cal basketball history you want a great representative of the university and all it stands for, with a proven record of success, and a ceiling as-yet untapped. Got him.

boomtho: I am very excited about Counzo Martin coming to Cal to replace Mike Montgomery. In fact, as I’ve been thinking about the hire today, I’ve been getting progressively more excited. Frankly, I was shocked when this started to hit Twitter because I hadn’t heard his name at all through the search process (like most of you, I’d mostly heard Turner, Pasternack, and DeCuire).

In no particular order, the reasons I’m happy about the Martin hire:

1. Academics: I think we had improved in this area since Braun, but given the struggles on the football side, it’s great that Martin made academics such a large talking point in his introductory presser. The fact that Tennessee just had its highest APR ever is also a great sign.

2. Defense: Montgomery was a good defensive coach, but this year’s team was prone to frustrating bouts of poor defensive play. Everything I’ve read about Martin makes me think that we’ll really get this tightened up. It’s not going to be easy (Bird and Matthews particularly struggled at times last year), but natural growth plus Martin should be a great foundation for defensive excellence.

3. Recruiting: I don’t expect him to hit home runs here, but (again from what I’ve read) he should be pretty solid. Hopefully he brings or hires quality assistants to help with recruiting as well. The fact that his 7’ commit flipped from UT to us immediately is encouraging, to say the least.

Now, the two factors that make me a little worried (I’ll reiterate that I’m very excited so the positives definitely outweigh the negatives in my mind!):

1. West coast ties: Doug Gottlieb expressed worry here on Twitter, and while he’s clearly biased given his brother’s role on Monty’s staff, I think this is a natural worry.

2. The Tennessee reaction: I can’t honestly tell if it was sour grapes, but I’m a little surprised there wasn’t more angst from the Vols fanbase at Martin leaving. Part of the fanbase is clearly delusional (30K+ signatures to rehire Pearl)… so I could be way off base here, but I’m just not sure.

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