Cal basketball coaching rumors: Joe Pasternack finalist for 12 hours

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

"Hey, isn't that the...?" "Yeah."

According to two Cal beat reporters, Arizona Wildcats associate coach Joe Pasternack is a legitimate candidate for the Cal coaching job. Pasternack would join Cal associate coach Travis DeCuire and UC Irvine coach Russell Turner on the short list.

I have to admit, this would be the first time I've heard a donor get directly involved in a coaching search during Sandy Barbour's tenure.

Let's just get this out of the way, shall we?

Alright. That happened. We might soon have to swallow our feelings.

Coaching in Berkeley. He's definitely coached here! Pasternack was with Ben Braun from 2000 to 2007 and would leave the season before Braun got axed.   He then went to New Orleans, coached for four seasons and posted a 54-60 record before he regained national prominence as the associate head coach of Sean Miller's Arizona Wildcats. Arizona has gone to two Elite 8s and a Sweet 16 during Pasternack's tenure as an assistant.

Now, let's be fair to Pasternack's coaching record. When he was at New Orleans, the school began a process to  downgrade from the Sun Belt to Division III due to Hurricane Katrina and an ensuing budget crisis for the school.

A native of Metairie, La., Pasternack had gone back home in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, after all, and turned the team around even as enrollment plummeted from 17,000 students to 11,800. But his work was washed away by a storm of red ink: not enough student fees, not enough state support, a $1.3 million shortfall in the athletic budget. In November 2009 news broke that chancellor Tim Ryan intended to move the program from Division I to Division III, a transition that will take until 2015--16. Players, released to transfer, fled the program; the Privateers dropped out of the Sun Belt Conference. Before school started this month all Pasternack had to do was this: recruit an entire team to compete as a D-I Independent—without being able to offer a single scholarship.

That meant all the talent he recruited immediately began to transfer to other Division I schools, and New Orleans sank to 8-22 the year the move was announced. To his credit, once he did get familiar with his new staff, Pasternack did recover to go 16-6 with his new group before heading back to the Pac-12.

Recruiting. If Pasternack gets this job, recruiting will be part of the deal. Pasternack has great connections with the Oakland Soldiers and knows the AAU circuit well. Cal recruited talents like Leon Powe, Ayinde Ubaka, Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher, Theo Robertson, etc. Pasternack (and Braun of course) definitely helped recruit the talent for Cal to win a Pac-10 championship with Mike Montgomery.

The recruiting bug has caught on in Arizona, as the Wildcats have gone into Cal's backyard and poached major talent like Brandon Ashley, Aaron Gordon and Elliott Pitts. Cal basketball fans have long lamented that

Conclusions: However, if it’s between Pasternack and Travis DeCuire, Pasternack does emerge with solid credentials as an associate coach. He has been involved in recruiting the best talent in the Bay Area and helped beat Cal for big players. He has studied under Sean Miller, who is arguably the best coach in the Pac-12. He has gone somewhere and coached and did the best with what he could.

The big concern is whether Pasternack has a bit of Ben Braun in him. Is he a dynamic recruiter who will struggle to coach? Will he be able to recruit at Cal the way he's helped Miller recruit at Arizona? Will academics be treated with care? And could hiring a coach that was involved in a high-profile incident involving one of our most beloved players ever really be embraced by the Cal community?

We might know the answers soon.

UPDATE: Your answer.

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