(4) Pete Newell
NBA Exclusive: Interview With Legendary Coach Pete Newell (via bballbreakdown)
NorCalNick gives up the scoop on Coach Newell:
What I know about Pete Newell is likely very similar to what you know about him. He’s a legendary head coach, universally regarded as one of the great innovators. Bob Knight thinks he’s the greatest. John Wooden couldn’t take over the conference until he left. He won a national title and his team took down Oscar Robertson. He won an Olympic medal with Oscar Roberson. He became known as a big man guru and introduced the reverse action offense. Perhaps most importantly, the iconic picture of him nervously chewing a towel doubles as an iconic visual metaphor for Cal fans.
Unfortunately, that picture hints at a problem: Newell retired from coaching at the age of 45 due to stress, leading to a gigantic ‘what-if.’ It’s hardly unusual for respected coaches to keep going well into their 60s or 70s. If Newell had stayed active, would Cal basketball have fallen into a 50 year wilderness of only occasional relevancy? Would John Wooden be the same Wooden? Perhaps Cal would be the west coast blue blood.
In any case, Newell compiled a record of 119-44 while at Cal, then became Cal’s athletic director until 1968. I can’t begin to vouch for his abilities as an administrator, although I doubt anybody would look back at the 60s as a golden era for Cal sports. Considering the climate on campus at the time, perhaps there wasn’t much anybody could do.
If the CGB hall of fame were identical to the Cal hall of fame, Pete Newell would be a charter member as perhaps the best (and most influential) coach in school history, in any sport. Alas, few if any of us were able to witness Newell’s teams in action. Will his legendary reputation be enough to earn him your vote?
(5) Ashley Walker
Cal Women's Basketball: SoBerkeley - Ashley Walker (via calathletics)
Ashley Walker is believed by many CGBers to be the best player in the history of the Cal women's basketball program. Walker has many accolades that would support this assessment:
Pac-10 All Freshman team in 2005-06
Named first team All-Pac-10 three times; she is one of only four Cal players to be first team All Pac-10 twice.
Pac-10 scoring champion as a senior when she averaged 19.8 PPG
Named to the Pac-10 All Defensive team twice.
Walker led the Cal basketball team to unprecedented heights, as Cal went to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history in Walker's senior year. That tournament provided a shining example of Walker's greatness.
Nor Cal Nick:
"My favorite memory of Walker is somewhat bittersweet. Not surprisingly for a player who seemed to get better each game over four years, Walker played her best in her final NCAA tournament. First, she shot 9-12 for 21 points in an easy win over Fresno St. Then she destroyed Virginia, shooting 14-20 for 32 points along with 10 boards. And for the first 14 minutes against #1 UConn Walker kept it going, hitting threes, getting inside, grabbing boards and generally frustrating Geno Auriemma. UConn still cruised to victory, but Walker finished with 21 points. I firmly believe that Cal would have beaten just about any other team in the nation that day the way the team, and Walker, were peaking."
Walker was drafted 12th overall by the Seattle Storm in the 2009 WNBA Draft. She was waived by the Storm in 2010 and later played for the Tulsa Shock. She has signed a training camp contract with the San Antonio Silver Stars. Walker also plays professionally in Israel, where she was the league's MVP in her first season there in 2010.