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Cal basketball coach search: Travis DeCuire, Russell Turner, Ben Howland on the list

Who do you like on this list the most? Who do you think will get hired?


Tommy Amaker, Harvard head coach

Positives: HAHHHHHHVAHHHHAD, one of the few schools out there that Cal fans begrudingly respect academically. He's succeeded at a prestigious academic institution, so obviously he can replicate that success elsewhere. He's authored two straight upsets two years in a row, so obviously he can use that formula to help Cal become more successful in tournament play.

Negatives: At his major collegiate stops at Seton Hall and Michigan, Amaker finished below .500 in conference play. Also, he's not leaving Harvard (a place that recruits itself these days) for Cal.

Travis DeCuire, Cal associate coach

Positives: I've discussed most of this here, but to refresh: DeCuire is Monty's choice, he's well-liked among the players and families of the players, he's been groomed for the job for a few years, he knows Xs and Os the best among all the other players, he's our top recruiter and could prove to be a better closer than Monty, and he provides immediate continuity for the program. The biggest upside would come from a Mike Belotti-Chip Kelly situation.

Negatives: He has never been an NCAA head coach. His only experience was at Green River Community College in Seattle (where he was admittedly very good). Sandy Barbour's previous coaching hires in hoops and football all had head coaching experience, so this could be a significant mark against DeCuire's candidacy.

Mark Few, Gonzaga head coach

I'm surprised this is a thing, but it is.

Oh well. Let's give this due diligence.

Positives: Well, Few has proven he can coach. Gonzaga has won the WCC 13 out of the last 14 years. He's been able to recruit and coach Dan Dickau, Adam Morrison, Austin Daye, Ronny Turiaf, Robert Sacre, Elias Harris, Kelly Olynyk and more. If Cal can land Few, it's a monstrous hire for the Bears.

Negatives: There is absolutely no reason for Few to leave Gonzaga. He recruits at a high level, they hold a near monopoly on their conference, and are guaranteed NCAA Tournament bids as long as they stay on course. Few doesn't strike me as a man who would go out of his way to prove he can win elsewhere when he can just show up each year to Spokane, win another 25 to 30 games a year, and make a run at a Sweet 16/Elite 8 bid. He certainly wouldn't leave Gonzaga for Cal.

Ben Howland, former UCLA head coach

Positives: At his peak, Howland was one of the best college coaches. He took scrappy, hard-nosed talent and coached those UCLA Bruins up to three straight Final Four berths and a National Championship bid. He also landed top-level recruits at the same time. That was partly due to the UCLA cachet, but he also found gems and sold them on the Bruins even when the team started declining from the Final Four threepeat.

Negatives: Howland's final five years at UCLA was just as bad as his first five years were good. They were rocked by transfers, bad player decisions, scandals, Reeves Nelson, and recruiting fallout. His teams did not make the NCAA Tournament twice and failed to make it out of the first weekend once. He has severely burned bridges with a lot of the California establishment for the way he handled things at UCLA, and it could be very difficult for him to hit the ground running in Berkeley.

Larry Krystkowiak, Utah head coach

Positives: Krystkowiak looks like he's going to be a real thorn in our side for years to come. He's turned the Utes around in short order and has bested Monty in his last two appearances. After being downright dreadful three seasons ago, Krystkowiak has proven he can recruit AND coach at the major conference level.

Negatives: Monty has already made his pick regarding which assistant he wants that he's associated with, and Krystkowiak is not the one. Also, it's unlikely Krystkowiak will leave now that Delon Wright is returning for his senior season, Utah is getting much needed basketball renovations, and the Utes are on the verge of an NCAA Tournament bid. Utah is probably in a better position to succeed for the next decade than Cal is--easier to recruit, better facilities, and better tradition (how quickly we forget of the Majerus years).

Joe Pasternack, Arizona associate coach

Positives: Pasternack has the best recruiting chops of anyone on this list. When he was at Cal from 2000-2007, he helped land some of the big California talents like Leon Powe and Ayinde Ubaka while also helping lay the foundation for the Pac-10 championship team by helping recruit Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher and Theo Robertson. He has great connections with the Oakland Soldiers (where most of the best talent originates from) and was instrumental in helping Sean Miller get players like Elliott Pitts, Brandon Ashley and Aaron Gordon to spurn a local school like Cal for Arizona.

Negatives: He only has some coaching experience at the University of New Orleans, proving himself to be a solid recruiter and a so-so head coach (no more than 20 wins in any one season and a losing record of 54-60 during his four years there). The fact that he's associated more with Ben Braun might also make a lot of Golden Bears skittish about trusting him with the helm. Also, not very popular with many Cal fans because of this.

Shaka Smart, VCU head coach

Let me stop you right there. If he turned down UCLA, he's going to turn down Cal.

It's not happening. Next.

Russell Turner, UC Irvine head coach

Positives: He's turned around a moribund UC Irvine program and led the Anteaters to a Big West title. He's familiar with Mike Montgomery's system having been his assistant both with the Warriors and with Stanfurd. He's a coach within the UC system (much like Lindsay Gottlieb at UC Santa Barbara before he return to Cal) so he knows a lot about how the system works.

Negatives: This is a name that keeps on popping up and I'm having trouble figuring out why. He has never made the NCAA Tournament, and even when they won the Big West this past season, they got shocked by Cal Poly in the tournament to relegate them to the NIT. Montgomery has already made it clear which assistant he's coached in the past wants to succeed him. If Turner is the only realistic candidate for the job outside of the program, DeCuire looks that much more attractive.