A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how Cal missed out on a critical 2016-17 target at guard. Last year Cal played most of the season with only three guards in the rotation, and was unable to bring in another true guard to add to the team. Now, suddenly, Cal's lack of depth has become much more acute with Gabby Green's decision to leave Berkeley.
Green averaged 35 minutes/game last season, and led the team in assists and steals per game. While she struggled with her shot she was a critical ball handler, rebounder, and defender. With her departure, Cal is now left with just Asha Thomas and MaAne Mosley to theoretically fill two slots on the court.
Why is Cal so lacking in guards? The Bears have seen the following players leave the program over the last few seasons, all of them guards:
Hind Ben Abdelkader (2014)
Mercedes Jefflo (2015)
Breanna Cavanaugh (2015)
Gabby Green (2016)
I'm generally not one to 'blame' anybody for transfers. They happen, often for reasons outside of a coach's control. Hind Ben Abdelkader was reportedly homesick. Breanna Cavanaugh wanted to be with her family while she recovered from a series of concussions. Mercedes Jefflo was probably dismissed for some type of team rule violation. These things happen.
But it is a coach's responsibility to build a roster that can be successful despite transfers. While I admire the ethos of Lindsay Gottlieb's recruiting philosophy, it has not been successful of late. Being highly selective with offers, only recruiting players that 'fit' the program, and frequently leaving scholarships open means that you have to be sure that the players actually do fit, and actually do stick around. Otherwise, you're left with a situation where you have to play certain players almost 40 minutes per game, or play players out of position, or both. Last year, a lack of depth was a contributing factor to a disappointing 15-17 season. Right now, lack of depth seems like a significant hindrance towards a potential rebound season.
Help might be on the way. Cal is reportedly recruiting 2016 guard Mi'Cole Cayton, a local 4 star guard who was released from her letter of intent to Nebraska due to a coaching change. If she's at all interested in playing time as a freshman, I can't think of a better destination than Berkeley. Cal needs to find somebody to add to the roster and contribute at guard. Doing so at this time of year will be a challenge.
We currently don't know why Gabby Green decided to transfer. Green shot 34% from the floor as a freshman and 35% as a sophomore, and for a top 10 recruit I can only imagine that those types of struggles to score must have been a challenge for her. I don't know if it has anything to do with her unexplained 5 game absence during the middle of Pac-12 play last year. Considering how infrequently the program releases information about these types of situations, I'm not necessarily expecting to ever hear specifics.
All I know is that this is a significant hit for Cal's chances at on-court success next season. It's a bummer as a fan. Green was a unique player to watch - a speedy, athletic, 6'2'' guard in a forward's body. Cal's short-term program success was built around Green harnessing her talents. I hope she's able to do so at her next stop, and I hope that Cal is able to find team success without her. It won't be easy.