At least Cuonzo Martin watch ended quickly. Seven years and $21 million from Missouri is just too good a deal to pass up. Martin will now likely be one (or close to one) of the ten highest paid coaches in college basketball.
Martin did a good job at Cal with limited resources and provided us with a great season that ended horribly in 2015-16. He had mixed results his other two seasons. But Missouri ultimately made Martin an offer he couldn’t refuse, close to home.
Let’s take a brief look at who the Bears could go after next.
Joe Pasternack, Arizona assistant: Pasternack was mentioned in the last Cal coaching search, and I imagine he will be hotly pursued once again. Pasternack coached at Cal with Ben Braun from 2001 to 2007, was a head coach at New Orleans, then became one of Sean Miller’s lead recruiters.
Pasternack’s Bay Area recruiting connections in getting guys like Aaron Gordon and Brandon Ashley really helped build Arizona into the premier Pac-12 power. Expect Pasternack to be seriously considered again.
Dennis Gates, Florida State assistant: Gates checks off all the boxes. He’s essentially Cuonzo Martin with the Cal roots. He was an assistant with Ben Braun from 2005 to 2007, spent time in Northern Illinois and Nevada, and has been at Florida State since 2011 as FSU’s top recruiter. The Seminoles are a three seed in this year’s NCAA tournament.
Gates also checks off the academic boxes. He not only played at Cal from 1999-2002, he was named the Bears' most inspirational player in 2001, and was twice named Cal's Outstanding Student-Athlete in 1999 and 2001. Gates promises the recruiting prowess of Martin along with the familiarity of coaching at a difficult place like Cal.
Theo Robertson, Lakers assistant: If Cal wants to go super young and find someone with Cal roots (a la a Justin Wilcox-type hire), the two best candidates for the job are probably Gates and Theo. Robertson is probably a bit inexperienced at this point, but he was the director of operations for Mike Montgomery, was the video coordinator for the Warriors during their championship and 73-9 seasons, and is an assistant with Luke Walton down in LA.
Robertson is of course being well-remembered for being on the Cal basketball team that captured their first outright conference championship in 50 years.
Eric Musselman, Nevada coach: The former Warriors and Kings coach follows a similar profile as Mike Montgomery. Musselman has Bay Area connections, has coached in the Bay, is familiar with most of Northern California, and would probably be happy to go long-term with the Bears. Musselman took Nevada to their first NCAA tournament appearance in over a decade this season.
There is one clear disqualifying issue though: Musselman hired disgraced Cal assistant Yann Hufnagel. That would probably engender a PR nightmare. Think this is probably a non-starter.
Russell Turner, UC Irvine coach: Turner probably won’t be as strongly considered as last time with no Mike Montgomery connection, but he’s been doing good things at a UC program since the last time he was interviewed. The Anteaters have won the Big West two out of the last three years, and won the Big West Tournament the other season to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. If Turner’s looking to leap, and Cal wants someone with UC coaching experience, Turner is the best coach out of the group.