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Monday Thoughts: Cycling through a busy news week

NCAA Basketball: Arizona State at California Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Layshia Clarendon files lawsuit against the University of California

If you asked me which Cal athlete (regardless of sport) deserved the honor of having their jersey retired, my answer without hesitation would be Layshia Clarendon. That she was the best player on a team that won the Pac-12 and advanced to the Final Four is probably reason enough. But she was the Pac-12’s scholar athlete of the year, a Senior Class Award nominee, and continues an impressive record of volunteerism and activism. Needless to say, many CGBers are rather fond of her.

Of course, somebody doesn’t need to have impeccable credentials to deserve to have their complaints taken seriously. And perhaps the most concerning aspect of what little we know right now is that evidently there were people in positions of influence who, for whatever reason, didn’t taken complaints seriously. ESPN’s article on the issue isn’t specific about when some of the events in question took place, but Layshia was a freshman during the 2009-10 academic year.

Really, the only clear conclusion that can be drawn from this story (and in conjunction with a large number of other stories that have come out regarding UC employees) is that Cal very much had a business culture of non-compliance with EEO laws and regulations . . . and may well still have that kind of culture, in the athletic department or elsewhere on campus. And that needs to change.

It shouldn’t be the burden of victims to demand that change, but that makes Layshia’s stand all the more courageous.

Cal WBB splits the Los Angeles trip

The Bears took on the 2nd toughest road trip they’ll face this season and emerged from two tense games with one hard earned win. It’s not a week of results that will turn heads nationally, but getting the road win over a dangerous USC team is the kind of result that keeps Cal on track to achieve larger goals.

Both games were marred by Kristine Anigwe foul trouble - she played only 27 minutes against UCLA and 20 against USC. Cal got juuuuust enough with Kristine on the bench to beat the Trojans, particularly a well timed 7-15 performance from 3. But against UCLA, losing ~8 minutes of potential Kristine court time might have been the difference between winning and losing, since she was Cal’s best source of offense and best hope of keeping UCLA off the offensive glass. And considering how comically bad some of the fouls against Kristine were that night, it’s hard not to wonder what might have been.

The Bears come home to host the Arizona schools, which means a huge swing game on Sunday afternoon. If Cal beats the Sun Devils (and knocks off 1-7 Arizona) then Cal will carry a 7-3 conference record and at least 4th place into the terrifying Oregon road trip. That would put Cal in position to achieve some or all of the following:

1. First round Pac-12 tournament bye

2. Stay in the race for the regular season title (would probably require road win over Oregon, but I’ll take a puncher’s chance over nothin’.)

3. In contention to host NCAA tournament games.

All of those are excellent things, so let’s sweep the Arizonas!

Cal MBB gets swept at home, we continue to pray for regression to the mean

After losing to Arizona, I spent time bemoaning how Cal has been both bad and unlucky, particularly in regard to opponent shooting percentages. And while Cal finally had a bit of regression in their own shooting, once again another team shot really really well from behind the arc.

And interestingly, we can’t blame Cal’s zone defense, as the Bears played man-to-man. This gambit probably did help prevent ASU from shooting as many 3s as they would ordinarily like, but the Devils still made 47.5% of their shots from deep. Which leaves us with a rather flabbergasting number:

Cal 3 point % defense, Pac-12 play only: 47.1%

Worst 3 point % defense, Pac-12 play only, 2002-present:

2009 Oregon: 43.4
2017 Washington: 41.5
2009 Stanford: 41.1
2017 Stanford: 40.6
2002 Washington State: 40.1

Yes, Cal is currently seeing conference opponents hit 3 pointers at a much higher rate than any Pac-10/12 team in at least the last 17 years. Also, 2009 Oregon and Stanford are probably on the list solely because Jerome and Theo bombed them back into the Pac-8.

As for our current Bears . . . well, we knew the first half was going to be brutal, and it indeed has been. It’s going to stay brutal for another week as the Bears head down to L.A. But after that Cal will enjoy 5 of 7 at home, and every single one of those home games should be as winnable as games get for this particular team. If ever there was time for opponents to randomly start bricking 3s, it would be when the Oregons, Washingtons, and Stanfords of the world come to Haas.

Cal football gains two coaches but loses a running back

Assistant coaches are of course always expected to be well rounded additions to the staff, but it’s hard to see the additions of Burl Toler and Peter Sirmon and not think that recruiting was the major driver for the hiring of both.

And that makes tons of sense. I don’t think anybody watched the 2017 season and felt like Cal was being held back by scheme issues or effort issues - the Bears mostly played to their talent level, particularly after factoring in injuries to expected contributors. And while recruiting has been solid under Wilcox, it’s still an area that could be improved. Enter Toler and Sirmon.

Meanwhile, Cal lost Tre Watson to a graduate transfer, which was another reminder of why it’s particularly important for Cal to recruit well. New academic requirements mean a smaller selection of potential recruits, and the need to replace players who might want to expand their academic wings elsewhere when they graduate in four years.

While the emergence of Patrick Laird (the 3rd leading returning rusher in the Pac-12 by both total yards and yards/carry) means that Cal can probably weather Tre’s transfer on the football field, it will be bittersweet to see Tre leave after missing his final season with an injury. Good luck Tre!