With a new Head Coach the Bears have gone through some terrible first years and great first years. Which season is particularly memorable for you?
Andy Johnston: Oh man, now I get to recount all these wonderful memories. I believe Sonny Dykes first year will always stand out as an absolute tire fire of a debut (some of this was his fault but much of it was anomalous). Tom Holmoe also started off his Cal campaign with a nice 1-9 Pac-10* record. On the flip side, coach Montgomery’s debut welcomed a new era for Cal basketball and set my individual bar for Cal basketball way higher than it had been under the Ben Braun era. Coach Tedford’s debut was stellar and erased the pain of the aforementioned Holmoe era rather quickly, similarly to how to Wilcox revitalized the program after Sonny’s departure. Wyking seems to have taken the path of Dykes but many people I trust still seem to think he can have a solid year two with better players. Certainly seems to be rather hit or miss if you look at the above names.
boomtho: Like Andy mentioned, Monty’s first season was pretty damn memorable - almost like a controlled experient to demonstrate the value of great coaching. It was well before my time, but Lou Campanelli went 19-10 after a 13-15 season under previous coach Dick Kuchen. And Ben Braun went 23-9, with a good amount of talent in his first year.
thedozen: Mike Montgomery led Cal to a 22-11 record in his first year as men’s head basketball coach during the 2008-09 season. Led by Jerome Randle, Theo Robertson, and Patrick Christopher, the Bears overcame a middling defense to finish 10th in field-goal percentage for Division I schools. That squad ultimately fell to Maryland in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but it was a strong start to Montgomery’s time in the East Bay.