With the recent departure of Kianna Smith, along with the losses of Kristine Anigwe, Recee Caldwell and Asha Thomas. How do you project Cal WBB to perform next season?
thedozen: I saw the news that Sabrina Ionescu was returning to Oregon rather than entering the WNBA Draft and rolled my eyes. The Pac-12 was pretty tough sledding this season even for a quality Cal squad featuring a dominant Anigwe and the other departing players. Let’s hope that the incoming talent can hit the ground running. Cailyn Crocker bounced back from foot surgery to have a nice year for Mater Dei while Lauren Fields from Shawnee High in Oklahoma has the makings of a good shooter, but both are guards added during the early signing period. I would love to see Gottlieb attract some frontcourt players before making a pronouncement.
Ruey Yen: It’s very hard to have a high expectation for Cal WBB for 2020 given the amount of talent loss, both via graduation and transfer. The Kianna Smith news really hurts, but there is also now enough of a vacuum to possibly get an impact graduate transfer? With the rest of the Pac looking so strong again, particular with Sabrina Ionescu back, it will be a tough transition year for the Golden Bears post Kristine Anigwe...even if our overall record with Kristine probably should have been even better.
Nick Kranz: thedozen hit on a key point that must be taken into account: the Pac-12 has been the best conference in WBB for a few years now, and that is very much not changing next year. Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, and Arizona State are solidly established as consistent top 25 quality programs. Arizona just won the WNIT with a core of young talent. Utah took a huge step forward under a new coach. USC is bringing in the 5th ranked recruiting class in the nation, one of four Pac-12 teams in ESPN’s top 20 recruiting classes.
Even if Cal doesn’t take a big step back after losing four rotation players, a small step back could result in an ugly looking record because the Pac-12 is so stacked. And if Cal DOES take a big step back . . . well, it might be a very different style season for fans that are used to a program that has made the NCAA tournament 11 out of 14 seasons, and the WNIT in two of those other three seasons.
Rob Hwang: There are going to be some tough nights at Haas. Not seeing 4 year stalwarts like Asha and Kristine on gamedays? I’m still in denial. I’m not sure I will get through all stages of mourning by season’s start.
Cal MBB will potentially its top scorer and top 3PT threat to the transfer portal. How do you expect Coach Fox to go use the extra scholarships? Are there any transfers that you are intrigued by?
Mike Foiles: I really have no idea what Fox will do to fill out the roster. I really hope he surprises me and pools together a team worth watching. I ultimately like his character and think he is another good fit in Berkley, but it is a shame we are looking at another barren roster at the moment. I have heard rumors McNeil has not ruled out returning. That would be a start. Jordon Brown is someone to keep an eye on even though he would not be immediately eligible if he leaves Nevada.
Ruey Yen: Cal MBB will have a lot of opportunities for players to shine, so I doubt that Coach Mark Fox will have issues finding impact players. Then again, like Nick has written in his article on Mark Fox’s recruiting history (https://www.californiagoldenblogs.com/2019/4/8/18300019/mark-foxs-recruiting-history), Fox has never shown the ability to recruit any blue chip players. I can only blindly hope that his recent time spent with USA Basketball as an assistant coach on the World Cup Qualifying team (all college players) has changed that, but I am not expecting that much. To be more precise, I have zero doubt that Fox will find Cal’s next top scorer from the transfer portal, but that’s mostly due to how the next Cal top scorer will come from outside the current program than credit to Fox’s recruiting ability.
thedozen: If the transfers do happen, then Cal is losing two starters from an 8 win team which is not ideal. I would love for Fox to pounce on a distressed asset like former Villanova guard Jahvon Quinerly, but that does not seem especially realistic. I’d also be interested in former UNLV forward Shakur Juiston who can score and rebound. Valparaiso center Derrik Smits, the 7’1” son of former NBA player Rik Smits, could be a possibility as well.
Rob Hwang: I have no idea what type of basketball Fox wants to run in berkeley, but if he wants to play a man defense that switches everything, getting some more forward/centers would help a bunch in our rotation. We are currently deep at the wing and guards spots, so adding some more versatile front court players would help in figuring out the defensive side of the ball first.