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The Wyking Jones Era in Review: What Went Wrong?

Taking a look back at the Wyking Jones era and what failed.

NCAA Basketball: California at Oregon Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The last two years have been hard to watch -- that’s the most blog-friendly thing I could say concerning what we endured. What we all endured were two of the most disastrous seasons in Cal basketball history.

It was hard to watch many of the games these past two years. Many tried to play the guessing game, trying to pinpoint the moment in the season where Coach Jones would be relieved of his duties. Yes, we did not win very man games under his leadership, that’s the main problem. Why was that?

The question that needs to be answered is, what went wrong here?


This past year’s team was not on one accord. We could obviously see that there was discord between the players on the court and the coaches on the sideline. There were some obvious issues of trust and chemistry on this team.

Many specific players come to mind that I will not name, but it was obvious that Coach Jones did not know how to get all the pieces of his roster to play as a unit. In the sophomore class alone, there were some players who were not used to their full potential, and one could see the frustration of the players.


On any given night, one never knew which Cal team they would be watching. This team never identified an identity, that is, they never showed us the one thing they could do well all season long, each and every game they played. Sure, we knew who the best shooter on the team was, we knew who the floor facilitator was -- we knew their individual roles without a doubt. And that is why it seemed like some nights were watching individual performances because Coach Jones failed to bring all his components together to build the final product.

Whether they would have to decided to be an offensive-focused team or a gritty defensive unit -- just something -- would have been better than coming out and figuring it out as the game went on.


As an assistant coach, Coach Jones was known to be good at developing players. Though at Cal as the head coach, he failed to develop players on his own roster. In their two seasons on the roster, Darius McNeill and Justice Sueing, arguably the best two players on the team, averaged about the same amount of points respectively each year. For Sueing to be the “main guy,” he never really took off and put up superstar averages. Sueing’s season-high was 27, but he only scored 20 or more points in 5 games out of 31. McNeill averaged 11 points both years at Cal, and his three-point percentage did not improve in the second year.

The roster from this past season was loaded with talent that was not used correctly. Though for the most, Coach Jones and his staff failed to develop players through the season. There were some players who made an improvement over the course of this past season, like Conner Vanover. However, the development he made could have been personal adjustments to the speed and style of college basketball more than it was coaches showing him new ways to develop his play.

In Jones’ first season, Juhwan Harris-Dyson was as a stud. His defensive tenacity and energy were electrifying to watch. The next season he digressed tremendously. He had three or more fouls in half the games, and he averaged about 16 minutes of play per game this season. I acknowledge that he did fight injuries early in the season, but he just did not look like the same player. Harris-Dyson is the type of player that could be an excellent role player, but the coaching staff failed to help him become that.

Overall, we will look back on the Wyking Jones era and remember it by the disappointing play on the court, but as I will talk about next week, there is much optimism going forward with the new head coach, Mark Fox.