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Roundtables: Men’s Basketball Futures

5 year plan?

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament-California vs Colorado Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

In your opinion, what’s the best case scenario here? What’s the worst?

Nik Jam: Best - Cal keeps everyone that hasn’t transferred yet (That could already change between this e-mail and CGB publication). Our solid foundation improves significantly and the program takes advantage of a still weak Pac-12 and rises into the top half of the conference in 1 or 2 years. Cal could make either NIT or even NCAAs based on a non-conference upset or a strong showing, if not a tourney title, in Vegas. The success gets strong recruits to Berkeley and we have a solid program that results in meaningful regular seasons with the team consistently on the bubble watch but rarely in the Top-25.

Worst - After the sending of this e-mail, or after the publication of this post, more players besides Darrius announce their intention to leave, including some of our most promising (soon-to-be) Juniors. Our recruiting class is bad or nonexistent. Cal still stumbles to a losing record next season, fan attendance and revenue stays low and we have a second weak recruiting class. Because of contracts and general apathy (“At least its not Wyking!”), no coaching changes are in the horizon. We basically become Stanford/Oregon State/Washington State for the foreseeable future. Even two of those programs have seen a NCAA bid this decade, so perhaps Cal could luck into a Tournament bid in a year with a strong Pac-12 RPI (or whatever the new thing is) and some key upsets, but it’d be the only one in a ten year span.

Joshua.Morgan: As I mentioned previously, this should be a low-ceiling, high-floor hire. Best case is that he brings in some solid assistants that can help with recruiting (Trent Johnson is a good start) and does a fine job on the court. Cal becomes a fixture is the middle of the Pac-12 and can have a few lucky years where we can creep to the top of the conference and possibly into the NCAA Tournament. Worst case, we struggle to get any recruits are a bottom-middle team in the Pac-12.

boomtho: Best case scenario? Cal wins a Pac-12 title. I don’t think Fox is inherently *that* far behind this murderer’s row of current Pac-12 coaches that he can’t compete for a title. The top programs are in chaos, or in transition, and the window should be relatively open for more programs for hte next few years.

Good yet more realistic scenario? Fox gets Cal to between #4 and #8 consistently, with peak years competing for a title but in most falling a half step behind the top programs. I also fundamentally believe this is about Cal’s pecking order in the Pac-12 - in a normal year we probably *should* fall behind UCLA, USC, and Arizona and be firmly in the mix of the next tier. Cal is lucky that we’ve over-performed that expectation pretty significantly over the last 15 years, but I don’t think that’s a long term inevitable outcome.

Reef: Once again, I think boomtho captures the heart of a difference of opinion among portions of the fanbase. Nick has written from time to time about how sneaky good the Cal program has been in the decade or so prior to Wyking Jones. I don’t consider those years lucky. In fact, I think that performance level should be the floor, and we should be *trying* to be better. A coaching hire is an ideal time to make that statement. Not by shooting in the dark at a random unproven (that’s what got us here in the first place), but by, at minimum, choosing someone who brought enough evidence of competence that there was a floor, but who didn’t bring so such overwhelming evidence of ceiling. There are not a lot of folks out there who bring nine years (NINE YEARS) of proven mediocrity at the power conference level. boomtho’s realistic scenario with Fox at the helm is correct, and it’s capped, and to my mind it’s putting a limit on us precisely at a time when we should be reaching much higher. Instead, it seems this decision was made with a pecking order in mind. And if you shoot for that place in the pecking order, that’s probably what you’re going to get. It won’t be the end of the world. We’ve already experienced the end of the world, and I don’t think it’ll continue with Fox. But unless some anomaly occurs that causes Fox to outpace his record, the pecking order theory feels like capitulation. I’m left hoping for that anomaly.

thedozen: In the best case, Trent Johnson helps establish a strong recruiting pipeline and Fox provides a stabilizing presence in the wake of Jones’ departure. In the worst, I suppose we could be making another big board sooner than anticipated.

Ruey Yen: As for the result on the court, just about any new head coach should be an upgrade over Wyking Jones. With Mark Fox, I think Cal is more likely to only improve to a NIT type of team than a NCAA tournament 2nd weekend participant. Then again, basketball program can turn quickly due to one or two blue chip recruits - even if these kids should be getting back the option to turn pro directly after high school soon. Fox’s ability (or inability) to recruit in the west coast will have a huge say in Cal’s team success.

The only worst case scenario that I can see is if Mark Fox turns into another Sonny Dykes - someone who just doesn’t fit into the west coast and decides to move back East/South in every situation. Then again, I think Dykes was a special case, as a ton of people have moved to the Bay Area and grew to love it.

Rob Hwang: Best case? I guess it would be either a PAC-12 title or NCAA success right? I’m always hoping for NCAA success. What the definition of success is though, changes with every team. I’ll say best case we make it to the second game of the first weekend in the Big Dance. Worst case? Team plateaus somewhere in the 4th through 8th range of the conference over 5 years and it’s never good enough to warrant an extension or bad enough to warrant a firing.