Sunday, March 19, 2017

Cal Football and Men's Basketball--Bleak Future

These are dark days for Cal sports fans--and getting darker by the moment..

The fans were still adjusting to the football mess when the men's basketball program
nosedived. After many decades as a Cal fan, I can't remember when both the football and men's basketball programs were both in crisis at the same time.

Football hit rock bottom last fall when the team stumbled to a lousy five-win season. Athletic director Mike Williams.finally had enough of head coach Sonny Dykes, whose ridiculous, one-dimensional approach (all offense, no defense). had been dragging the program down for years. So Dykes was replaced by Justin Wilcox, a former Cal assistant who had lately been a first-class defensive coordinator at Wisconsin.

Regrettably, Dykes left the cupboard bare. The two best offensive players, QB Davis Webb and WR Chad Hansen, turned pro, and there weren't any good defensive players leftover from the Dykes regime Wilcox will be starting from scratch. So fans will be stuck with a team in radical rebuild mode for at least two years. Cal fans were just getting used to the bleak football future when the men's basketball program crashed and burned.

After being shut out of the NCAA tournament, Cal joined the also-rans in the NIT, opening at home against a featherweight Cal State Bakersfield team that the Bears should have destroyed, even with its two top players, Jabari Bird and Ivan Rabb, sidelined with injuries. Yet Cal trailed badly, 44-19, at the end of the first half and went on to lose 73-66.

Pin this loss on head coach Cuonzo Martin, who announced the day after the CSB debacle that he had signed a seven-year contract with Missouri. Obviously he had been in talks with the Tigers while he was supposed to be coaching the Bears in post-season play. No doubt the players knew the coach was bailing out on the team. Clearly, with this coaching change looming, their heads and hearts weren't in that CSB game. So this season ended with an embarrassing, frustrating loss, similar to last season's ugly finale--getting booted out of the NCAA tournament in the first round by an inferior Hawaii team.

At the moment, next season doesn't look promising for men's basketball. There is no head coach and the roster boasts no big-time players, since Bird is a senior and Rabb will likely turn pro. Unless something changes drastically, this team is headed for the bottom of the PAC 12, down there with the football team.

Dark days, Cal fans, nothing but dark days ahead....