Sunday, February 04, 2007

SATURDAY'S LESSONS

We've always figured ourselves to be smack dab in the middle of the never-ending Ben Braun debate. We haven't written him off as many Bear fans have done; on the other hand, we're unsatisfied with the results of his tenure at Berkeley - 11 years with no conference championships and a single Sweet 16 berth is not acceptable.

We think we've been fair to him this year, crediting his ability to improve the Bears' offense with eight-nine healthy scholarship players and maintain the team's focus through a very rough period. For the most part, this team has played hard and smart.

But last night's effort raises a troubling question that can't simply be answered by a glance at the injury list. How could the Bears come out that flat in a home game with their hated cross-Bay rival? Stanford got off to a 20-4 lead, and the game was essentially over after eight minutes. We know that Cal made a spirited comeback, but the abysmal start reflects poorly on Braun's ability to motivate his charges for what should have been the Game of the Year.

Are we being too harsh on Coach Braun? We don't think so, but we'd invite opposing viewpoints.

In other action...

* That grease stain on the floor of Pauley Pavilion? That's the once proud Oregon State Beavers, who lost by forty-seven points to UCLA. OSU scored 35 points in the entire game. Building the Dam has all the gory details of an historic butt-kicking. It's UCLA's conference to lose at this point, as we expected.

* ASU deserves lots of credit for their defensive effort against Washington State, holding the Cougs to 12 points in the second half and almost pulling the upset.

* Ernie Kent had his first Lost Weekend - how will the Ducks respond next week against the Arizonas at home?

* We don't buy that Arizona is back because they crushed UW at home by thirty. We are intrigued by the emergence of Jordan Hill, who went for 16 points, eight boards and five big blocks. Three of their next four are at Oregon and home dates with the LA schools. If they can go 3-1 through this stretch, we'll say they're back.

1 Comments:

At 3:54 PM, Blogger djmoney said...

Tightwad, I agree with your position on Ben Braun, and here are some of my thoughts on the issue.

While Ben Braun is a decent basketball coach, I think his time as Cal's coach should be nearing an end. Braun has the program headed in the wrong direction. After three straight tournament appearances from 2001-2003, we will now have only one tournament appearance in the last four years.

I think most of us expect Cal to compete for a Pac-10 championship every three or four years, and to be the best program in the Bay Area. Braun's best conference record in 11 years was 13-5 (in 2002-03), certainly not good enough to seriously contend for a conference championship. He has also failed to make any progress in establishing Cal as the best Bay area program, despite the departure of Mike Montgomery three years ago.

Braun's biggest problem is recruiting. When you're losing the best local talent (like the Lopez twins) to your rival and their upstart coach, you're already at a serious disadvantage before the opening tip. It might be unreasonable to expect a coach of Braun's stature to pull in the best national recruits, but by now he should have a lock on the best local talent.

My question is, would Mike Montgomery have any interest in becoming Cal's coach?

 

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