Basketball: On Zellers, Withey and Franklin

No underdogs survive as the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament wraps up on Friday . . .

   — No. 1’s Kentucky and North Carolina, No. 2 Kansas and No. 3 Baylor all advanced to the regional finals.

   — Quite a night for the Zeller family. UNC’s Tyler Zeller had 20 points and 22 points in a 73-65 win over Ohio, and Indiana’s scored 20 in a 102-90 loss to Kentucky.

   — Think Arizona could have used 7-foot center Jeff Withey this season? The junior transfer became just the fifth player in NCAA tournament history to block 10 shots in a game as Kansas  beat North Carolina State 60-57.

   — Then there’s one-time Cal guard Gary Franklin Jr., now playing for Baylor. The Bears of the Big 12 are one game away from the Final Four, but Franklin has yet to play in any of the team’s three NCAA games and has scored just six points in Baylor’s past 11 games.

Jeff Faraudo

  • SteveNTEXAS

    Whatever the issue is with Franklin it has to reflect on who recruited him. If he was a great player and we lost him -that’s bad. If he was a problem kid- we should have seen signs of that. If he didn’t have talent the same answer.

    IN any of the above scenarios, we wasted time and effort. This happens to most teams and so the loss of any one player is no big deal, but our overall recruiting picture is not good.

  • SteveNTEXAS

    By the way our softball team was super last night beating #9 Stanford at Stanford with 5 Home Runs 10-0.

    We have the best team in the country.

  • Takeoffthatredshirt

    Hey Steveo-

    How do you feel about recruiting? I’d really like to hear your opinion on that.

  • SteveNTEXAS

    Good its about time you got some education. I’m sure you’ve posted in the past just how good Monty was at recruiting and just how nice a future our team would have.

    As basketball and technology have evolved and as its become more of a big money sport with a greater fan base, so has the recruiting process. There are now multiple services that rate and re-rate the top recruits.
    Inthehall an IU fan generated site, tracks all the IU prospects and commits during all their high school games – and includes videos and interviews. This gives IU a big advantage-the kids like the attention and the fans let their feelings be known. I’d love a Cal fan in the Bay Area to do the same thing.

    Maybe you could start one if you’re in the Bay Area.

    Whenever we recruit poorly we point to someone who got under the radar and say “Rankings mean nothing”. It does happen but I promise you -if you take the teams that have had consistently high recruiting vs those who did not get a Top 75 recruit and compare their records over 10 years you will not find one from the latter group out achieving those from the top.

    Picking the right recruits is more than just going for the highest ranking however it also implies a judge of character. Monty can be credited for making a gem out of Jorge and some others but he should also be faulted for the ones who didn’t work out or transferred. He is probably average in that respect -average won’t get us into the NCAAs though.

    One way to start is to win the instate recruiting battles. When Crean became IU’s head coach the first priority was to keep Indiana Kids at IU – not an easy task as Purdue< Notre Dame, Louisville and Kentucky are all close by and Ohio State makes Indiana kids a priority.
    Monty is poor at this as we are not even getting the best recruits out of the Bay Area.

    With two poor recruiting years in a row -we will pay. I predicted we would trend downhill quite a while back – next year we will be worse.

  • Otro Dan

    Who do you think we stand a legitimate shot of getting to coach at Cal who will suddenly unlock the door to recruiting for us?

  • SteveNTEXAS

    Dan let’s save that till the offseason when we see who is available. Perhaps when they extend monty’s contract.

    I don’t see why people are so negative about the potential of our program. We have a good media market, great academics, usually a strong conference, attractive campus. Why can’t we attract the top coaches?

  • Otro Dan

    For the sake of argument, give me some examples, whether they’re “available” or not, because everyone is available for a price.

    I’m not negative on the potential of the program and I’m certainly not unaware of the value of the education or the charms of the campus and community. The things that make Cal a superior choice for a student or a true student-athlete do not necessarily make for an attractive location for big time coaches or one-and-done recruits.

  • Otro Dan

    Also, absolutely no disrespect to Monty, he’s a legendary coach. This is some of the best Cal basketball since the Newell era.

  • SteveNTEXAS

    Well I still like Jason Kidd when he retires. Yes his SAT’s were low but if you saw the quote I had earlier from CBS Sports where coaches agreed he would be an excellent NBA Coach. I have never seen an argument why he wouldn’t be super.

    1. Recruting- he would attract the very top kids in the nation.

    2. He knows how to play and the value of teamwork and he’s a fierce competitor.

    Someone may bring up past cases of domestic violence but having read though some of the papers he may not have been the instigator.

    Other choices might be some assistant coaches in the Big Ten. What about the VCU or Ohio Coaches? Might they not want to make the jump from mid major to Pac 12?

    Montgomery may not have what it takes to attract today’s stars. Bobby Knight’s recruiting declined as well when he got older.

  • Gobears49

    Read recently that Braun was good at recruiting, but bad as a coach (I agree with the latter), while Monty is the opposite. Also recall reading, several years ago, that the LSU coach who was an assistant at Stanford (also their head coach, I don’t remember?), was credited with recruiting the best Stanford players for Monty.

    My memory is shot this morning, but Campenelli’s assistant coach, who later became Cal’s head coach, was responsible for bringing in a slew of great players for Cal, including Jason Kidd, Lamond Murray, and Monty Buckley (somehow I remember those names)

    So maybe we should try to hire somebody who is really good at recruiting as a new assistant coach to help Monty out. Someone should run that by Sandy.

    BTW, in watching several of Cal’s games this year, what it is they particularly lack are big and strong inside guys. That’s where we don’t match up well, as witnessed by the South Florida game. Soloman is they type of guy that fits the bill, even though he is not a scorer, yet. Kravish is basically a finesse player, but he will be a good one. The bottom line is that Cal and Monty seem to be good at recruiting guards and small forwards (Guitierrez, Crabbe, Cobbs) but not so much big, strong, athletic guys. Maybe there are not enough of them on the west coast, at least coming out of high school, to go around, so we should look for them in the JC ranks, like we did a couple of years ago to come up with a serviceable big guy (also forget his name, and by the way, I am not knocking Kamp, who I loved as a player, but he was basically a finesse player, though a good rebounder). I don’t think Cal has enough clout to get players from the east coast who meet my description, though probably that is where they come from. So perhaps Cal’s basic problem is that they can only really recruit out west, while the best players are in the east (and midwest).

    Would love to hear comments on what I said above. And maybe some help in filling in the names I can’t remember.

  • SteveNTEXAS

    GoBears You make sense but you should know that there are many top recruits in California and we should be able to beat out Oregon and Arizona to land them.

    Aside from poor recruiting Monty is not a great motivator. We lost several important games down the stretch (when the best teams are peaking) to schools not in the top 50 or top 100.

    Are you thinking about Bozeman? I will admit to really liking him until the payola surfaced.

  • Takeoffthatredshirt

    Lets clarify one thing- Steve knows nothing firsthand about Monty’s motivating abilities. How many practices did he attend? Team meetings? He probably hasn’t even seen any games in person.

    This team overachieved all year. Colorado was a better team unfortunately, and it’s hard to say Cal was better than south Florida. So losing to better teams automatically means the coach can’t motivate? I think a man who is 635-291 probably knows something about motivating his players. Probably more than some random dude on his computer who claims a HOF coach can’t motivate.

    What’s worse, he literally posts the same message over and over. Every thread here has a negative message from SteveInTexAss with nothing substantial.

    If people want every thread to become a fire Monty campaign, encourage Steve’s copy/paste rants, as Juancho did. I’m bored defending the integrity of Cal’s program.

    There’s a way to express criticism of a coach while maintaining respect for the program. Then there’s Steve.

  • SportsBrah

    People, c’mon!! The probably is not Montgomery’s recruiting ability but that if the assistants, primarily Gottlieb and Decuire. The head coach of a D1 program does very little if the recruiting. Of course, MM has responsibility and accountability for his staff, but Monty’s recruiting skill is not the problem. He needs to take a long hard look at his staff and make appropriate changes. I’m not suggesting he go out and hire an AAU coach like UCLA did, but there has gotta be much better options for the staff

  • SteveNTEXAS

    Takeoff is correct. Living in Texas I did not personally watch Monty try to motivate. I also must confess although I’ve thought very poorly about Adolf Hitler, I really can’t say I saw him kill any Jews with my own eyes.

    Stanford was ranked out of the top 100 when we lost to them down the stretch. The proof is in the pudding. Most ranking services had us in the top 30 based on talent at the beginning of the season. I think Colorado was RPI 88 when they beat us twice. I don’t know what USF was but they might have been a top 50 team. We didn’t lose to just ONE poor team we lost a majority of our last 4 games to them.

  • Takeoffthatredshirt

    So which is it – is Colorado a ‘poor team’ or a ‘fairly good’ team? Apparently both:

    SteveNTEXAS Says:
    March 18th, 2012 at 3:33 am
    UH huh – Ok we can disagree on the 24 wins – to me not beating a Top 50 team is not such an accomplishment. The teams that beat us are already gone from post season.

    How about Monty as a Motivator? That is a key ingredient. He couldnt motivate us down the stretch and we lost to mediocre teams – and one fairly good team Colorado.

  • SteveNTEXAS

    Let me make it simple for you- Colorado was not a team who should have beaten us twice and neither game was especially close.

    In some polls Colorado was a poor team- after it won a few games one could make the argument that it was a fairly good team. When it was 88 in RPI one could argue either way – poor for a major conference team – pretty good if you look at all 300 programs. This analysis is way over your head though. According to your logic I would have had to watch all Division one games in person to make that assessment.

  • Gobears49

    Just wanted to put in my two cents to a debate I started, though on a different issue. I think Monty is a great coach who gets the most he can out of his talent. So he must be a great motivator. I just think he is not a great recruiter and could use a specialist to help him on that. If we could find a person for basketball recruiting as good as Tosh Lupoi was at football recruiting for Cal, and keep him at Cal doing that job as long as Lupoi did for Cal’s football team, we would be in great shape. I’m sure I’ll be criticized for making a favorable reference to Lupoi, but he was a fantastic recruiter, and for a long time, at Cal. He did a great job for Cal before he left. Please, let’s not get off on a Lupoi tangent. I just think we need some help in basketball recruiting, and hopefully somebody who is really good at it.

  • Gobears49


    Cal’s starting five was probably the best in the league, but by the time the season was close to an end, they were worn out. Cal undoubtedly had the weakest bench in the league after Soloman was suspended because of poor grades.

    Plus, teams had learned that Cal did not have a real inside threat and so expanded their defense to make it tough on the guards and small forward to score. Montgomery said as much after the last Colorado loss. BTW, I thought Colorado looked pretty good in both games against Cal, and had a lot of talent. That was proven by their NCAA win over UNLV.

    Next year, Soloman (hopefully) returns, but we lose Guitierrez and Kamp, not a good exchange at all. So unless the couple of incoming freshmen we have are really good, we won’t have as much talent next year as this year. But UCLA, Stanford, and other teams seem to be doing much better than us on recruiting for next year. All I’m asking is that Cal consider giving Monty more help in recruiting, so he can work his coaching magic on a better set of recruits. In this respect, i agree with you — over the long haul the rankings of recruits makes a difference, most likely a big one, in terms of results.

  • SteveNTEXAS

    so basically Gobears you are agreeing that we are headed downhill. Don’t forget Arizona and Colorado also have much better recruiting classes than us. IF we had no depth – who is to blame?

    If we don’t even make the NCAA’s I will be sure to point it out to Takeoff who will change his position.

    The coach for Ohio University is getting consideration from Illinois – he would probably be fine at Cal.

  • Gobears49

    I agree that I think it is likely we are headed downhill a bit — the degree that will occur will depend upon the incoming freshman class, which could be good but probably will not be great. But that doesn’t mean we have to change head coaches, as we have one of the best in the country in Monty. I just think he could use some more help in recruiting. Cal is never going to terminate Monty. I am sure he will have his job at Cal for as long as he wants it, and for good reason — he’s a great coach and runs a clean program.

  • AKBear

    That’s great, hire a coach from a university (Ohio U.) that is losing a scholarship because they couldn’t attain their APR goals (http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/sports/2011/05/25/osu-receives-high-grades.html). There’s probably a reason that he’s under consideration for other schools: he wants to leave!

    Yes, it would be nice to have better recruiting classes, but Cal is not going to be able to get the kids that go to many other schools. Yes, Stanford has been able to get some athletic kids but I think there are some advantages to being a private university.

    Other relevant points:

    5. The pool of kids that Cal can draw from is not the same as other schools like SDSU, UNLV, or even a school like Arizona – just need to keep this in mind.

    4. Cal needs to improve their ability to recruit locally.

    3. Cal’s offense probably needs a little retooling – maybe they were a little too predictable.

    2. Need more people to turn out for games – need to make it more attractive for more alum and students to attend the games.

    1. Still wouldn’t trade Montgomery for any other coach – let him stay until he retires – for recruiting is not a level playing field for Cal, it’s nice to have an advantage when it comes to coaching.

  • SteveNTEXAS

    Ok this is becoming a good discussion. Obviously we disagree on whether Monty has us going in the right direction.

    Let’s look at your point #5. Why can’t we draw on the same pool of kids as other Pac 10 schools? What is the inherent weakness about Cal that UCLA Oregon and Arizona doesn’t suffer? ( I left out UNLV as they often have had academic issues)

  • Gobears49

    It would be interesting for someone knowledgeable on the issue to describe what differences there are in Cal being able to accept someone who will be on an academic scholarship versus UCLA or Arizona accepting someone. My perception is that Cal would be on the same playing field as UCLA.

    I know that academic standards for acceptance for athletes is lower for Cal than for its general student population (or else we’d be playing in the Ivy League), but is that lower standard higher than the standard that, say, Arizona uses to accept students who will be getting an athletic scholarship to that school. Optimally, it would be great to know the comparative standard for acceptance for athletes at all the Pac 12 schools.

  • SteveNTEXAS

    I agree GOBears and if the standards from the different universities were able to be culled, it would make a for a good article.

    How do Cal standards compare to the Pac 12 but I’d also be curious to see a comparison to the Big Ten. Cody Zeller only got one B in high school and spent much of his recruiting time comparing business schools when he chose Indiana.

    I believe Michigan has a much lower standard for jocks- what about Indiana and Wisconsin?

  • Esquire Joe

    I know I’m jumping into this debate at a very late stage, but I won’t let that discourage me.

    Let’s get a few things straight about the ground rules here. Cal is never going to consistently best the likes of Arizona, UCLA, or IU in the recruiting department. First, I believe that the admission standards are much higher at Cal than those places (not based on any inside information; rather just an educated guess based on many years of observing who couldn’t get into Cal and who could get in elsewhere). “Great academics” is sometimes a nice drawing card for certain recruits, but not for the guys who will be playing at the next level.

    So, it goes without saying that we shouldn’t hold our collective breath waiting for a few of those one-and-dones to drop from the sky to take us to a Sweet 16.

    Second, although we have a great campus and some nice facilities, Cal can’t come anywhere near the “atmosphere” that most big-time recruits are looking for. We’re on the West Coast, so that’s strike one. Since most impact players want maximum national TV exposure opportunities, playing in the Pacific time zone is an immediate negative.

    Also, the Bay Area is a large media market, but not for college sports. This is a pro sports area, and that isn’t going to change, barring a decades-long run of success by a local program. And maybe not even then. There are no dedicated media outlets here focusing on college sports nor is there a rabid year-round fan base to give these recruits a sense that they’re at a national program. Maybe the Pac 12 Network will improve that exposure in the short run (and perhaps even help expand that fan base in the long run), but any such benefit would come well after Monty is retired.

    Let’s face it. We are an academic school with a couple of really nice things going for us (attractive location, good facilities). The success we have will not be built on top 50 recruits. It will be built on well-coached teams of smart, veteran players who play better than their collective talent. Which means that success will be intermittent at best, as no one can have a junior- and senior-laden team every year.

    So let’s judge Monty on that basis. Blue chip California players who have legitimate NBA prospects are as likely to seek the spotlight offered by the (mostly Midwest and East Coast) big basketball factories as their counterparts from other places. It’s unlikely that there is some extra effort or benefit (legal ones anyway) that Monty or any other Bay Area coach can use to tempt them to stay here.

    If you want to criticize Montgomery’s recruiting, compare it to other schools that are similarly situated.

  • AKBear

    Well stated Esquire Joe!

    I did some digging around. It wasn’t that difficult. Go look up the bios of players on the team web sites. Let’s compare this year’s Cal Bears starters to those for the Arizona Wildcats in terms of their major..what are they studying? Whoops, can’t be done!

    The Cats site has line after line of detailed basketball highlights for each player on almost every game they’ve played. There’s not a single thing mentioned about what their players have as hobbies outside of basketball let alone anything about their major or even if they are undeclared.

    For the Bears, it says that Kravish is considering med school and has interest in being a pediatrician after basketball – imagine, a 6′ 10″ pediatrician! Harper Kamp is an American studies major and lists chess as a hobby (okay, we know that he was sort of a chess prodigy as a kid). The other three starters for the Bears have drawing and traveling listed as hobbies. Jorge lists interdisciplinary studies as his major. The other two are undeclared at this point. I think you get the point. you would think that two Pac-12 schools like Az and Cal would be similar, but perhaps not on second glance.

  • SteveNTEXAS

    Enlightening . and perhaps sobering posts.

    After a bit of reflection however we did have a possible title contender team with Kidd and Gray but injuries and Kidd going pro ended that.

    If our academic standards are so high, how did we get Kidd?

    Finally I’ve seen UCLA fans argue their standards for jocks are as high or higher than ours.

    Michigan does have much lower standards for its jocks as its otherwise a fine school.