Basketball: Who’s next? Possible candidates

Cal’s wish list

Here are potential candidates for the Cal coaching job that opened when Mike Montgomery retired on Monday:


Credentials: The 48-year-old former Duke guard has guided the Crimson to a seven-year record of 139-71, including four straight Ivy League titles. His 2012 squad became the first Harvard team to play in the NCAA tournament since 1946.

Positives: Has shown he can navigate the postseason. Harvard never had won an NCAA tournament game until the past two seasons when it posted tournament upsets over No. 3 seed New Mexico and No. 5 Cincinnati.

Concerns: Amaker will be tough to land. On Saturday, after being wooed by crosstown Boston College, he announced he is staying put, saying “My heart is at Harvard.”

— RANDY BENNETT, Saint Mary’s

Credentials: The Gaels’ all-time winningest coach with a 14-year record of 286-137. Bennett, 51, guided Saint Mary’s into the Sweet 16 in 2010. SMC was 23-12 this season, interrupting a run of six straight years of at least 25 victories.

Positives: Has led the Gaels to five NCAA tournament berths since 2005 — as many or more than any Bay Area school over the same time frame, including Cal.

Negatives: Faced a five-game this past season as part of sanctions for NCAA violations that included impermissible workouts and benefits and a failure to monitor charge.

— BRYCE DREW Valparaiso

Credentials: The 39-year-old has directed his alma mater to a three-year record of 66-36, including a spot in the 2013 NCAA tournament field. The Crusaders were 18-16 this season.

Positives: Drew is remembered for his winning 3-point basket in the 1998 NCAA tournament against Ole Miss on a play designed by his father, coach Homer Drew. Drew played six seasons in the NBA.

Concerns: Has limited head coaching track record, and little buzz coming off mediocre season.


Credentials: The 56-year-old has won at every stop, with a career record of 398-205. He was 233-107 in 10 seasons at UCLA, reestablishing the Bruins as a West Coast power. Previously coached at Northern Arizona and Pitt. Mentioned the past week as a candidate for the Marquette job.

Positives: Guided the Bruins to three straight Final Fours through 2008, their best run since the John Wooden era.

Concerns: Age and style of play. Pauley Pavilion fans embraced the low-scoring, defense-oriented Bruins during the Final Four years, but came in fewer numbers when the Bruins won just two NCAA tournament games in a span of five seasons ending in 2013.

— LEON RICE, Boise State

Credentials: Rice, 50, has compiled a four-year record of 77-54 at Boise State, with back-to-back 20-win seasons. The Washington State grad is credited with significantly improving the team’s home attendance figures.

Positives: In 2013, Rice guided Boise to its first-ever NCAA tournament at-large bid. He brings a background of success as a former associate head coach at Gonzaga.

Concerns: Just signed a four-year contract extension that provides him a $100,000 salary increase to about $600,000 per and includes an automatic rollover with each 18-victory season.


Credentials: At 35, Miller directed the Flyers to the Elite Eight round of the NCAA tournament after a decisive win over Stanford last week. He is 63-38 in three seasons, including 26-11 this year. Dayton beat Cal by 18 points at the Maui Invitational in November.

Positives: The younger brother of Arizona coach Sean Miller is familiar with the Pac-12, having spent two seasons as associate head coach for the Wildcats.

Concerns: The Bears might have to move quickly to get him. Rewarded last week with a contract extension through 2018, Miller nonetheless has been mentioned for job vacancies at Wake Forest and Marquette.

— STEVE PROHM, Murray State

Credentials: Prohm, 39, has guided the Racers to three straight 20-win seasons, a pair of Ohio Valley Conference regular-season titles and a record of 73-23.

Positives: His 2013 squad won its first 23 games on the way to a 31-2 record, losing in the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament. His pricetag will be affordable.

Concerns: Has no sizzle with Cal fans and a limited resume after just three seasons as a head coach.


Credentials: Smart, 36, guided the Rams to the 2011 Final Four and has reached the NCAA tournament the past four seasons. He is 137-46 in five years as VCU’s head coach. A dream candidate.

Positives: Smart’s name is atop every athletic director’s wish list, and in recent years he has been pursued by UCLA, Minnesota, Illinois and North Carolina State. This year Marquette came calling.

Concerns: He turned down all the aforementioned opportunities and will be almost impossible to pry from a recent contract extention that is worth a guaranteed $1.45 million per year (before incentives) and runs through 2028.

Jeff Faraudo

  • Teddy Kohn, III

    Georgia’s Mark Fox, formerly of Nevada is a perfect fit for this job.

  • Rollonubears

    – ARCHIE MILLER, Dayton

    That’t the guy. Get it done.

  • Juancho

    I like the last three on this list. I am not sure why we wouldn’t talk to Wichita State’s coach as well.

  • Eric

    Howland needs to be considered. Three final fours in fourr years?

  • 707 Bear

    As a casual hoops fan, where does the Cal job rank in the PAC 12?

    I assume UCLA and Arizona are at the top.

  • AztecDan

    Shaka Smart.
    Archie Miller.
    End of list.

    If Sandy Barbour is running this search, we’re screwed. Big time. She has proven herself to be THE WORST. Ugh.

  • AztecDan

    PS- Ben Howland? No thank you.

    Time has passed him by, no good west coast recruit will want to play for him, his reputation is shot- especially onnthe west coast.

    Eric, this HAS TO BE the first time I have ever disagreed with after agreeing with you hundreds of times.

  • Eric

    I don’t hold myself out to be a basketball expert in any sense of the word, and I deeply respect your knowledge and support of SDSU, so if you say Howland’s rep on the West Coast is shot, I would defer.
    But I just go back to pointing out three final fours in four years. That is really freakin hard to accomplish. I think what got Howland in trouble was trying to go too hard with the Kentucky one and done model and thus chasing bad character guys, and it didn’t match with why he had been successful previously. But with a year’s worth of sitting on the outside might make him a significant bargain.
    Not saying he is my number one choice – I’d think Smart is the smart choice (but see below) – but I also don’t think we’re going to get Smart. As for A Miller, curious whether he leverages a senior laden team that happened to have tournament opponents favorably break Dayton’s way into a big payout only to crater, a la the FGCU coach taking his run to U$C’s bank.
    As for Smart, my one observation is this – with huge expectations this season, VCU didn’t step up. Is Smart landing big time recruits with his Havoc style of play, and is it gimmicky?

  • AztecDan

    Good thoughts on Howland. I would see him as very similar to Monty, I’m not sure if he can find a recruiting base that will work for him. Chase blue chippers and they don’t respond to that more old school approach. And if you don’t have REALLY good players, you’re doomed to be middle tier (3-6). At best.

    Re: Smart, the real problem to me is Barbour. In the same way I always felt Chris Peterson was “get-able” – and he was, she goes to Podunk LA. Tech to bring in Dykes. There were 6-8 candidates off the top of my head that were better and more obvious choices- Barbour either whiffed or didn’t even try. Smart will be go somewhere at some point, I doubt Barbour has the vision, guts, gumption and anything else it takes to take a real shot at him.

    As far as if we would be a good option- no he’d be great option. I’m not a Jon Wilner fan, but I’ll quote him… Shaka Smart would be the dream candidate. He would create a huge buzz, which anyone with any sense knows Cal hoops needs.

    He would recruit. He plays a very aggressive, unorthodox style that I greatly respect. What he and his teams do is hard, and they are very good at it.

    I had the privilege to see VCU play in person their early games in the NCAAT in each of the past 3 seasons, and let me tell you … It was love at first sight, that deepened each time I saw VCU take the court. Just incredible, plays to win, puts immense pressure on every team they play. He would bring instant credibility to Cal on a national scale.

    He’s a winner, his players love him, they play their hearts out, with consistency, for him. He would be a tremendous shot of adrenalin for Cal hoops. His havoc style of D would light the Cal program on fire. He also has shown he can take lesser players and go win big time. Against any program.

    As far as their first round loss in the recent NCAAT, I was there. They played great, they should have won, it took kind a bonehead play at the end that allowed SFA to convert a 4 PT play. They had the game. They ran into a SFA team that played the game of their lives, and VCU still had the game were it not for that one dumb foul – he never touched the shooter by the way- and some missed FTs down the stretch.

    IMO, if they beat SFA, they would have beaten UCLA and gone to another S16.

    With all that said, it’s pointless to hope and speculate, as Barbour doesn’t get it and never will. That’s the scary part for. Even if you were fed up with Monty, and there were a couple on here, he retires… And you have Sandy Barbour hiring his replacement.

    Not promising. My bet is a boring or underwhelming choice that will once again show that the powers that be at Cal don’t really winning at the highest level in the 2 most important sports isn’t really a priority at Cal. Oh sure, Barbour will talk a good game, like politicians do, but will not deliver the goods, like politicians don’t.

    Plus, you can always be blind sided in the tourney. Look at his body if work … At VCU, no less.

  • AztecDan

    I will add Gregg Marshall of Wichita State to my list. Now, end of list.

  • AztecDan

    Eric- i wanted to add that Howlands first 2 trips to the FF were mostly players he didn’t recruit, and those kids were tough, hard nosed- not like he would go on to recruit the longer he was there.

  • AztecDan

    If Sean Miller was the coach at Cal, it would be one of the top 2-3 jobs in the P12.

    Currently? Not even in the conversation, IMO.

  • AztecDan

    One other thing Eric- I’d bank on Archie Miller being the real deal. He understudied under his brother for years, if you think Sean Miller is the real – I REALLY do – I think Archie is too.

    And he’d create huge buzz, greatly improve recruiting, and play and exciting and winning style of play.

    I wonder if he could beat his brother though 🙂

    I’ll go to bed now. I guess I’ve had some pent up thoughts and opinions to get out.

  • GoBears49

    Anybody know how the candidates listed above recruit, and whether they have west coast connections to do so. On the surface, Miller seems intriguing and he might want to climb to the same, or close, level as his brother. Smart seems to have too much flair and could be too controversial. On the other hand, he could jump start our program if he is a great recruiter.

  • colonelkilgore

    what really got Howland in trouble was his complete lack of people skills. Not only did he burn every last bridge at UCLA, he is dead when it comes to Cali recruiting.

  • colonelkilgore

    Gregg Marshall isn’t going to Cal

  • eastcoastbear

    Danny Manning of Tulsa would be a great young coach — if Wake Forest does not hire him first. Great college and pro careers. And what big man in California wouldn’t at least want to give Cal a look. Something we have lacked in recent years…

  • AztecDan

    You know this how? Are you two related?

    By the way, either 9 of 10, or 10 of 10 coaches who are thrown out aren’t coming to Cal. So …

  • Steve Fischer

    I listed a real out of the box choice yesterday but looks like my post was deleted even though there was nothing inflammatory. Years ago I suggested Jason Kidd – and no one agreed. Yesterday Jason was awarded NBA Eastern Conference Coach of the Month as the Nets broke their all-time record home win streak by beating Houston . It is now at 14.