BERKELEY -Elevating Wyking Jones to the top position may not have moved the needle nationally for the University of California men's basketball program, but Jones clearly won the press conference on Wednesday morning at Haas Pavilion.
The new boss gave a confident, assured performance as he was introduced by Athletic Director Mike Williams.
Williams discussed the hiring process, which was conducted without the assistance of a search firm. "We spoke with multiple NBA head coaches, multiple power five basketball conference coaches and others in the national basketball community," said Williams. "We talked to Cal basketball alums, we talked to donors. We combined all this feedback with our own sense of the values that we wanted to find the best fit for this position. Ultimately, we came back to where we started, and found what we wanted right here in Berkeley."
The AD stated that "we made our one and only offer" to Jones in an effort to debunk the various stories that had circulated on the internet and other media after Cuonzo Martin's resignation.
Jones revealed that he almost became a Golden Bear as a high school player when former Cal coach Lou Campanelli recruited him. He said, "Three days before my visit, (Campanelli told him)"I've got bad news for you. Monty Buckley took your scholarship. Monty, if you're out there watching, I no longer hold that grudge against you."
After thanking the Cal administration, his players his mom and his family, Jones continued to display his personality to the crowded room. "Kingsley Okoroh, he was talking so fast with that British accent, I had no idea what he was saying," said Jones. "I just knew he was excited that I was his coach."
Transfer Marcus Lee attended the event, and also expressed his excitement as he looked forward to playing for Jones next season.
Jones cited Louisville Coach Rick Pitino as his most important influence. He's my biggest influence as a coach," said Jones. "He taught me more than anyone else about this game and how to be successful and how to win." Jones noted that he is the 31st Pitino assistant to become a head coach.
As for style of play, the new coach reinforced the previous staff's emphasis on defense, but added, "Now, it'going to look a little different. You're going to see more pressing, you're going to see more changing of defense, you're going to see more halfcourt traps. You're going to see us be a lot more aggressive on the defensive end."
"On the offensive end, you're going to see us push the tempo," said Jones. "You're going to see us getting into scoring motion a little bit earlier in the shot clock." Those comments should be music to the ears of many Cal fans, as Martin's Bear teams were among the slowest paced teams in the country. They also ranked at the bottom of the Pac-12 in field goal percentage and free throw percentage.
Of course, it's one thing to talk the talk, and something else to produce results out on the floor. Jones has clearly been preparing himself to become a head coach for some time. "Every single day working as an assistant you're always in your head thinking, if I'm the head coach this is what I would do," he said. He talked about "stealing" from the various coaches for whom he worked as he developed his coaching philosophy.
Jones immediate concern is filling out his staff. Cal announced that assistant Tim O'Toole had been promoted to the position of Associate Head Coach. Jones stated that he expected to fill the remaining staff positions in the next couple of weeks.
At the same time, Jones will be out recruiting to strengthen the roster for the 2017-18 season. It's clear that the Bears are in need of players that can score the ball, particularly from the wing.
Jones is confident that he is more than ready for the challenges ahead. He concluded,"I can promise you that these young men are going to give you everything they've got."
To view today's press conference, use the embedded viewer below: