Posted Here By Request: Cal Coaches Caravan LA 2019

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Fyght4Cal
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Note: Also posted on Growls

Hi all. This is my brief report on last night's Coaches Caravan. I'm writing this off the top of my head. I apologize in advance for any rambling. Please feel free to ask me anything (AMA) about the event.

@CalRho and I were both at the event, so I'll consult with her about the answers to your questions.

Todd McKim moderated this year's panel format. The topics were much more about their experiences and philosophies of head coaches. For this reason, Coaches Fox and Wilcox were the only panelists.

Since I wasn't taking notes, I'll give some general observations.

Both coaches credited their parents for teaching them accountability and integrity. Coach Fox also mentioned the coach at his very small high school, who coached every sport. Fox said that since his own father is deceased, he called this coach on Father's Day to thank him for all of the guidance and time he put into Fox's we age development.

On that subject, Fox and Wilcox talked about the calls they get from former players years after their graduation. Wilcox and Fox felt gratitude for being part of the small circle of trust that players call with important life news, whether good or bad. Fox told a funny story about getting a 2am call from Ramon Sessions about turning down $3 mill. to return to the Lakers. Perhaps someone from OC will share the punchline after their event tonight.

I think most of us have heard Coach Wilcox talk about what they look for in recruiting. They look at academic and athletic talent. The first they see on paper, the second, on film. Of course, they looks not only at grades, but the quality of the school itself.

Of course, they also look at character and "fit". Is this a player who loves football, or someone who just likes being a football player? Does he want the steak, or just the sizzle? Does he have integrity? Does he hold himself accountable? Is he disciplined?

Wilcox said that there are many, many people involved in the process over many years. The initial evaluations start 3 years out, so the team that handles those are working in both the 2021 and 2022 entering classes.

Today with so many services, camps, etc. there are very few overlooked diamonds-in-the-rough. In fact the easiest part these days is getting names, as opposed to years past. The hardest part is getting to know the person behind the film.

Wilcox related a story about the culture he is creating at Cal. Without mentioning names, he told of a "17-star" [LOL!] visitor who ticked the academic and athletic boxes. The staff was very high on him. But, there was the question of "fit".

After the visit, Wilcox talked to the 3 current players who hosted the recruit. To his surprise, all three said they didn't want him on the team, that "he wouldn't do the right thing". Wilcox was extremely pleased that the players understood the expectations that come with being a Golden Bear, and that they recognized and honestly related the inability of the recruit to meet them. Despite the stars and the grades it was not a fit, and the staff quickly moved on.

Fox also talked about recruiting. He noted that the main difference between hoops and football is that his coaches generally get to see the players in live action, because of the summer leagues. He listed the top characteristics he looks for in a player. Unfortunately, the only one I remember is the desire to win. Hopefully an OC reporter can talk more about this.

Todd McKim asked Fox about his experience chairing the NCAA Basketball Rules of Play Committee. Fox's replies were great. He said it made him realize how much he didn't know about the depth and details of the rules. Now, when he pulls an official aside to dispute a call, there's an increased chance that he might actually be right. LOL!

Fox also talked about the reasons the NCAA moved the 3pt line to the international distance. The 3pt shot has come to dominate the college game. The committee wanted to make it more difficult and to create more space to open up inside play. I think the new distance is 14 inches farther from the basket.

An Old Blue in the audience asked a great question about toughness. Wilcox defined toughness mainly as the ability to overcome the obstacles to high performance. In evaluating a player, he looked for displays of toughness on or off the field. Can the make the play? In the 2nd or 3rd week of camp, can they focus in a meeting? Can they do the right thing in difficult circumstances - i.e. can they resist retaliating when the refs didn't see the first hit by the opposing player? Will they buckle down on their school work despite being dead-tired? It was enlightening.

One thing Wilcox said is that on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being not tough at all, and 10 being the toughest guy you know, it's not possible to turn a 4 into a 7. If the staff recruits a 4, and 4 years later you figure out he fails the test of toughness, that's on the staff, not the player. This is why toughness is an important part of the recruiting evaluation.

Coach Fox talked about "the toughness of we". He looks for willingness to be tough within a team concept. He believes that team toughness can develop individual toughness. I hope I got that right...

In our side conversation with Fox, @CalRho talked about how the opposing teams with kids from tough backgrounds try to "punk" Cal. Fox assured us that our teams will be not be punked on the court. They will be tough.

During the panel Fox talked about a technique he uses to build mental toughness on the court. He holds practices with terrible music the players hate turned up to full volume. The music continues until they get the play(s) right. Only then does he change the music to something they like. He says after about the third time (third practice?) they get it right much sooner rather than later.

Fox gave examples of how hard it is to evaluate football players from just watching the game. He himself played high school football, so he thought he had sufficient knowledge of the game. But then he spent three days in film study (I missed which school). He said he came to the conclusion that he knew absolutely nothing about football.

Three notes on side convos:
1. Wilcox is very proud of the teams academic progress. He noted that the team GPA was over 3.0 for the Spring.

2. @CalRho asked about restarting "Pigskins & Pearls". Wilcox seemed to be unfamiliar with it. He asked her a bunch of questions. He seemed interested and said he'd look into it.

3. On a similar note, I mentioned the basketball team luncheons with Old Blues on the LA roadswing during the Braun era. It piqued his interest. Perhaps he'll restart the tradition.

This leads me to my concluding impressions.

1. Coach Fox is much more engaging than indicated in that initial team video we all hated. He's funny, humble and caring, with the right degree of toughness underneath. @CalRho and I were very relieved to see it. He won our support. I hope he wins yours too.

2. Coach Wilcox is really growing into his role. He is a modern coach with old fashioned values. He talked about how students on campus are developing valuable analytics that are helping the team. Just another example of how our football program and our campus are getting more in-step.

3. The event was smaller than previous LA swings. I talked about that with our new development head, Brian Mann, and his SoCal guy, Ryan. They are really open to discussions about future events, so I hope OC attendees will take time to share their thoughts.

4. I liked the new format. It gave us a chance to learn more about the coaches and the challenges of competing in the Power 5, in a Berkeley context.

5. The NeueHouse venue was superb. We were on the 2nd floor rooftop on Sunset, during sunset, in the heart of Hollywood. The weather was perfect and the sunset was sublime.

5. If you still can, get to tonight's event in OC.

There's so much that I didn't get to in this report. So, again, feel free to AMA.
🎵There’s the Highland Dutch and the Lowland Dutch
The Rotterdam Dutch and Tim DeRuyter 🎶
Calfans
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Thanks for the great report.

FYI, Coach Wilcox knows about the Women's Football Huddle, not Sonny's new name Pigskins and Pearls. He was at the Huddles while he was our linebackers coach.
Cal-i-for-nia. (Clap, Clap)(Clap, Clap, Clap)

Fyght4Cal
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Calfans said:

Thanks for the great report.

FYI, Coach Wilcox knows about the Women's Football Huddle, not Sonny's new name Pigskins and Pearls. He was at the Huddles while he was our linebackers coach.
I was surprised that he seemed unaware. That explains it.

It was my pleasure to write it up. Something I forgot in the original report, Fox addressed the issue of reporting times for the Internationals. Thiemann is in camp for the German U20 team. If he makes the team, we will see him in the Fall.

Dimitrios Klonaras made the Greek U18 National Team. He will play in the FIBA 2019 European Championship in late July-early August.

Joel Brown will represent Canada in the FIBA U19 World Cup. Greece will host these games, as well. The tournament runs June 29-July 7, 2019.

So, we'll see all three of them later in the summer/fall.

Funny story from the Coaches Caravan: An Old Blue asked Coach Fox if he had enough resources to support his international recruiting efforts. Fox joked he has no idea, he's just spending the money until someone says stop. He said he'd take checks immediately from anyone in attendance.
🎵There’s the Highland Dutch and the Lowland Dutch
The Rotterdam Dutch and Tim DeRuyter 🎶
KoreAmBear
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Fyght4Cal said:

Calfans said:

Thanks for the great report.

FYI, Coach Wilcox knows about the Women's Football Huddle, not Sonny's new name Pigskins and Pearls. He was at the Huddles while he was our linebackers coach.
I was surprised that he seemed unaware. That explains it.

It was my pleasure to write it up. Something I forgot in the original report, Fox addressed the issue of reporting times for the Internationals. Thiemann is in camp for the German U20 team. If he makes the team, we will see him in the Fall.

Dimitrios Klonaras made the Greek U18 National Team. He will play in the FIBA 2019 European Championship in late July-early August.

Joel Brown will represent Canada in the FIBA U19 World Cup. Greece will host these games, as well. The tournament runs June 29-July 7, 2019.

So, we'll see all three of them later in the summer/fall.

Funny story from the Coaches Caravan: An Old Blue asked Coach Fox if he had enough resources to support his international recruiting efforts. Fox joked he has no idea, he's just spending the money until someone says stop. He said he'd take checks immediately from anyone in attendance.


Those seem to be great reps for our incoming internationals. I hope Lars makes his U20 team. Can't wait to see these guys as well as South, Kuany and Thorpe.
BeachedBear
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Great Post Fyght4Cal! You just made my summer a little sunnier.
GoCalBears
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Thanks for the great post!
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