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Cal Basketball

Early Look at Basketball as Bears Start Practice

October 4, 2021
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The Cal men’s basketball team started its preseason practice this week, and coach Mark Fox is getting his first hands-on look at his four newcomers who will be counted on to help the Bears improve on last year’s 9-20 record and fill a gaping hole left by a departure.

The Bears have four roster additions in 2021transfer Jordan Shepherd from Charlotte and three freshmen, Sam Alajiki from Ireland, Obinna Anyanwu from San Diego, and Marsalis Robinson from down the road in Oakland.

Of course, there is one significant loss. Guard Matt Bradley who led the Bears in scoring at 18.5 points per game last season has transferred to San Diego State.   Fox believes the Bears can make up for Bradley’s points by spreading the offense through the roster.

“I think that for us we want to be a balanced offensive team and we have a group that is excited about playing together,” Fox said. “We need to have scoring balance. And we also need to play well at the other end.. We need to have our returning guys like Grant (Anticevich) and Andre (Kelly) be productive.

“Makale (Foreman) shot the ball well last year. We need to be an offensive team that helps each other, that works together on that end of the floor. And if we can do that, I think we will have scoring from a variety of places.”

Shepherd, who also was on a call with the media, started his career at Oklahoma before moving to Charlotte, averaged 13.0 points per game the last two seasons.

“My role is just to come here and put the ball in the basket, any way I can,” Shepherd said. “And make plays for others.”

Fox appreciates his talents. “He is a good scorer from the wing. He’s a good athlete,” Fox said of Shepherd. “I think his experience has really been welcome, too. He’s an older, wiser guy who understands what it takes. He has been very well-coached at his previous stops. He is positioning himself to make an immediate impact. 

“What’s really valuable is his ability to score, but he can also pass. Some guys pass as a last resort, other guys pass and make people better. He’s one of those guys that has the ability to score but also has the ability as a passer to make people better. He’s really off to a great start.”

Fox said there is a chance that all three freshmen could contribute this year, or that one or more of them could redshirt. That will sort itself out over the next few weeks of practice.

“They are three very talented young guys. They all have a level of athleticism that fits into this league,” he said. “I think for their position they all three will be guys who athletically check the box. They are all very different in the skill sets they bring. We are are excited about this year’s freshman class. The fact they were allowed to have an offseason unlike last year’s freshmen has been great to see.

“With any freshman the transition is hard, the game is faster, it’s more complex at this level. There is no fear in their eyes. They have the basic athletic talent to become really good players.

© Kelley L Cox USA Today
Makale Foreman (10)

Foreman, who shot 33.2 percent from the floor last year, tailed off a bit in the latter part of the season. Both player and coach offered some reasons.

As the season went on word got out that this guy can shoot. Teams began paying closer attention to him. “I think any player, once you make a few shots you get guarded closer,” Fox said. 

Foreman noticed. “There were a lot more closeouts and they were more attached to me,” he said. “I had to deal with different defenses.”

And Fox feels the abbreviated offseason conditioning took its toll. “With all these guys there was the durability factor,” Fox said. “When you take away an offseason of conditioning, guys can wear down. I think that happened to Makale a little bit last season.”

And Foreman disclosed that he was dealing with a back injury late in the season.

The Bears are coming off a full offseason of workouts and conditioning, something prevented last year by COVID restrictions, and are able to actually practice in the gym. All those things fall into the category of “You don’t know what you’re missing until you’re missing it.”

“This year is far closer to normal than what we’ve experienced. We;ve had a relatively normal offseason, which is the first time since I got to Cal,” Fox said.  “That was welcome. We started practice a little later than most of the country because we had a couple of guys that needed to clear COVID situation. We had our first practice yesterday. We had a really good fall. I think our players and our coaches are really excited about having the opportunity to be together again. And with the team we have I think they’re excited with the opportunity.”

And of course it is a marked contrast to where things stood in October, 2020. “We didn’t have a spring of weight training or skill development, we did not have a summer of weight lifting or development. We did not have a fall. So we missed an entire offseason last year and, if you’ll recall, after 13 practrices last year we had to shut down. That might have been the most costly of all. We just started playing games after basically no offseason and 13 practices and there you go.”

For improvement, this team certainly passes the eye test. “What's most evident about  this group is that physically we look entirely different. Our conditioning level, our functional ability to practice is much greater than it was a year ago because we have been able to have a true offseason. Physically the first thing that jumps out is that we are in much better condition than we were.”

According to Fox, one player who really benefited from the full offseason was forward Kuany Kuany. 

“Kuany probably had the best offseason of anyone on our team,” Fox said. “We are really excited about the work he put in.”
 

Discussion from...

Early Look at Basketball as Bears Start Practice

2,458 Views | 26 Replies | Last: 4 hrs ago by socaltownie
SFCityBear
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The video of Coach Fox was encouraging, and covered more of the roster than the article did. He seemed ecstatic over the conditioning, and all the freshmen coming in. He said all of them will challenge for rotation spots, and they may be deep enough to hand out one or two redshirts. He has been greatly impressed with Roberson, who he said seems to be involved in every play, and looks like he will compete hard at both ends. He said Alajiki and Onyanwu are very talented, skilled, and athletic players. He was very high on Shepherd, who he said could score very well from the wing, and often looks to pass for assists. He was high on Hyder, who he said had no practice time until he was allowed to participate, several games into the season, and got hurt twice. He said Hyder was a smart player, and will be counted on to help. He said Celestine had a terrific first practice, and Kelly had been working on explosiveness. The article mentioned Kuany having done impressive work in the off season, but in the video, he also mentioned Lars as having a full off-season for the first time, and accomplished a lot. He said almost nothing about Thorpe, and nothing at all about Bowser, so I am hoping Bowser is fully recovered from his concussion. He said they will be playing more team ball, to make up for the points of Matt Bradley. He said Anticevich never was the same player after the appendix surgery, and is back to strength now and shooting great.

A lot of this press conference was excuses in more detail, as expected, and a lot of it is hype to sell the team to the fans, but there is still enough in there to make me want to see some games for sure.
SFCityBear
oskidunker
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What could be better than sitting in Haas pavillion?
Go Bears!
bearsandgiants
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oskidunker said:

What could be better than sitting in Haas pavillion?

Beating Florida and Ohio State to take the Thanksgiving tournament in Ft. Meyers.
LateHit
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At least we were spared the "as we continue the rebuild…"
calumnus
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The comment about Kuany was interesting. Maybe we see a starting 5 of Kelly, GA, Kuany, Celestine and Brown?
oskidunker
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calumnus said:

The comment about Kuany was interesting. Maybe we see a starting 5 of Kelly, GA, Kuany, Celestine and Brown?
Makes sense
Go Bears!
fat_slice
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For improvement, this team certainly passes the eye test. "What's most evident about this group is that physically we look entirely different. Our conditioning level, our functional ability to practice is much greater than it was a year ago because we have been able to have a true offseason. Physically the first thing that jumps out is that we are in much better condition than we were."

This was the same thing that was said about our football team - that we were noticeably bigger. I am extremely weary of this now.
HoopDreams
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fat_slice said:

For improvement, this team certainly passes the eye test. "What's most evident about this group is that physically we look entirely different. Our conditioning level, our functional ability to practice is much greater than it was a year ago because we have been able to have a true offseason. Physically the first thing that jumps out is that we are in much better condition than we were."

This was the same thing that was said about our football team - that we were noticeably bigger. I am extremely weary of this now.
the freshmen's athletism will help if they come in with fundamentals

but I'm concerned about shooting
ClayK
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fat_slice said:

For improvement, this team certainly passes the eye test. "What's most evident about this group is that physically we look entirely different. Our conditioning level, our functional ability to practice is much greater than it was a year ago because we have been able to have a true offseason. Physically the first thing that jumps out is that we are in much better condition than we were."

This was the same thing that was said about our football team - that we were noticeably bigger. I am extremely weary of this now.
And every team should be in much the same place after a year devoted to getting stronger and faster.

Coaches naturally look for reasons to be optimistic, but that seems like one of the weaker ones. The best one is more talent ...
HearstMining
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fat_slice said:

For improvement, this team certainly passes the eye test. "What's most evident about this group is that physically we look entirely different. Our conditioning level, our functional ability to practice is much greater than it was a year ago because we have been able to have a true offseason. Physically the first thing that jumps out is that we are in much better condition than we were."

This was the same thing that was said about our football team - that we were noticeably bigger. I am extremely weary of this now.
I didn't buy into last year's excuse that the pandemic explained poor conditioning. As soon as the restrictions appeared, Fox and staff should have put individual conditioning plans in place for each player for the summer. Sprints, distance running, hill repeats, plyometrics, basic weights, etc. All things that could have been done from their homes. Example: Andre Kelly slimmed down noticeably from his doughy freshman year to his soph year, then put most of the flab back on before last season. That happened because he's still a kid and needed a plan and some discipline, both of which should have been provided by the coaching staff.
bluesaxe
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oskidunker said:

What could be better than sitting in Haas pavillion?

Sitting in Haas pavilion with 11,000 other people watching a very good Cal team beat a conference rival? I'm trying to remember.
bearsandgiants
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Conditioning helps with defense, and defense wins championships. Look for the Bears to surprise this season, but expect them to finish dead last.
calumnus
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bearsandgiants said:

Conditioning helps with defense, and defense wins championships. Look for the Bears to surprise this season, but expect them to finish dead last.


Cal was one of the lowest scoring teams in college basketball last year. Having lost our primary scorer, we will more than likely go lower, challenging for the title of lowest scoring team in the country. The hope is we make it up in defense. While Fox has a reputation as a defensive coach from his long stint at Georgia, those teams were generally not actually good in defensive efficiency, just in producing low scoring games by burning clock and forcing the opponent to burn clock and shoot free throws. Just really ugly basketball, IMO, but that is my opinion. Some people may like that style of play. Knowlton for one, apparently., if he did any research at all.
stu
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I think that slow, ugly style won't be any more appealing to recruits than it is to fans.
LateHit
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LateHit said:

At least we were spared the "as we continue the rebuild…"
Correction - he said "rebuild" twice during the Pac12 network interview.
socaltownie
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stu said:

I think that slow, ugly style won't be any more appealing to recruits than it is to fans.
And it isn't. And least we think that this is about immature HS students they are making a smart business decision....lack of touches means less opportunities to impress scouts who RARELY draft kids for defensive prowness - unless that is coupled with height and strength to prevail in the modern NBA.

We are going to be horrible until he goes.
calumnus
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socaltownie said:

stu said:

I think that slow, ugly style won't be any more appealing to recruits than it is to fans.
And it isn't. And least we think that this is about immature HS students they are making a smart business decision....lack of touches means less opportunities to impress scouts who RARELY draft kids for defensive prowness - unless that is coupled with height and strength to prevail in the modern NBA.

We are going to be horrible until he goes.


And then probably for awhile after. Just a really bad hire.
SFCityBear
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Oh, how I hope a couple of Fox's recruits turn out to be sleepers, the real deal.

Then maybe you guys can stop with all the hate for a Cal coach. It is getting worse, and getting old at the same time.

All this is for naught, anyway, because nothing anyone says here will affect any decision on the coach's future at Cal. I guess you are just whiners, complainers. I wish you had stuck to that, rather than descend into hate. Unless you can show us otherwise, Fox is just a guy trying his best to do the job, and his best may not be good enough.
SFCityBear
oskidunker
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SFCityBear said:

Oh, how I hope a couple of Fox's recruits turn out to be sleepers, the real deal.

Then maybe you guys can stop with all the hate for a Cal coach. It is getting worse, and getting old at the same time.

All this is for naught, anyway, because nothing anyone says here will affect any decision on the coach's future at Cal. I guess you are just whiners, complainers. I wish you had stuck to that, rather than descend into hate. Unless you can show us otherwise, Fox is just a guy trying his best to do the job, and his best may not be good enough.
I too am tired of all the Hate. Why follow the program if you hate Fox so much. He is doing the best he can. He was offered a job and took it. He is our coach. Hating him wont make things better .just dont respond to these posts.
Go Bears!
stu
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I think it's fair to complain about style of play, cringe at public statements, and express disappointment with recruiting misses and player departures. I haven't seen real hatred here, nothing like lock him up or lynch him.
4thGenCal
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oskidunker said:

SFCityBear said:

Oh, how I hope a couple of Fox's recruits turn out to be sleepers, the real deal.

Then maybe you guys can stop with all the hate for a Cal coach. It is getting worse, and getting old at the same time.

All this is for naught, anyway, because nothing anyone says here will affect any decision on the coach's future at Cal. I guess you are just whiners, complainers. I wish you had stuck to that, rather than descend into hate. Unless you can show us otherwise, Fox is just a guy trying his best to do the job, and his best may not be good enough.
I too am tired of all the Hate. Why follow the program if you hate Fox so much. He is doing the best he can. He was offered a job and took it. He is our coach. Hating him wont make things better .just dont respond to these posts.
Totally agree with your's and SFCityBear posts. Do we believe that Coach Fox/staff should recruit better, be more charismatic and limit pandemic excuses? Yes, but I do know the players on this team, trust him, respect his knowledge/game planning and believe this will be the best team they have had in his 3 years. The majority of the posters here have very little understanding of the negative impact toward recruiting there is with no dedicated practice facility (only 4 programs in D1 face that) and 2nd, how many very good players with "B"+- HS gpa that the administration has turned down. I am neutral on whether he can turn around our program, simply because his people skills/ability to relate to the urban player is fairly debated. That is where he needs a effective recruiter on his staff and clearly that is yet to be shown consistently. Bottom line, let's support these guys/program given all of them putting in tremendous effort and commitment. Should this season turn out to be a poor season with little to no improvement shown - then fire away, until then, enjoy the season and the banter.
socaltownie
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stu said:

I think it's fair to complain about style of play, cringe at public statements, and express disappointment with recruiting misses and player departures. I haven't seen real hatred here, nothing like lock him up or lynch him.
"exit, Voice and Loyalty". FANTASTIC political science book from 30 years ago. Highly recommend.

Yes, we could "exit" and simply stop following the program
"Loyalty" - yes, it sucks but I am Blue and GOld to the core and will love em unconditionally
"VOice" - futile typing on the internet but hey - people protest in the streets all the time often with little hope and ability to make change ("Defund the police, anyone?")

Seriously - highly recommend. It will change the way you think about political protest a lot of the rest of your life.
SFCityBear
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socaltownie said:

stu said:

I think it's fair to complain about style of play, cringe at public statements, and express disappointment with recruiting misses and player departures. I haven't seen real hatred here, nothing like lock him up or lynch him.
"exit, Voice and Loyalty". FANTASTIC political science book from 30 years ago. Highly recommend.

Yes, we could "exit" and simply stop following the program
"Loyalty" - yes, it sucks but I am Blue and GOld to the core and will love em unconditionally
"VOice" - futile typing on the internet but hey - people protest in the streets all the time often with little hope and ability to make change ("Defund the police, anyone?")

Seriously - highly recommend. It will change the way you think about political protest a lot of the rest of your life.
I'm not sure I understand what you are saying in the part I put in bold type. Could you explain that a little further?
SFCityBear
stu
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Sorry, I didn't mean to start a political discussion. Let me rephrase: I think fans have a right to gripe as long as they keep it civil. Dealing with feedback is part of a job for which the coach is well compensated.
SFCityBear
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stu said:

I think it's fair to complain about style of play, cringe at public statements, and express disappointment with recruiting misses and player departures. I haven't seen real hatred here, nothing like lock him up or lynch him.
I'd agree with you. I exaggerated using the word "hate" to make a point. I think we use that word and the feelings it represents far too loosely and far too often these days. Part of it is we all sit looking at screens and typing electronic messages and we have no fear of getting punched in the face for what we write. We are anonymous. Another part of it is sports fans are prone to strong opinions and feelings. The word "fan" is derived from the word "fanatic", or at least related to it. Fans have been killed at soccer games. And we all remember SF Giant fan Brian Stow beaten nearly to death by a couple of enraged Dodger fans.

I wish our football team had been better and more interesting. Maybe then we could have spent more time on the Football forum, instead of spending way too much time here on the basketball board, with nothing much to talk about except the last bad season. We have not seen the summer workouts, or seen the new players, or seen if the veterans have improved, and if so, whether the improvement is significant. So instead, we spent our time going after the coach and blaming all the failure on him. To a lesser extent we are already implying that the players in the incoming recruiting class are not very good, because we have emphatically stated that Fox can't recruit. All that without ever having seen them play a single minute or even warm up. And also by making that statement about Fox, we are judging the other recruits Fox has previosuly brought in. What is not to like about Jalen Celestine? Or Kuany? Or Monty Bowser?

So I can't wait for the season to begin, and we can begin talking about now and not what went on last season. I am waiting to see if we can be improved, and how good we are now at getting the ball into the basket, and how good we are at preventing our opponents from putting the same ball into a basket we are protecting.





SFCityBear
socaltownie
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SFCityBear said:

socaltownie said:

stu said:

I think it's fair to complain about style of play, cringe at public statements, and express disappointment with recruiting misses and player departures. I haven't seen real hatred here, nothing like lock him up or lynch him.
"exit, Voice and Loyalty". FANTASTIC political science book from 30 years ago. Highly recommend.

Yes, we could "exit" and simply stop following the program
"Loyalty" - yes, it sucks but I am Blue and GOld to the core and will love em unconditionally
"VOice" - futile typing on the internet but hey - people protest in the streets all the time often with little hope and ability to make change ("Defund the police, anyone?")

Seriously - highly recommend. It will change the way you think about political protest a lot of the rest of your life.
I'm not sure I understand what you are saying in the part I put in bold type. Could you explain that a little further?


https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exit,_Voice,_and_Loyalty
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