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Cal Basketball

Pac-12 Men's Basketball Media Day: Fox, Kelly & Anticevich Talk Cal Hoops

October 13, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -Cal head coach Mark Fox and forwards Andre Kelly and Grant Anticevich took the podium to talk about Cal's expectations for the 2021-22 season at today’s Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Media Day at Pac-12 headquarters.

The Bears' 2020-21 season was a rough one to say the least, with Cal going 8-20 (3-17) and finishing last in the Pac-12.

The program faced more significant challenges than the other programs in the league, with several long stoppages in practice halted by covid protocols along the early loss of key contributor Anticevich to emergency gall bladder surgery and the absense in several games of leading scorer Matt Bradley.

However, as poor as the team’s Pac-12 record in particular were, there were encouraging signs of life late in the season, with the Bears taking NCAA tourney teams Colorado, Oregon and Oregon State down to the wire and defeating  Stanford in the first round of the Pac-12 tourney before falling in a tight 61-58 loss to the Buffs. They also beat a 23-9 Colorado team late in the season.

Jenny Chuang
Andre Kelly

“I would say if you really knew what the team had to endure last year, I was pretty proud at the way they kept improving and stayed competitive and scratched out a few wins,” said Fox. “It was a challenging set of circumstances. But what I think it’s allowed to let us do this year -not with our eyes on last year- is that these guys have a grateful approach to what they’re able to do every day. Last year, a lot of that was taken away. Where in past years, guys might’ve complained about lifting weights or extra workouts but when those things are taken away from you, you miss it and realize those were things you shouldn’t have complained about.

“The response I've gotten from this year’s team -the guys who returned from last year- has just been that they're grateful and really focused on moving forward and creating an environment on our team that will allow us to improve.”

To view today’s Cal media session, click here

The Bears will be missing a big piece with the transfer of leading scorer Matt Bradley (18 ppg) to Sand Diego State. How do they expect to fill the void?

“I think in college basketball, the best players are going to leave, whether by transfers or by someone leaving early for the pros," said Fox. “What we’ve done with our group is we’ve continued to develop our team. We had to play a little slower in the last couple years because we weren't as deep talent-wise. Our teams have been better when we've played together. We’re going to need scoring across the lineup. I think we have enough depth. And I think we're a little quicker, which will result in hopefully a good offensive group.”

The Bears added four new pieces this season in grad transfer 6-4/190 wing Jordan Shepherd and a trio of frosh - 6-6/190 wing Marsalis Roberson, 6-7/225 SF Sam Alajiki and 6-7/220 SF Obinna Anyanwu.

John McGillen
Kelly and Anticevich

“Let me start with Jordan Shepherd,” said Fox. “He's a very instinctive player who has the abiltiy to score the ball and he makes everyone around him better. He's mature and he's been very well-coached at his previous spots. I think he'll make an immediate impact on our team.

“And then our three freshmen -they've all made some dynamic plays (since camp has opened). They're long, they're athletic. They’re all a bit different. They have an unbridled spirit but there's been times when there's times that you can really see the quality of player they’re going to be.

“I’m excited about all three of the freshmen. I think they have bright futures. I think they're going to be really, really impactful players for us. Mix in Jordan’s experience and certainly, they've improved our team.”

Stay tuned for more from Pac-12 Media Day.


Discussion from...

Pac-12 Men's Basketball Media Day: Fox, Kelly & Anticevich Talk Cal Hoops

750 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 1 day ago by smh
Big C
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Geez, I am a starry-eyed romantic: I read the above -- knowing quite well what it is (preseason hype) -- and I get a little more optimistic about the upcoming season.
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Big C said:

Geez, I am a starry-eyed romantic: I read the above -- knowing quite well what it is (preseason hype) -- and I get a little more optimistic about the upcoming season.

You're not alone.

Been a long while for me (pre Covid) since my last post. Here are some accumulated thoughts...

Had enough dysfunction lately? Cal athletics dysfunction is not the hoped for escape from national dysfunction. So easy and warranted to point out shortcomings of the Knowlton/Fox plan so far. Fox's lack of willingness to engage the fanbase, i.e. scant engagement/access given to Bear Insider and other fan sites (including zero interviews with any of the assistant coaches), seems to come from not wanting to call attention to his team, raise expectations, and/or get hopes up on certain recruiting targets. He knows the Bay Area is NFL/MLB/NBA-focused and college sports are the momentary diversion. Braun was able to stay a long time by just "doing things the right way.". Guessing he sees nothing to be gained by promoting/giving access (it won't drive interest or attendance from non-diehards) until results come on the court. His excessively measured coach speak probably isn't a good gauge of his real presence with the team, yet it gives him no benefit of the doubt in public forums like media day yesterday. Blah. Becoming apparent that Cal's next coach, beyond coaching and recruiting acumen, must have some spark/charisma to jumpstart the program. Even Kyle Smith has an advantage here.

On the plus side, Fox exceeded win expectations his first year, though a number of those (3 overtime wins, 2 pts over Stanford and OSU, 4 pts over Prairie View) could have easily ended up in the loss column. Still he surprised with legit Pac-12 prospect Anyanwu to go with intriguing sleepers Roberson and Alajiki. Those close games didn't go the Bears way last year (4 pt loss at ASU, 1 pt loss at Utah, 2 pt lost to OSU, 3 pt loss to Colorado in P12 Tourney). There was a definite impact from offseason Covid limitations. Cal stunk even with a dynamic and spectacular Matt Bradley. Evidence of a defined recruiting plan and results are scarce, though some of these young Bears have promising potential that will be fun to watch develop.

This roster has lots of admirable young dudes giving it their all on the court and in the classroom. An experienced group with Joel Brown leading at the point. They have stuck through some very tough years. Some inspiring stories as well with Kuany and Roberson. Lacking top end talent but will be easy to root for.

There is no alpha will things develop without Bradley? The 4-3 record with him gone last season is mildly encouraging, and as Brown, Shepherd, and Hyder all are experienced and can handle, drive, and pass, I'm intrigued to see if an unselfish and all-hands approach improves offensive efficiency. Fox has hinted that with more depth they could play a quicker tempo as well. Can't get much slower.

Who can hit from outside? Not a lot of obvious options beyond Grant, Jalen, Kuany, and Foreman, though Makale needs to bring more than just bombs away. Not a lot of margin for error considering the team shooting percentages and past propensity for turnovers and low ft %. Fox's offensive schemes and past efficiency ratings have not inspired any confidence there. Please surprise us coach.

Yes, Grant and Andre have limitations against certain matchups, but they could be an effective and experienced duo, similar to Kamp and Sanders-Frison. If I'm a coach with a young frontcourt, I'm not looking forward to playing Cal.

Defensively the team could be solid, with better size and depth on the perimeter to defend the three, especially if Kuany is able to earn minutes for his offensive production. A lot of course depends on defending point of attack, and hopefully Brown, Shepherd, Hyder, and Foreman can be plusses there. That is a big question though as well as defending the paint. Need at least two of the frontcourt juniors to show they belong in the league, and I'm cautiously optimistic they will. Anyanwu could be a problem for teams on the boards as well.

The efficiency numbers last year - 119 for offense, 115 for defense -- got a significant bump just from OSU and UCLA getting red hot in the tournament. If Fox hangs his hat on defense though, there aren't many excuses why this experienced squad with improved length and athleticism shouldn't be top 100 on that end of the floor. And really they should be closer to 50 than 100.

With 15 on the roster, Fox has indicated there could be a couple redshirts. Candidates other than any of the frosh appear to be Bowser, or maybe Thorpe, or even Hyder (recovering from injury, stagger his graduation behind Brown).

A prediction? I think Cal will show some reasons for hope in the non-con, 8-3. The conference though will be tough, but with an improved defense would think they can scratch out 4-6 wins.
Big C
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Well, welcome back! Yes, at this point (we're undefeated), I think there are reasons for Cal Basketball fans to be interested, if not super optimistic. Several of the returnees are liable to be noticeably improved. We are likely to be better than we were last season. What happens to the program after that? We can cross that bridge when we come to it.

I got my tickets. Go Bears!
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> Been a long while for me (pre Covid) since my last post..

seconding the welcome back, survivor, previous post may 2020
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