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Cal Basketball

Pac-12 Conference Opener Looms

November 29, 2022
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Cal men’s basketball coach Mark Fox held a short media availability Tuesday prior to the conference opener against USC at Haas Wednesday evening.

What news there was, wasn’t terribly encouraging for Cal fans. Opening the season 0-7 puts them in a small group of just 7 D-1 teams that are winless on the year.

Things will not get any easier going forward. USC comes to town this week to start the early Pac-12 season, with a road contest at #4 Arizona to follow this weekend.

It’s instructive to note that nearly 25% of the press conference was taken up discussing who will NOT be playing against the teams they face this week. One overriding theme for this season has been the injury report – and it’s only getting slightly more depressing with each passing game.

Here is Fox’s injury report, heavily loaded with backcourt players:

Jarred Hyder will have surgery that will essentially end his season.

Josh Ragsdale was lost (for the season) earlier to knee surgery.

DeJuan Clayton (transfer from Coppin State) – there’s been no update on his return to play.

Jalen Celestine obviously still out.

Sam Alajiki has been in concussion protocol and didn’t play the other night.

Marcellus Roberson has basically been game-to-game.

Six guys. 40% of the projected starting lineup. The leading returning scorer from last season. And, a 1,500-point scorer from the transfer portal.

Here’s how a decidedly subdued Fox put the injury situation: “Celestine and Hyder projected as starters. Not having them has hurt us offensively. That’s been a challenge for us.

“Hyder’s injury – when we knew we wouldn’t have Celestine early, his ability to handle the ball and score was important to our team and we don’t have that. Offensively, we’ve really struggled and we are having to reinvent how we are playing because we essentially have two guards who are trying to manage everything.

“We need to become more productive on the offensive end, more efficient. We’ve turned it over way too much. We’ve got some challenges there. Hopefully, we will get DeJuan back, his scoring, his experience, everything else, but we just haven’t seen the progress in his rehab we had hoped for.

“In the meantime, we will continue to try to find some lineups that can give us some offense. Obviously, with Sam going out the other night, that became even more difficult because we missed his shooting. It’s certainly an area where we have to improve.”

Asked how he would respond to fans who have made their frustration known through their absence, Fox did not avoid the issue.

“I understand people are frustrated. We are frustrated. We are trying to make it better. We scheduled a game for the same time as the pep rally for the Big Game. Everyone is frustrated. I just ask that people direct their frustration at me and not at the players

“To be honest, we don’t worry about outside opinions. We understand people are frustrated like us. Our focus is on trying to get people healthy, because that will make us better, so that is where we put our energies.”

The one bright spot this season has been Devin Askew.  A junior transfer from Kentucky and Texas, Askew is the lone Golden Bear to score in double figures every game and averages 16.7 ppg.

Fox praised Askew’s effort and performance thus far, “We are asking Devin to do far more than is fair. We’ve asked him to handle the ball a ton. Asking him and Joel Brown to play 30+ minutes a night with no other true guards.

“There have been games where they wore down, but Devin has been very productive. He’s learning a new system, but he will only continue to get better. If we can get healthy and find some other guys to finish a few plays, it will take a little of the focus of the defense away from him. He’s certainly seen the lion’s share of people’s intention to stop us. I think that’s hurt his numbers a little bit.

“If you had DeJuan and Jalen, your best two scoring wings, on the floor, that would allow the shots that Devin gets to be a little cleaner, and it would give him other people to throw it to. But he continues to have the right approach, and he’s a great young man.”

When asked how, with so many obstacles already placed in their way, he prepares his team mentally to face two solid top-tier teams, the Bears’ coach was straightforward. “Our team understands the situation. When you only have 8 or 9 guys in practice, when you have to go out and get someone to join the floor for practice – they understand the challenges and they have been very resilient. Obviously, they are frustrated, but they’ve had a pretty mature and focused approach. I think adversity can bring you together  -- obviously, we’ve had a heavy dose of that – but they continue to do the right things and I’ve been pleased with that.”

In keeping with how the season has unfolded to date, Fox wrapped the conference by saying “I do not know yet if (Sam) Alajiki will be cleared to play Wednesday.”

Tip-off Wednesday is at 7 pm. Good seats remain available.

Other stories:

Cal Football at an Important Crossroads Entering December

Bears Lose Heartbreaker to UCLA, 35-28

Discussion from...

Pac-12 Conference Opener Looms

2,235 Views | 17 Replies | Last: 2 mo ago by HoopDreams
calumnus
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Celestine would start, but Hyder was "projected as a starter"? I think that is embellishing Mr Fox.
Big C
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The only reason he said Hyder was projected as a starter was to keep playing the narrative of the team decimated by injuries. Lame. All respect to Jared Hyder, a student athlete who is trying his best, but he's always been less than 100% due to mysterious injuries and whatever % he has to give keeps him as a marginal contributor on a second-division team.
KenBurnski
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He's so brave to ask the fives of Cal fans on social media to take out their frustrations on him and not his players. Lol way ahead of you buddy. Nobody is badmouthing the players. Everyone is bashing him and Knowlton.
calumnus
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KenBurnski said:

He's so brave to ask the fives of Cal fans on social media to take out their frustrations on him and not his players. Lol way ahead of you buddy. Nobody is badmouthing the players. Everyone is bashing him and Knowlton.


Pay me half of what he makes, only $1 million a year and I will take all the blame. The team would not even have a worse record.
Big C
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That does it: I am headed to the Haas for the U$C game and I am fired up!! Michael Duca concludes his write-up with "good seats remain available". Well, not mine!

GO BEARS!!!
stu
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At least offense was the focus. Talking about it and executing it aren't the same thing, but mentioning it is an improvement.
HoopDreams
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calumnus said:

Celestine would start, but Hyder was "projected as a starter"? I think that is embellishing Mr Fox.
I think he said with celestine and clayton out, Hyder would be a starter.
considering Hyder's shooting, Fox might be right.

if Hyder was healthy wouldn't you start him at the 2 also?
calumnus
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HoopDreams said:

calumnus said:

Celestine would start, but Hyder was "projected as a starter"? I think that is embellishing Mr Fox.
I think he said with celestine and clayton out, Hyder would be a starter.
considering Hyder's shooting, Fox might be right.

if Hyder was healthy wouldn't you start him at the 2 also?


Read it again:

Here's how a decidedly subdued Fox put the injury situation: "Celestine and Hyder projected as starters. Not having them has hurt us offensively. That's been a challenge for us.

"Hyder's injury when we knew we wouldn't have Celestine early, his ability to handle the ball and score was important to our team and we don't have that. Offensively, we've really struggled and we are having to reinvent how we are playing because we essentially have two guards who are trying to manage everything."
calumnus
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"We scheduled a game for the same time as the pep rally for the Big Game."

"Pep rally"?

But yes, what kind of gross mismanagement at the Athletic Department allowed a basketball game to be scheduled simultaneous with the bonfire rally for the Big Game?
RedlessWardrobe
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Honestly his statements are so oversimplified a grade school student could have made them.

Hyder's ballhandling is no better than Brown or Askew. Hyder would never be a starter. Fox knew Celestine would not be available for a long time.

Coach Fox, how about some different half court sets on offense? Obviously what you're using right now isn't working. Also, will we ever see Lars and ND on the court at the same time? There might be a situation that calls for it. And please, if your team beats the full court press, let them attack the basket. The percentage of scoring can be no less than the percentage our half court offense leads to.
HoopDreams
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you're right. he thought hyder would start over clayton.

well that indicates another problem. if clayton isnt better than hyder than we shouldn't expect much of a shooting/ scoring pop when clayton returns

calumnus said:

HoopDreams said:

calumnus said:

Celestine would start, but Hyder was "projected as a starter"? I think that is embellishing Mr Fox.
I think he said with celestine and clayton out, Hyder would be a starter.
considering Hyder's shooting, Fox might be right.

if Hyder was healthy wouldn't you start him at the 2 also?


Read it again:

Here's how a decidedly subdued Fox put the injury situation: "Celestine and Hyder projected as starters. Not having them has hurt us offensively. That's been a challenge for us.

"Hyder's injury when we knew we wouldn't have Celestine early, his ability to handle the ball and score was important to our team and we don't have that. Offensively, we've really struggled and we are having to reinvent how we are playing because we essentially have two guards who are trying to manage everything."
socaltownie
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You can just see how he is setting things up to get another year. Any realistic appraisal would be that we wouldn't be this awful but we would still have #10 or lower talent. The guys who report on the pac12 and get paid for it pegged it this year and last.
Take care of your Chicken
BC Calfan
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Complain, Blame, Invest & Attack.
-Mark Fox Basketball
calumnus
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HoopDreams said:

you're right. he thought hyder would start over clayton.

well that indicates another problem. if clayton isnt better than hyder than we shouldn't expect much of a shooting/ scoring pop when clayton returns

calumnus said:

HoopDreams said:

calumnus said:

Celestine would start, but Hyder was "projected as a starter"? I think that is embellishing Mr Fox.
I think he said with celestine and clayton out, Hyder would be a starter.
considering Hyder's shooting, Fox might be right.

if Hyder was healthy wouldn't you start him at the 2 also?


Read it again:

Here's how a decidedly subdued Fox put the injury situation: "Celestine and Hyder projected as starters. Not having them has hurt us offensively. That's been a challenge for us.

"Hyder's injury when we knew we wouldn't have Celestine early, his ability to handle the ball and score was important to our team and we don't have that. Offensively, we've really struggled and we are having to reinvent how we are playing because we essentially have two guards who are trying to manage everything."



He thought Hyder would start over Clayton and Askew? Or over Brown?

If you believe what he is saying he intended to start Brown, Hyder, Askew, and Celestine with Lars because he also talks about how much better Askew would be if he was on the floor with Brown and Hyder.

But I don't believe him.
KoreAmBear
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KenBurnski said:

He's so brave to ask the fives of Cal fans on social media to take out their frustrations on him and not his players. Lol way ahead of you buddy. Nobody is badmouthing the players. Everyone is bashing him and Knowlton.
LOL he is so trying to hang on to get his buyout.
calumnus
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socaltownie said:

You can just see how he is setting things up to get another year. Any realistic appraisal would be that we wouldn't be this awful but we would still have #10 or lower talent. The guys who report on the pac12 and get paid for it pegged it this year and last.


#10 or lower if compared to last year's PAC-12. OSU and Utah are improved. Even with those guys available, we are not improved from last year. Haven't seen Clayton yet, but clearly we miss Kelly and Shepherd, and Bradley from the year before, not that those teams were good.

HoopDreams
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calumnus said:

HoopDreams said:

you're right. he thought hyder would start over clayton.

well that indicates another problem. if clayton isnt better than hyder than we shouldn't expect much of a shooting/ scoring pop when clayton returns

calumnus said:

HoopDreams said:

calumnus said:

Celestine would start, but Hyder was "projected as a starter"? I think that is embellishing Mr Fox.
I think he said with celestine and clayton out, Hyder would be a starter.
considering Hyder's shooting, Fox might be right.

if Hyder was healthy wouldn't you start him at the 2 also?


Read it again:

Here's how a decidedly subdued Fox put the injury situation: "Celestine and Hyder projected as starters. Not having them has hurt us offensively. That's been a challenge for us.

"Hyder's injury when we knew we wouldn't have Celestine early, his ability to handle the ball and score was important to our team and we don't have that. Offensively, we've really struggled and we are having to reinvent how we are playing because we essentially have two guards who are trying to manage everything."



He thought Hyder would start over Clayton and Askew? Or over Brown?

If you believe what he is saying he intended to start Brown, Hyder, Askew, and Celestine with Lars because he also talks about how much better Askew would be if he was on the floor with Brown and Hyder.

But I don't believe him.
Celestine at the 2 would have been a starter as our best returning player.
Askew at the 1 and Lars at the 5 were also clear starters

that leaves the 3 and 4 being probably 2K and either Sam or Nowell depending on match ups.

But with Celestine out, I think what he was saying is Hyder would start at the 2. My point, is I expected Clayton to start at the 2 (or Clayton would start at the 1 with Askew starting at 2)

but Fox said Hyder would start over Clayton which surprised me given how little offensive production Hyder has had since he's been here.



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