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Cal Basketball

The Genuine Excitement for Mark Madsen and What He'll Need to Win at Cal

March 30, 2023
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Before we get into his resume, let’s focus on Mark Madsen the person. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone as widely respected by his former playing peers and his current coaching peers as Coach Madsen. The word “genuine” gets thrown around a lot, though you rarely see it as universally applied as it is when people are asked about Mark. That attribute has allowed him to quickly connect with his players and potential recruits as he’s built on the success Mark Pope established at Utah Valley State before him.

Perhaps more importantly for Cal, Madsen brings a unique energy level and the type of indefatigable passion that will almost certainly be required to turn around the fortunes of the Bear’s basketball program.  In contrast to the quiet, thoughtfulness of outgoing Coach Mark Fox, Madsen is a true extrovert whose personality can fill a room.   He appears to have the type of creative, can-do attitude that is essential in navigating Berkeley’s unique challenges.

A commanding presence at 6’9, with an understated confidence that belies his NBA playing resume, Madsen has all the ingredients necessary to rebuild and rejuvenate a sagging program and fan base.   While it may take him time to build relationships, he seems both undaunted and well-equipped to create lasting and meaningful connections with key donors.  

While former NBA players have not had much success as Power 5 coaches, Madsen took a longer and far more unique path than the most recent NBA to College Head Coaching hires.  He did a true apprenticeship as a coach, first in a brief stint as an assistant in the NBA’s D League and then at Stanford under Johnny Dawkins before becoming a Head Coach in the D League and then a six-year run as an assistant for the Los Angeles Lakers under Byron Scott and Luke Walton.   Utah Valley State then hired him in 2019 where he had to rebuild the roster before producing two WAC titles in the last three years.

Madsen has won and won big as a player in both college and the NBA.   His coaching tenures at Stanford and the Lakers were less successful with the staffs he was a part of but not unduly so before he arrived at Utah Valley.   He’s young and early enough in his coaching career to be hungry and ambitious yet with the confidence and network of relationships that emanate from his long playing and coaching career to date. Also, don’t sleep on the value of his relationships with former NBA stars, which speaks to an ability to likely connect with former Cal stars such as Ivan Rabb, Jaylen Brown, Tyrone Wallace, as well as Jason Kidd and Shareef Abdur-Rahim.   Bringing former players back into the Cal tent will be essential to turning the program around and Madsen has the background to do just that.  

The numerous testimonials on Madsen’s behalf speak of a coach on the rise with a lot to bring to the table to help resuscitate Cal’s struggling program.

"Mark is one of the hardest working, most knowledgeable coaches I have ever had the pleasure of working with. His attention to detail, his passion for the game and his ability to teach have led him to have great success as a coach. On top of that, he’s a great man, great friend, and parents will be lucky to have him help lead their kids.” – Luke Walton, Three-time NBA champion and former NBA head coach

“Mark was not just my teammate but my friend. I’m excited to witness all of his success both playing and coaching the game. Mark’s love for basketball is over the top; his willingness to learn the game from coaches and teammates throughout his career has set him up to be a great coach. I’m excited to see what this next chapter brings him.” – Robert Horry, Seven-time NBA champion

Madsen did well in the transfer portal at Utah Valley and has a solid understanding of how NIL will impact recruiting.   He comes to Cal with a clear plan in place for a roster rebuild.  He’s identified players on the current roster (and incoming recruiting class) that he’d like to retain and he has very specific and clear ideas on players he’d like to add.

That will require significant NIL money.   And the efforts to raise that are already underway with Coach Madsen taking an aggressive approach to outreach in sharp contrast to the Bears’ former leader.   Initial reports from donors are positive though optimism should be muted given that the

transfer portal has been open for over a week and the timeline to raise those funds is very short.

Madsen still has things to prove.  He’s never had the opportunity to recruit at the Power 5 level, which requires swimming in a different pool of players and handling egos and competition unlike what’s seen at the low and mid-major levels.   He’s not been involved in a turnaround before nor seen the combination of admissions and bureaucratic challenges unique to Berkeley.   And most importantly in the near term, he doesn’t arrive following a process that united the Cal donor and player alumni base.   Yet, there are plenty of reasons to believe he’s up for the challenge on all of the above.  

Keep an eye on how he pulls his staff together.   John Montgomery looms as a possibility given his father’s involvement in Madsen’s selection and their long-standing relationship.   Should Mark choose to add John to the staff, it won’t be without plenty of second-guessing and adding salt to the wounds of what was a less-than-ideal selection process.  We sense that he will go in a different direction.   Some lead assistant candidates include former P5 head coaches, and for the junior assistant role, a former Cal great has been mentioned.   Mark has a strong relationship with one of the leading transfer portal/NIl recruiting gurus who will likely take the third chair.  

Ideally, Madsen will add someone who knows what life looks like inside a Power 5 program and can provide an additional layer of experience to the staff.  The other two assistants need to be top-flight recruiters and the addition of a former Cal player gives him the ability to sell recruits on what Haas Pavilion was like for much of its first 20 years of existence - loud and full.  

A practice facility becomes a lower priority behind NIL fundraising, the building of a staff, and the rebuilding of the roster.  The hiring process will significantly slow down or cause there to be a re-boot on the fundraising side though again Madsen’s engaging personality and clear vision for the program will likely generate momentum in the medium term (e.g. After a first season where he demonstrates significant progress for the program on and off the court).  

While the selection process was less than ideal, the end result was a positive one.  Cal has found a capable and promising younger Head Coach who brings a strong resume and an even stronger personality to Berkeley.  

Related:

Mark Madsen Named Cal Men's Basketball Head Coach

Discussion from...

The Genuine Excitement for Mark Madsen and What He'll Need to Win at Cal

7,049 Views | 29 Replies | Last: 6 mo ago by 82gradDLSdad
Civil Bear
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Thanks for the report Greg.

"...and for the junior assistant role, a former Cal great has been mentioned."

Mentioned by Madsen? Any hints?
parentswerebears
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Don't know who, but feel like it's Randle.
JimSox
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Civil Bear said:

Thanks for the report Greg.

"...and for the junior assistant role, a former Cal great has been mentioned."

Mentioned by Madsen? Any hints?


Randle?
85Bear
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Jerome Randle.
BearGreg
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Staff
I won't mention a name but there's a name that has been mentioned from time to time and that's Theo Robertson.

That one feels unlikely to me. He was let go by the Warriors after being let go by Cal and is now doing free lance work for the Pac 12 and some work for Cal at the Big C Society.

It just doesn't feel like he's an obvious career coach at this point.
parentswerebears
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I mean, he did express interest the other day and I'm thinking that didn't just come out of the blue (and gold).
UrsineMaximus
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What is this??

"Some lead assistant candidates include former P5 head coaches, and for the junior assistant role, a former Cal great has been mentioned. Mark has a strong relationship with one of the leading transfer portal/NIl recruiting gurus who will likely take the third chair."

Is there a reason why a journalist can not write specific names? Isn't that what journalist do?
85Bear
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Timing certainly feels right for it being Jerome seeing as he just retired from his long playing career. Another possibility is Brian Wethers, who has been head coach at his H.S. alma mater for several years.
bluehenbear
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What's Sean Lampley doing these days?
calumnus
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Good article. Given that it was Knowlton, we could have ended up with far worse. At least he is a good person and a good coach with youthful energy who will work hard and be entertaining. Next we will see what kind of staff and roster he puts together. Go Bears!
GerryLopezBear
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Is there a press conference open to public at Haas on Monday?

Does anyone know the NIL budget or money received for the bottom 32 teams in the tournament?

How bout for San Diego State or UCF?

Utah? Oregon State? Arizona State?

I am just wondering how big the number needs to be competitive ? It is mentioned here that it is major obstacle to raise this money? My question is in comparison to who?

I need to get educated to help the new bball Bears!

Go Mad Dog Go!!
dimitrig
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GerryLopezBear said:

Is there a press conference open to public at Haas on Monday?

Does anyone know the NIL budget or money received for the bottom 32 teams in the tournament?

How bout for San Diego State or UCF?

Utah? Oregon State? Arizona State?

I am just wondering how big the number needs to be competitive ? It is mentioned here that it is major obstacle to raise this money? My question is in comparison to who?

I need to get educated to help the new bball Bears!

Go Mad Dog Go!!


This may give you an idea:

https://www.on3.com/nil/rankings/player/college/basketball/
Basketball Bear
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I'm going all in with "Mad Dog" and will support him 100%. Everything I'm hearing and reading sounds like this is the right choice for him and our program at this time. I love his energy! Truly excited for us and the program. Cant wait for the press conference.

GO BEARS!
PappysBoy
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Randall maybe?
calfanz
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85Bear said:

Timing certainly feels right for it being Jerome seeing as he just retired from his long playing career. Another possibility is Brian Wethers, who has been head coach at his H.S. alma mater for several years.
Brian's also hooked into the SoCal high school hoops scene, and mentors the top players.

I bet he would love a phone call from Coach Madsen.
calumnus
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calfanz said:

85Bear said:

Timing certainly feels right for it being Jerome seeing as he just retired from his long playing career. Another possibility is Brian Wethers, who has been head coach at his H.S. alma mater for several years.
Brian's also hooked into the SoCal high school hoops scene, and mentors the top players.

I bet he would love a phone call from Coach Madsen.


The Cal guys who went up against Madsen and Stanford were Gray, Gonzalez, Duck, Grigsby, Stewart, Lampley, Gates, Legans, Wethers, Shipp… Cal was 1-7 against Stanford during his time, with the only loss at Harmon his freshman year (1996-97) when he was a reserve. I think he was 6-0 against Cal as a starter.
Econ141
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calumnus said:

calfanz said:

85Bear said:

Timing certainly feels right for it being Jerome seeing as he just retired from his long playing career. Another possibility is Brian Wethers, who has been head coach at his H.S. alma mater for several years.
Brian's also hooked into the SoCal high school hoops scene, and mentors the top players.

I bet he would love a phone call from Coach Madsen.


The Cal guys who went up against Madsen and Stanford were Gray, Gonzalez, Duck, Grigsby, Stewart, Lampley, Gates, Legans, Wethers, Shipp… Cal was 1-7 against Stanford during his time, with the only loss at Harmon his freshman year (1996-97) when he was a reserve. I think he was 6-0 against Cal as a starter.


*******! ... J/k
mdbear
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I will admit that Madsen was not my first or second choice because he has no track record of turning a losing program into a winner. That said, I will now support him 100%. It is time for Bear fans to stop questioning the process and rally around the new coach. Maybe Cal will be the first program that Madsen turns around!
Cal Strong!
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Cal Strong thinks Mark Madsen a very strong hire, except for the fact that he is a furd. But Cal Strong have a three step to plan to fix this:

  • Shareef Abdur-Rahim supervises Coach Madsen running stadium steps until he pukes.
  • Oski supervises him doing bear crawls on the floor of Haas. Every time coach makes it back to the baseline, he kisses Oski's feet.
  • Big bonfire. Coach Madsen throws all his red clothes into the fire.

This will make Cal Strong a big fan. It will also be a media hit, and help with recruiting and NIL money.
GranadaHillsBear
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It still feels weird to have a former Stanford player coaching us just as it was wild to have Mike Montgomery. That said if all the former Furd players, Madsen was one of my favorites.
philbert
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CaliforniaEternal
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I have a confession to make which is related to Mad Dog. He is one of the main reasons I bought and wore a furd t-shirt in high school. This was around 98 or 99 when I was a freshman. I bought the shirt at a foot locker at a mall in Albuquerque which shows how national their brand went after Mad Dog helped take the team to the final four. They had a few shirt options like Kentucky and Duke but I chose furd because it seemed cool at the time that such a prestigious school had basketball success.

Mad Dog's hiring brought back this repressed memory. I feel dirty thinking about the whole thing. I even went on a school tour there later on but the whole time I kept thinking about how boring the place was and would never want to be stuck there for 4 years. Luckily, after I decided on Cal I happily discarded that shirt and haven't given it any thought since.

This hire has brought back some excitement to Cal basketball for the first time in ages and I can't wait to see how the team unfolds.

79 Bear
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Good of you to confess, but now you need to follow Cal Strong's purification process:

  • Get a current or former Cal MBB or WBB player to supervise you running stadium steps until you puke.
  • Oski supervises you doing Bear crawls on the floor of Haas. Every time you make it back to the baseline, you kiss Oski's feet.
  • Big bonfire where you throw all of your red clothes into the fire.

Extra Credit: Head over to Kip's after all of the above and sing the Cal Drinking Song while buying the house a round or two. Should you choose to accept this extra assignment let all BI posters know when this will happen.
Go Bears!
calumnus
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GranadaHillsBear said:

It still feels weird to have a former Stanford player coaching us just as it was wild to have Mike Montgomery. That said if all the former Furd players, Madsen was one of my favorites.


Madsen was a proto-typical Stanford guy, but not the really obnoxious type. He was always nerdy and such a doofus (but a really effective basketball player who killed us on the court). When he was "dancing" on stage at that Lakers rally, unable to stay on beat (and Shaq rapping to Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, It Takes Two, one of the greatest house beats of all time) I laughed so hard, it was straight from a Stanford party up on stage for millions to see and he was clueless how geeky and uncool he was. But it is kind of endearing too. I have known quite a few very nerdy people in my life, they are some of my best friends (and a couple did go to Stanford)..

However, the overwhelming nerdiness at Stanford (really hit me on a school tour after I was admitted) is why I chose Cal. I thought the people at Cal were as smart, but cooler (we knew how to dance) and more worldly, and A LOT more cute girls.

As Richard said, at least we didn't hire Casey Jacobsen. There is nothing to dislike in Madsen. I still think he is mot a good fit, but Madsen will be entertaining. We can root for him.
CaliforniaEternal
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I'm actually going to stop by Haas in the next few weeks to see if Mr. Madsen is in his office. If he is there I will join in any penance he has been ordered to do.
79 Bear
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calumnus said:

GranadaHillsBear said:

It still feels weird to have a former Stanford player coaching us just as it was wild to have Mike Montgomery. That said if all the former Furd players, Madsen was one of my favorites.


Madsen was a proto-typical Stanford guy, but not the really obnoxious type. He was always nerdy and such a doofus (but a really effective basketball player who killed us on the court). When he was "dancing" on stage at that Lakers rally, unable to stay on beat (and Shaq rapping to Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, It Takes Two, one of the greatest house beats of all time) I laughed so hard, it was straight from a Stanford party up on stage for millions to see and he was clueless how geeky and uncool he was. But it is kind of endearing too. I have known quite a few very nerdy people in my life, they are some of my best friends (and a couple did go to Stanford)..

However, the overwhelming nerdiness at Stanford (really hit me on a school tour after I was admitted) is why I chose Cal. I thought the people at Cal were as smart, but cooler (we knew how to dance) and more worldly, and A LOT more cute girls.

As Richard said, at least we didn't hire Casey Jacobsen. There is nothing to dislike in Madsen. I still think he is mot a good fit, but Madsen will be entertaining. We can root for him.


Are you sure he wasn't doing something like his version of "the Carlton" or "the Elaine" (I.e. a practiced, intentionally nerdy or awkward looking dance)? Whether or not, his teammates seem to have enjoyed it. I hope we see him dancing a lot next season.
calumnus
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79 Bear said:

calumnus said:

GranadaHillsBear said:

It still feels weird to have a former Stanford player coaching us just as it was wild to have Mike Montgomery. That said if all the former Furd players, Madsen was one of my favorites.


Madsen was a proto-typical Stanford guy, but not the really obnoxious type. He was always nerdy and such a doofus (but a really effective basketball player who killed us on the court). When he was "dancing" on stage at that Lakers rally, unable to stay on beat (and Shaq rapping to Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, It Takes Two, one of the greatest house beats of all time) I laughed so hard, it was straight from a Stanford party up on stage for millions to see and he was clueless how geeky and uncool he was. But it is kind of endearing too. I have known quite a few very nerdy people in my life, they are some of my best friends (and a couple did go to Stanford)..

However, the overwhelming nerdiness at Stanford (really hit me on a school tour after I was admitted) is why I chose Cal. I thought the people at Cal were as smart, but cooler (we knew how to dance) and more worldly, and A LOT more cute girls.

As Richard said, at least we didn't hire Casey Jacobsen. There is nothing to dislike in Madsen. I still think he is mot a good fit, but Madsen will be entertaining. We can root for him.


Are you sure he wasn't doing something like his version of "the Carlton" or "the Elaine" (I.e. a practiced, intentionally nerdy or awkward looking dance)? Whether or not, his teammates seem to have enjoyed it. I hope we see him dancing a lot next season.


https://www.facebook.com/ESPNLA/videos/266781917875774/?mibextid=rS40aB7S9Ucbxw6v
oskidunker
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When Mike Montgomery took the Cal job Madsen said , I can't believe he went there. Kind of funny but I don't hold it against him.
Go Bears!
82gradDLSdad
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Love this.
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