Cal Men's Basketball
Cal head coach Wyking Jones was officially announced Wednesday morning, as the interim tag came off and Jones became the 17th basketball coach in Cal's history. Mike Williams introduced Jones at the press conference held in the club room at Haas Pavilion.
- Williams noted that there wasn't a search firm, that they contacted several NBA and College coaches, along with basketball alums to conduct the search, and at the end, they felt Wyking had the best vision for the future out of who they talked to
- Williams noted that Jones was the only coach that they had put an offer out to
- Jones told a story about being recruited by Cal when Lou Campanelli was the head coach, and his official visit being cancelled because Monty Buckley had committed and taken the open scholarship that they had
- Jones noted his past experience playing and coaching under a number of successful coaches, notably Paul Westphal, Steve Alford, and Rick Pitino. He feels that he's taken a lot from Pitino
- Most notably from this presser were his beliefs on what he wants to run as far as offensively and defensively. Jones plans on pressing and trapping more, a la Pitino and what's been successful this past year with West Virginia, and from that turning turnovers into points, letting the offense transition into the defense. There also may be a transition to a matchup zone.
- He also noted that in order to do this, their conditioning was going to have to improve, which he plans on working on.
- As noted an hour before the press conference, Jones noted the promotion of Tim O'Toole to associate head coach, noting that O'Toole is one of the most intense coaches he's been around. After observing a couple practices this year, that might be an understatement
- Wyking also said that the staff would be hired within the next two weeks
- Jones noted the happiness of the players at him being hired, telling a story about Kingsley Okoroh talking so fast in his British accent that Jones could not understand what he was saying.
Jones certainly has a pedigree of coaching under successful coaches in Alford and Pitino, and he thanked Cuonzo Martin for putting the blueprint in place for him to be successful. That being said, he's going to differ from Cuonzo and aim more toward a Pitino style defense.
That Pitino style defense is predicated on conditioning, as Jones alluded to, and it's a defense that feeds off its own success. For as good as Martin's defense was at Cal, and it was excellent by any number of statistical measurements, it did not force turnovers at a high rate. It wasn't laid back, but the tight man concept didn't translate into transition opportunities that often due to forcing teams into longer possessions. It works when you can run solid half-court sets, but Cal didn't do that last season. Playing in transition allows for a guy like Charlie Moore to get loose and play to his strength, which is speed.
Like Jones said in the press conference, this kind of defense to offense transition is appealing to a lot of people, as it can be a positive feedback loop. Success of one builds on success of the other. For a rough blueprint, look at what Bakersfield did to Cal in the first half of their NIT matchup. Press the opponent, especially guys who may be more inexperienced, force turnovers, get hot from the floor, and open up an insurmountable lead. That's what they're looking for. Recruits like Juhwan Harris-Dyson are going to be big pieces in making a swarming press/trapping defense a reality.
For now, Jones said he'd steal a bit of philosophy from every coach he's worked under, and that he's known that he wanted to be a head coach since his time at Pepperdine. He said all the right things at the press conference, but now it's about finishing the recruiting class (with three scholarships to fill) and finishing the coaching staff.