(The "nicknames" used here have been adopted by CyberBear readers who make posts on our discussion boards under those names)
I just got home from the Men's Basketball Banquet, and was quite
impressed...good food, Haas really looked great (it's far more intimate
looking from the floor than from row 33). I sat next to a table with some
cheerleaders who looked even better than at Haas games (quite an upgrade from
my childhood in Berkeley...they were attractive, classy and seemed like
First, I'm really going to miss Dennis Gates. He got about three standing ovations during the evening, and when asked what was next for him, he said, "I told Coach to have his office cleaned out by Monday." He's a model for everything that's right with Cal Basketball.
Second, Gabe Hughes (notably absent) was voted Most Improved Player, which makes it so confusing as to why he'd want to transfer. Coach Braun said that we should look for Donte Smith, Erik Bond and Connor Famulener to step up big next year. As for Gabe, he said that we should all respect his decision, even if we don't agree with it, and that we should focus on those players who wanted to be at Cal, and not those who don't.
Third, our All-Academic dominance is safe even with the departure of Dennis Gates and Ryan Forehan-Kelly (who Braun said got robbed...he had the 3.0 plus but didn't make it). Apparently Erik Bond (an intended business/econ major) is sporting a 3.6 and Amit Tamir has a 3.4 (also wants to be a business major). Add Donte Smith and we should dominate again next year.
Fourth, Ben Braun didn't seemed concerned about all the turmoil...he said recruiting was going great (although he couldn't comment in detail).
All in all, it was a great night and it was great to get to shake Dennis Gates' hand after 4 years of watching him play. Things are looking up for Cal Basketball, and don't let anyone tell you differently.
"moraga bear" says:
I also was at the banquet. Many Cal supporters that sometimes tend to be negative were quite impressed by Ben Braun's optimism about both recruiting and advancing much further in the NCAA's next year..... We can worry and analyze all we want, but Ben is the one who knows and he is not worried. Ben particularly mentioned what Donte Smith means to the team and what he can do for us next year.
Finally, for those that do not attend these award banquets, you are missing something special. Events such as this personalize Cal basketball so much and add so much to our appreciation of what goes on. I don't claim to be an expert, but I hope this is helpful to all of you. Cal Basketball is something that is great to be a part of, and a number of comments during the pre-dinner conversation suggest a lot of positive things for Football this Fall as well...
This was a first class production. I've been to a number of basketball
banquets over the years, and this one was really top notch. There was an
excellent turn out. The players and coaches were quite friendly and available
for autographs and photos at the social hour before the banquet got underway.
The entire floor of Haas was covered with tables. The big screens were lowered
and the whole event, including a highlight film was shown.
The most positive aspect of the evening was Braun. He came right out and talked about the (players who have left the team), as well as next year's team and the challenge to the seniors and the guys he expects to step up. He says this is not a time to be down about Cal basketball - it is a time to celebrate... Braun says the program is in great shape and recruiting is going very well. He said several recruits are visiting this weekend. He said they will start arriving at 7:00 am Friday. He made the point a couple times that we need to forget those would have left the program and concentrate on the guys who want to be Cal basketball players.
For those of you interested in next year's schedule, Braun confirmed Kansas in the Newell Classic, Georgia in the Wooden Classic, Providence in the Golden Bear Classic, and road games against New Mexico and Fresno State.
Joe Shipp got MVP. Dennis Gates and AJ Diggs were named co-defensive players of the year. Most Inspirational was Solomon Hughes.
Man, we need to hire Dennis Gates as an assistant coach or graduate assistant or something. What a classy guy and great leader. Braun admitted to taking some of Dennis' suggestions when they were off camera - he really praised Dennis and Ryan.
My overall view is that if Braun is able to maintain Kennedy Winston's commitment, and brings in a big guy or two, things will be just fine. As Braun pointed out, this is a very talented team that plays together and without "stars". He took exception to the notion that this team "over-achieves" as he likes his returning players very much. He likes the future of Cal Basketball - and that alone is good reason for us to feel the same way.
And "Theta Bear" adds:
Can I just tell you all how hot Joe Shipp is? I can't ever shower again
because he hugged me ;)