Cal drops heartbreaker to UNLV

montgomery_mike_hands_above_head_disbelief.jpg

Cal drops heartbreaker to UNLV

BERKELEY -- Less than two seconds were on the clock when the ball took flight with Cal clinging to a one-point lead.

"I saw it was going to be an air ball," said UNLV senior forward Quintrell Thomas, "so I just tried to go get it as fast as I could."

Indeed, Anthony Marshall's shot was short and an entire Haas Pavilion held its collective breath.

"I should have went out and got that rebound," said Cal junior forward Richard Solomon. "I was boxing out and I should have went for it. We have to be more physical on the defensive end. We have to get the ball out of the air."

Instead, Thomas plucked the ball and went up immediately, laying it on off the glass for the go-ahead basket…and Solomon was called for the foul. The air went out of the announced gathering of 8,724.

"I saw the guy was in his face so I assumed that if it was going anywhere, it was going short," Thomas added. "I was surprised I beat the…clock, though."

There was 1.2 seconds left to play and Thomas wisely missed the free throw, eating up half of one second by the time Cal rebounded the miss, so by the time the Golden Bears could inbound there was .7 of one second to play. Ballgame. After 13 ties and seven lead changes.

"Sometimes you've just got to escape, and that's what we came out here and did. Of course, it was a big one for us."

No. 21-ranked UNLV 76, Cal 75.

"Found a way," said Runnin' Rebels coach Dave Rice. "Sometimes, basketball just comes down to one play, period. We were fortunate, but at the same time we made our luck and we were at the right spot at the right time."

For UNLV (7-1), it was gut-check time, considering the Rebels lost preseason All-American junior forward Mike Moser to a dislocated right elbow in a scrum for a loose ball less than five minutes into the game.

Forward Anthony Bennett, who might be the best freshman in the country and who flashes 21-year-old glimpses of former UNLV Wooden Award winner Larry Johnson, stepped up with a double-double of 25 points and 13 rebounds in 35 minutes. His baseline dunk late in the game shook the rafters and harkened not only L.J. of old but a more recent vintage of Blake Griffin.

"He's pretty good, 25 and 13 speaks for itself," Solomon said. "We could have done a better job on him. He made a lot of plays by out-hustling us, and he was more physical."

Bennett was complimentary of Solomon was well after he tied a career high with 14 points and added eight rebounds. Solomon, though, missed all four of his free-throw attempts.

"He's real nice," Bennett said of Solomon. "He has nice post moves, has a great shot. He's a real nice player."

UNLV sophomore guard Bryce Dejean-Jones, meanwhile, added a career-high 22 points, including a pair of rally-stemming three-pointers.

For Cal (6-2), it was a learning experience. Had the Bears beaten the Rebels, Cal would have made a push toward the rankings.

Instead…

Cal was just 15 of 28 from the free-throw line and, at one point, was a backbreaking 3-14.

"We got to the line and didn't get anything out of it," said Cal coach Mike Montgomery. "That's hard psychologically. Free throws killed us. We just missed free throws and we can't afford to do it in a game like that."

Nor could they afford three fouls on leading scorer Allen Crabbe in the first half. Crabbe, who finished with a Cal-high 18 points, did not play the final 6:49 of the first half after picking up foul No. 3 on a flagrant 1 for throwing an elbow at Marshall's head.

The game was tied at 28-28 at the time and UNLV closed the first half on a 17-10 run with Crabbe on the bench.

"He flopped," Crabbe said. "I didn't even touch him. If I did it wasn't much. He came up into me and I tried to swing around and he was right there. I feel like it was a bad call but I can't do anything about it now."

Rather, Crabbe carried the Bears in the second half. His free throw with 38.9 seconds to go gave Cal a brief 73-72 lead.

Then came Bennett's monster dunk before junior guard Justin Cobbs drove to the hole, stopped in the key, fired up a shot that missed and was fouled by Marshall with 11.4 seconds to play.

Cobbs drained both and Cal had a fleeting lead. All of which set up the final, harried play with Marshall bringing the ball up court and shooting short from the key. Enter Thomas, who could not remember what play was actually called.

"We didn't run the play, that's for sure," said Thomas, who had all of four points, but six rebounds. "But it ended up working out fine."

At least, it did for UNLV.

"One of our Achilles' heel is giving up offensive rebounds," Montgomery said. "We're not reacting all the time. Defensively we got what we wanted. We got an air ball, in fact.

"Either we fell asleep or we were mismatched."

Said Crabbe: "It hurts because we had made a big defensive play and we were right there. There were so many other things that could have happened. It was a perfect day to show what we could do and it came down to one play."

It just went the other way.

Cal promotes Wyking Jones as next head men's basketball coach

wyking.jpg
Twitter/Calmensbball

Cal promotes Wyking Jones as next head men's basketball coach

BERKELEY – Wyking Jones, who has served the past two seasons as a Golden Bear assistant coach and has nearly 15 years of experience in collegiate coaching, has agreed to become the next men's basketball coach at the University of California. Over the course of his career, he has been a part of teams that have won a national championship and advanced to a pair of Final Fours, set all-time win records and been conference-leading defensive units.

"I am very excited to announce Wyking Jones as our next men's basketball coach at Cal," Director of Athletics Mike Williams said. "We conducted a thorough search, looking near and far and talking to people all around the country. We consulted with several Cal basketball alumni, as well as a multiple NBA and college coaches – some of the most experienced basketball minds in the game. Ultimately, we came back to where we started and found what we wanted right here in Berkeley.

"Wyking exudes all of the characteristics we want in a head coach," Williams added. "He is a person of high character who understands what it takes to thrive on and off the court. He has an affinity for Cal and its values, he has developed strong relationships with the student-athletes he coaches, and he has experienced success at the highest levels of the sport. Over the two years he has been in Berkeley, we have seen without a doubt that Wyking can coach, teach and be a leader of young men. We fully believe our men's basketball program is on an upward trajectory, and Wyking is poised to continue that momentum and take our program to even greater heights."

A California native who grew up in Inglewood, Jones played for and graduated from Loyola Marymount. Following a brief professional career, his coaching stops have taken him to Louisville, New Mexico and Pepperdine, in addition to his alma mater. Jones has mentored over a half-dozen current NBA players, including Cal's Jaylen Brown, who was the No. 3 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.

While an assistant coach at Cal, Jones helped the Bears to a combined 44-24 record and reach the postseason twice. In 2015-16, Cal finished 23-11 overall, third in the Pac-12 and received a No. 4 seed to the NCAA Tournament – the highest in the history of the program. This past year, the Bears posted a 21-13 mark and earned a berth to the National Invitation Tournament.

Charged with coaching Cal's big men, Jones helped forward Ivan Rabb become a two-time All-Pac-12 performer and Brown earn All-Pac-12 and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors in 2015-16. In addition, center Kingsley Okoroh, who will return for his senior season next year, set a school record with 74 blocks this past season.

Over his two years at Cal, the Bears' defense has led the Pac-12 in points per game and field goal percentage allowed both seasons – 67.3 ppg and 39.6 percent in 2015-16 and 63.4 ppg and 40.0 percent in 2016-17.

Jones' connections to the Bay Area run deep as his wife Estrella was born and raised in Berkeley and his sister-in-law, Dr. Na'ilah Suad Nasir, serves as UC Berkeley's Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion and has been a Cal faculty member since 2008.

"I am extremely excited to be taking over at Cal as the new men's basketball head coach," Jones said. "To be able to lead this incredible group of men is a dream come true for me. When I left Louisville and decided to come home to California, I was stepping out on faith, but I knew in my heart this was where I needed to be. Coach Martin left an unbelievable foundation for the program and we will work hard to continue to elevate Cal basketball. I want fans to know that I'm excited to coach these guys, not only for what they can do on the court but to continue to cultivate them as young men."

Jones enjoyed tremendous success at his stops prior to moving to Cal. During his four seasons under head coach Rick Pitino at Louisville from 2012-15, the Cardinals compiled a 123-30 record, reached two Final Fours and captured the 2013 NCAA title. Louisville also completed the 2014-15 season with a 27-9 record, advancing to the regional final.

Prior to Louisville, Jones served two seasons on the coaching staff at New Mexico with then-head coach Steve Alford where the Lobos won a combined 52 games, including a school-record 30-victory campaign in 2009-10, finishing with a No. 8 ranking in the Associated Press national poll.

From 2002-06, Jones spent five seasons at Pepperdine where he was the Waves' recruiting coordinator. He got his start in coaching at his alma mater, Loyola Marymount, during the 1996-97 season. In addition, Jones served as the travel team manager for the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) from 2006-09.

As a student-athlete, Jones was a standout at LMU from 1991-95 under head coach John Olive, scoring 1,076 points and collecting 493 rebounds. He was a two-time All-West Coast Conference selection, highlighted by a 19.7 ppg average as a junior. Jones earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from Loyola Marymount in 1995.

Following graduation, Jones played professional basketball from 1995-2001 in Italy, France, Japan, Lebanon and South Korea. He also served on the staff at Nike Elite Youth Basketball four two years from 2007-08. Jones and his wife, Estrella, have a son, Jameel and a daughter, Zoe.

What They're Saying …

"I'm ecstatic about the news. Coach Wyking is great with the players, knows his spots and gives us the confidence to go out there without looking over our shoulders." – freshman guard Charlie Moore

"I was recruited by Coach Wyking when I was first looking at schools. We were two California guys in Kentucky who started out as rivals but remained close. I saw him being able to do great things, and to start his head coaching career with him as my head coach is the best thing I could picture happening. Having him as my head coach now is one of the best things I could ever see." – senior forward Marcus Lee

"Wyking is a five-star recruiter, a five-star coach and a five-star person. I'm so happy for him and his family." – Louisville head coach Rick Pitino

Wyking Jones Year-by-Year

Fulltime Assistant Coach

Year     School Record Postseason

2016-17          California         21-13  NIT (1st round)

2015-16          California         23-11  NCAA (1st round)

2014-15          Louisville          27-9    NCAA (Elite Eight)

2013-14          Louisville          31-6    NCAA (Sweet 16)

2012-13          Louisville          35-5    NCAA (Champion)

2011-12          Louisville          30-10  NCAA (Final Four)

2010-11          New Mexico     22-13  NIT (2nd round)

2009-10          New Mexico     30-5    NCAA (2nd round)

Cal media services

Ex-Warriors, Kings coach withdrawns from consideration for Cal job

eric-musselman-nevada-championship-ap.jpg
AP

Ex-Warriors, Kings coach withdrawns from consideration for Cal job

BERKELEY — Nevada coach Eric Musselman said Wednesday he has withdrawn his name for consideration for the coaching vacancy at California, committed to continuing to build the Wolf Pack program after the school's first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007 in his second season.

Musselman's team captured the Mountain West Conference regular-season crown and tournament title, a program first. The Wolf Pack lost in the first round of the NCAAs to fifth-seeded Iowa State last week as a No. 12 seed to finish 28-7. While he originally signed a five-year contract through the 2019-20 season, Musselman is working to finalize a new five-year deal that would keep at the school for the long haul.

"My family and I are so excited about Nevada," he said in a text message to The Associated Press. "I love our players and the bond we have created as a team and on campus and in the community."

The 52-year-old Musselman interviewed in Berkeley for the Cal opening to replace Cuonzo Martin, who resigned from the Golden Bears last Wednesday and was named Missouri's new coach the same day. Martin was formally introduced Monday.

Cal is not announcing the names of anyone brought in to interview for the head coaching vacancy.