The day the brackets died

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The day the brackets died

OMAHA, Neb. -- College basketball is a cruel bastard when nobody can win the office pool.Or when you learn that you cant.For all the kvetching about free throw lane violations, bad seeds and crap shooting from three-point range, the salient facts are these: You spent hours trying to win your pool.
You cant win it.

For this, you may thank the delightful collection of players at Norfolk State and Lehigh, at Ohio and North Carolina State and South Florida and Virginia Commonwealth, too.Indeed, only one regional, the East, is still intact, and priming and taping one regional doesnt get the garage painted. Face it, youre out.
But now comes the harder part. Can you marry yourselves to the Norfolks and Lehighs and Ohios and VCUs and The Wrong USFs through the brutal second round, where all surviving 15s and 14s and almost all 12s go to die? Can you carry yourself to a second weekend when your teams are mostly gone?The answer, oddly, is that you ought to.PLAY! CSN's Bracket Challenge -- round by round game
College basketball has desperately needed Friday for years now. The tournament has become so top-heavy and so weighted toward to the elitest elites that there is no real drama after the round of 64 is done.I mean, you may have lost half your two-seeds, but if you were lazy enough to go straight chalk, you still have your Kentucky and your North Carolina and your Michigan State. We dont like your Syracuse so much, but you can cling to Jim Boeheims irrepressible stubbornness in the face of perennial scorn and a year ordered direct from the Hell.com catalog.That remains the final frontier the 16 that cheats fate. Still perfectly vaporized after 108 tries, the 16s can now pretend that they can be next years Norfolk or Drexel, because most of the time they are the same teams.But the good news even if the plucky longshots are plucked themselves tomorrow is that the NCAA Tournament Committee must now do more than their usual cursory job of vetting those 12s through 16s. I mean, if theyre going to go to the trouble of becoming live underdogs rather than competitive meat with eyes, they must be analyzed with more than the usual You seen em? I havent seen em. Make em a 15 and lets order another bottle of the Rag Top Red.No, it isnt that simple, of course, but until Friday it certainly did. Friday was the day the brackets died and the committee had to face the fact that its job is now harder. The second level teams are now not as good as they used to be, and the teams at the bottom now have legitimacy.And college athletics hates when that happens.But while were here, lets move on to the subtext of the day free throw violations.Officials are hated because, well, because Pavlov said it should be so. But two games were affected by late-game lane violations that threw the Internet into a tizz-let. This of course caused everyone to blame the officials yet again for carrying the bricks given them by the officiating supervisors who drop yearly points of emphasis in the officials preparation packets.This years clearly included lane violations, and because most Internet arguments start with Ive never seen that, therefore it must be bogus, the rage was palpable.But the rage was directed at the poor schmoes who made the calls the ones who would not advance to the next round if they ignored the violations.So hate the call. Of course you do. But dont hate the caller hate the system.A lane violation is one of those calls officials would rather get early in a game, to let the players know theyre watching. Theyre like hand checks and walks and cheap grabs off the ball and the over-the-backs that when called judiciously can shape the game in subtle ways that are all to the good.But the notion that officials shouldnt decide a game in general is false, because they decide them all to one extent or another. Moreover, the idea that they shouldnt decide them with a lane violation denies the fact that you get what you get when you get it, and you call it when it comes.The problem with the call being a lane violation is that it means the officials either didnt tell the players enough times to watch when you break the plane, and were not kidding, or the players ignored them. If the supervisors want lane violations called, then it is part of the officials job to call them, or to do their damnedest to make sure players know that theyre going to do so. Ignoring them isnt an option, not in this system. Do we know if that level of preventing officiating happened? No, because nobody pays attention to most of what an official does. If it didnt happen, then the purpose of a point of emphasis is wasted. If it did, well, the complainers are just going to have to eat it on that one.But they wont linger long on it. In fact, theyve already moved on to Saturdays games, which are all about chalk, and Sundays, which are all about madness. Your bracket is shredded; give up.But if you can watch the games even with no chance to win, then you are a better person than most.

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

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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

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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.