AP file photo: Former Cal Bears head coach Cuonzo Martin is headed for greener pastures in more ways than one joining Missouri University and going back home
By Barbara Mason
BERKELEY–Tuesday night the Cal Bears suffered a devastating loss in the first round of the NIT. Favored to win the tournament, the team played without Ivan Rabb and Jabari Bird both out with injury. When one thought it could not any worse for the Bears head coach Cuonzo Martin announced his resignation as head coach after three seasons, and will be heading out to Missouri. Assistant coach Wyking Jones will take over as interim head coach. “We put forth our best efforts to retain him, but he told me it was not about Cal, rather a strong desire to move closer to home,” said Director of Athletics Mike Williams.
The sweet deal that Martin was offered in Missouri was hard to refuse. The reported 7-year and $21 million deal from Missouri will put Martin as one of the highest paid college coaches in basketball today.
Martin had a great run, although far too short, at Cal amassing a 62-39 overall record and a 29-25 record in the Pac-12. Under Martin Cal reached the semi-finals in the Pac-12 tournament this year. The team earned a number one seed in the NIT which was cut short in the first round. He became a familiar sight for Bear fans as they enjoyed the intensity and dedication he exuded on the sidelines at every game. In his short career in Berkeley he made a lasting impression creating an atmosphere of fun, excitement and lots of winning basketball. He will most certainly be sorely missed.
Martin’s squad not only thrived on the court but in the classroom as well which in the long run may well be the most important thing he has done in the lives of his young players.
Director Williams will now be faced with the task of finding a replacement. His search will be nationwide looking for a coach that has the same dedication that is a part of this program. It is of the utmost importance that the upward trend continues and that they hire a person who understands what it takes to recruit as well as succeed at a top academic school. There are some possibilities that just might fit the Cal program. Joe Pasternack assistant at Arizona may be considered again, (he was mentioned in their last search) and may be pursued. He really built Arizona into a power-house and may be a great fit for Cal. Could Dennis Gates assistant at Florida State also be in the mix? It will be an extensive search and we will just have to wait to see who will be on the sidelines as the Cal Bears take the court in another exciting basketball season.