Moving on through the Pac-10, let's consider what the future might hold for the Cal Golden Bears and Oregon Ducks. Can those two animals co-exist?
Not likely. Even in the world of college basketball, there are many reasons why these two programs are incompatible.
University of California, Berkeley
Those wily Cal Bears are ready to go on the prowl.
One of the best changes of head coaches for any basketball program was implemented in Berkeley. Too often the importance of upgrading is not taken seriously when bringing in a new head coach.
Look at Indiana. They fire first and then looked to select second. That doesn't look to be the case at Cal.
A familiar face returns to the sidelines in the Pac-10. Mike Montgomery will be the new man looking to put a new style on Bear hoops.
What a tremendous pick up. He has a successful history in the conference while coaching at Stanford. Heck, virtually all of Montgomery's teams have enjoyed success. His career record reveals a winning percentage of about 70%. That is outstanding!
During his 18 years at Stanford, Montgomery was the Pac-10 Coach of the Year four times. Four times!
He's a legend in his own time. Montgomery received the John R. Wooden "Legends of Coaching" Lifetime Achievement Award. Last look, Coach Montgomery is still in this lifetime, too.
Coach Ben Braun was fired for doing less with more. Cal's administration and fans felt that Coach Braun had much more talent on his teams than their record suggested.
If the truth be known, the Bears have enjoyed an excellent group of starters for many years. However, they have been thin when it comes to bench strength.
While the talent cupboard isn't "Bear" for Coach Montgomery, he certainly would have relished the chance to have Ryan Anderson knocking down shots. Rightly so, Anderson is moving on to the NBA where he will enjoy a brief career as a spot player.
The Bears have a couple of terrific players coming back in the persons of Jerome Randle and Jordan Wilkes. Randle is an outstanding play-maker. Wilkes is capable of filing the role played by Anderson last year. Along with those two, Patrick Christopher is a wonderful player who brings energy and athletic ability to the team.
Along with the current scholarship players, two more guards are scheduled to arrive on the Berkeley campus.
Garrett Sim is a nice point guard who is highly regarded by those who watched him play up in Portland, OR. The other scholie is going to D. J. Seeley. Seeley is rated as one of the very best shooting guards coming out of high school this year. He is instant offense and has a knack for creating shots.
Don't think that Coach Montgomery will hang a Pac-10 championship banner next year at the end of conference play, but if he stays in Berkeley, that will be a ceremony in the very near future. However, Cal will move into the top half of the Pac-10 next season.
University of Oregon
With a boatload of seniors coming back for this past season, Coach Ernie Kent was faced with high expectations from both school administration and fans. The Ducks made a great run the year-before-last in the NCAA Tourney. Four of the five starters from that team were returning to Eugene.
But things didn't work out very well if you were expecting championships.
For the second year in a row, Coach Kent and the Ducks were invited to the Big Dance—the tenth appearance in school history. Five of those ten appearances were under the leadership of Coach Kent.
There will be new faces wearing the ugliest uniforms in the country and playing for Oregon next season. They will be the key to how much success the Ducks will enjoy.
Michael Dunigan comes in with lots of potential and is rated as one of the top centers to come out of high school. This kid held offers from Florida, Georgetown, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin...just to name a few.
Dunigan chose the Ducks over some of the elite programs in the country. So if any fans in Duck Nation had doubts about Coach Kent, forget about it.
There are four other top high school players moving to Eugene this fall.
Team experience and leadership will probably come from ultimate hoops warriors Tajuan Porter and Joevan Catron. Those two are solid players that any coach would love to have on their team.
Will they be enough though? That's the question.
This coming season will be one of gaining experience for the young Ducks. In a conference that is laden with talent, Duck Nation will have their patience and loyalty tested. They need to be prepared to see their team come out on the short end of some close, tough games.
Coach Kent is going to have his hands full coaching, but he's the man for the job.
Oregon won't be in the top half of the Pac-10 this coming season. But the future is bright for Duck fans who are willing to hang in there.
Next up in Part 3, we'll take a look at Oregon State and Stanford.