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Husky Men's Basketball Blog

Seattle Times staff reporter Bob Condotta provides a running commentary on the Huskies.

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March 26, 2008 2:46 PM

Cal's Braun fired

Posted by Bob Condotta

There are now two head coaching vacancies in the Pac-10 as the Cal Bears today decided to fire 12-year coach Ben Braun.

Here's the official release from the school's web site.

Cal finished 17-16 overall this season, 6-12 in Pac-10 play and a game behind the Huskies.

One name that will immediately crop up as a replacement is Randy Bennett of Saint Mary's, who has also been considered a front-runner at Oregon State, the other conference job that is open. Bennett is more likely to consider Cal than OSU.

This has some UW implications as Bennett is one of Husky coach Lorenzo Romar's closest friends. Bennett spent five years as an assistant under Romar at Pepperdine and Saint Louis before taking over at Saint Mary's.

UW and Saint Mary's have played practice games several times in past seasons due in part to the tight relatiionship of the two coaches.

And if Bennett goes to Cal, that could entice OSU to take a closer look at another former Romar assistant, Ken Bone, who is now at Portland State.

As for Braun, the general consensus seemed to be that he was a solid coach who had done a good job for a number of years, but that the Bears program had grown stagnant. Cal hasn't won an NCAA tournament game since 2003 and advanced to the tourney just once since then, in 2006.

Braun's last home game, a first-round contest against New Mexico in the NIT, drew just 1,906 fans, which probably helped seal his fate.

The Bears were just 79-75 the past five seasons and 39-51 in Pac-10 play.

Interestingly enough, Braun coached five players who led the conference in scoring during his reign --- Ed Gray (96-97), Sean Lampley (2000-01), Joe Shipp (2002-03), Leon Powe (2006-07) and Ryan Anderson (this season).

UPDATE --- Some interesting stuff on the Braun firing from Jon Wilner's College Hotline blog, including the news that he will get about a $1 million buyout. He would have only gotten $400,000 if fired after next season, one reason some thought Braun was safe. But as Wilner reports, a booster apparently decided to ante up the difference.

O'NEILL BACK TO ARIZONA --- Also today is the news that Kevin O'Neill will return to Arizona next year as an assistant with plans to eventually take over for Lute Olson.

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Posted by Romar Rater

3:15 PM, Mar 26, 2008

This is bad news for UW because Cal will assuredly replace Braun with a coach having better skills than Romar, meaning we will be a solid pick for 9th in the Pac 10 for the foreseable future.

Posted by Justin

3:21 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Do you mean "Ken Bone, who is now at Portland State" rather than "Oregon State"?

Posted by Bob Condotta

3:23 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Justin --- Yes I do. Bone hasn't been hired away yet, obviously. I'll change it.

Posted by john

4:39 PM, Mar 26, 2008

My Prediction is that Romar will be the next coach to go in the Pac 10.

Posted by G

4:52 PM, Mar 26, 2008

this is it for ROMAR... and i love him to death--when i transferred to UW i was able to have a long conversation with him, he is a great & classy guy. BUT, as with "that one donor" shelling out 600K dollars to see BEN BRAUN go.... there is no replacement for success and winning. NEXT YEAR is the balancing point, the scale tips toward FIRED or SAFE..... i'd say right now its exactly in the middle. have some good experience on the team, great new talent coming in-> on the other side, 2 mediocre "just a day late and a dollar short" seasons where we easily could have been better than we were, underdevelopment of talent (j. smith and qpon), losing players fro mthat same class...... (those are some of the main points). TO ME, he is right in the middle and next year will tip the scale either way. NCAA tournament birth or he's fired.....anyone disagree? what standards should he live up to for next year? i'm interested to see..... i still have faith in him and his coaching ability, but it hasnt been the same as we all know in the last few years........

Posted by Dave

5:34 PM, Mar 26, 2008

I dunno guys. Romar is now 119-72 and only one year removed from the second best four year run the program has ever had. I don't think it's "tourney or bust" time for him yet next year. Although I do think he probably will make the tourney next year with much of the rest of the Pac-10 retooling, and the ongoing soap opera at Arizona.

Posted by Dave

5:38 PM, Mar 26, 2008

...and yes, Romar inherited a fair amount of talent. But what had been done with the talent before he arrived? In the three years immediately prior to Romar, the team finished 8th, 9th and 8th in the Pac-10 and 31-58 overall.

Posted by grant

6:51 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Geno,
If you want to talk about wondering about next year, try looking in the mirror. Remember when the Huskies lost our core group of guys who led the resurgence (Roy, Jones, Williams, Jensen)? We had a McDonald's All American in Spencer Hawes to fill the gap, but still struggled. Now imagine WSU after their heart and soul is torn out (Low, Weaver, Cowgill, Bennett). Who do you have to fill their shoes? Enjoy the peak, because the valley is just ahead.

Husky fans, we've endured the past two seasons, but at least Romar has raised our standard of expectation to the point where anything less than a tourney berth is disappointing and unacceptable. Could you have said that 6 years ago? No. This whole thing has been made harder by the fact that these two seasons of basketball coincided with the two greatest years in WSU basketball history and the 4 worst years of UW football history. So put up with the Coug trash talk for now, and remember how to act when we are back on top.

Class, something SOME Cougs neither attend nor attain.

Posted by Geno

7:40 PM, Mar 26, 2008

grant....hey, I said "have a nice.off-season"' didn't I? Now that's cordial.

Posted by Huskiebob

7:59 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Geno,

Actually with bozos like you around finding topics to banter about is no problem at all. See we need you ...ha, ha, ha

Posted by Coug4Life

9:25 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Without Cougs posting on here, it would just be 3 idiotic Huskies posting back and forth about the good old days or the next season. There is nothing to talk about today regarding Husky basketball. Your season is over. Your future is dim. Your past is marginal at best. Your coach is pathetic. Your recruits are mentally retarded. And to cap it all off, your football team is terrible as well. The Cougs are the closest thing to a story in this state so that is what is being talked about.

Posted by Splash

9:41 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Not much to talk about regarding UW hoops with the Dance still in full swing. This season sure was a disappointment. I'd like to start speculating about next season, but it's just way too early. Once we know who is going to the NBA out of the Pac-10, we'll have a clearer picture of UW's chances for success next season.

If ever there was a time to root for WSU in anything, it would be tomorrow against UNC. I don't see how they're going to pull it off, but a WSU win would be better for college basketball than yet another North Carolina championship. What makes the NCAA Tournament so great is that the underdogs can and do win all the time. It's no fun if every team that's supposed to win does.
That being said, could you imagine how boring an NCAA championship between UCLA and WSU would be? I'm getting drowsy just thinking about it. On second thought, I hope NC beats WSU, but in a close game.

Posted by Mr. Big

9:57 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Geno. Don't be a douche and go get me a pizza. Shinebox......

Posted by Bubba Brooks

3:35 AM, Mar 27, 2008

LOL Romar isn't going anywhere. Once Isaiah Thomas gets into school this team is going to be a beast to stop. I'm not worried at all about our basketball team or our coaching. Romar can stay at the UW for life for all I care. Anyone that lived through the Nance, Russo and Bender years would agree.

Posted by Randy

10:45 AM, Mar 27, 2008

I'm still waiting to see who bails out before next season. If Isaiah Thomas qualifies (big if?) then UW is one over the limit on scholorships. Someone on the team is going to have to jump up and cry that he wants to go gome to his mama. I can't see anyone going into the NBA draft ealry. If Artem's knee is shot does that allow the team to move his scholorship to someone else? Maybe someone will pull a Taylor Rochestie but I'm not holding my breath.

Coach Romar always says these things always work themselves out. Hogwash, someone has to work behind to scenes to make them work out. I'll never believe Phil Nelson and Adrian Oliver made the decision to leave all on their own. Who will be next.

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