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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

March 26, 2008 at 2:46 PM

Cal’s Braun fired

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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