Ben Braun has been coaching the Cal men's basketball team since the end of President's Clinton's first term. But if he hopes to make it to the start of the next President Clinton's inauguration, the Golden Bears better change direction fast.
This Saturday, Braun and the Basketbears take on Stanford at Haas pavilion. Home has not been friendly to the coach or his hoopsters, who have dropped three straight in Berkeley - and the drums are starting to pound along Strawberry Creek.
The strange thing is that this year is very much like any in the past decade. Cal basketball is one of the few things that you can count on. If you look at any Cal match-up before the contest, you can say, "Cal should be able to beat those guys" and they will. And if you say, "Nope, the other guys have got too much for Cal to handle" you'll be right again. That's kind of comforting in a way. (Which is not to suggest that by saying it, you can affect the game. This is bigger than all of us)
A favorite sports cliché is "that's why they play the game" to explain upsets and unexpected phenomenon. For Cal, playing the game is superfluous.
Here - play along with me. Stanford is better than Cal. Stanford will win.
OK, that's not much fun. And maybe that's the point, Cal hoops hasn't been very vivacious. The biggest story of the season, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, was the return of the prodigal, Todd Bozeman, who returned to Berkeley after ten years in the wilderness and is now coaching and abusing restaurant employees back East. That might have been the only time this year that anything associated with Cal basketball made it above the fold.
Perhaps the anger at Braun's babies has come with the influence of the Golden State Warriors. Now that Bay Area folk see that when the home team outscores the opposition, it can win; it's spoiled us for more of the same.
The Pac-10's gotten better, so Cal does worse. We're a control group - we're a measuring stick, and that's got to be worth something. But not a new contract for coach Ben Braun.