Team preview: California
Blue Ribbon Illustrated previews the 2003-04 college basketball season, exclusively on Insider.
COACH AND PROGRAM
At California, Ben Braun has quietly done one of the masterful coaching jobs in all of college basketball. But his efforts have gone somewhat unnoticed because Braun is operating in the shadow of fellow Pac-10 coaches Lute Olson at Arizona and Mike Montgomery at nearby Stanford.
While what Olson and Montgomery have accomplished is impressive, Braun's work doesn't pale in comparison. Seven-plus years ago when the then-42-year-old Braun left Eastern Michigan to take over for Todd Bozeman at Cal, he was inheriting a team that was under NCAA investigation and was reeling from the defection of three talented underclassmen. Shareef Abdur-Rahim departed after his freshman season to go to the NBA, then sophomore forward Tremaine Fowlkes left for Fresno State and sophomore guard Jelani Gardner transferred to Pepperdine.