Kai Felton spent the last two years as an Oregon assistant, and the five years prior as an assistant at USC. On Wednesday, she moved on to her third team in the Pac-10, joining newly hired Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb‘s staff.
So what does this mean for the Bears?
Well, Oregon was not a good team last season. The Ducks finished ninth in the Pac-10, above only in-state rival Oregon State. They scored more (76.3) than anyone else in the Pac-10 except perennial NCAA title contender Stanford, but allowed more points (77.1) than anyone else. Their fourth and final conference win — a 60-46 upset in Berkeley — snapped a seven-game losing streak.
Eugene was given a run-and-gun show that puts Mike D’Antoni’s offense to shame, one that hoisted up an astounding 792 attempts from beyond the arc. The next highest total was Washington State’s 665, and the league-average was 533. The Ducks also made more 3-pointers (256) than all of their conference rivals, but was right in the middle of the pack with a .323 percentage from downtown.
But Felton, as she did in Oregon, will be overseeing the backcourt as well as recruiting. In that, she appears qualified. During Felton’s two years in the Beaver State, Ducks point guard Nia Jackson blossomed into a Pac-10 first teamer and one of the top scorers in the conference. While she was a Trojans assistant, USC landed seven All-Americans in five years, highlighted by what USA Today ranked as the top recruiting class in 2006.
It’s good way to balance the recent departure of former head coach Joanne Boyle. Although Boyle struggled to find answers for the Bears in their middling 18-16 season — one that included a six-game losing streak in Pac-10 play — she was a crack recruiter that landed Cal one of the best classes of 2009.
Of course, a lot of that talent isn’t on the roster anymore. Most notably, leading scorer DeNesha Stallworth decided to transfer, taking a huge chunk out of the team’s frontcourt. Some fightin’ words from her father, in a recent article in the SF Chronicle:
He said he and his daughter thought former coach Joanne Boyle was “too laid-back. A team is a reflection of its coach, and there was no fight in this team” … He also said Boyle didn’t put his daughter “in position to succeed.”
That said, the Bears still have a good amount of raw talent on the roster, particularly with 6-foot freshman Avigiel Cohen likely to step in as point guard after taking a medical redshirt. We’ll see if she can blossom like Jackson did in Oregon.