Both of Cal’s basketball teams are still more than two months away from playing their first games of the 2016-17 campaign. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing basketball-related to talk about. We looked at which non-basketball-playing student-athletes at Cal would make up the best basketball team for the Bears.
Just to catch everyone up on the rules: No basketball players and there will be an All-NBA-style team (center, two forwards and two guards).
Center: Aaron Cochran, offensive lineman, football
At 6 feet, 8 inches and 350 pounds, Cochran would be an immovable object in the post. He’s about as tall as they come in sports outside of basketball, making him a candidate to be a solid rim protector.
While he’s pretty much guaranteed to lack the speed to ably switch in a pick and roll, the redshirt junior’s role as starting tackle for the Bears means Cochran could have quick enough feet to keep up with perimeter players for a while.
Plus, imagine the screens a left tackle could set.
Forward: Luca Cupido, attacker, men’s water polo
Cupido, one of the biggest stars at Cal, is athletic enough and big enough — at 6 feet, 4 inches — to actually look like he fits in as an NCAA-level swingman.
His ability to rise up and out of the water to fire shots from the middle of the pool serves Cupido well in the paint where he’d be strong enough to finish through defenders. Additionally, Cupido has made a career out of firing balls into a net. It just happens to be inside a pool.
Cupido’s biggest problem? Trying to be a star athlete outside of the water.
Forward: Jonathan Klinsmann, goalkeeper, men’s soccer
Soccer goalies often look like they’re made for basketball, and Klinsmann is no exception. At 6 feet, 4 inches and 185 pounds, Klinsmann has an NBA player’s build. And, as a goalkeeper, he’s already good with his hands. His fast reaction time could make him a terror in passing lanes.
The main risk you run with Klinsmann? He’s likely to be a bit too aggressive with keeping the ball out of the net. Let’s just say goaltending would not be a rare sight with this team.
Guard: Maddy Kerr, libero, volleyball
This one’s a no-brainer. When your dad is one of the best coaches in the NBA, has won five titles as a player and is the NBA’s all-time leader in three-point percentage, it’s fair to think some of that ability and knowhow would have rubbed off.
Sitting around a dinner table with someone like Steve Kerr means Maddy has probably ingested enough information that she could decently run this team’s offense. And as a libero for the volleyball team, Kerr is used to playing a defensive, unselfish role which would serve her well on this team. She would probably be the team’s biggest star.
Guard: Toni-Ann Williams, women’s gymnastics
Okay, I know, having a 5-foot-1 player on the court is not ideal. Williams is pretty much guaranteed to be a liability on defense. Isn’t she?
Well, imagine shooting a three but the defender closing you out doesn’t put their arms up — instead they just ran at you, doing backflips the whole way. This is what Williams brings to the table. Opposing shooters would be so shocked that the ball would never even hit the rim.
Her athletic ability translates to offense as well, where Williams has the flexibility to whip passes around defenders. She may have the biggest adjustment period, however, as she is the only player on the list to come from a sport without a ball — yes, we’re counting a football.
But Williams makes up for this with her Olympic experience, which pretty much ensures she wouldn’t freeze up on the biggest stage. This sets her up well to be the team’s leader.
Honorable mentions/bench: Jenelle Jordan (volleyball), Arielle Ship (women’s soccer), Khalfani Muhammad (football, track and field), Ryan Murphy (men’s swimming), Roser Tarrago (women’s water polo), Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk (men’s crew)
So, how would this team do against an average college team?
Well, obviously, height is a concern. And putting a bunch of non-basketball players on the court pretty much ensures that shooting would be a struggle. Throw in the fact that the go-to scorer has probably swum more than he’s run at this point of his career, and the team looks like it would struggle on paper.
But what does this team have that none of its opponents would?
Yeah … they would lose.