Newly hired California Golden Bears coach Lindsay Gottlieb. Photo courtesy of Cal Athletics.
Newly hired California Golden Bears head coach Lindsay Gottlieb certainly seems to fit the coaching mold that Brian McCormick described as good for women's college basketball last week.
She paid her dues as an assistant coach at a top school then had time to develop expertise during a successful three-year stint as a mid-major head coach before earning a head coaching position in a BCS conference.
Yet for Cal fans in particular, her assistant coaching experience in Berkeley should be even more reason for optimism about the direction of the program after a disappointing season: as described by SBN's California Golden Blogs last week she was the one working with post players Devanei Hampton and Ashley Walker when they were at Cal and led the team to their last NCAA tournament appearance in 2009.
That combination of familiarity and success across her career are among the things that stand out about her on her resume..
Cal Women's Basketball Coaching Search: Final Three Candidates? - California Golden Blogs
Lindsay Gottlieb's resume isn't quite as impressive as Wiggins and Miller, but it's still been a solid three years at UCSB and her advantage is the time she spent at Cal under Joanne Boyle. What's important to note is that while she was in Berkeley, her focus as an assistant coach was on Cal's post players. That's right, Devanei Hampton and Ashley Walker. That turned out pretty well. If hired, we can only hope she can engineer similar leaps from Talia Caldwell, Gennifer Brandon and Reshanda Gray.
Bringing in someone familiar with the program and able to continue building on their strength in the post definitely makes sense. But the biggest challenge for Cal this past season was the guard play and by association half court execution, arguably due to lacking a perimeter playmaker after the loss of Alexis Gray-Lawson. Sophomore Layshia Clarendon stepped up to play well in the Pac-10 tournament, but figuring out the guard situation (with the understanding that Avigiel Cohen was out for the season) has to be considered a priority for Cal.
However, as CGB notes, the other thing that stands out when considering Gottlieb relative to other candidates is that her three years of success at UC Santa Barbara was limited compared to candidates like Bowling Green's Curt Miller and Fresno State's Adrian Wiggins.
Although one could argue that Gottlieb's success as an assistant stands out even more given that Cal has gone backwards since her departure, she didn't exactly match her first year success (2008-09) at Santa Barbara in her final two years, losing in the quarterfinals of the Big West tournament this past season. In contrast, both Miller and Wiggins have had longer track records of sustained success and multiple NCAA tournament appearances in their mid-major posts.
Of course, none of that means that Gottlieb was a poor choice or that either Miller or Wiggins would have been great choices. And nobody can begrudge Cal for hiring from "within the family" so to speak. But there is already an exchange going on in the comments at CGB about whether gender played a role in the decision.
At the same time, Cal fans thus far seem to be on the same page: they're excited about Gottlieb coming back and ready for the program to move forward.