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April 7, 2014

Phil Mathews weighs in on Cal coaching search

GoldenBearReport spoke to Phil Mathews on Monday evening, and the family patriarch didn't mince words about who he thinks should be California's next head basketball coach. Mathews is an accomplished coach in his own right. In addition to being the father of freshman Jordan Mathews, he is the current head coach at Riverside Community College. He led the USF Dons from 1995-2004, was an assistant at Nebraska from 2006-10, and served as an assistant under Ben Howland at UCLA.

Have you spoken to Sandy Barbour regarding who you think should be Cal's next head coach?

I have. I spoke to Sandy and I told her "Sandy, Travis is Shaka Smart - that's who he is. Had you heard of Shaka Smart before he got to VCU?" Travis is that good of a coach. Smart coached under a great coach and Travis coached under a great coach. The pedigree is there.

What are some of the attributes that make him a good coach, in your mind?

He's got great communication skills. When he recruited my son, he did a terrific job talking about the school and how they wanted to play. My son was already coming to Cal before Mike Montgomery even came to the house.

What are the benefits of maintaining continuity?

When I was at Nebraska, it was hard coming in after the former coach. It took a whole year to gain those players' trust. But in this situation, the trust is already there. You don't have to reinvent the wheel. You've also got five freshmen. Okay, the coach leaves, but you've got a chance to keep the guy that recruited most of them. And it's not like he's only been there one or two years - he's been there six years and is the associate head coach who trained under one of the best.

Would DeCuire employ the same X's and O's as Mike Montgomery?

I told Sandy that when you coach under a great coach, you learn the X's and O's. But as a young coach, you're going to have your own philosophy, too. Travis is a pretty darn good coach. He's not going to say "okay, I'm just going to do what Montgomery was doing." He's going to incorporate parts of what Montgomery was doing and put in parts of his own.

Do you worry about any of the current players transferring?

I'm worried about it, yeah.

What have you seen from Jordan this year that you credit back to DeCuire?

His growth - not just as a player, but his emotional growth - I credit a lot of his maturity to Travis. Jordan trusts Travis. And I think the other guys on the team trust Travis, too.

Some people have expressed concern over DeCuire not having been a head coach at the D-I level. Do you see that as a limiting factor?

Travis is ready. He's been under a Hall of Fame coach. Look at Kevin Ollie [at UConn] right now. It just doesn't make any sense to say "oh, a guy needs to have head coaching experience." You're either ready or you're not; Travis is ready to be a head coach.

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