California Bears Men’s Basketball History Update

California began playing intercollegiate basketball in 1907 and won a national title in 1927

Posted on March 29, 2024

  By SuperWest Sports Staff

In this series of updates on the history of SuperWest men’s hoops program, we provide a brief coaching summary, list of the current coaches along with postseason results, conference titles, award winners, and all-time coaching records.

The Golden Bears first played basketball intercollegiately in 1907 and began full conference play in 1915.

The 1920s was the dominant decade for Cal basketball, as the Bears won six conference titles.

Cal was retroactively recognized as the pre-NCAA Tournament national champion for the 1926–27 season by the Premo-Porretta Power Poll.

Nibs Price coached the Bears from 1924 to 1954 and was the dominant force in Cal athletics for 30 years, coaching football for five seasons and taking the Bears to the Rose Bowl in addition to coaching basketball.

Price won seven conference titles and led Cal to the NCAA Tournament in 1946, guiding his team to the Final Four, and finished with an overall record of 453-294.

Pete Newell was hired at the end of Price’s tenure in 1954, leading the Bears to four consecutive conference titles and four NCAA Tournaments, including two straight title appearances, winning it all in 1959.

Former Cal coach Pete Newell with two of his players | Bill Crouch / Oakland Tribune

Newell won three National Coach of the Year awards in 1960, including the Henry Iba, the NABC, and UPI honors. He retired that year, becoming Cal’s Athletic Director, and serving in that role until 1968.

After a string of unremarkable hires and the scandalous Todd Bozeman era, Ben Braun was hired in 1996, leading the Bears to the Sweet 16 in his first season, while setting a school record for wins by a debut coach.

He was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year, becoming the first Cal coach to win that honor, and would take the Bears to the Big Dance four more times.

Former Cal coach Ben Braun | East Bay Times

During his tenure, the second-longest behind Price, Braun directed Cal to more postseason appearances and postseason wins than any other men’s basketball coach in school history.

Mike Montgomery took the reins after Braun in 2008, coming to Berkeley after coaching cross-Bay rival Stanford and serving a stint in the NBA and as an assistant to the Athletic Director at Stanford.

In his first season, the Bears went 22-10 and earned an NCAA Tournament bid. In 2010, Cal defeated the Cardinal to clinch an outright Conference title, the Bears’ first since 1960.

Former Cal coach Mike Montgomery | Susan Tripp Pollard/Bay Area News Group

Montgomery directed the Bears to three more NCAA Tournaments before retiring in 2014 with a record of 130-73.

Mark Fox was hired away from Georgia in 2019, signing a five-year contract worth $8.2 million. He guided Cal to a 14-18 record in his first season, followed by 9-20, 12-20, and 3-29 in the subsequent three seasons.

Fox was fired on March 9, 2023, after compiling a four-year record of 38-87.

On March 29, 2023, California hired Stanford Alum Mark Madsen away from Utah Valley, where he posted a four-year record of 70-51.

In his final season with the Wolverines, UVU went to the NIT Final Four, and Madsen was named WAC Coach of the Year after leading the school to a record 28 wins.

In Madsen’s first season in Berkeley, he led the Bears to a 13–19 overall record, including wins over NCAA Tournament teams Colorado, WSU, and Oregon and in-state rivals UCLA, Stanford, and USC.

The renewed optimism and momentum were palpable as attendance was up and Cal finished sixth in the Pac-12 standings.

University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)

Walter A. Hass, Jr. Pavilion

Current Coaching Staff
Current Head Coach: Mark Madsen (2023-present)
Associate Head Coach: Adam Mazarei (2023-present)
Assistant: Amorrow Morgan (2023-present)
Assistant: Matt Scherbenske (2023-present)
Assistant: Jarred Jackson (2023-present)
Assistant: Ken Moses (2023-present)
Director of Operations and Player Development: Shasha Brown (2023-present)
Director of Scouting and Video Operations: Nathan Martin (2023-present)
Director of Business Operations: Blaire Braxton (2023-present)

Postseason Results
National Championships: 1 (1959)
Final Four Appearances: 3 (1946, 1959, 1960)
Sweet Sixteen Appearances: 6 (1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1993, 1997)
Elite Eights: 4 (1957, 1958, 1959, 1960)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 19 (1946, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2016)
NCAA Tournament Overall Record: 20-19
NIT Championships: 1 (1999)
NIT Appearances: 9 (1986, 1987, 1989, 1999, 2000, 2008, 2011, 2014, 2017)
NIT Overall Record: 14-8
Premo-Porretta National Championships: 1 (1927)
Helms Foundation National Championships: 1 (1959)

Conference Titles (PCC / Pac-12)
Pac-12 Regular-Season Championships: 15 (1916, 1921, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1929, 1932, 1944, 1946, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 2010)
Pac-12 Tournament Championships: 0

Award Winners
Naismith Player of the Year: 0
John R. Wooden Award: 0
Oscar Robertson Trophy: 0
AP All-Americans: 7 (Leon Powe, 2006; Ed Gray, 1997; Sharif Abdur-Rahim, 1996; Jason Kidd, 1994; Lamond Murray, 1994; Darral Imhoff, 1960; Larry Friend, 1957)
Pac-12 Player of the Year: 7 (Allen Crabbe, 2013; Jorge Gutierrez, 2012; Jerome Randle, 2010; Sean Lampley, 2001; Ed Gray, 1997; Shareef Abdur-Rahim, 1996; Jason Kidd, 1994)

California Head Coach Records

Mark Madsen2023-Present13-19000
Mark Fox2019-202338-87000
Wyking Jones2017-201916-47000
Cuonzo Martin2014-201762-39010
Mike Montgomery2008-2014130-73140
Ben Braun1996-2008219-154050
Todd Bozeman**1993-199635-62010
Lou Campanelli1985-1993123-108020
Dick Kuchen1978-198580-112000
Dick Edwards1972-197873-85000
Jim Padgett1968-197252-53000
Rene Herrerias1960-196892-100000
Pete Newell1954-1960119-44441
Nibs Price1924-1954453-294710
E.H. Wright1920-192460-202--
William Hollender1918-192014-80--
Walter Christie1917-19188-20--
Ben Cherrington1916-191715-10--
Patrick Kilduff1915-191611-51--

—More from Staff—