Throughout the off-season, the California men’s basketball program will bring fans a little closer to members of the program with the Golden Bear question-and-answer series. In our third installment, we profile associate head coach Tracy Webster.
Boasting more than a decade of Division I coaching experience, Webster has had success throughout his career, with five NCAA Tournament berths and one Final Four appearance as a coach. In 2009, HoopScoopOnline.com ranked Webster as one of the top 50 assistant coaches in the nation. Webster, who played collegiately at Wisconsin, has coached with California head coach Cuonzo Martin at both Purdue and Tennessee prior to joining him here at Cal.
CalBears.com recently talked to Webster to find out more about his coaching style, what he has seen from the guards so far, and his memories of playing against Coach Martin as a player going up against him when Wisconsin faced Purdue.
CalBears.com: What was it about Cal that intrigued you to take this opportunity?
Tracy Webster: Coach Martin, having knowing him for a while and then working with him and knowing what he is all about. Additionally, it is California. It is the Pac-12. It is a beautiful place to live and an exciting place to be. It made it an easy decision when the opportunity presented itself.
CB: What do you know about Cal before you took the job?
TW: I have been following them for years. They have had several guys where I am from in the Chicago area in Jerome Randle, Sean Lampley and Dennis Gates. I followed all three, as well as Jason Kidd and everything he did in college. I always thought it was a pretty good place, and since I have come here it has been even better than I ever expected. The people here are great from the campus and throughout the community.
CB: Have you and your family settled in here in the Bay Area?
TW: Yes, my wife and I love it. We have tried to explore the area as much as possible from biking across Golden Gate Bridge, to walking around Jack London Square and visiting some of the Bay Area’s other famous landmarks. There is so much to do around here.
CB: What have you seen from the guards here at Cal in limited time in workouts with them?
TW: They are a tight-knit group. They do a great job of helping each other on and off the court. From a talent standpoint, they really have it. They are a great group to work with because they want to get better each and every day. They are always asking questions on how they can learn and improve even more.
CB: Is there anything from your time on the University of Tennessee coaching staff that you want to instill in the program here?
TW: Our guys at Tennessee were together and always helped each other on the court. They always had each other’s back. We haven’t seen this group at Cal in a game situation yet, but from workouts it really appears this team has that same togetherness in looking out for their teammates. We want to keep instilling that in them… share the ball, help each other on defense, continue to do the right things on and off the field. We talk about it all the time.
CB: What is your message to prospects in the Bay Area about staying home and representing their home school?
TW: LeBron just did it. There is no place like home. The love that guys get while being at home from having their family and friends come to every game in Berkeley to being a hero for representing their area on the national stage is like nothing else. Stephen Domingo went away to play in the east coast originally and didn’t have many opportunities to see his family, but now he is back where he grew up playing at Cal an spending time with his family and friends whenever he wants.
This is a great opportunity right in their backyard, why go away? It is a great school with a great fan base… why leave?
CB: What have you seen from the Cal campus and Haas Pavilion that really sticks out so far?
TW: The campus is great. It is very clean. It is a large size, but not too big. This is a gym in Haas Pavilion where you can get it to rock. If you watch it on film, the fans are on top of our players and give them a great boost. It is a great sixth man here. I really enjoy being in these facilities and bringing guys on campus to see it. We are the No. 1 public institution in the world… you can’t go wrong.
CB: Why do guys love playing for Coach Martin?
TW: It is about the relationship the guys have with him. They have that trust factor. He will always have their back. He is trying t make everyone better. He always has their best interests at heart. The guys believe in him and that means everything.
CB: What brand of basketball can fans expect here?
TW: You will have a hard-nosed, tough team that is going to compete every night. Get guys and the fans to feel our energy and appreciate how hard we play.
CB: What were your battles with Coach Martin in college?
TW: He said he won the majority of them, I can’t remember though… J We joke about it from time-to-time.