Lindsay Gottlieb picks up 100th win at Cal as Oregon’s transition under Kelly Graves continues
In the waning minutes of Oregon’s 74-59 loss to No. 24 California Thursday night, Golden Bears head coach Lindsay Gottlieb was all smiles.
The victory, a California stiff-arm in the back end of the second half, is her 100th career win as head coach at the program.
“I’ve had an unbelievable coaching staff and players,” Gottlieb said. “More than the wins, there have just been so many incredible moments.”
It’s a moment Kelly Graves figures to experience himself during his tenure at Oregon.
“We are who we are. We have a lot of holes, ” Graves said. “We’re trying to plug it best we can. If we go big, then we’re pretty slow. If we go small, then we’re small. We’re just trying to do the best we can with what we have.”
The Ducks, who stand at 12-16 (5-12 Pac-12), have lost four straight games. The road doesn’t get any easier Sunday as Stanford will play the Ducks on senior day.
But Gottlieb and Mary Murphy, an analyst for the Pac-12 Networks, agree that Graves will see success at Oregon.
“I don’t have any doubt in my mind that Oregon will be knocking on the door,” Murphy said on Thursday’s DuckInsider show on Oregon IMG. “I don’t think it’ll be next year, but I think as the years progress, you’ll see Oregon in that position.”
Gottlieb reached the milestone in 131 games, just shy of four total seasons. She’s reached 100 wins faster than any coach in California’s history.
“I think it just takes time to build the culture you want and get the players in,” Gottlieb said of Oregon’s transition. “I know his staff is working really hard to do that. There’s no question that the entire Pac-12 is on the upswing. And I certainly include them in that.”
In his first year at Oregon, Graves has ridden the highs and lows of a small roster working backward from the basics. Those highs range from a 29-28 first-half lead agains No. 6 North Carolina and a USC/UCLA sweep at home – the program’s first L.A. sweep since 2007 – to being swept by Utah and Colorado last weekend.
After all, Graves has one of the most prolific and well-documented track records in NCAA women’s basketball. After Graves’ hire last April (a six-year contract), Connecticut-great Geno Auriemma called Graves “one of the best coaches in America.”
California, which has already earned itself a bye in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament, is nearly a lock for the NCAA Tournament. Gottlieb has been instrumental in Cal’s transition to “an elite program on the national level.”
“We want to fight for Pac-12 championships every year,” Gottlieb said.
In saying that Oregon will surely improve, Murphy pointed to Graves’ time at Gonzaga. She said he understands recruiting and has the facilities to build around. His first year at Gonzaga, his team went 5-23. By the time he departed Spokane, Graves’ team had notched six-straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
“There’s no doubt that as time rolls on, the fans will see a tremendous product on the floor,” Murphy said. “You’ve got a player as great as Jillian Alleyne to sort of build this thing around.
“It’s a great place to be.”
Follow Jonathan Hawthorne on Twitter @Jon_Hawthorne