Mike Montgomery's final press conference was like every public address Monty has made over the past decade or so. It was full of ribald, self-deprecating humor and filled with plenty of roasting of various figures (from John Crumpacker to his basketball SID Doug Drabik to Bill Walton). And there was some emotion too. You can watch it below.
What was probably of greatest interest to most Cal fans was his usual candidness on who should replace him. Monty was quick to suggest that his associate coach Travis DeCuire should be the next guy up to coach the Golden Bears. That probably didn't please Sandy Barbour all that much, who immediately was put on the spot. She had to quickly deflect attention away, stating that a national coaching search would have to be undertaken first.
I’m happy that Monty is that enthusiastic about DeCuire. Monty doesn’t really seem like the individual who would nominate a candidate who isn’t qualified to have the job. There might be some bias there, but I imagine that DeCuire would have to be a pretty worthy candidate for the job, as Barbour herself admitted.
That being said, what Monty wants should have no bearing on the official decision on who should be the coach. He’s looking after his guys (as he should), and Sandy has to look after Cal (as she should).
But let’s look at Decuire, because it’s clear now that he’s a legitimate candidate for this position.. Ever since his promotion to associate head coach, it’s been clear that if anyone takes the job among Monty’s assistants, it will be him. What does he have going for him?
Continuity. There will be no disruption, no rebooting. The current relationships will remain mostly intact, with only DeCuire at the top of the food pyramind instead of Monty.
Main recruiter. Hiring DeCuire would ensure that Cal will not have to reboot on the recruiting trail. Montgomery stated that DeCuire has been very good at developing relationships with players and their families and has made them feel comfortable.
Academics. DeCuire has apparently been responsible for the academic turnaround in basketball. Given the importance of academics at Cal, it will be necessary for Sandy to find a legitimate candidate who can emphasize those things as well.
Players. The current players trust DeCuire. They might not trust a new coaching staff.
What are the question marks?
No head coaching experience. None. You would be betting on a Jamie Dixon-type situation where DeCuire has learned enough of the ropes from a legend (like Dixon did with Ben Howland) and can convert that into consistent success at a college program in his first big gig. It has definitely happened before, but it comes with a lot of risk.
Recruiting has been iffy at best. If DeCuire has been building the relationships on the trail, they haven’t really borne fruit with big home run commitments (aside from Jabari Bird, who was probably coming here anyway because of papa). Now, that might change if he’s the head man rather than Monty (who can’t be bothered with many recruiting issues).
Xs and Os. Will he run Monty's system? Will he install his own? Does he have a system in mind? I'm sure DeCuire is really smart and knows how to develop players, but is he ready to manage, prepare, implement, and execute as a coach for the benefit of his team?
Since his promotion to associate coach, Cal has been ... spotty: Sure, they nearly won the Pac-12 last year, but they peaked late and struggled for the better part of two months. This year's team was so up and down it was hard to stomach.
There are plenty more pluses and minuses to DeCuire, but I'll open up the floor to all of you. How would you feel about DeCuire as the new Cal basketball head coach?