Mike Montgomery has been at Cal for five years now, which means he has now reached the threshold of CGB hall of fame eligibility. Thankfully, Monty has been successful enough that such an achievement is very low down on the list of things he should be celebrating.
It's way too early to get nostalgic about the Monty era, seeing as how it's still going strong. But I suspect that in a decade or two, I'll look back and remember how much fun his teams were to follow. Granted, that's in no small part due to the players themselves. But how much did you love watching Jerome Randle get unleashed for two years under Monty, or how he helped turn Jorge Gutierrez from a defensive specialist into a Pac-12 player of the year? How much did you enjoy watching Allen Crabbe these past few years, and how much fun do you think Jabari Bird is going to be?
Monty has made four NCAA tournaments, won a Pac-10 title, finished in the top 4 of the conference every year, and consistently made basketball games fun, win or lose. That last part tends to get short-shrift, but this is an entertainment business, isn't it?
We might not have Monty for much longer - if he decided tomorrow to spend the rest of his life sipping wine and occasionally sitting in a Pac-12 network studio with Ernie Kent, it would be well deserved. But we still have him and he's going to have some talent over the next few years. Monty may not make the CGB hall of fame this year, but I'd like to think that he will add to his resume very shortly.
Nick was wise to cherish the time Monty was with us, as the legendary coach has since retired. Will his retirement propel him into the Hall of Fame? His challenger may have something to say about that...
Alexis Gray-Lawson will be forever linked to Ashley Walker and Devanei Hampton, as those three together were the core of Cal's most successful stretch in the program's history. Walker and Hampton definitely had the star power as two of the premier post players in the Pac-10. Gray-Lawson was the team's quarterback-and its heart and soul.
When she's on, one of the most dominating offensive players in Cal history. Holds the single game record for points (47, in double OT). Played arguably the single greatest offensive game in Cal history when she scored 37 of Cal's 54 points to defeat top 10 Stanford. Also a great defender and was named to the Pac-10's all defense team. Leads Cal in career games played. 3rd most career points in Cal history. Most 3 pointers made in Cal history.
Maybe playing a brutal schedule that included 4 teams ranked in the current AP top 10 prepared the Bears for the rest of the Pac-10. Maybe 12 games was enough time for the freshmen to get comfortable enough in the offense to allow Lexi to play to the level she was always capable of. Maybe this is just the mother of all hot streaks (though I doubt it). Whatever the reason, her performances speak for themselves.
In particular, norcalnick pointed to this epic 6-game stretch during the 2010 Pac-10 season:
Gray-Lawson has had the ability to take over games for periods of time in previous seasons, but she was rarely the first scoring option when Ashley Walker emerged as an elite player when Gray-Lawson injured her knee in the 2006-07 season. With Walker leading Cal in scoring Gray-Lawson became more of a distributor to Cal's successful low-post players and recorded nearly a 2-1 assist to turnover ratio in 2008-09. With Walker and Devanei Hampton graduating, the offensive burden fell to Gray-Lawson. At times the transition was difficult this year as Gray-Lawson adjusted to playing with five freshman and to being the clear number one threat on the Golden Bears. But when Pac-10 play started Gray-Lawson took over, combining her outside shooting talent with a hard nosed ability to drive the ball and draw fouls, and she led the conference in scoring during the Pac-10 schedule. I would attribute the scoring explosion to Gray-Lawson getting comfortable in her new role and more cohesion with the aforementioned freshmen.
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