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Cal Coaches Tour 2010 Recap: Mike Montgomery Edition

(Wednesday we discussed the Sandy Barbour, Jeff Tedford & football bits. Today, it's all about basketball.)

Mike Montgomery has always been pretty honest and forthright at these events, and with a Pac-10 championship now under the belt, he went to a "take no prisoners" approach this year. The main target was his golfing buddy and football coach counterpart. This man might have a future as a roast chair. Note: Most of these quotes are from memory or paraphrased, but I'm just trying to get the main gist translated for everyone.

He roasted Cal fans a little: "I noticed how Jeff avoided talking about the quarterback again. Coach, what's happening there? Are we going to have to ask about that again?"

He roasted Tedford's speech: "You know Jeff, when you were down 14-0 [in the 2009 Big Game], you might have been worried, but I knew you had them right where you wanted them."

He roasted the recent Pac-16 expansion palns: "I took a little peek at your schedule and was pretty impressed--Texas, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, USC, Oregon all in one month. You're really going all-in on this."

And of course, he mocked himself and his team: "We're [going to be] awful. Cal football fans might be talking Rose Bowl, but I'm just hoping we can finish the season."

Some of the serious after the jump, including updates on our upcoming season and our outgoing seniors.


Montgomery recapped the championship season and talked about how . Like many of us felt, he believed the UCLA comeback in Pauley was the turning point of the season. He discussed how the Bears learned how to play as a group, move the ball around and dig in on the defensive end, and right when things looked like they were at their bleakest, everything clicked. He believes that the Golden Bears played their best basketball from that point on, winning nine of their next ten games.

He did discuss how unfair it was that the Pac-10 champion got the deathly eighth seed while the Pac-10 tournament champions were rewarded with an easier draw in an easier location, but was happy that the team was able to get a win in against Louisville.

Moving on to the future, he discussed how important it was to maintain that excellent level of football over a long period of time. One thing he really admired about what Tedford had done with Cal football was its sustainability--eight straight winning seasons, seven straight bowl appearances. He hopes to do the same with Cal basketball over the next few years--keeping them at the top, near the top every season.

Moving onto player discussion, he commented briefly on the Omondi Amoke suspension and dismissal, saying that Omondi made a mistake (he would not go into detail about what the mistake was) and that he'd be better off for this experience.

On a happier note, he talked about the pro prospects for each of our championship seniors

  • Despite the lack of buzz going into the draft, Monty seems convinced Jerome Randle is going to make it to the NBA. He has him getting drafted in the second round somewhere. The multiple workouts he's had with the Wizards, Kings, Jazz and Grizzlies seem to strengthen his case.
  • Patrick Christopher will probably not get drafted, but will certainly get a tryout with an NBA team.
  • Jamal Boykin is likely to make money overseas playing hoops--I do have it on very good word that he was recently trying out in Italy, and that a few people mistook him for his brother David (who's already playing with a team in Pavia). Don't rule out his pro chances either--the Timberwolves worked him out this past weekend too.
    (One funny exchange during the Q&A:
    Cal fan: "Do you think Boykin would make a great governor?"
    Monty: "Of California? Well...given the governors we've had recently..."
    He later said he was joking, didn't mean to offend anyone's political affiliations, and went on to say Boykin has other things on his mind right now, like playing professional basketball.)
  • Nikola Knezevic will try to pick up his basketball overseas (and I'd say it's a safe bet he'll try to make it in Serbia).
  • Unfortunately, the news for Theo Robertson is depressing. As Theo reported earlier on his Twitter, he had to get hip surgery for the third time and Monty confirmed he's out for at least another year. The most senior of our our seniors will have to continue to be patient to make his pro dreams come true.

As to next season? Lots of good information. Monty says at least two freshman will be starting next year, as we kind of figured in our look-ahead. Although he didn't say it, the likeliest candidates are probably Allen Crabbe and Gary Franklin, although look for any of the wing players (Alex Rossi & Emerson Murray) to challenge or starting time as well.

Harper Kamp will be back and he was looking good near the end of last season in scrimmage practices. Monty believes he'll surprise a lot of people, not just with his defense (which we all acknowledged was good last year), but his offense too.

Jorge Gutierrez wants to play point guard. Whether he'll be the full-time starter is not something Montgomery addressed, but he did say he'd experiment with Jorge running the offense.

One pretty funny point of the Q&A was when one questioner seemed confident with Jorge at the point. Monty responded with more than a little exasperation, saying maybe he should coach the team if he felt so confident with him. Obviously from watching him in practice, he needs to see more from Gutierrez before signing off on him being our main ballhandler.

Markhuri Sanders-Frison continues to struggle with back issues. The main thing for him this summer is to get his core strength up so he can handle physical bigs in the paint.  This way he can improve on last season's performance when he was often caught reaching or fronting too close to his man, picking up costly fouls.

Max Zhang is in China right now trying out for the national team. He had an outstanding University Games performance last year and will be looking to build on it.  Monty did seem firm in his belief that Max would be back for his final two seasons though.

He discussed the upcoming schedule, He ruefully remarked that he tried to get the schedule minimized in difficulty, but there wasn't much he could do. The schedule includes the Old Spice Classic in Orlando Thanksgiving weekend (a field that includes Boston College, Georgia, Manhattan, Notre Dame, Temple, Texas A&M & Wisconsin), home games with New Mexico, San Diego State, and Kansas, and a road date with Iowa State.

One of the questions on hoops received in the Q&A concerned the lack of quality bigs on our team. Montgomery said the Bears project positions out four years or so, so they're always looking out for new talent that could pop out. They already have an offer extended to another good kid for 2011 (Cal has offered a half-dozen players, including two power forwards).

However, he doesn't seem to be overtly concerned about the production we'd get from our current big men, with Kamp (2 years), Sanders-Frison (1 year), Zhang (2 years), Bak Bak (3 years), Richard Solomon (4 years), and feels like we can make do with what we have.

Finally, Montgomery encouraged Cal fans to replicate their performance in the Pac-10 clincher against Arizona State--more noise, lots of action, big home crowd advantage--and buy tickets for more games. He said that games would sell out but there'd be plenty of no-shows. He said that if you buy tickets and can't come, sell them to someone who can come rather than letting it languish as a net loss for everyone (for the ticket-buyer and the overall strength of the Haas Pavilion crowd). In his words, "I need butts in seats people."

He recalled a time when he was at the Furd, everyone hated his guts and he felt it everytime he brought his Cardinal to Harmon/Haas. He wants us to get back to that.