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Cal Basketball: Has The Mike Montgomery Era Peaked?

How concerned are you that Mike Montgomery won't build up the program in time for his retirement?

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Montgomery's record against top-25 teams at Cal: 3-12.
Mike Montgomery's record against RPI top-50 teams the last three seasons: 4-21, including these last two losses to Creighton and UNLV.

We're now in year five of Monty-ball, we've been recruiting scraps the past three years and are almost barren of quality big men, and we seem to be getting no closer to beating better/elite competition. Even with a solid class coming in next year, how concerned are you that Monty won't build up the program in time for his retirement?

Frank Cohen: It's frustrating because I think this Cal team is so close. We've had some near-miss recruits/transfers, such as Karnowski (now at Gonzaga) and Colton Iversion (now at Colorado State) who would have made a huge difference for this team. I do think that, given the strong 2013 recruiting class, we are one quality low-post player from being nationally relevant next season. So close, yet so far (as this sought recruit has been quite elusive).

Avinash: Let's get one thing straight: Monty will retire long before we approach Tedford territory. So he'll be going out on his own terms.

I'm willing to give Monty the benefit of Jabari Bird and this nice incoming class, but if we don't beat anyone then it's time to start thinking of who's succeeding him. With Jorge gone a lot of the flaws we've always worried about (weak recruiting, lack of depth, relying heavily on walk-ons, no real skilled big men) are beginning to show up. It's clear the team is well-coached and the backcourt is semi-elite, but the frontcourt is very weak right now and can't be relied on offensively.

Monty has built up a nice foundation at Haas, but the Pac-12 is not going to be horrible forever, and Arizona is clearly going to be the class of the conference for awhile. Once a few coaches are cleaned out these next few years with more promising candidates, Cal is going to have to look closely at whether to promote from within with DeCuire (a young face who's a good coach and top recruiter) or look around the country and find a candidate that can both recruit and coach consistently to ensure the upward trend to national relevance.

TwistNHook: That is an unclear timeline. However, the stats you point to are disconcerting. I have felt that Cal has been right on the cusp for several years. What will it take to get to that next level? Monty has us consistently getting into the tournament, which is great. It's more than we could say for the latter part of the Braun era. I'm hopeful that we can get to the Sweet 16 this year and this seems like the team to do it. We have the backcourt. If Kreklow can stay healthy and Dick Solo can continue to develop (and we've seen some strong signs on the offensive end there), I'm feeling better about our interior. I have a sinking suspicion that we'll get another poor seed where we play a team in their back yard and don't make it past the first round.

I think if Tricky Dick Solomon stays academically healthy last year, we get a better seed and are able to at least win a game in the tournament. That is unfortunate and I don't know what the specifics behind that situation were. Hopefully, Cal can learn from these three losses to streak through Pac-12 season and peak heading into the tournament. I believe!

Bear in Mind: Mike Montgomery (via caltvinfo)

LEastCoastBears: The continual lack of quality depth in Monty's team have been our undoing, unfortunately. Monty's great coaching means that we seldom lose to teams that we're supposed to beat (unless it's Oregon State). More often than not, I feel like we're overachieving rather than underachieving in losing the close games to ranked team (there were of course plenty of these games that weren't close at all).

Kodiak: Well, Monty won our first conference title in 50 years playing essentially a six man rotation that involved four jump shooters and a small forward playing at center. Had Solomon remained eligible last year, I think we would have won another one.

Bigs usually take time to develop. Cal's most recent stalwarts, Kamp, MSF, and Boykin were not nearly the players early in their careers as they were as seniors.

I'd expect Kravish and Solomon to get better. I also hold out hope that Behrens offers a more physical and athletic presence down low that we've been missing.

What's really hurt our big man rotation has been a bit of bad luck. Amoke being dismissed. Zhang staying in China. Throw either of those two players into the mix the past couple of years and this is a different team. Missing on Bak and Elarky certainly doesn't help. And, you could make the argument that Solomon's development has been delayed due to sitting out to work on his academics.

That being said, the near-misses on our top recruiting targets for big men really does hurt. It's surprising considering Monty's track record with sending bigs to the NBA. Hopefully, getting Jabari Bird will help pull some other recruits. Even so, instant impact big guys are rare, especially considering Monty's preference for recruiting his type of players. (i.e., not one and domes) I think we'll just have to be patient and trust that he'll be able to develop Kravish, Solomon, Behrens, Rodriguez, and Frid.

This is the best stretch of Cal basketball that we've had in a long time. I'm concerned, but not worried.

NorCalNick: This is the best problem Cal basketball has ever faced. Fans can see the talent on the court, they see the talent that will be arriving out of high school, and they know the talent Cal has at head coach, and the conclusion is that the Bears have - at the very least - the potential for the most sustained success Cal has seen since the 50s.

So the issue is that the Bears aren't quite as good, quite as fast as we'd all like. But it's still miles better than anything we've had since the brief days of Jason Kidd.

I agree that there is a concern - one wouldn't expect Monty to coach a whole lot longer before heading to a well-deserved retirement. But ultimately we have to trust him to maximize the talent he can bring on campus and the administration to make a good hire when he decides he's done. In four years, I've only once thought that the talent on the roster wasn't absolutely maximized in terms of wins and losses, and there were some extenuating circumstances last year. He'll do it again.