Mike Montgomery has a chance — a good one — to do something no Cal coach has achieved: reach the NCAA Tournament in his first two seasons.
In fact, no other Cal coach has gotten there in his second season, period.
A year after leading the Bears to 22 victories and a spot in the NCAA Tournament, Montgomery and the Bears are expected to challenge for the Pac-10 title and return to the NCAAs. That would be a ground-breaking achievement in Berkeley.
With one exception over the past 50 years, Year 2 has been a tough proposition for Cal coaches. Lou Campanelli went 20-15 and directed the Bears to the quarterfinals of the NIT in 1986-87, but none of Montgomery’s other six predecessors have even managed a .500 record in their “sophomore” coaching season.
Since Pete Newell, who improved from 9-16 in his debut season of 1954-55 to 17-8 the next year, the second act has been rough on recent Cal coaches. Here’s how it’s gone:
Year 1 Year 2
Mike Montgomery 22-11/NCAA ???
Ben Braun 23-9/NCAA 12-15
Todd Bozeman* 22-8/NCAA 13-14
Lou Campanelli 19-10/NIT 20-15/NIT
Dick Kuchen 6-21 8-19
Dick Edwards 11-15 9-17
Jim Padgett 12-13 11-15
Rene Herrerias 13-9 8-17
* Bozeman’s first full season was 1993-94.