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Basketball: Second-year magic for Monty?

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.

Jeff Faraudo