Neither Cal coach Mike Montgomery nor his players shed any light Thursday on why starting forward Omondi Amoke has been suspended indefinitely headed into Friday’s NCAA Tournament opener against Louisville.
“He’s temporarily suspended. That’s what it is,” Montgomery said during his news conference at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. “The kid made a mistake and we felt like we had to take action, and we did. Pretty much end of story.”
The athletic department announced the suspension Wednesday, saying Amoke violated team rules.
Senior Theo Robertson said he doesn’t know the cause of Amoke’s suspension. The absence of the 6-foot-7 sophomore means Cal will play smaller with sophomore guard Jorge Gutierrez added to the starting lineup.
“It’s been tough, but within the team no one is really that concerned with it,” Robertson said. “The guys who are out there are going to have to play.”
Asked if he was angry about the situation, Robertson said, “I wouldn’t call it angry. I’d say it’s a little bit disappointed. I’m saddened for him. I wish he was here instead of the situation that he’s in.
“As far as the team’s concerned, we just worried about playing well Friday. No matter who’s out there, we have to play our `A’ game and give it our best effort.”
Senior power forward Jamal Boykin said he wasn’t comfortable offering specifics on what he knew of the incident.
“We’re dealing with it the best way we can,” he said. “It’s only a distraction. We’re focusing on Louisville.”
Point guard Jerome Randle was in complete unison with his teammates. “”We just focus on the game, man,” he said. “That’s all we focus on. We don’t talk about it. We’re talking about Louisville and what we can do to beat them.”
The 6-6 Robertson will move from the wing to Amoke’s power forward spot, a position he’s played off and on much of his career, out of necessity. Against Louisville, he could be matched up against 6-10 Terrence Jennings or 6-8 Jared Swopshire.
“I’ve guarded a Lopez twin,” he said, referring to 7-foot brothers Robin and Brook Lopez, formerly of Stanford.
Efforts to contact Amoke have unsuccessful.