Basketball: Monty at media day

Cal coach Mike Montgomery at Pac-10 Media Day in Los Angeles:

“Always a pleasure to be here. We have practice this afternoon. Not like we need practice with seven new players. I am glad we had the experience of winning the championship last year. It’s great to get Harper back this year. This is a different year for me. This is probably the youngest team I have ever had. It is going to be a challenge for us. We only really have three veteran guys back. Jorge (Gutierrez) was the only guy who played significant minutes for us last year.

“It is a terrific group of players, had a great summer together. We are going to rely very heavily on our two veteran players. There is going to be two or three veteran players on the court most of the time. We only have had 12 practices. November 10, first game. We will have some things we will just have to do well. Overall, we will just have to improve. By the time we get into conference we will have to compete (with) everyone . . . who is there. We are very excited to have Harper back. he is in the best shape he has every been and his knee is very strong.”

On the personality of his team:
“If you were ever going to take a model citizen on how to come back from an injury, Harper would be it. He and Markhuri Sanders-Frison really took the bulls by the horn. No one missed (workouts) and if they did they were held accountable by their teammates. They are young, they just don’t know. We have got a lot of work to do on how we are going to be successful. Their attitudes are great. I need to be patient, which is not my strong suit. I need to point out the positives, give them some love now and then.”

On the freshmen on the squad:
“They are talented. We can shoot the ball, generally speaking. Like most young people now, they don’t have the fundamental base. I wouldn’t paint them all with the same brush, but we need to help them get better. Our execution isn’t very good right now. Basics such as just setting a good screen, creating shots, all those things we are having to do. it is just a learning process across the board.”

On the point guard position:
“It is a concern, without question. One of the unintended consequences of it, Jerome was playing a lot of minutes. So as a result of that, we didn’t have a lot of guys behind him getting experience. Brandon Smith was on our team last year, didn’t play much. He had an ankle injury that slowed him down. He has played there along with Jorge. We just don’t want to lose (Gutierrez’s)  intangibles that we would if he played the point. We have put Gary Franklin and Emerson Murray (there, too).”

On the play of freshman Richard Solomon:
“When the lights have come on, he always played better. He has picked up strength and he has a great shooting touch. He is one of those guys that will surprise you at times.”

Junior forward Harper Kamp

On how his knee feels:
“It feels 110 percent. It has gotten a lot better. Done a lot of work in the weight room and on the court. It has felt great.”

On the play of Bak Bak:
“(During our scrimmage Wednesday), Bak hit about three threes in my face. Right now I would say he is playing really well. He is getting out there and learning what the coaches need from him. I’m excited to see what he can do out there.”

On the play of freshman Richard Solomon:
“He is young. He has a lot to learn about the differences between high school and college. He is learning and he has got to continue to keep his head up and play hard.”

Jeff Faraudo