Basketball: Ten years after a Newell classic

On Wednesday night, Mike Montgomery will be involved in another college basketball game carrying Pete Newell’s name.

This time his Cal squad takes on third-ranked Kansas in the inaugural Pete Newell Classic at Haas Pavilion. Cal will recognize its late, legendary coach by naming one home game in his honor each season.

Ten years ago Tuesday — on Dec. 21, 2000 — Montgomery and his Stanford squad played in the Pete Newell Challenge, the now-defunction yearly doubleheader that brought together top-level teams.

The 2000 Newell Challenge produced one of the greatest nights of college basketball in Bay Area history.

Top-ranked Duke led by as many as 15 points in the second half before 3rd-ranked Stanford  pulled out an 84-83 victory when Casey Jacobsen banked in a 1o-foot shot with 3.6 seconds left.

The game thrilled 19,804 fans at the Oakland Coliseum Arena — still a record for the biggest crowd to watch a college basketball game in California — including luminaries such as Condoleeza Rice, Oscar Robertson and Jerry West. No one was more elated than Stanford alum Tiger Woods, who famously leapt from his courtside seat and thrust his fists skyward when Jacobsen’s shot went in.

Asked what he recalled of the game, Montgomery said, “I liked the last of it, the end of it.”

Jacobsen had 26 points for the Cardinal, and twins Jason and Jarron Collins combined for 24 points and 21 rebounds. Shane Battier and Jason Williams each scored 26 for the Blue Devils and Mike Dunleavy added 13.

Montgomery has warm memories of the Newell Challenge.

“We had good success in that (event),” he said.”We beat Gonzaga, we beat Michigan State, we beat Temple.”

And they beat Duke. Stanford trailed 43-30 at halftime, but held the Blue Devils to 29-percent shooting in the second half. Duke made one field goal in the final eight minutes.

“I just remember it being a very well-played game. Casey hit a nice little shot on the inbounds to put us ahead one and Jason Williams almost ran the length of the floor in under five seconds.

“Jason Collins jumped straight up or he would have made it. He certainly got from end to end fast enough, it’s just that he changed the shot enough or we would have probably lost, even so.”

Montgomery laments the fact that Bay Area schools cannot more often attract those type of matchups.

“It was a fun event,” he said. “It’s been hard for Stanford, it’s been hard for Cal to get that quality opponent all the time. Frankly, I don’t know in recent years if we’ve been equipped to handle a schedule like that. This year’s schedule is plenty good enough for us.”

The home-and-home series with Kansas comes to an end with Wednesday’s game, a year after the Bears played at Allen Fieldhouse. Montgomery said that was his first trip to Lawrence, Kan. 

“We enjoyed the series with Kansas. Of course, check with me after Wednesday’s game,” he said, laughing. “It was fun going back there.”

Monty hopes the return trip isn’t real fun for the unbeaten Jayhawks. Haas is close to being a sellout.

“Don’t you always think people in the Bay Area have come to watch the opponents?” he said. “We need a little more support for the local (team) and not so much the opponent.”

The crowd may be lured Wednesday to see Kansas, but won’t it cheer for the home team?

“I hope so,” Montgomery said.

Jeff Faraudo