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Basketball: Cal issues statements in response to Mike Montgomery’s shove of Allen Crabbe

Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour, in a statement released several hours after the Bears’ 76-68 win over USC on Sunday night, said coach Mike Montgomery’s shove of star player Allen Crabbe during a second-half timeout was “unacceptable,” but added, “I am confident that something like this will not happen again.”

Montgomery, in his fifth season as Cal coach, gave Crabbe a shove with 16:31 left in the game, hoping to motivate him to play better. A few minutes after the game, he said, “It worked, didn’t it?” He also said he would do it again.
 
In a statement later, Montgomery said, “I have great passion for this game and tonight, I let my emotions get away from me in the heat of the moment. While my intent was to motivate our student-athletes, my behavior was inappropriate and I apologize for my actions.”
 
Barbour’s full statement:
 
“Sunday’s game was an emotional one for everyone who cares deeply about our men’s basketball program, and the Bears certainly showed tremendous resolve coming back to earn a win over USC. However, it is unacceptable for our coaches to have physical contact with student-athletes regardless of the circumstances. The second-half incident was certainly out of character for Mike Montgomery, and I am confident that something like this will not happen again.”
 
Crabbe, the Pac-12 Conference scoring leader, totaled 23 points in the win over USC, 14 of them after Montgomery gave him a sharp push and yelled, “Do you want to play?” Cal trailed by 12 points at the time.
 
Crabbe became agitated and was pulled away and into a tunnel near the Cal bench by teammates Justin Cobbs and Richard Solomon. Crabbe remained in the tunnel for a couple minutes while calming down. Montgomery put him back into the game almost as soon as he returned to the bench.
 
After the game, Crabbe said he understood Montgomery was just trying to get him to play better.
 
“Just spur of the moment,” Crabbe said. “It was a emotional game at the time. He was trying to motivate me. Everything’s fine. It’s under the bridge. He’s my coach.”
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Basketball: USC game thread

Click here for my game story.

FINAL SCORE: Cal 76, USC 68. Bears outscore USC 25-7 over the final 5:35 to win their fifth game in six. Cal improves to 16-9, 8-5 in the Pac-12. Crabbe had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Cobbs scored 22. Bears pull into a tie for fourth place with Arizona State.

Crabbe and Montgomery both confirmed an incident during a timeout with 16:31 left when the coach gave his star player a little shove and yelled, “Do you want to play?”

“Just coach using his way of motivating me,” Crabbe said. “Just spur of the moment. It was a emotional game at the time. He was trying to motivate me. Everything’s fine. It’s under the bridge. He’s my coach.”

So, it was effective? “Yeah, obviously,” Crabbe said. “He motivated me well.”

Said Montgomery: “It worked, didn’t it? We were standing around. Nobody was ready to play. Allen had come down twice and went to the wrong side of the floor and his guy hit two 3-pointers.

“I was trying to get him going … it was probably over-exaggerated.”

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Basketball: ESPN’s Lunardi projects Cal in NCAAs

ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi tonight listed Cal among his “last four in” the NCAA tournament field.

Lunardi had Virginia, Arizona State, Villanova and Cal — in that order — as his final projected teams in the tournament.

Topping the list of his “first four out” was Kentucky, which lost by 30 points at Tennessee in its first game without injured freshman center Nerlens Noel.

Here’s the cool part: Lunardi has the Bears facing Saint Mary’s (in Dayton, Ohio) in one of the four play-in games, with the winner advancing to the San Jose regional as the No. 12 seed to take on Butler.

Now that would be fun.

 

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Track and field: Ex-Cal great Montano crushes American record in indoor 600m at Millrose

Former Cal star and 2012 Olympian Alysia Montano broke the American record while winning the seldom-run 600-meter run at 106th Millrose Games indoor track meet at the Armory in New York City.

Montano ran 1 minute, 23.59 seconds to crush the record of 1:26.56 set by Delisa Walton-Floyd in 1981. She won the race by nearly three seconds.

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Basketball: USC game preview

TIPOFF: 7 p.m. Sunday at Haas Pavilion, Berkeley. TV/Radio: KICU/910-AM.

UPDATE: Senior guard Brandon Smith cleared to play today.

The Golden Bears are executing and playing with confidence.

The trick Sunday against USC is maintaining the edge they have taken into recent wins over Oregon, Arizona and UCLA.

“We played two ranked teams — no reason not to be excited,” coach Mike Montgomery said of the games vs. Oregon and Arizona. “We’ve got to stay excited against everybody. That’s going to be the key for us.”

The Bears certainly don’t want to sleep on the Trojans, who have won four in a row and are 5-3 since replacing coach Kevin O’Neill with Bob Cantu.

“They’ve got the same record in conference as we have,” sophomore David Kravish, noting that the Bears and Trojans are tied for fifth place, one-half game back of Arizona State. “I don’t know if people aren’t noticing them. We’ve got to go into that game with the same intensity as Oregon and Arizona.”

Montgomery said this will be a tougher assignment than a month ago, when Cal beat USC in Los Angeles.

“No question,” he said. “When they started the year they thought they had a team that could contend for the conference championship.

“They feel like they have talent. Bob’s gone in said, `When you’re open, shoot it. They seem to have thrived on that. We’re going to have to be ready to play.”

The Bears have thrived, as much as anything, because they have learned how to play hard.

“When we beat Oregon,” Kravish said, “that game showed us how we had to play. We’ve got to play hard as a team every game, every minute.”

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Basketball: Cal signee Bird among 3 Bay Area players named to McDonald’s All-America game

Salesian HS star Jabari Bird, who is signed to play for Cal next season, is among a record three Bay Area players who were named to the McDonald’s All-America Game.

Bird will be joined in the April 3 event in Chicago by Aaron Gordon of Mitty-San Jose and Marcus Lee of Deer Valley-Antioch. Gordon is unsigned and Lee is headed to play next season at Kentucky.

Bird, a 6-foot-6 guard, is rated as the nation’s No. 19 overall prospect, according to ESPN. He led Salesian to the 2012 CIF Division IV state title last season.

He will become the fifth player to come to Cal after playing in the McDonald’s game, joining Jason Kidd (1992), Jelani Gardner (1984), Shareef Abdur-Rahim (1995) and Leon Powe (2003).

Matt Beeuwsaert (1984), who began his career at Notre Dame, finished up at Cal.

This marks the first time in the history of the McDonald’s game, dating back to 1978, that the Bay Area will be represented by more than one player. Only six local players have participated in previous years.

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Basketball: UCLA game thread

Click here to ready my game story.

FINAL SCORE: Cal 76, UCLA 63. Bears improve to 15-9 overall, 7-5 in the Pac-12 and are part of a four-way tie for fourth place. They have beaten all of the league’s top three teams — and all in the past 13 days. David Kravish had a career-high 18 points to go with 13 rebounds. Richard Solomon scored 17, Crabbe had 16 (15 in the first half) and Cobbs had 12 points and nine assists. Cal had three different players with at least five assists, as Wallace contributed six and Crabbe five. Mike Montgomery said he expects senior G Brandon Smith (left knee) to be OK. Adams led UCLA (18-7, 8-4) with 15 points. Muhammad had 13 points and 11 rebounds, but shot 4 for 13 as the Bruins converted just 37.7 percent. 

4:52 2nd H: UCLA within 70-56 after 3-pointer by Adams, who has 15 points. Brandon Smith hit his left knee on the basket standard moments earlier and was helped from the floor. Crabbe has not scored in the second half.

7:35 2nd H: Bruins doing just enough to keep the Haas crowd a bit nervous. Cal lead now 67-50. Thurman has three PFs. Solomon, who already has three, just limped to the bench for the timeout.

11:01 2nd H: UCLA got within 51-36 before the Bears ran off nine straight points for a 60-36 lead after a putback and free throw by Kravish. UCLA came back again, riding a pair of 3-pointers by freshman Jordan Adams, but a jumper by Cobbs made it 64-45.

16:22 2nd H: You didn’t really think it was over, did you? UCLA has opened the second half with a 12-4 run and has pulled within 51-34. Monty calls a timeout. Cal has turnovers on its past two possessions.

HALFTIME SCORE (Honest): Cal 47, UCLA 22. The margin was 28 a moment ago before David Wear hit a 3-pointer. Bill Walton, that famous UCLA alum and outspoken Howland critic, must be exploding about now. Crabbe with 15 points and Cobbs, Solomon and Kravish with 10 apiece. Wallace is shooting 1 for 5 — the rest of the Bears are 19 for 29! Cal outrebounding the Bruins 24-14. Cal shooting 58.8 percent, UCLA 30.3 percent. Cal informs us this is its biggest halftime lead of the season — no kidding. (The football team probably figures every game is like this — they’ll probably be back). Cal honoring Andy Wolfe (Class of ’48) as winner of Pete Newell Career Achievement Award winner.

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Football: Sandy Barbour’s response

 Here is Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour’s response to points raised by former football coach Jeff Tedford in our Thursday interivew:

– On when she made the decision to make a coaching change:

“As I said all along, I was evaluating and certainly wanted at the end of the season do a full body of work analysis. I knew I didn’t have a whole lot of time. I always wanted to have multiple conversations with Jeff, give him some time to respond to questions and concerns. That’s what Jeff and I did over the course of 2 1/2 days. He and I met twice by ourselves, and with the chancellor and vice chancellor (John) Wilton. That;s ultimately when the decision was made.”

– On whether she also met with Tedford during the season:

“Did some of that as well. I let Jeff dictate that. I knew how consumed he was by the season, and dedicated to those guys,  and I didn’t want to ask him to take away from that. He and I did have a couple of conversations. That certainly helped frame something some things for me.”

– On whether Chancellor Robert Birgeneau had a hand in the decision:

“I’ve never claimed it was my decision and only my decision. As athletic director it was left for me to decide. I certainly had conversations and imput and the chancellelor was a part of the decision-making process, no doubt about it.”

– On the administration’s support of the football academic support staff:

“My response to that is we continually evaluate. Do we have the right amount of academic support, because it is a priority. At the end of Jeff’s tenure, we had three times the academic support in terms of personnel that we did when I got here in 2004.”

– On Tedford’s claim that his coaching staff knew of his firing before he did:

“I was not aware of that. Certainly we had to be prepared to have a proper communication strategy. Very few people knew.  Jeff was told and had an opportunity inform those who were close to him.”

– On Tedford’s contention that the biggest academic problem was players leaving after their senior season and not returning to school to complete their degrees:

“That’s correct. It was not a matter of football stufdent-athletes flunking out. We got to really examine where the issues were and kids got pretty much to the end and then just didn’t finish.”

– On whether the contracts of Cal assistant coaches were structured differently than at other schools, with less guaranteed money:

“All I can say to that is we continue to monitor the market place and do what we can do to be competitive. We had significantly more guys on multi-year contracts (then) than we do now.”

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Football: Jeff Tedford — the full interview

Here is the full transcription of my Thursday morning interview with former Cal coach Jeff Tedford: 

– It’s been nearly 3 months since you left Cal. Are you feeling relaxed or do you have the itch to coach again?

“I do feel relaxed, and yes I do have the itch. Got a chance to take a deep breath and kind of step back a little. You get on that treadmill and there’s never really a minute where you’re not thinking about some phase of it. That was very difficult in the beginning because you  just become so accustomed to every second of the day is used for some thought of the program, where it be coaches or players or recruiting or discipline or academics — all the things that go into it. It’s a non-stop thing. There was a transition there that was a little difficult. It’s almost like detox.

“I got through that after probably a month, then to be able to spend some time with my kids and my wife. I feel like I’m much more at ease now., I’m not as tense. It’s been good. This whole thing is going to give me a chance to reflect on things I can do better and differently. I do have the itch, no question, to start the next chapter.”

– Let’s go back to the day after the Oregon State season finale. How did your meeting with athletic director Sandy Barbour unfold? What was the tone? What did you say on behalf of yourself and your program?

“We had conversations before that game, a week or so leading up to that game. Then afterwards it wasn’t really a long conversation. Her decision had been made and there wasn’t really anything I could say.”

– Did you have an answer when you left the meeting?

“They said they would get back to me the next day. She was going to convene with whoever she was talking to. Then we had a conference call with the chancellor and the vice-chancellor. Then the next day we had another meeting and that’s when she said they were going a different direction.”

– How close were you to remaining the Cal coach?

“I didn’t know which way it was going to go. After it was all said and done, I think their minds were made up a couple weeks before.”

– Ultimately, did she give you a reason for the firing?

“No. Once it came down, it was, `We’re going a different direction.’ It was very cut and dried. No explanations. The week before we talked about some things we felt like needed to improve. I kind of told her how we could improve and how I could improve. It was a tough season. I’d never seen anything like the injury piece. Mainly (we talked) about how we could improve academically, which I thought we had. There needed to be some pieces in place for that as far as support. I suggested there were some things I felt could make us more successful in a lot of different areas.

“Going in it kind of felt like her and I were talking as a team. Afterward, I didn’t think we were really acting as a team. Once it was my turn to tell the chancellor what we could do and I was excited about the future and wanted the opportunity to put us back to where we could be — and I was very confident we could do that — I was kind of on my own at that point. That’s why I believe the decision had already been made.”

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Football: Exclusive interview with Jeff Tedford

UPDATED

Jeff Tedford believes athletic director Sandy Barbour already had decided to fire him as Cal football coach before the Bears’ 3-9 season ended with a 62-14 loss at Oregon State.

In an exclusive interview with this newspaper — the only one he has given since being dismissed on Nov. 20 — Tedford said there was almost no give and take during a 30-minute meeting with Barbour the day after the season finale.

“Her decision had been made and there wasn’t really anything I could say,” Tedford said.

Barbour met with Cal’s administration afterward, held a conference call with Tedford and chancellor Robert Birgeneau a day later and gave him her decision.

“It was very cut and dried. No explanations,”

Former Cal coach Jeff Tedford. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Staff file)

he said. “After it was all said and done, I think their minds were made up a couple weeks before.”

Tedford said he doesn’t believe Barbour made the decision on her own. “I think the chancellor had a lot to say about it,” he said.

The winningest coach in Cal history, Tedford displayed no lingering sense of bitterness after working 11 years at the university. He believes the program’s poor recent academic record was a factor in his firing and acknowledged his responsibility.

“I didn’t do everything right,” he said. “Made some mistakes. But always with great intentions.”

Click here to read the rest of this story.