Basketball: Monty embraces earlier practice start

The college football season is just a month old and already college basketball practice is set to begin. Yes, in September.

The NCAA in May voted to move up the beginning of practice for men’s teams by essentially two weeks from its recent start date of Oct. 15. The move comes two years after women’s teams were allowed the earlier start.

“They saw what we were doing and liked the rule,” Stanford women’s coach Tara VanDerveer said. “I think we were the guinea pigs.”

“It makes all the sense in the world,” said Cal men’s coach Mike Montgomery, whose team will begin practicing Saturday. “There’s no negative to it in my mind.”

Montgomery said the change makes sense given that the start of the game schedule has crept into early November.

Teams will be allowed 30 practice days over a 42-day span leading to their season-opening game. Cal tips off Nov. 8 against Coppin State.

“I think you’re going to see better basketball early. The past few years basketball in November was bad, teams were not ready to play,” said Montgomery, adding that the more gradual buildup could reduce injuries.

Speaking of which, sounds like Montgomery expects senior point guard Justin Cobbs to be back in time for the Bears’ opener. Cobbs underwent surgery in August to repair a broken bone in his foot.

“He’s not a month and a half away,” ┬áMontgomery said. “I don’t have an exact date, but much quicker than that. He’s just doing great.”

The Bears, coming off a second straight NCAA tournament appearance, lost Pac-12 Player of the Year Allen Crabbe to the NBA draft, but welcome a strong five-man recruiting class, topped by former Salesian High prep All-America guard Jabari Bird.

Jeff Faraudo