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Football: Bears start anew in Year 2

While I spent the day at Haas Pavilion for Mike Montgomery’s retirement, staff writer Jimmy Durkin pinch-hit for me at the Bears’ first spring football practice.

Click here to read his report from Day 1.

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Basketball: Montgomery uses final day on the job to give asst. Travis DeCuire his endorsement

Dodging praise and fighting off emotions on his final day as Cal’s basketball coach, Mike Montgomery used the podium to deliver a passionate endorsement of associate head coach Travis DeCuire as his successor.

Whoever gets the job will have enormous shoes to fill.

Montgomery retired Monday after six successful seasons at Cal and the most accomplished career of any Bay Area men’s basketball coach of the past half century.

“I feel really good about my decision. I just think it’s time,” Montgomery said during a 35-minute news conference in which he showed a seldom-seen soft side by nearly breaking into tears several times.

In addition to the six years he spent at Cal, Montgomery, 67, coached for 18 seasons at Stanford, where he had his greatest success, leading the Cardinal into the NCAA tournament 12 times, including his last 10 years in a row. He left Stanford after the 2003-04 season to coach the Golden State Warriors, compiling a 68-96 record before being fired after two seasons

Montgomery underwent surgery for bladder cancer 2 1/2 years ago but said his health is “great” and that he wanted to step away from coaching on his own terms.

He also put some heat on Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour to give serious consideration to DeCuire, who has been part of his staff in Berkeley for all six seasons.

Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Columnist Mark Purdy on Monty’s final act

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Basketball: Who’s next? Possible candidates

Cal’s wish list

Here are potential candidates for the Cal coaching job that opened when Mike Montgomery retired on Monday:

– TOMMY AMAKER, Harvard

Credentials: The 48-year-old former Duke guard has guided the Crimson to a seven-year record of 139-71, including four straight Ivy League titles. His 2012 squad became the first Harvard team to play in the NCAA tournament since 1946.

Positives: Has shown he can navigate the postseason. Harvard never had won an NCAA tournament game until the past two seasons when it posted tournament upsets over No. 3 seed New Mexico and No. 5 Cincinnati.

Concerns: Amaker will be tough to land. On Saturday, after being wooed by crosstown Boston College, he announced he is staying put, saying “My heart is at Harvard.”

– RANDY BENNETT, Saint Mary’s

Credentials: The Gaels’ all-time winningest coach with a 14-year record of 286-137. Bennett, 51, guided Saint Mary’s into the Sweet 16 in 2010. SMC was 23-12 this season, interrupting a run of six straight years of at least 25 victories.

Positives: Has led the Gaels to five NCAA tournament berths since 2005 — as many or more than any Bay Area school over the same time frame, including Cal.

Negatives: Faced a five-game this past season as part of sanctions for NCAA violations that included impermissible workouts and benefits and a failure to monitor charge.

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Basketball: Montgomery makes it official

Coach Mike Montgomery, who guided Cal’s basketball team to four NCAA tournament appearances in six seasons after transforming rival Stanford into a national contender, announced his retirement on Monday.

Montgomery, 67, informed his players during a noon-hour team meeting. A press conference was scheduled at Cal for 2:30 p.m.

“I have enjoyed 45 years coaching the game I love while developing long-lasting friendships along the way. This is a decision that was not made lightly,” Montgomery said in a statement, “This is the right time for me to move to the next phase of my life.”

The most successful Bay Area men’s basketball coach of the past half century, Montgomery compiled a record of 130-73 at Cal. In 2010, he brought the school its first regular-season Pac-12 Conference championship in 50 years.

“The six years I have spent at Cal have been some of the greatest in my career,” he said, thanking athletic director Sandy Barbour for her support. “This is a great program and Cal basketball is positioned for success for many years to come.”

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Football: Goff’s shoulder is healthy, but Bears will be cautious with QB during spring workouts

Note: Because I was busy on the Mike Montgomery story, staff writer Darren Sabedra pinch-hit as Sonny Dykes and Jared Goff answered questions on a media teleconference in advance of Monday’s start to spring practice.

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The shoulder injury Cal quarterback Jared Goff suffered against Stanford last season has healed, but coach Sonny Dykes plans to take a cautious approach when the team opens spring practice Monday.

“We’ve got to be careful not to put too much on him and blow his arm out early,” Dykes said Sunday. “We’re going to bring him along slowly, probably split reps early and see how he handles it, see how he feels, give him the occasional day off.

“It’s going to be important that we manage him the right way.”

Goff, who threw for a Cal season record 3,508 yards last season, underwent surgery Nov. 27 to repair the shoulder that was separated on a hit by Stanford’s Shayne Skov.

The quarterback said Sunday that he has been throwing 100 percent for at least a month and that the shoulder feels great.

“I went through a throwing program as soon as I felt good enough to throw, which started a few months ago,” Goff said.

Click here for the rest of this story.

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Basketball: Mike Montgomery expected to inform Cal on Monday whether he is retiring

UPDATED

Cal basketball coach Mike Montgomery will discuss his future on Monday with athletic director Sandy Barbour, who said she would “absolutely” try to talk him out of retirement if that’s his intention.

ESPN.com reported that Montgomery, 67, has been leaning toward retiring after his sixth season at Cal.

Barbour, who attended Sunday’s NCAA women’s basketball regional semifinals at Stanford on Sunday, confirmed by phone the two will meet.

“Mike Montgomery is a phenomenal coach and I’m glad he’s ours,” Barbour said.

Asked if she knows what Montgomery — the Bay Area’s most successful men’s college basketball coach of the past 50 years — plans to tell her, Barbour said, “Nope, I don’t.”

But Barbour said she would try to dissuade him from a possible retirement decision. “Absolutely,” she said, “as I have before.”

Montgomery did not immediately respond to multiple messages.

UC Irvine coach Russell Turner, who worked with Montgomery at Stanford and with the Golden State Warriors, said the two talked on the phone last week to discuss SMU, Cal’s quarterfinal opponent in the NIT.

“We didn’t talk about anything like this,” Turner said. “With the success he’s having, it would surprise me if it’s true. But I don’t know anything.”

Utah State coach Stew Morrill, a longtime friend of Montgomery, said he didn’t know anything about Montgomery’s possible intention to retire and declined to comment.

ESPN’s report said sources told them Cal has hired a search firm to begin looking for a successor.

 Montgomery has compiled a record of 130-73 at Cal with four trips to the NCAA tournament. His 2009-10 team earned the Bears’ their first regular-season conference championship in 50 years.

The Bears’ 2013-14 season ended at 21-14 last Wednesday with a 67-65 loss at SMU in the NIT.

This Cal team was a rare Montgomery squad that did not peak toward the season’s end. The Bears started 14-4, including 5-0 in the Pac-12. But they were just 7-10 the rest of the way, tumbling from a near-certain NCAA tournament bid to the NIT after finishing in a five-way tie for third at 10-8.

Montgomery faced a serious health scare in the fall of 2011 when he underwent surgery for bladder cancer. But he said doctors told him he had a clean bill of health, and he directed the Bears to a 24-10 record that season and second-place finish in the Pac-12.

In the summer of 2012, less than a year after his bout with cancer, Montgomery signed a contract extension with Cal through the 2015-16 season.

In 18 seasons at Stanford, through the 2003-04 campaign, Montgomery was 393-167 with four conference championships and 12 trips to the NCAA tournament. The Cardinal’s 1989 NCAA bid was its first in 47 years.

Montgomery’s 1997-98 team reached the Final Four — the only Bay Area men’s to do so since Cal in 1960 under Pete Newell. Montgomery’s 2000-01 Stanford squad advanced to the Elite 8 round.

In 32 college seasons, including eight at Montana, Montgomery has a record of 677-316, leaving him just seven games shy of 1,000 as a Division I head coach. His past 15 Stanford and Cal teams finished no worse than fourth place in the conference.

Between stints at Stanford and Cal, Montgomery spent two seasons as coach of the Golden State Warriors.

A native of Long Beach and a graduate of Long Beach State, is a four-time Pac-12 coach of the year. In 2004 he received the John R. Wooden “Legends of Coaching” Lifetime Achievement Award, which previously had gone to Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Lute Olson and Roy Williams.

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Swimming: Franklin is World Sportswoman of Year

Cal freshman swimmer Missy Franklin added another honor to her resume when she was named the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year during a ceremony Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Franklin earned the award after her record-setting performance at the 2013 World Championships, where she won six gold medals – most ever for a woman at the event.

“Oh my gosh,” exclaimed Franklin, the youngest-ever winner of the women’s award and the first swimmer so honored. “I don’t know what I’m doing here.”

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Basketball: Bears’ season ends with last-second 67-65 loss at SMU in NIT quarterfinals

Justin Cobbs hit a go-ahead 3-point shot with 15.4 seconds left, but the Bears couldn’t close out a win at SMU in their NIT quarterfinal game.

Nic Moore answered with a 3-pointer of his own with six seconds left and the Mustangs claimed a 67-65 win and a trip to Madison Square Garden for the NIT semifinals.

The Bears’ season ends at 21-14.

Cal trailed by as many as seven points early in the second half, but rallied behind a 20-point performance from freshman Jabari Bird. Cobbs seemed to delivered his third game-winning shot in two years before Moore came through for the Mustangs (26-9).  

Cobbs had 18 points and seven assists in his final game for Cal. The senior point guard moved into second place on Cal’s career assists list with 531, passing Jerome Randle (524). He trails only Keith Smith, who had 546 in four seasons 1987 through ’90.

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Basketball: Kreklow will try to play, Solomon questionable for SMU in NIT quarterfinal

Cal needs to win one more game — on the road and possibly without one or even two starters — to earn a trip to Madison Square Garden for the semifinals of the NIT.

The Bears (21-13) is in Dallas to face SMU (25-9) on Wednesday night. The winner advances to New York City for the semifinals and finals on April 1 & 3.

But this won’t be easy. After home victories over outmanned Utah Valley and an Arkansas team that couldn’t make a basket for most of the first half, the Bears play at SMU, where the Mustangs are 17-1 this season.

Cal also could be shorthanded. Starting forward Richard Solomon, the Pac-12′s top rebounder, missed the first two NIT games after sustaining a concussion at home. No other details have been provided. Solomon is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game.

Starting guard Ricky Kreklow had his nose bloodied and broken in the second half of Monday’s 75-64 win over Arkansas. He is expected to wear a protective mask and try to play against SMU.

The Mustangs, led by coaching legend Larry Brown, beat UC Irvine and LSU in their first two NIT games.

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Football: Spring practice begins Monday with the first of six workouts open to the public

Cal football practices still will be open to the public this spring, just not all of them.

The Bears begin spring workouts Monday with the first of six practices scheduled to be open to fans.

Unlike last season, when every practice was open, second-year coach Sonny Dykes has decided to give spectators access to just a portion of the spring workout schedule after the Bears struggled to a 1-11 record last fall.

Monday’s first workout runs from 3:30 to 6 p.m. The Bears’ spring practice schedule ends on Saturday, April 26 with the spring game, open to the public and televised by the Pac-12 Networks, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The scrimmage is being dubbed the Cal Spring Football Experience and will include the opportunity for fans to interact with players and coaches during on-field football action. There also will be complimentary schedule posters, coffee and donuts, face painting, balloon artists and a photo station.

Other open practices will be Saturday, April 5 (11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.), Wednesday, April 9 (3:30 to 6 p.m.), Saturday, April 12 (10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) and Friday, April 18 (3:30 to 6 p.m.).

The Bears open the 2014 regular season at Northwestern on Aug. 31. Cal’s home opener is Sept. 6 against Sacramento State.