Basketball: Montgomery says struggling Bears need to find a way to have fun again

Mike Montgomery may not spend a lot of time on Xs and Os between now and Saturday’s Pac-12 regular-season finale against Colorado.

“We keep practicing, keep trying to show them the things we need to do,” Montgomery said late Wednesday night after the Bears’ 63-59 loss to Utah, their fourth defeat in five games. “I’m not even sure that’s going to make any difference.”

He’s more concerned with the psychological than the physical.

“Emotionally, we’re really spent,” he said. “We’re having a hard time emotionally sticking with this thing right now.”

The Bears, who began Pac-12 play 5-0, have lost eight of 12 since. Their offense is struggling. A top-four finish in the conference and first-round bye in the Pac-12 tournament is in jeopardy. On even less solid ground are their chances of reaching the NCAA tournament.

The players know what’s at stake and the pressure is consuming them.

“Nobody likes to lose,” senior forward Richard Solomon said.

Montgomery knows he needs to reboot the team’s confidence.

“We’ve got to find a way to have fun, make this where everything that happens doesn’t weigh so heavily on everybody,” he said.

Tyrone Wallace said Montgomery’s post-game talk never dealt with defending the screen-and-roll or getting better ball movement.

“I don’t think he mentioned one thing about basketball after the game,” Wallace said. “He said we’ve got to have more enthusiasm. Too many guys look unhappy. We’ve got to dig deep to find the positive things.”

When it was suggested he treat his players to ice cream at practice to coax some smiles, Montgomery didn’t immediately dismiss the idea.

“We’ve just got to find a way to make it fun. I don’t know what else,” he said. “Losing’s certainly no fun. We’ve struggled to get everybody thinking positively.”

Jeff Faraudo

  • BlakeStreetBear

    Fun would be running alley-oop plays for the most athletic player on the squad: Jabari Bird. Have we seen even a single attempt all season in that regard? He has disappeared and the season has gone with him. I just can’t figure out how a McD’s AA doesn’t get minutes on a team with not a ton of depth!? I can’t figure out why Monty hasn’t been able to get him to be effective in SOME aspect of the game, ie scoring.

  • Rollonubears

    I like this approach. You can’t teach fundamentals at this point in the season. This team was really on fire earlier in the year. Maybe they should watch a couple of those games, and hoosiers, while they eat their ice cream.

  • 1brsfan

    Completely agree. I know he was hurt and missed some valuable time but he should be back in the court more. Maybe not being a starter is making him lose confidence.

  • Monty has lost the team, first time I can remember that happening to him.

  • 1brsfan

    Something is not right with the team. They played lose and much better offensively when there were no expectations but once they got off to a 5-0 start people starting talking about challenging AZ for the conference and then injuries happened. We haven’t been the same since. We also started playing Wednesday night games. I don’t know if that was a disadvantage to an old dog like Monty that was used to Thurs-Sat games that gave him more time to prepare. I’ve noticed most of our losses have come on Wed night.

  • Juancho

    When other teams recruit players like bird they tailor the offense to him. Monty doesnt take that approach. Whether thats right or wrong i dont know.

  • Steve Fischer

    Fun? Maybe Monty will buy them a big screen tv so they can watch Stanford play in the Tourney. Dunking Monty off the Golden Gate Bridge might be fun. Why can’t coaches do the honorable thing and resign? Sometimes a new coach can come in late in the season and revive a team. When Bobby Knight got fired Asst Coach Mike Davis took over and got Indiana into the NCAA Championship Game v Maryland. ( they lost).

  • JB Don’t Dance

    I also have to blame the Seniors. How many times have we seen Cobbs do more damage in the second half — and now Solomon? If you are looking for positives next year, Kravish and Kreklow seem equipped to at least set an example — even if they aren’t vocal leaders. How much do we miss Jorge? Two straight years without a clear team leader.

  • GoBears49

    You guys are all wrong on Bird. He has had lots of opportunities to shine, and he probably will next year. But he hasn’t and has been clearly been beaten out by Matthews, who has shown more promise as a shooter than Bird, though I haven’t checked the stats. I was expecting more movement from Bird, but he now just seems to be content to try to make 3-pointers. I was expecting him to swoop to the basket, which Wallace often does a very good job of doing.

  • Wehofx

    Tried to watch DVR even after reading JF’s story and game thread. After 7 minutes the lack of heart/intensity was too much to take. Monty needs to do a crabbe shove to the entire team.

    Except for cobbs no one else has stepped up as a scorer or a leader.

    I’m still in the Monty camp for one more year. Fact: He is the most successful coach in the PAC over last 4 years.

    In PAC, Except for s miller, there is no coach I’d take over Monty.

  • Wehofx

    Disqus doesn’t like my iPhone.

    That said, if next years team w rohrie and diallo shows same lack of desire, the problem is Monty.

  • Steve Fischer

    Really although the Pac 12 has been down – how many Pac 12 Tourney Championships have we won in that time? IN 2011 we got blown out in the 2nd round 70-56 to USC, The next year we lost to #6 Seed Colorado in the semis 70-59, and last year we lost by 10 in the second round to the 10th Seed UTAH. I’m sure most Stanford and USC Fans want Monty to stay here another year.

  • GoBears49

    I think the problem may be that the team wants to free lance more and go one on one. It’s fun for the guy who’s got the ball and going one on one but does not lead to high percentage shots. Passing the ball around quickly and effectively to get high percentage shots is probably not nearly as fun but it is more likely to achieve a successful result. But to do that takes discipline and, I guess, playing in a disciplined way is not fun.

    Much the same for defense, which as Monty says is based largely upon heart. Not many people will know wehn you’ve played strong defense, except the coach and a few other people. So why put in the effort to do so unless you’re really a team player. The best teams shut the other team down with their defense.

  • 1brsfan

    Monty has made it known that he doesn’t like the p12 tourney, right or wrong, so he doesn’t prepare his team properly. It’s unfortunate because a good showing is the difference between making the tourney or not.

  • Steve Fischer

    I really don’t like walking my two dogs and I’ve made it known to everyone in my house. Sometimes they want to go at inconvenient times. I do know what they will do in my house if not walked properly…its sort of like what our basketball team has been doing…