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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.

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Jeff Faraudo