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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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Columnist Mark Purdy on Monty’s final act

Jeff Faraudo

  • Steve Fischer

    First – A “Thank You” to Monty for the years he served. He never brought us ridicule and coached with dignity. I do believe he was past his prime and unable to get us to the next level. I wish him well in retirement.

    I don’t trust Sandy Barbour the make a good choice,however I am not knowledgeable enough to pick one off the top of my head. I have no idea who this assistant is yet no reason to think he can recruit or bring Cal to a higher level. We need to try to be an elite program. We have the right conference, right media market and Cal is an attractive university.

    For years I championed Jason Kidd and no one agreed with me. He is a great coach. There is a rumor that Mike Woodson will leave the Knicks and coach at Indiana. That would free up Tom Crean. Calvin Cheaney an assistant at St Louis has star power. Tim Crews the Bilikins Coach would be another good choice. The coach at Steven F Austin who won 28 games in a row this year and made it to the 2nd round of the NCAAs would be a dark horse.

    Barbour will not take chances she wants someone respectable even if not great. I don’t trust her. I’d rather take a chance on someone less proven but exciting.

  • Mitch

    Great coach. We were so lucky to have him. I fear we will now see just how good he was.

  • Steve Fischer

    You probably live in the Bay Area or maybe at a Pac 12 school. The thing is the rest of the country never saw how good he was because we probably went the entire year without being in the Top 25. That means someone has to hunt for the scores at a Cal or basketball site. Over the course of a year perhaps 60 teams at least touch the Top 25- can’t remember us being there.
    We have rarely been on National TV either and when we have , we usually lost. WHen I go around Texas or the US most think the Univesity of California is in … Los Angeles. For ht elast couple of years we have been a non-factor in college basketball.

    If you took the 5 teams in the 3-4 biggest markets in each of the 6 major conferences over the past 40 years – almost all of them would have a better a record than we do. Just by chance we have to win some years. Sandy Barbour will do what she can to make sure we have little chance.

  • Rollonubears

    Can Travis DeCuire recruit? Might be worth giving him a 1-year deal to see what happens, if he can recruit.

  • Juancho

    Hiring decuire would be a huge mistake. We are a good basketball job. Hiring decuire creates no spike moment. Hes already been recruiting.

    Hard to see why ivan rabb would commit to cal to play for someone whos never been the head coach.

  • Steve Fischer

    Well Is he a household name among colelge basketball fans? Do high school bball players have a good image of him? If he did do a decent job he probably ought to start at some — junior college. Not at a Pac12 School . We should pull a surprise and go for someone exciting and well known. To me it doesn’t matter if we are an NIT Team or a more mediocre team- no one except Cal Pac 12 Fans will notice. Therefore I’d like to take the risk -chance that we get someone special.

  • Eric

    So interesting stats to consider when we read about Monty as the best Cal coach in the last 50 years.
    His record of 130 wins and 73 losses over six years is a 64% winning percentage. He made the tournament four out of six years, with the NIT in the other two. He has a regular season championship. But we never progressed beyond the second round of the NCAA tournament or the quarters of the NIT (one year we won the play-in and then first round game).
    Ben braun’s first six years – 118 wins and 60 losses, for a 66.29% winning percentage. Three NCAA appearances and two NIT appearances. There was a losing season in these first six years, but also a Sweet Sixteen appearance, a second round appearance, a NIT championship and a NIT quarterfinals.
    Apples to apples – in six seasons they seem pretty equal, right? And Braun probably had a better profile because we had some excellent players during this six season era. Of course, Braun soon fell apart and became a liability.
    Just food for thought, I suppose.

  • Juancho

    Braun had better academics and attendance.

  • Larry

    I’d sum it up as, he wasn’t the best, but he wasn’t the worst either. I’d say he was solid but not spectacular.

  • AztecDan

    Hey Eric – my apologies if my posts were overbearing on the prior thread. I would never want to come off like that, especially to you.

    Not to embarrass you, but I have enjoyed your posts the most, along with Juancho’s, over the years, and I always find your posts the most well thought out, even keeled, well stated … I could go on, lol … So hopefully no hard feelings, and if so please accept my apology. No excuse, I was a little trigger happy last night.

    Thanks!

  • 1brsfan

    Someone mentioned this before but to my knowledge JKidd does not have a college degree which I believe is a requirement for the head coaching position.

    I think you’re on to something about this assistant. If he could recruit you think he would have helped us get better talent as part of Monty’s staff.

  • 1brsfan

    and more talented teams…

  • BlueNGold

    Monty had one losing season in 32 years as a head coach. You are not going to find many who can match his record as a coach. Cal was lucky to have him.