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Basketball: Day 9 of the search and still no coach

The search for Cal’s next basketball coach continues.

Mike Montgomery’s replacement has not yet been hired, and even those who are part of the process aren’t hearing anything.

Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour canceled a guest speaking appearance at a sports innovation conference at Stanford on Wednesday. No doubt she is busy with other tasks.

Associate head coach Travis DeCuire and UC Irvine coach Russell Turner are confirmed as having been interviewed, but all else is speculation. Best as I can tell there is no confirmation that Joe Pasternack, the former Cal aide and current Arizona associate head coach, is a finalist.

Likewise, former Warriors and Kings coach Eric Musselman’s name has surfaced, but without confirmation he is part of the process. Musselman resigned his position as assistant coach at Arizona State on Monday.

Posted on Wednesday, April 9th, 2014
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Basketball: Bears won’t be NCAA team next season, according to Lunardi’s first projection

Whoever winds up coaching Cal in 2014-15 won’t take the Bears to the NCAA tournament, according to ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi.

Lunardi’s first 2015 bracket projection includes six Pac-12 teams, but not Cal.

He has Arizona as a No. 1 seed, along with Wisconsin, Kansas and Michigan. The No. 2 seeds are Kentucky, Virginia, Duke and Villanova.

Other Pac-12 teams in his field are No. 8 seed Oregon, No. 9 Utah, No. 10 Colorado, No. 11 Stanford and No. 11 UCLA. Lunardi lists Colorado and Stanford among the last four teams in with a bye, and has UCLA playing in one of the “first four” games to enter the 64-team bracket.

Posted on Wednesday, April 9th, 2014
Under: Basketball, NCAA Tournament | 4 Comments »
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Basketball: Why Cal coaching search is dragging on

Week 1 in the search for Cal’s new basketball coach has passed and no one seems to know when the Bears will announce their new man. Or who it will be.

A campus source told me, “They’re trying to hit a home run,” but added, “If anybody tells you they know anything, they’re lying.”

That’s because it’s believed that perhaps only two people — athletic director Sandy Barbour and chancellor Nicholas Dirks – will be involved in the selection process. And they’re not talking.

The “home run” would be snagging an A-list candidate such as Harvard’s Tommy Amaker, VCU’s Shaka Smart or Dayton’s Archie Miller. By all accounts, Cal has gotten nowhere with any of them.

Why is that?

“Cal is not as good a job as it looks,” my source said.

He pointed out the lack of a dedicated practice facility, the need to share practice time at Haas Pavilion, the rising academic demands, even the lack of parking.

“There’s no land (to build a practice gym or add parking),” he said. “There’s no way to park and just to class.”

Admission to Cal is becoming tougher, just as the athletic department ramps up the pressure for its football and basketball teams to perform better in the classroom.

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Posted on Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
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Basketball: UCI’s Russell Turner has interviewed, but no word on Cal coaching search timetable

A source confirmed that UC Irvine coach Russell Turner interviewed with Sandy Barbour this weekend at the Final Four in Dallas. But there is no word yet on when the nearly week-long coaching search will end.

Turner could not be reached for comment.

Turner joins Cal associate head coach Travis DeCuire as confirmed interviewees for the position that opened last Monday when Mike Montgomery announced his retirement.

How many other candidates Barbour talked with this weekend is unclear.

Likewise, there is no known timetable on when the process might be completed.

Turner, 43, coached UC Irvine to a 23-12 record this past season, including a 13-3 mark and regular-season co-championship in the Big West Conference. His 21-16 mark in 2012-13 was the school’s first 20-win season in 10 years.

He is 71-67 in four seasons at UCI.

Turner spent the previous six seasons on the staff of the Golden State Warriors, the first two of them under Montgomery. He was with Montgomery for four seasons at Stanford through 2004, during which time the Cardinal posted a record of 105-24, including 59-13 in the Pac-12. Stanford won two Pac-10 titles and reached the NCAA’s Elite Eight in 2001.

Turner also was assistant coach at Wake Forest for five seasons through 2000.

Posted on Sunday, April 6th, 2014
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Basketball: DeCuire gets his interview

Associate head coach Travis DeCuire got his interview for the Cal basketball head coaching position and got another strong endorsement.

DeCuire, 43, met with Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour on Friday at the Final Four in Dallas. “I saw him after his interview and he was relaxed, felt it went well,” said Blaine Taylor, who coached DeCuire at Montana and later was an assistant coach for Mike Montgomery at Stanford.

Five days after Montgomery retired as Bears coach, little tangible news has emerged from Cal’s secretive search process.

Former Cal assistant and current Arizona associate head coach Joe Pasternack has been mentioned as a possible candidate, but has not returned calls to reporters in the Bay Area or Tucson.

UC Irvine coach Russ Turner, a former assistant under Montgomery at Stanford and with the Golden State Warriors, has declined comment.

Former UCLA coach Ben Howland is keeping a low profile.

Dayton coach Archie Miller, the brother of Arizona’s Sean Miller, said through sources he has no interest.

But Montgomery gave DeCuire, his assistant of six years, a ringing endorsement last Monday, and Taylor said he’s ready for the assignment. DeCuire started every game at point guard his final two seasons at Montana and still holds the school’s career assist record (435).

Later, he spent five seasons as an assistant to Taylor at Old Dominion.

“Travis has always had an intellect for the game, always had a passion for competition,” Taylor said. “In the huddle, you’re very aware of who has an aptitude for the game.”

Taylor said DeCuire’s experience at Old Dominion in Virginia gave him a national view and honed his recruiting skills. He also said DeCuire grades high on the academic and business side of college basketball.

“He’s more aware of things away from the court than some assistants might be,” Taylor said.

Posted on Saturday, April 5th, 2014
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Basketball: Is Notre Dame’s Mike Brey on Sandy Barbour’s coaching wish list? Conflicting reports

Mike Brey, who has won 300 games in 14 seasons at Notre Dame, is on the short list of coaching candidates with whom Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour would like to speak, according to a report in the South Bend Tribune.

Update: A source just reached out to me saying not to believe the South Bend Tribune report.

Brey, 55, is coming off a 15-17 season, including 6-12 in Notre Dame’s inaugural season in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He won coach of the year honors three times in the Big East.

The newspaper cited a source familiar with the Cal search, and noted that Barbour worked as an associate athletic director at Notre Dame from 2002-04 while Brey was basketball coach.

After the 2012 season, Brey signed a 10-year contract extension with Notre Dame that runs through the 2021-22 season.

Posted on Thursday, April 3rd, 2014
Under: Basketball | 16 Comments »
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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.


Columnist Mark Purdy on Monty’s final act

Posted on Monday, March 31st, 2014
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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:


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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Posted on Monday, March 31st, 2014
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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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Posted on Monday, March 31st, 2014
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Basketball: Mike Montgomery expected to inform Cal on Monday whether he is retiring


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. 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.

Posted on Sunday, March 30th, 2014
Under: Basketball | 17 Comments »
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