Cal Bears men’s basketball coach Mike Montgomery has pushed his team to the fore of Pacific-12 Conference talk, just not in the way he intended.
Bears star Allen Crabbe walked into a second-half timeout and Montgomery screamed at him then pushed him in his chest with two hands Sunday. Cal was down six points at the time. The Bears won by eight, and Crabbe scored 23 points and added 10 rebounds.
But after the game, it was the push that everyone talked about, not the victory. At first, Montgomery explained that it was a motivational tactic, even telling reporters, “It worked, didn’t it?”
A few hours later, the school issued a statement from athletic director Sandy
Barbour that said, “It is unacceptable for our coaches to have physical contact with student-athletes regardless of the circumstances.” Montgomery apologized in the same email sent to reporters.
Even the conference chimed in with a statement from commissioner Larry Scott.
“While emotions can run high in competitive environments, Pac-12 coaches are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that will reflect credit on the institution and the conference,” Scott said. “Each Pac-12 coach must be aware that they are an example to student-athletes and other students, and consistent with this influence and visibility, must meet a particularly high standard.”
During the Pac-12 conference call Tuesday, Montgomery backpedaled further.
“There’s no excuse,” Montgomery said. “I’ve been doing this 31 years. There’s no excuse. I know better. It’s totally out of character for me. I think things have changed in terms of how you can deal with kids. There’s a heightened sensitivity to these kind of things, but that doesn’t change it. But there’s nothing that makes it right. I was wrong. You have to just acknowledge that and push forward.”
Montgomery referenced the discussion of the event as a “firestorm,” and continually took the blame whenever the topic was brought up.
“The fact was, I was wrong,” Montgomery said. “Looking back, you can’t do that.”
“I’m over this,” Crabbe said. “Me and my coach have settled everything. These questions can stop.”
That discussion overwhelms the fact that Crabbe, the conference’s leading scorer, is among the leading candidates for Pac-12 player of the year. And that Cal (16-9, 8-5) has resurrected its season.
After Washington won at Cal during the second week of conference play, Crabbe and teammate David Kravish were somber at the postgame press conference. They said the team played with no heart.
Montgomery showed up very late and joked to waiting reporters, “I was hoping you’d all be gone home by now.”
At the moment, everyone is paying attention. Just for the wrong reasons.
TOURNAMENT TIME APPROACHING, PART I
The Pac-12 tournament is a few weeks away, and with the conference standings holding multiple logjams, let’s take a look at how seeding is determined when there are two-team ties.
The first tiebreaker is head-to-head competition. The next is each team’s record versus the team occupying the highest position in the final regular standings and that process trickles through the standings until one team gains an advantage.
The next tiebreaker is when arriving at another group of tied teams while comparing records, use each team’s record against the collective tied teams as a group (prior to that group’s own tie-breaking procedure), rather than the results against individual tied teams.
If the tie still isn’t broken, the teams’ won-lost percentage is looked at. Finally, if necessary, a coin toss by the commissioner or designee could determine seeding.
Heading into today’s play, Oregon is the No. 1 seed. Washington would play as the eighth seed in the eight-nine game versus Stanford (15-11, 6-7), which UW owns the tiebreaker over, to open the tournament. The winner of that game plays the top seed the next day.
TOURNAMENT TIME APPROACHING, PART II
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi projects six Pac-12 teams making the NCAA tournament in his latest Bracketology. Lunardi has Oregon, Arizona, UCLA, Arizona State, Colorado and Cal. Lunardi placed Cal into the play-in game, where it was last email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @Todd_Dybas