Montgomery returns to Pac-10 with Cal
"I felt like I had retired from college basketball," said Montgomery. "That was my thought process."He had moved on to the NBA. He didn't have to move from his Bay Area home, accepting a lucrative offer from the Golden State Warriors. The run lasted two seasons. For a man who prided himself on being at one of the nation's true academic-athletic institutions, failing at something was unacceptable.
AP Photo/Paul SakumaAfter a failed stint in the NBA, Mike Montgomery is back to his familiar stomping ground in the Pac-10 with a Bay Area team, though this time he'll be pacing the sidelines for Cal.
I understand people making a big deal out of it, but when I was at Stanford I didn't hate Cal. It will be more different for the people at Stanford than it would be for me.
"I wasn't naive, I had heard from some people but I was amazed [that he left]," Montgomery said. Montgomery said he knew nothing about Johnson's dealings with LSU after the Cardinal lost to Texas in the Sweet 16. He said he had gone to Bowlsby to push the AD to deal with Johnson's expiring contract, something that Johnson said was a reason why he was open to LSU. Johnson said once there was no proactive move by Bowlsby, he was out when the lucrative LSU offer arrived."I had no idea he was looking or that LSU had come after him," Montgomery said. A week before Johnson left for Baton Rouge, Montgomery took the Cal job on April 5 after the Bears made him their No. 1 target following the firing of Ben Braun.
Montgomery ended up getting the three most visible basketball jobs in the Bay Area, perhaps the most unique occurrence in coaching."People here are excited," Montgomery said. "We want to get to the NCAA tournament, recruit great kids and make a run at some national recognition."
When Montgomery took the job, though, he was convinced Ryan Anderson would stay. He didn't, leaving for the NBA and being drafted late in the first round by New Jersey.So, Montgomery finds himself teaching everything, down to every single drill, to a team that is devoid of a star. "Right now it's an educational atmosphere," said fourth-year junior Jamal Boykin, who played for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, Braun and now Montgomery in his career. "We're learning about a new way of thinking defensively, offensively. It's a different team, a different offense." As Montgomery shuffled papers on his desk he remarked that there wasn't a playbook from last year. "We're pretty much having to do everything and that takes longer," he said. That's fine. Montgomery has plenty of time now. He's not going anywhere else. This appears to be his last stop. "In a perfect world the NBA thing would have lasted three, four or five years, I would have gotten a good feel and be done," Montgomery said. "But two years was short. I was left unfulfilled."