Cal Hosts Men's Basketball Media Day

Nov. 3, 2008

BERKELEY - Men's basketball media day was held this afternoon (Monday, Nov. 3) with new head coach Mike Montgomery addressing the media and taking questions, followed by interview opportunities with players. Afterwards the Golden Bears briefly held an open practice session.

Here are Montgomery's comments:

General comments:It's a pleasure to be here. We are two weeks in and still have a lot of work to do, but we have found out a lot of things about our team so far. When you are starting from scratch with everything, it's a different phenomenon because everything you do is new. The terminology is new. You don't have any veteran players, anybody who knows what you are trying to do. But, the kids have been very positive and receptive. They have wanted to do everything we are asking. But I have to remind myself that we must be patient and allow these kids to absorb what we're trying to do. It's just going to take some time, there are no ifs, ands or buts about it. We've got a lot of youth out there, a lot of kids who haven't played at the college level. We've given a lot of stuff to them and now we've got to try and slow down and allow them to execute those things. We'll be better in December than we are in November and hopefully better in January than we are in December. That's what we have to recognize. It's just baby steps at this point in time. We're trying to teach fundamentals. We're trying to get everything where we want to get it to try and compete. Jerome (Randle), Patrick (Christopher), Theo (Robertson), Jordan (Wilkes), Jamal (Boykin) ... those kids that have been around have been very good. Harper Kemp I would throw into that mix except that he's been hurt. He is somebody we have to have. Coming off knee surgery this summer, he's probably practiced half of the time so it's been difficult for him. But the veteran players that have been around are ahead. Most of the other kids have not played. If you look at Omondi Amoke and other guys who haven't really played at all ... D.J. Seeley and Jorge Gutierrez, it's pretty much what you'd expect it to be. We're just going to have to be patient and work real hard. The kids are going to have to pay attention. We'll make progress day by day.

Those five guys you mentioned, is that your starting lineup for now?No, we haven't gotten that far. We'll just keep going. We have an exhibition game on Thursday night and we don't play Pacific until the 15th and I suppose by that time we'll have to pick a starting lineup.

Is Jerome (Randle) getting to the point where he executes the things you need him to do?I like Jerome. I think he is a very talented player. He has the ability to make plays. Certainly at his size he has to be creative. He is probably our best shooter. When he gets open you feel like he is going to make it. I feel like a lot of the things he hasn't done in the past have been a result of not really knowing what he was supposed to do or what to do. I think a lot of times we assume that kids know everything and that they have all the answers but they don't. They're kids and that's why we are hired to coach them and try to help them react and read situations and make the right decisions and even then they're not always going to do it. But then you try to point out what might have been a better decision at that point, what he might have done differently and I think he has been very willing so far. I've been encouraged with Jerome. He's going to have to have a real good year for us, because he is talented.

At this phase, is this situation what you expected coming in?No, I don't know what I expected to be honest with you. I think you just kind of forget. If you look at the situation realistically, it's probably been about 22 years since you've really had to teach everybody everything you wanted from scratch. Because once you've gone through it a year or two or three you've got seniors, juniors and sophomores that know what you're doing and know what you want. Then the freshmen come in and they don't know but they don't play anyway. They're over there on the sideline watching the veterans. And then they learn by watching the veterans. Now you have veterans that don't know. You can't take anything for granted. You can't assume anything. You've got to help them in every single situation. The more a kid has a knowledge and a basic understanding of the game, the more he picks things up and kind of figures out what it is because it's not that complex. But a lot of kids that don't know those things you've got to explain everything to them. And it takes repetition. Basketball is a game of habits. The more habits that you get that just become habits of doing things right, the more you can move on. But when you don't have good habits or don't have habits established, then you have to pretty much start from scratch.

How is Theo Robertson doing?Theo is very steady. I think Theo does a little bit of everything well. Now what we need him to do is take a little more responsibility and be more aggressive and maybe take a bigger role than he is comfortable with or has had in the past. We'll try to get him to be a little more aggressive with the ball offensively. He is going to have to be a rebounder. We're not a big team, we're not a physically dominating team so he is going to half to rebound from the guard position. He may have to guard the other team's best perimeter player, because physically I think he is capable of that. Certainly nothing bad has come out of his injury situation. He has been there every day and hasn't missed a minute. He is a very good shooter, but we're going to need him to become a little bit more selfish in terms of being more aggressive with the ball and trying to make plays he hasn't been asked to make before.

How has team defense been so far?It has been sporadic. They have a tendency to relax. We have to develop a much greater sense of urgency than we have right now. We've challenged them to take every defensive possession personally. I don't think we've got there yet. I don't think they've had that approach before. We've put in a basic base package of rules defense and we're not consistent with it. Those are the habits I'm talking about. When the ball moves you move. All those kinds of things, they tend to go back to just guarding their man and not having real good help side defense when they get stressed because they don't want to be scored on, but then we don't have real good team defense. We're making progress. Good defense takes a long time. It just does. Good defensive teams are junior laden teams, unless you're just extremely athletic. But it takes a long time to get kids to really buy in and have habits on defense that make them sound. We're in the process of trying to do that. We've got a long way to go.

Do you have to be a good defensive team to be successful? And can you be successful without a lot of big powerful guys?We don't have a shot blocker or a dominant presence inside that we can direct people to and intimidate, if you will. It makes it a whole lot easier if you have that. Stanford last year, for example, you were not going to get anything in the paint. That was determined and it forced you outside. Even with DeVon Hardin, I think the philosophy at least a little bit last year was to direct to him because even if you got beat you had a monster in there that could certainly, if not block it at least intimidate you going in there. We don't have that. We're going to have to be much more sound at the point of attack. Are we going to have to be good defensively? Absolutely.

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