Feb. 17 Mike Montgomery Press Conference Quotes

Feb. 17, 2009

BERKELEY - California head coach Mike Montgomery spoke with Bay Area media at his weekly press connference on Feb. 17. The Golden Bears travel to Oregon State Thursday and Oregon Saturday.

On Oregon and the way they're currently playing:
They had a tough weekend on the road. Their home games have been close; seems like every game has about a 7 to 9 point spread. They play better at home like everybody else. Their break seems to be faster, they get the ball out quicker, and they shoot it a little bit better. It's hard to imagine that they haven't won a game given some pretty good personnel. They do have some youth, but it's a game that scares me going into it. We shot 66% last time we played them and only won by seven. We're going to have to go up there in the right frame of mind or we're going to get ourselves in trouble.

On playing at McArthur Court and whether his players need to be prepared for the advantage it gives the Ducks:
No, they'll figure it out. Just like we got momentum from our crowd against Stanford when we started to come back, we got a little adrenaline pump that allowed us to play harder longer and I think that's what you expect from your home crowd. It will probably be a good test to our toughness to see how we react if they make some good plays.

On whether this past weekend's win over Stanford is another testament to this team's heart:
We're not a dominant team, there's no question. But we have the ability to score points and when we get ourselves going defensively, play hard and create some turnovers. We seem to play off of that. They're not a group that is willing to give in. They have a lot of pride in themselves and when we get down a little bit they seem to find a way to ratchet it up a little bit and on almost every occasion that seems to be the case.

On whether starting Jorge Gutierrez in the second half vs. the Cardinal was a matchup issue or something he had planned:
We've had good luck with a small lineup. We were down 22 and cut it to 14 with that lineup and we felt like we couldn't afford to waste four or five minutes to figure out if the bigger lineup was going to work. We needed to stay the way we were and see if we could edge into the lead and it worked for us.

On whether the recent play of Harper Kamp and Jorge Gutierrez is emblematic of the effort to get more from the bench:
They've been two of our better players all year long. I think there were occasions earlier in the year when Omondi Amoke, Harper and Jorge all went in and our complexion changed. Our energy level heightened and our speed and quickness was better. Harper is one of our smarter post guys and steadies us inside. Jorge has the ability to get his hands on a lot of balls. He is a very good defender. He's getting better offensively as he goes. There have been a lot of times where that smaller lineup has been better for us so we will continue to use that.

On whether bench play becomes more important down the stretch run:
It would if we suffered an injury. That would put you one player less. In the conference tournament situation, with three in a row, fatigue could certainly play a part there. We have not had a lot of depth this year. We've played a lot of minutes. Key players are the key players and those are the guys we've gone with. We've got a lot of quality minutes out of our bench but our best production has come from our guys that lead the team in most of the categories. We've been banged up. But we've been fortunate that we haven't had anyone go down where he couldn't play at all. Harper has had games where he's dragged the knee around a little bit. Taylor Harrison has been out the whole year. We've had some minor things that have slowed us down a little bit, but we've been very fortunate otherwise. It's just dumb luck. They've taken good care of themselves. I think the players have watched out for bad things, but its just good fortune.

On how hard it is, with only six games left in the regular season, to keep the team focused on the present and not looking too far ahead to the postseason:
We're not a tournament team yet. We've got to win some more games and avoid bad losses. The Oregon State game here was troublesome. These two games are important. Then we have four of the better teams in the conference after that. We're close, but we're not there yet. We've got to keep it on the steady place and try to get smarter as we go. But it will all come down to performance. But you can't win 20 until you've won 19, and we've got that, so we've got a good chance. We've put ourselves in good position, now we've got to finish it up.

On whether Jerome Randle is a good representative for the team:
He's got a good sense for basketball. He's surprising in that way. He's a pretty squared away kid and understands a lot about the game and has a good sense of how things work. Our margin of error is not very great. So we have to be pretty focused and play pretty hard. If we don't, I think we could lose every game. We've gone into some games with a little less than our best and we've had to scramble out. Hopefully it's a learning process for these guys to understand that we have a good chance to really finishing this thing off and that it will take a lot of concentration to do it. Kids are kids though, and they'll hear a lot of things whether it be from the pundits on television or anyone else, but hopefully we've given them enough maturity to understand that it doesn't mean anything.

On Jerome Randle's feelings for his teammates:
I think Jerome is a kid that has really grown as a result of having people around him that he cares about. He wouldn't tell you this and it's probably something he hides behind a little bit of the jauntiness. I think having this group of kids around him from all different backgrounds that he has become pretty close friends with means a lot to him. I think that's probably a little bit of what college basketball can do for kids if it's done right. And I think for Jerome it's been good, because he's been good in almost every aspect of the game that I can think of. He's a kid would never let you know that he's doing what he's supposed to do, but he does. He takes care of his business.

On the key to Jerome's success against Stanford's physical defense:
He let the game to him. He didn't force it. His numbers have been pretty good. He didn't take bad shots, he just waited for opportunities and made those. He has a knack at the end of the game for making a tough shot that puts you over the top, and he did it again. He seems more confident in himself and more confident in his teammates. I don't think he feels like he has to do it all and he's more comfortable with running the team. All of those things have helped, his numbers are pretty spectacular.

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