March 3 Mike Montgomery Press Conference Quotes

Press Conference Video: Coach Mike Montgomery
Press Conference Video: Omondi Amoke
Press Conference Video: Jamal Boykin

March 3, 2009

BERKELEY -California head coach Mike Montgomery spoke with Bay Area media at his weekly press conference on March 3. The Golden Bears travel to Arizona Thursday and Arizona State Saturday.

On the difference between Arizona now and earlier this season:
They've gotten a lot better and they've gone small. They present tough matchups with [Chase] Budinger at the four. They're much more comfortable with their coaching situation and all their adjustments. Their defense has solidified what they want to do. So they're much more confident in what they're doing. Jordan Hill is quick, long, and he's got a good shooting touch. He is one of the better offensive centers in the league and he's real quick to the ball. He provides a nice backdrop for them in their zone because he can block shots. They gamble out a little bit on the ball and he's able to patrol behind the ball in the zone and cause problems with his length. He's got a very quick first step for a big guy, so to guard him with your own big makes it easier for him to get a first step by him to go to the basket, and if you play him with someone smaller he can go above them.

On the specific players behind UA's improvement::
Well, they have three really good players and their role players know their roles. They can get big numbers out of [Nice] Wise, [Chase] Budinger and [Jordan] Hill. It's comes at three different positions: big, wing, and little. [Zane] Johnson has become a reliable shooter and [Kyle] Fogg has had some big games. However, if you go past their sixth their minutes fall off dramatically. They're using that same group and having Johnson and Fogg able to shoot allows them to spread court and play the way they are trying to play. They're also getting great energy on defense with that group.

On the success of interim Arizona coach Russ Pennell and the team following the resignation of Lute Olson:
Well, his players are not bad kids. Though there was dysfunction, it wasn't from the kids. It was an odd situation. I think that once the coaches got to know their players, because they didn't have anybody there that knew much about the kids and their strengths. So once they learned about the players they were able to coach with the strengths in mind. I think that [UA assistant Mike] Dunlap is a solid guy with his knowledge of the game. The 1-1-3 defense is kind of his baby. Once they started having more success and settled on some things they could do and people that could play, the good kids settled down and they got to the business at hand. They didn't have any real adversity on the court that caused major issues, so once they decided what they were going to do to win, they've come along and are now a very solid basketball team.

On the Bears' health entering final road trip of regular season:
They're still pretty banged up. Harper [Kamp] is having a pretty hard time. His leg probably was not ready to go last Thursday and we used him pretty extensively and it was hard for him on Saturday and the pain is still lingering. Jordan [Wilkes] will wear his mask the rest of the season, and it's just that time of year, where you are putting heavy minutes on guys and asking them to play through it.

On any changes made to practice routines at this point in the season:
We're not going very long with practice. We're actually not practicing very long at all. What we do, we do and we know what it is we're trying to do. We aren't making major changes right now, so practices are mostly to reinforce the things we need to play our next opponent. Sometimes we'll put new stuff in, but not so much. We've tapered off on Mondays a little bit to get rid of the soreness. We're not out there a long time.

On the play of Omondi Amoke:
He has days where he does some real good stuff. He'll make a very good play, a quick-to-the-basket type play. He missed a lot of basketball last year with the injury and then with the sprained ankle. He probably missed three months right when I got here because of that. Plus, the adjustment to play power forward for his size is difficult. But he gives us some good minutes and some good energy. We signs of him starting to shoot the ball a little bit better, he's working hard on his outside game and trying to get that part of it put together. He's a guy that helps us. He may be our guy to run all over the floor to guard Budinger. What we're starting to see an awful lot of is people playing with a four that's an outside shooter. It makes our initial lineup problematic, but those are our best guys and we want them on the floor. Arizona has gone small with Budinger at the four and they've spread the court. Everybody is going to these hybrid lineups in the absence of quality big men and it is causing teams problems.

On the contributions made by bench players:
I think what we've gotten off the bench is energy and quickness. But we haven't got big numbers off the bench and I don't know that that is going to change right now. I would be surprised, given what the guys off the bench do and how they do it, that we would get big numbers off the bench scoring-wise. We've used them to change the tempo and change the way we look. It's paid pretty good dividends at times.

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