Mike Montgomery Press Conference Quotes

Dec. 30, 2008

BERKELEY - Below are quotes from head coach Mike Montgomery from his weekly press conference with Bay Area media. The Golden Bears face Arizona Friday at 5:30 p.m. in Haas Pavilion.

On Opening Pac-10 Play:
'You could feel the difference. You know the significance of home games, road games. One game could make a lot of difference to you. You just have to take advantage of the opportunities, if they present themselves. Mostly, you have to make them present themselves. You can feel the energy level, now it really means something if you lose. You're starting off with two teams that are top-half teams, two ranked teams.'

On His Prediction of Cal in Pac-10 Play:
'There's a bunch of people, probably, that would have the same aspirations or thought processes of where we could finish that are similar, maybe have some issues, but have done well enough or conceivably could do well enough to move up in the league. I think there are a lot of people that have to be in the same category. With as much talent that was lost in the league last year, including here, you don't know where it's going to shake out. The teams that have the big time talent coming back from last year like Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA - they have probably a little bit more confidence. But I don't think they're sitting there thinking that right now. I don't think there's anybody that's above reproach in the league right now. But what happens in an 18-game league, you don't have to be, you just have to be above reproach on the night that you play and it ultimately shapes itself out.'

On Cal's Zone Offense:
'We're working on it. It's good and bad because now your preparation for these two Arizona teams are sort of the same. You have to work on your zone stuff, so any advantage that Arizona State might have had in the past with the one-day prep for somebody coming in, you're pretty much going to work on zone all week. Arizona State's way more man-to-man oriented matchup type. They're pretty much just switching man. Arizona, because of depth issues in their mind, they've gone to a zone and have had some success with it. They're trapping some out of a 1-2-2, kind of a random trap deal. They just don't feel like they have a lot of depth, I think, so they're trying to protect themselves.'

On Cal's Ball Movement:
'It's not great, but it's getting better. I think that guys know who the scorers are and who the shooters are. I think we hang on to the ball a little bit too long sometimes, trying to maybe look for a play they could make, rather than getting the next man, but we've gotten better at it.'

On Guarding Arizona and Arizona State's Post Players:
'Jeff Pendergraph's skilled, but he's not huge. In some instances, Harper's (Kamp) been our best post defender. A lot depends on what the matchups are. (Jordan) Hill didn't play, so they went small with Jamelle Horne as a four and Budinger was a four. That would put us into a tough matchup situation for us.'

On Jordan Hill:
Jordan Hill is very good. He is probably one of the most improved big people that I've seen in a long time, from when he came in as a freshman to where he is now. He's very good. He's a first-round guy now. He knows how to score the ball, he's much stronger, he's aggressive at the glass and quick off his feet getting second shots. He's got some go-to moves that are just hard to guard; he's explosive.'

On Arizona's Depth:
'Nic Wise, Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill are pretty critical to them. That's why they're trying to keep themselves out of foul trouble. In a perfect world, you can sometimes isolate some people and see if you can't go after people a little bit, but it's a little harder in zone.'

On James Harden:
'He's really a good player; he's now added three-point range, good shooting range to his game. He's got a very explosive first step, he's strong. You watch him, he'll play along, and then it gets to late in the game when they need plays and he becomes aggressive, draws a lot of fouls and gets to the foul line a lot. He's just hard to guard. He's left handed, which causes some problems, but he's very capable going right. In some ways, he's more clever with the ball with his right hand. He's one of those guys who can crossover in traffic, which you don't see very often, where he can take you right, get it crossed over and get back to his left. He's just a really good player. He's improved every year.'

On Cal's Juniors:
'I think we've improved. I think the things that we're doing are sound. I think they understand how they're sound and how they fit into winning. We haven't faced a lot of adversity yet, and we'll have to see what happens when we do, how they react to it. It's a solid group of kids, the core, those juniors; it's a solid group of players. We'd like to have some opportunities, but they know what we're trying to do. I think they understand. They're trying to play defense the right way. They make mistakes, but now they know it. At least they know it's a mistake and why it's a mistake. We're trying to create the right kind of habits and it just doesn't happen overnight.'

On Jerome Randle and letting him play through his mistakes:
'Basketball is an imperfect game. Guys are going to make mistakes. What you hope for is that a mistake a guy makes is an honest mistake. Jerome, there's not anything that I've been able to find that is negative about Jerome. He's not trying to do anything wrong. He wants to do the right thing. He needs to be helped, like anybody does. Everybody else was down on Jerome, but I had no reason to be. Why should I? He is a very good basketball player. Arguably, maybe as good of a point guard as there is in the league. I'd be surprised if anybody shoots it better than he does. He's going to make free throws. He's extremely quick. He's a little lazy on defense and he knows it. We're trying to get him to play better defense. He's capable of it. He has a lot of responsibility out there. He's out there for a lot of minutes, and the ball's in his hands an awful lot. I think Jerome is as much of a key to our team as anybody we have.'

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