Mike Montgomery Jan. 20 Press Conference Quotes

Jan. 20, 2009

BERKELEY - The following are quotes from California head coach Mike Montgomery and assistant coach Jay John at the weekly press conference with Bay Area media. The Golden Bears host Oregon State Thurs. at 7:30 and Oregon Sat. at 3 p.m. in Haas Pavilion.

On the team's mindset coming off of Saturday's loss at Stanford:
There are 13 different people with 13 different mindsets. I think what you hope happens is that they got rocked back a little bit and are going to come out and reassert themselves and maintain a better focus. That's pretty standard for everybody. Good practice yesterday, we'll see if we can sustain it.

On the importance of 'holding serve' at home Thursday and Saturday:
You can't make up home losses. A home loss is a double-edged sword. The team that beats you gets a plus and you get a minus. They essentially get two games on you. That's the way I've always looked at it. If you want to have a chance to compete for the top spots in this conference you have to win at home and then sneak out as many as you can on the road. Then as you start getting to the end you look and say that if you can win these next couple games you can win the conference. Early on, you're just trying to make sure that you win at home, because it's tough to win on the road and the games fall in a different sequence. You look at home people who have had a pretty tough schedule and we'll have that same stretch sometime down the road. It's important to win at home.

On whether the Pac-10, with every team suffering at least one loss by the end of two weeks, is panning out the way he thought it would:
No, I wouldn't necessarily have expected that. I didn't think UCLA would lose at home. I thought we had a decent chance against Stanford, it could have gone a different way. I don't think anyone is so superior that they are going to march through this thing unscathed. I think that's a better and more realistic way to look at it.

On the Oregon State Beavers:
I look at Oregon State and they scare me because of the style that they're playing. What they're doing is really different, a zone team with another zone concept. They have good size and are patient on offense. They shorten the game with less possessions and make it difficult for you to have a hundred-possession game. So, again, you're going to have to execute very well and be pretty focused against them.

On the OSU zone defense:
They play a pure 1-3-1 with good size across the middle and up top. They use their quickness along the baseline to chase back and forth but they're making it hard for you to turn the ball. [Roeland] Schaftenaar is a perfect fit for them as far as the Princeton system. He is a very smart player and has very good skills. He's not exceptionally athletic but he is very clever as you would expect a European player to be. He has fit very nicely into what they're trying to do.

On the status of Taylor Harrison (knee):
He came back and tried it [in practice]. Actually looked pretty good for a couple of days, he was bouncing around and he was pretty excited. Then, it got real sore again and swelled back up. I feel bad for the kid. He's tried to get ready, he sees in the way we play he could be very productive because he is an inside presence and he bangs and defends and boards but right now not any good news. We had hoped that he'd be able to get the knee back to where he could practice and learn what we're doing and then see how the knee held up. Kind of like what Harper did. But he's not been bale to get to that point so it's going to be very difficult.

On the importance of having assistants like Jay John on the staff:
I think it was real important because Jay [John] has been in the league a long time and has been in the position before of scouting and recruiting. So the frame of reference he brought regarding what we need, what kind of player will succeed in this league has been great. Truthfully, being gone for four years, he has pretty intimate knowledge of what people are doing. He knows what ASU's matchup really is because having gone through preparing for that, he's had to look at it much closer than I would have doing a TV game, he actually had to break it down and knew what things might be better suited to work against it. That knowledge of the other teams has been very valuable.

Assistant coach Jay John

On any special feelings he has facing his former team on Thursday:
No special feelings other than that Cal Basketball needs to get going on the right track. We need to go back to practicing well and hard because we'd had some slippage and I think it's a real positive to have these kids back in school. Six weeks not being in regular classes took its toll on our practice habits. We've got to get back at it.

On the progress and improvement of Cal's post players:
There's no question that there's been improvement. I think that those guys have really grown. They've grown to a point where early I the year we were just trying to get them to screen in the right spot then get back down to rebound and guard, but now we're trying to have some emphasis of getting the ball into the post. Jamal Boykin early on had so many turnovers, and it's really settled down. So he's certainly grown within things and Jordan Wilkes, too. And there is still room to get better.

On the opportunity to work with Mike Montgomery at Cal:
I've been in the league now since 1997. It's not like this is foreign turf to me. I grew up in Arizona, [and Cal has] always been a little bit of a magical campus to me, with the setting. When they redid Harmon into Haas, it became a great-looking gym. There's some character in there and I've always liked it. I wanted to work for a good guy in a place where I had a chance to win. It gives me an opportunity to step back and learn and refocus. For me it was a home run and I'm delighted to be here and help Cal Basketball be back on the map.

On his reaction to praise from former players like OSU's Joey McConnell, whom John welcomed as a walk-on and now letters for the Beavers.
Above anything we are educators. A lot of what takes place in terms of the reward that you get may come after the fact. We start off in this business as educators and as an appeal to kids and youth. We are wanting to share our expertise within a game but also top teach them life lessons and such. The fact that I was a part of the college experience for Joey means that I have succeeded as an educator. He is a great kid.

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