For men’s basketball program, new hire’s nothing but net
Mike Montgomery, who led Stanford (yes, Stanford) to four Pac-10 titles and a tournament crown, takes the reins as Cal’s head coach a quick week following Ben Braun’s departure
09 April 2008
Vowing to advance the long-struggling men’s basketball team “to the top half of the Pac-10” — and to keep it “heading toward the conference championship” — Mike Montgomery, a four-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 18 seasons at Stanford, will don the blue-and-gold as Cal’s head coach.
At a press conference Saturday to an-nounce the selection, Athletic Director Sandy Barbour praised Montgomery’s “proven track record of winning at the collegiate level,” including his leadership of the Cardinal to a 393-167 record and 16 postseason appearances from 1986 through 2004. The most successful coach in Stanford men’s basketball history, Montgomery steered the team to 12 NCAA Tournament bids, four NIT selections, four regular-season Pac-10 titles, and the 2004 Pac-10 Tournament crown.
Under his leadership, Stanford registered at least 30 wins three times, with a school-record 31 victories during the 2000-01 season and 30 wins in both 1997-98 and 2003-04. His Cardinal teams reached the 20-win mark 13 times, including in each of his last 10 seasons.
Calling the fabled Cal-Stanford rivalry “the elephant in the room,” Montgomery noted he’d been out of coaching at the college level for four years, and “would not have left Stanford to come to Cal.” Accepting the challenge at Berkeley, he said, “was more about trying to do at Cal maybe what I have done in the past.”
In 25 of 26 seasons coaching at the collegiate level — including eight campaigns at Montana, where he was head coach before moving to Stanford — Montgomery’s teams posted winning records. His overall collegiate-career record is 547-244 (.692).
Following the 2003-04 season, Mont-gomery left Stanford to become head coach of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, where he compiled a 68-96 record in two seasons. Since leaving the Warriors, Montgomery has served as an assistant to Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby.
“Throughout his 28 years as a head coach,” Barbour said, “Coach Montgomery has established that he understands what it takes to develop a basketball program that will compete consistently with the nation’s top teams.” She also lauded his “clear commitment to the development of student-athletes both academically and socially,” and cited his “impeccable reputation in the industry.”
The 15th head men’s basketball coach in Cal history, Montgomery replaces Ben Braun, who was relieved of his coaching duties March 26 after recording a 219-154 (.587) record in 12 seasons here. The Golden Bears are scheduled to return four starters from last year’s team, pending a decision by Pac-10 scoring leader Ryan Anderson, who declared himself eligible for the NBA draft but has not hired an agent and could return.
Saying the Bears could be successful next season “if everybody stays intact,” Montgomery added, “We should be pretty good.”
“I don’t think there’s any reason why we can’t compete with everybody in the league,” he went on. “That’s what our goal is going to be. I don’t know that we’ll go to the top of the league, but I don’t know that there’s any reason why we can’t. We’re not going to restrict ourselves in any shape or form.
“I expect us to be winners,” he said. “I expect people to look at Cal basketball as we’re walking through the airport or these kids walk across campus. I expect people to look at them with a little bit of respect and awe.”
For now, that largely describes the response to Montgomery’s hiring. The new coach, wrote Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis, “is a class act” and “a great fit for Cal.” Doug Gottlieb, of ESPN Radio, called the hire “an absolute home run.” And former Warriors star Chris Mullin, now the team’s general manager, praised Montgomery as “a terrific basketball coach,” adding that “you would be challenged to find a person with more character.”
Montgomery and his wife, Sarah, have two grown children, John and Anne. The family currently resides in Menlo Park.