Nov. 6, 2009
No. 12 California welcomes Murray State in the 2009-10 season opener on Monday, Nov. 9, at Haas Pavilion at 8 p.m. The game is part of the regional portion of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer. Cal held its first weekly press conference of the season on Friday. Head coach Mike Montgomery answered questions from the local media.
On Murray State:
They're one of those dangerous teams that people don't know about out here from this standpoint. They're in a great basketball area, and they've had a lot of success. A lot of head coaches have moved on from there and continued to have great success. They've got really good athletes. They really know how to play and they're very confident, so it's a little bit scary from the standpoint of not many people have heard about Murray State, but their team is very capable. They're picked to win their league if not finish second, so it's a game that we have to be ready to play. But I don't think they're going to do anything that we haven't already seen or shouldn't be capable of being prepared for. It's just the fact that they're going to do a pretty good job at what they do. They're smallish 1-2-3 and they don't have a 6-7 3-man, but their big men are 6-9, 6-7. They're more of a penetrating team than a perimeter-shooting team. They're real good on point-of-attack, which merits a concern for us.
On the preseason predictions:
They're never right, those things are based on formulas. If this team lost two or three players, and you didn't, then you're better. But I think it's been proven that the freshmen and sophomores are having a significant impact on college basketball. I like our team, but it certainly isn't as clear-cut as what would appear or what people would like it to be. We've got a lot of people back, and we had a decent season last year, surprised some people. Generally speaking, I hope they're right - that it works out that way. All they are, are predictions because you have to have them, because that's what sells now. Everyone has got to have an opinion about things. I like our team coming into the season. They're excited. It'll be fun to coach them. To me, when I think of teams of that ilk, I think of great defensive teams, good physical teams. We've got some issues inside right now that we haven't solved. We're not very big for one thing. We've got to establish an inside game somehow, then we're going to work really hard defensively to be effective. I think that if we continue to improve in that area, we can be a good defensive team. We have enough athleticism to be able to able to compete at point-of-attack, but we're going to have to help each other inside.
On his expectations for the players:
Last year my expectations were such that - whatever happened, happened. I didn't know what they could or couldn't do. Now, I think I have a little bit more. Maybe I'm holding them to a little higher standard. I think there's more there if they're willing to do it, but I do know what we are. I know that we were perimeter oriented. We'll go small at times. We are going to rely on shooting the ball, but I'm just hoping to get some of the other areas better so that we can be more complete. I've always been of the notion that any time I see somebody score, I kind of question how they scored. Could we have prevented it? The obvious answer is no, you can't, but in the back of your mind, somehow you think `we could have done a better job there.' So we're constantly striving on the offense to become a more complete team and make that a bigger priority. I think our guys feel like we can outscore some people and sometimes that gets in the back of our mind. Sometimes we lose our focus a little bit when we're shooting the ball really well. I think we've got to just try to play complete games and make people play to our standards.
On how the players have adapted to playing under him after one season:
I get a kick out of Patrick's (Christopher) comments. He tends to like to exaggerate that it's like being a freshman all over again. We just ask them to play good basketball and do certain things, but I think they know what I want from them. I think they understand that they're capable of perhaps more than they're given. You know, there's always the resistance just in terms of `that's not what I do,' but trying to get them to do it. They know they can do certain things. We've made progress that way. Our biggest challenge is just to make sure that we always keep our eye on the ball, which is winning games, regardless of how it happens or who's scoring the ball in the given situation. We've got to get our guys to focus on the objective, which is to win the game. Then we'll come back and make the adjustments and maybe the next game might be your game. I think there's a little bit of that we have to overcome. What we don't want to do is measure the competition and then decide `ok, this is what we have to do tonight." We need to come up with a standard that says `this is how we play.' Can you keep up with this? Can you play this way? If they can't, then we've got a dogfight. If they can, then great, good for us, but we can't have ups and downs, peaks and valleys. We've got to be ready to play at a certain level and hold ourselves to a certain standard.