Feb. 27, 2010
California Head Coach Mike Montgomery
Overall impressions of game:
I will say this. There have been other Cal teams with better records that have not won the conference. For this group of kids to come out and play as well as we did, particularly the second half today, with everything that was on the line, I thought that was pretty impressive. They just got in a mindset, defensively, that we haven't been in all that much, and really did a good job. We shared the ball, didn't care who scored, and the next thing you know, we were up double figures. I said to the coaches sometime during the first half, `Golly. Arizona State is really good.' They were doing everything right. They were shooting the ball. They were defending, and we had our hands full. In the second half, we just stepped it up a notch. Maybe the kids, in the first half, were surprised at how good Arizona State was because we were doing what we were trying to do and the next thing you know, we're not ahead. But in the second half, we were really good. I just think it's very pleasing to see this group of seniors grow like they have, together. It hasn't always been, `All for one, one for all.' Down the stretch, they've really come together and played to win, and if we can play like this, we're pretty good. The crowd was fabulous. Everybody was gunned up. When you have something there in front of you, like that, the emotion of Senior Day was there - we tried to downplay it just a little bit. You could see Nikola [Knezevic] after the game crying because it meant so much to him. Things like that, that's what makes it all worth it.
On the play of Jorge Gutierrez in the second half:
He stepped up. He just started guarding everybody. He's really a better weak-side defender, a help-defender, than he is an off-ball defender. He just has a great sense of who's in trouble or where the ball's looking to go and getting himself in a position to help. Then he can rebound the ball and make some nice strides to the basket. Just everybody contributed. It's pretty good stuff. These two games, Arizona and Arizona State, two really good teams, games we had to have, guys really stepped up and you can't ask much more.
On how everybody contributed:
Well, Omondi [Amoke] got some second-chance opportunities for us. You need different things from different people, and that's the key, not everybody has the same responsibilities on a team. You know, if you're running track and you're running the 100-meter dash, that's your job. In a team game, everybody has different responsibilities. Omondi gave us energy and that's what he does. He gets lots of second-chance opportunities. He's quick to the basket and scored the ball some. The thing with Jerome [Randle] is, that as point guard, I think that his focus was totally on winning this game. He wasn't worried about who was scoring; he was just worried that we were scoring. Defensively, he was working hard. That's the growth that we've seen with these kids, I think.
On their struggle against the screens in the first half:
The officials, to their credit, which I don't always do that, actually let everybody play. They weren't going to make a lot of calls, one way or the other. I don't think it was an advantage, one way or the other. I think that it was going to have to be a foul that affected something. I think everybody on both teams adjusted to that. Jamal [Boykin] and [Eric] Boateng were going at it inside. I don't know if there was an advantage or disadvantage. I thought Jamal was great, the energy he gave on Boateng, because Boateng has been the go-to-guy for them, particularly when the ball's not going down. We had two fouls in the first half and they had four, so that's some pretty good stuff. If somebody moves, and there's no contact, there's no foul. That's something that we have not spent a lot of time, so we avoided screens. They moved, we avoided it. Well guess what, there's no contact, so there's no moving screen. Generally speaking, if somebody moves you have to force contact and the official says, `Well, okay, there was contact, so I have to call that if he moves.' But, if there's no contact, then there's no foul.
On the team's defense:
They played with great focus, defensively, in the second half. I think that what contributed a little bit to that is they started to miss some, and when they started to miss some, it gave us some reinforcement for working that hard and that's critical. So, all of a sudden, we had a four-point lead, and then maybe a six-point lead, and good things were happening. I just think that really they had great focus. Arizona State is hard to guard because they have great movement. We keyed certain people that we thought were the key guys - [Ty] Abbott being one of them. I thought Patrick [Christopher] was great on Abbot. We ask a lot of Patrick. He's one of our primary scorers, yet we consistently ask him to guard the other team's best shooter. He did a great job on Abbott - a lot of energy. So, it was just a collective effort, guys focusing on trying to winning the game.
California Senior Forward Jamal Boykin:
In a game like this, when you're down and you have to win, it doesn't matter who scores. Everyone on our team can make a play to score so we didn't want to force anything. We just wanted to get it to guys in position to do their best and I think we did that in the second half.
I think in the first half, we may have focused a little too much on Boateng. Playing him more one-on-one in the second half really helped us.
Omondi Amoke coming out in the beginning of the second half and getting two early baskets was huge for us, and Jorge Gutierrez was just being fearless. When you have players like that step up in a game like this, there is no stopping us.
We've come a long way and grown a lot. We still have not reached our potential. There is still a lot more that we can do and that's our focus right now.
The game almost seemed unreal. The whole game just seemed like a fantasy in a lot of ways. It's exciting to see our fans excited about Cal Basketball and we hope we can continue to ride this out.
California Senior Guard Jerome Randle:
I told a couple of guys that I wasn't really looking to score tonight. Everybody is getting excited about the scoring title but I was more excited about winning the Pac-10 title.
Arizona State Head Coach Herb Sendek:
Cal played outstanding defense and so did we. We didn't convert when we had opportunities like we needed to. We missed free throws and we missed shots at the basket and we just didn't have that margin for error.
Our inability to convert when we did have open looks and their outstanding defense made it difficult for us to put points on the board. I thought our defense allowed us to at least be in the neighborhood because this is a great offensive team and we were able to hold them to 62 points. I thought our guys' effort was really good but I just have so much respect for Cal's offense. If they don't get 102 points you almost start feeling good about yourself.
We have to convert when we have opportunities. I thought our guys battled on defense. I thought second shot opportunities really hurt us on too many occasions. They are a good team and they were certainly better today. We weren't able to have missed opportunities on top of what they were doing on defense and as good as they are on offense.
Obviously, Cal had a good home crowd today. Today we weren't playing with a large margin for error. You're always going to miss open shots and not convert during the game but in a game like this if you do it too much you limit the possibilities that you have.
I think our guys really competed and played hard and didn't lose their poise. Cal is a really good team so I think the story line starts with giving them great credit. We should have done a better job on the defensive glass and when we did have opportunities we needed to convert at a higher rate. Cal is good.