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California NCAA Press Conference Quotes
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  03/11/2012

March 11, 2012

CALIFORNIA HEAD COACH MIKE MONTGOMERY

On his first thoughts on the NCAA tournament bracket
"I feel bad for the Pac-12. I thought that we kind of got short shifted in terms of getting an 11 and a 12. I guess you should have known that was coming with the way everybody has been talking about us. I think it's better than that. I think it's more competitive. I feel bad for Washington who wins the regular season and doesn't get in; that's unprecedented. That having been said, we're glad that we made it. Obviously, it could have gone another way. We're pleased to be in the field. We've got to turn around and get to Dayton tomorrow night. Fortunately, we have a Wednesday game versus a Tuesday game. Now, it's just up to us to prove that we do belong in it, we are a decent basketball team and that the league is good. And it's up to us and Colorado to go in and make some hay."

On his team's selection
"VCU [Virginia Commonwealth University] was in a play-in game and made the Final Four, last year. Anything is possible. We've got an opportunity. We're in the tournament. Winning games in the tournament is not easy. We've got to play well. We've got to have energy. If we don't, we're not going to win. South Florida is a good basketball team. They played a good schedule. Obviously, the Big East is very highly thought of and they played against all of those people. They won't be concerned about us having played the teams that they've played. We'll just have to go out there and play good basketball."

On preparing for USF on short notice
"We've over the years thought that one of our strengths was preparation. That was one of the things we did best was figure out what we can do to give people problems. Typically, my teams have not been teams that play five games in a row and just play by going out and out-athleticize. We typically have to use our heads a little bit. This puts a little less of that in play. We're going to have to go in and play against these guys with really one day prep. We have to figure them out as best we can, practice wise. This is kind of an offshoot, but we're in LA, and now you've taken a couple of weeks in a row out and I don't like that much."

On if he feels the team is struggling down the stretch
"Obviously, Colorado is pretty good. I think they proved that they're a pretty good basketball team. They're really good, defensively. They won four games with that formula. I think Stanford is a good basketball team. I don't know it has as much to do with us as it has to do with the league being a little bit better than anyone wants to give them credit for. We had to play with a lot of emotion to beat them. Thank goodness we did or I don't think we'd be in this tournament, right now. That was a critical game for us. Obviously, we don't have everybody shooting the ball as well as we need to. Allen [Crabbe] has struggled a little bit and hasn't been as pure, and Jorge [Gutierrez] has struggled a little bit. We've got to have our key players ready to perform. Against Colorado, their post guys really had the better of our guys. We struggled to score. I would give a lot of credit to Colorado's defense as Arizona found out the next night. You can look at it and ask, `Are we struggling?' or maybe we get a matchup with somebody that's not used to what we try to do or is not used to taking away the things that we have an advantage at might give us a bit of an advantage. Energy is part of it. You've got to come out and play and you've got to play hard defense for forty minutes. If the ball is not going down, you have to defend, and keep the score close until you find a way to score."

On being an underdog
"I don't think the people we play will look past us. They're looking to compete. That's more of a committee and media deal. You're in the tournament, now. Frankly, we're not trying to prove anything about the Pac-12. We're trying to prove something about ourselves. This is an opportunity for us to take advantage of a chance to play. There's an awful lot of good teams that aren't in the tournament. It's never been the top 64. You could make the argument for about 10 or 12 teams that are better than the teams in there. That's the nature of the way the tournament functions. This is just about us and this season. This has been a long year. We have not had a break. It's been going on and on. I think we had four Pac-12 Sunday games. We've got to regroup and grab a hold of each other and say let's go get this thing done."

On his feelings if the seniors had not made the tournament
"I think it would have been very disappointing for them. Those kids have worked so hard to get where we are. In the four years I've been here, we've been first, second, third, and fourth [in the Pac-12]. They should be pretty proud of what they've accomplished. You only have so many opportunities to play in the tournament. It's very special and very coveted. If either Harper [Kamp] or Jorge [Gutierrez] were to break through and have a phenomenal performance, that's where heroes are made. Everybody turns their attention to this whole thing that is March Madness. This is what everybody seems to see."

On being selected so late into the selection show
"We were down the last bracket. Frankly, there was the thought process that they could take Washington. I think there was a certain amount of `that's great'. Once you get over that, you start to look forward to it. The tournament is the tournament. We're in the tournament. You have an opportunity to compete in it, and that will never change."

On the longer timeouts
"I sat on a board for a number of years. The more money they gave us, the longer the timeouts got. The timeouts will be 2:45. They're long, so guys get downtime. If you rest your guy on the front side of the timeout, he can get a good four minutes of actual downtime."

On if the team is fatigued
"I don't think there's any question that it has, if not physically, then mentally. The other thing, too, is the emotional strain of having to win every game. I've always been, `We've got to have this one.' It's never been, `Hey, go out there and play.' I think it's probably taken a little bit of toll on our guys. If you think you're tired, you're tired. You're only playing a forty-minute game. If you want to play as hard as we have to play defensively, sometimes, it's worn on us a little bit."

On how the team has overcome struggles like the loss of Richard Solomon
"We get great leadership from Harper [Kamp] and Jorge [Gutierrez]. They set the tone. Like a lot of teams with young kids, that can go either way with their effort in what they think the game is supposed to be. Those kids keep us pretty grounded in terms of what we need to do to win. I would give a ton of credit to those two seniors."

CALIFORNIA PLAYERS

Justin Cobbs, So. G

On comparing Cal to VCU reaching the Final Four last year
"It's all basketball, now, no matter how you look at it or where you're at. It's just another basketball game that we have to win. We're not looking forward to anything other than playing the game."

On what he knows about South Florida
"I've caught glimpses of their games, but not too many of them. I know they were on the bubble just like we were."

On whether players looked at NCAA Tournament projections prior to Selection Sunday
"A little bit. You focus on big teams like Duke and North Carolina, UCLA; those types of guys. But it looks like we have a chance to go far."

On how to handle the short turnaround prior to Wednesday's play-in game
"It's just something you've got to switch gears and get ready for. At this point, it's March Madness. Anything can happen. I'm just excited to be in the tournament. We have a great chance to do great things. We need to get leadership from our seniors, and it's time to play Cal basketball. We haven't been playing well, lately, so it's time to just switch gears and finally play well together and make a run in this tournament."

On losing three of the last four games
"We haven't executed our offense. We've been breaking down a little bit. Teams have been taking a little bit of it away from us and that's just caused us to break down. If we just stick to our game plan and run our offense, and get into motion, we'll be fine. It's just executing our offense, that's all."

On how the team will play with the national spotlight on them Wednesday night
"I don't think it's about the spotlight. I just think now, it's all basketball no matter what time you're playing, no matter who you're playing. It's all basketball and anything can happen. It's March Madness. We grew up watching these types of games and I'm just happy being a part of it."

On the selection process and the team's reaction watching it
"We were in the last bracket to get in, so it was kind of nerve-wracking. A lot of 11's [seeds] went by, and it was like `what's going to happen?' Finally, it's like California and South Florida, and I was excited, getting all the calls from dads and moms and friends. I'm excited."

Allen Crabbe, So. G
On how the Pac-12 was perceived nationally
"I'm just glad that us and Colorado are able to represent the conference, this year. I feel like we can actually do something when we get there."

On the selection process and the team's reaction watching it
"I was getting nervous. After the first two brackets, and we still hadn't gotten called, to finally get called was a big sigh of relief."

On what he knows about South Florida
"They're a Big East team and they compete in a great conference. We need to go back to doing the things we do best and we'll have a shot at it."

On why the team lost three of its last four games
"I have no idea. In those losses, we just didn't feel like we had a lot of energy and motivation like we did every other part of the season. You have to give credit to other teams because they took away what we did best by playing great defense. Seems like we couldn't get the offense going, which was frustrating. It just didn't click. It was rough. It was a little slump that we were in. It's something that we're going to have to get out of, quick, if we want to compete and go far in this tournament."

On comparing Cal to VCU reaching the Final Four, last year
"That's what our assistant coach said. He said they were in that game. We want to win, this year, and they were there last year. They made it all the way to the Final Four. In the NCAA Tournament, you see a lot of teams that were low seeds upsetting higher seeds. Anything can happen, so we're just looking forward to it."

Harper Kamp, Sr. F
On the selection process and the team's reaction
"It was pretty tense, but once we saw our name, we were definitely relieved. We're playing the play-in game, so we need to be prepared a little earlier than we thought. We've got some games to play."

On comparing Cal to VCU reaching the Final Four, last year
"That story is encouraging. Maybe it will give us a chance, and if we can pass that first game, maybe we'll have a little bit of an advantage."

On a lack of respect for the Pac-12 Conference
"Yeah, I was surprised. I thought that Washington would get in, having won the regular season. But, I think it says a lot about how you finish the year. We didn't finish as strongly as we should have and people responded to that. Our seeding was affected by that."

On his previous experience in the NCAA Tournament as a sophomore
"In my sophomore year against Maryland, I did play, but I didn't log a whole lot of minutes and I was pretty beat up, that year. It's going to mean a lot [this year]. It's the last crack at it. There's nothing to do now but to lay it all on the line and give it all that we have."

On his goal for this year's NCAA Tournament
"That's not enough [just to get there]. You obviously have to take it one game at a time and that has to be the goal. Our goal is to be successful, and that's it. This is our first test."

On losing three of the last four games
"Offensively, we've gotten a little stagnant, and had our struggles. We just kind of lost the confidence we've had the entire year. We really have nothing to lose, now. We just have to go out and play as hard as we can. That's the most important part: to not be nervous, to be able to play loose; to play confident."

David Kravish, Fr. F
On his first NCAA Tournament
"We've got a great group of guys. It's a great family. We're in this together, and we're going to fight until the end. I'm looking forward to some good games."

On the team's depth and possibly playing three games in five days
"You can say we don't have a lot of depth, but we've got a lot of guys that can play basketball really well. It's just a matter of putting it all together. When we played Colorado, they played like three guys off the bench and they played three games in three days [actually four games in four days] so why can't we come out and play three games in five days. I don't think there's any reason to doubt our energy or conditioning in that respect."

On how Richard Solomon has helped him
"Rich is a great player. Everybody knows what kind of talent and ability he has. Going up against him in practice every single day really helps because he's explosive and strong. When you get to go up against him, it helps when you have teams that have a bunch of guys like that. It helps you adjust. He's helping me come along. If he blocks my shot, he's like `you need to think about it this way' instead of being tentative or doing whatever it is that I did, so he's helping me along."

On whether he dreamed of these types of moments as a kid
"Yeah, you're playing in the driveway when you're like 12 years old; you're announcing the game while you're playing the game. It's the NCAA championship, and your team is down two with five seconds left, and you dribble it up the court, and you shoot the game-winning three. You always make it, and if you miss it, you get the rebound and shoot it again."

On the selection process and the team's reaction
"Yeah, I felt it [tension]. I don't know if anybody else felt it, but I was getting nervous. There were 15 spots left and it could have gone either way. I looked at it [projections] a couple of times, but in the end, I don't think they had us playing in the play-in game and then against Temple in bracketology. I looked at it a couple of times but it's not the end-all, be-all."

On a lack of respect for the Pac-12 Conference
"The Pac-12 as a conference got a bad rap at the beginning of the season, but it's definitely a tough conference. After you get out of non-conference, that's all people were talking about. It's a tough conference despite what everybody says. Everybody plays each other tough and any of these teams [in the Pac-12] are capable of beating any of these teams [in the NCAA Tournament] on any given day."


Cal Bears Men's Basketball


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