March 2, 2010
California Head Coach Mike Montgomery
On getting any reaction from the fans after Saturday:
People are excited. I think a lot of people waited a long time, and were fearful of being let down again, at least that's how they would describe it. When we finally won, I think it was a load of a lot of people's minds and so it's been pretty positive. I mean, I don't hang out, though. I don't walk across campus with my uniform on, so I'm not in contact with a lot of people.
On the team's play in the last three weeks:
Well, we played better with our backs to the wall. The fact of the matter is, we actually played well against USC. I think SC is a pretty good team. We played well there, but lost. We've played better when we've had our backs to the wall. When we've had to win, we've typically managed to come back with a pretty good performance. We've been focused, we've played hard and generally, I guess, we've won.
After losing at SC, we came back and played very well against UCLA. After getting beat at Oregon State, we came back and played pretty hard against Oregon. We needed these two games, obviously, and we played very well. The Washington games, you know, the Washington game in particular, we knew was going to be a tough game based on how they handled us up there and we came back and played really well, really hard. Then in the first half against Washington State, we weren't quite as good, but when we got our backs on the wall, we came out and played very well. If we can learn anything, it's how we have to play to be at our best. I don't know whether that will be the case, but that seems to be when we are at our best.
On what's working well late in the season:
Well, I think we're defending better. We really defended well against Arizona State and Arizona, for example, in terms of individual matchups and helping each other out. Certainly this weekend, we've shared the ball better. Gosh, we had 36 assists, which for us is really good.
I just think our focus has been better. It's just been a matter of understanding what's important and going out there and doing it. It was pleasing to see us win just for a reason other than just shooting the ball. We've done that too. We've gone out and shot the ball in and it's been like, `Wow, the ball's gone down and boom boom boom,' but these games, the defensive efforts against both Arizona schools was really good. We didn't shoot spectacularly, and yet ,we still won.
They're good at home. Landry Fields and Jeremy Green are All-Pac-10 players capable of putting big numbers up. They will have lots of emotion to play against us. We beat them here so that's always a factor in terms of them coming out and being 100 percent ready to play, and we're going to have to match that. They've been very solid all year long; they've been a tough matchup for everybody. They haven't won every game, but they've been tough - they've played everybody tough. They've had probably three or four heartbreakers that they lost at the end and they're a pretty solid basketball team.
I think they've improved from the standpoint of knowing exactly who they're going to have and what they have to do to be successful. They've obviously had some depth issues in terms of not having a whole bunch of guys they can play and they know that. They've moved Drew Shiller into the starting lineup, so they're not as big, but it gives them an extra shooter, an extra handler out there and that's helped them. So I think they understand who they are and where they have to go. When Green's knocking the ball down from way deep, and Fields is going to get his (points) almost regardless, just because he can play inside and outside. He's a tough matchup.
On bringing up to the team that they lost at Stanford last year:
No. Not yet. I mean, we'll talk about just trying to respect your opponent, understanding that there's something on the line for us, in terms of no-share, potentially, the fact that you'd like to beat your rival, try to keep our momentum going, all this stuff. It is something that, you can't really talk guys into it. Sometimes you see guys talking and you know that they're not ready because they're talking about it rather than really focusing on it. So we're going to have to understand, this is the only game this week, so let's go over and get this thing finished off right.
On keeping the momentum up with only one game this week:
Well I don't know that momentum has really anything to do with it. It's about execution. I'd like to get some guys healthy. Pat's had problems with his knees; they've been real sore, so we tried to give him a little time off yesterday. We had him on the elliptical rather than run him up and down. So we're trying to get a little rest, yet we're trying to figure out some things that we can do better as far as our basketball team, and focusing on that. I don't think at this stage anyone wants to practice five straight days, so we'll take a day off and let them have a little break in the middle of the week and we'll try to focus on Stanford at the end of the week.
On if the team is any healthier than they were five to six weeks ago:
Not really, when you throw Max into the mix. We had Max before, but now with the collapsed lung, he won't play. So you have Max out, Markhuri's not going to change until the season's over and he gets a chance to strengthen that back and change some things there. I think Jorge's in better shape, which is good, but I'd say it's pretty much the same, minus Max.