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March 19, 2009
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
MARYLAND Â– 84
CALIFORNIA - 71
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Now in the interview room, the University of Cal.
COACH MIKE MONTGOMERY: Well, we didn't play as well as we're capable of. This is a stage in which you have to come out and do what you're capable of doing, maybe you have to do some things better than you've done. I didn't think we really did that.
Maryland is fairly comparable to ourselves, I think. I felt like that going in. They're not real, real big but they're a little bit quicker to the glass than we are.
Vasquez was a great player and ended up with pretty good numbers and, you know, hurt us repeatedly getting back to his own missed shots. Didn't think we rebounded the ball. We had an opportunity to get some stops, we didn't rebound the ball like we needed to.
You know, I can sit here and tell you all the things we didn't do and so forth, but, you know, for us it's a first step getting here and having the experience now of seeing what this is, maybe heighten the juices a little bit to work hard and get better collectively.
We've got virtually everybody back, you know, other than Jordan Wilkes and we just got some things that we can do better and I'm hoping that this spurs us to want to work hard to do those things, and, you know, on one side of the coin I'm extremely proud of these kids for what they've accomplished to get here and on the other side I'm a little disappointed.
The last couple weeks of the season we kind of got a little bit, I don't know, whatever. We're letting people kind of have their way with us a little bit. That's, again, part of the learning process I think and hopefully we can take from this and get better.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Questions for the student athletes.
Q. Jerome, talk a little bit about the press that you guys have dealt with early on. They hit you guys with it from the start. Talk about the impact of that throughout the game.
JEROME RANDLE: We didn't handle it too great. Feel like I should have been a leader out there and got everybody in the right positions but, I mean it wasn't really a tough press. We just didn't, you know, handle it well so I just feel like we should have just been smarter and just got the ball in the right spots when we needed to and I mean it definitely hurt us, you know, because we got a five count and got a couple turnovers so changed the game a little bit.
Q. Jerome, Mike, or Coach Montgomery mentioned Vasquez being a good player. What did you know about him, what did you know about their guards in general and did they take you out of doing anything that you wanted to do?
JEROME RANDLE: Not at all. They was good players. Vasquez is a great player and great players -- you know, but we just needed to be smart, you know. We should have played a little better as a team. They just wanted it more. That's basically it.
Q. Theo, was it as difficult for you guys to get the open looks you were used to as it looked from the side? Were they making it tougher for you to get clear looks at the basket?
THEO ROBINSON: It's a little bit of a combination of what Maryland did. I would say moreso on the part of ourselves. We didn't really have five guys out there on the same page. It seemed like, you know, we weren't functioning as a cohesive unit. Something to learn from this experience. We just got to really be tuned in to things we're supposed to be doing and making sure we're on the same page out there.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Do we have more questions for the Cal student athletes? Guys, you're excused to head back at the locker room.
Questions for Coach Montgomery.
Q. Coach, this is the fifth time this season you shot under 30 percent from the 3-pointer range. Just talk about that.
COACH MIKE MONTGOMERY: Well, we don't shoot the ball we're not as good as we need to be. I think that's been kind of apparent all year long, that we have won a lot of big games, important games, games on the road, Washington, Arizona when we shot the ball well.
I mean I don't know truthfully that Maryland did anything appreciably different than others did. They got us out of our rhythm a little bit. Maybe that's a consequence of their press.
But we just never seemed to really get much of a rhythm. So it's very difficult for us to compete against a good team and Maryland is a good team without shooting the ball well.
We do not have the ability to dominate on the boards. We do not have the ability to physically beat people up. We're an okay defensive team. We're not a great defensive team.
We have to shoot the ball. The ball, for whatever reason, in the shot selection, rhythm, distribution, we're not shooting the ball. We struggle and that is the case clearly tonight.
Q. Coach, could you just talk about Jorge coming off bench and guarding Vasquez? Was there any concern about that at all because Vasquez I think has about a three inch height advantage?
COACH MIKE MONTGOMERY: We ruled out Jerome early at five-eight, so we don't have a lot of choice. Patrick is maybe an inch or so taller than Jorge. It's not like we have a lot of choices. You know, Jorge is our best defender.
We were willing to take our chances there. I think part of the thing with Patrick defending him early, probably tired him out a little bit because we did make an emphasis of trying to defend him and maybe Patrick's legs were a little bit shot. We talked about starting Jorge.
Our best lineup has been with Jorge in there, maybe small but then we're awfully small and we kind of want to keep that in reserve.
Now the size was something we weren't going to do anything about. Theo would have been a possibility but then we would have had six-two, six-three guy on a six-seven guy.
The thing that Vasquez does well is he reads his missed shots and gets them. You've got two, three where we did a decent job defending and didn't get back to the glass.
Q. Kind of a two part question. Randle is five for eight in the first half and he kind of disappeared. Only took three shots in the second half. Also Robertson kind of emerged in the second half. Can you talk about both players' roles in each of the half?
COACH MIKE MONTGOMERY: People make adjustments. If I'm scouting us I'm going to say look, I would get up into Jerome and not give him any opportunities to get a clean look.
At five-eight he needs a little space even though he has great range. He needs space because a bigger player can maybe change shots. One of the problems we have, we don't have a lot of ball handlers and, unfortunately, Jerome has to do a lot of things.
In many ways you like to have Jerome off the ball, have him coming off screens because he's probably our best shooter. We don't have very many people that can create for him by putting it on the floor. Maybe Jorge at times can be able to do that so, you know, he's got a lot of hats he has to wear out there. He has to handle the ball versus pressure, get back on shots.
There's just a lot of pressure on Jerome to be good and it's tough on him. I feel for him sometimes because those guys rely on him and how come you're not getting me the ball? He's trying to do that. He's gotten better at it but, you know, Theo, we moved him to 4 some, is probably his best position. It causes some matchup problems.
We're able to get some shots for him playing against a bigger player spacing the floor because the emphasis has been on Patrick and Jerome. He took advantage of that.
It also makes us weaker on the boards. Maybe we're not as physical and so there's a little trade-off there.
Q. Gary seemed to think that when he went to zone at 51-50 after the second TV timeout that that seemed to not change the game but make it tougher for you guys to function. Was that your sense as well?
COACH MIKE MONTGOMERY: Well, it was a stretch there where we had a little momentum shift. We actually went to a Triangle 2 for a couple possessions and they missed the first two, three and, you know, think, well, maybe this is going to get them out of rhythm because the wrong people took shots for them.
I think we didn't rebound the ball in the two, three occasions necessarily but then we got a little bit out of sorts in terms of finding people and -- I think it was a combination of that where we -- we don't -- we need to have alternate ways to change things, you know.
Our best defense is man and we're just okay because we're not physical, we're not big, we don't have shot blockers. So we need another way to change tempo, to try to get something different and we just don't have something that we can go to that we're very good at, very comfortable with.
So that hurts us, and -- the zone seemed to hurt us more than we should have. We couldn't get movement. We probably talked about lack of ability to get it to the low post. What you're supposed to be able to do against a zone is rebound the ball.
We were a small lineup. We weren't able to do that very much because they have quicker jumpers than we do. It probably was something that changed the rhythm and tempo a little bit and in other occasions people have played zone, we've played very well against.
Q. It seemed like after Maryland was up that the offense had a few possessions and they were on the verge of getting back. Maryland was able to score quite quickly. Was there anything defensively that particularly frustrated you with what Cal was doing on the floor?
COACH MIKE MONTGOMERY: Yeah, whole bunch of stuff. When we struggle offensively we sometimes lose our focus defensively. It's kind of a deal that we struggle with all year long. We've tried to establish and get better on defense and we've gotten better but -- a lot of that -- it's funny how it works.
A guy jumps up and shoots a shot. He goes down and becomes really good on defense. We were missing a lot of shots and our focus was somewhat suspect defensively.
One of things that we've had a hard time with is what we call a V back where you come over and help. Somebody has got to help. You got to V back and help the helper on that. It's a concept we're working on.
There were second shots and dunks and rebounds where we didn't have anybody coming back to helper. We've got a long ways to go defensively in terms of our whole team concept of what we have to do.
Combinations of people that were getting tired a little bit. There was some nervous energy expended because they were a little bit excited about the game. We get worn down physically. There's no question we get worn down physically.
At one point we had five people with three fouls. Some of them were just silly reach fouls, pretty good shape and rather than make them make a shot, we reached out. That's a little bit of discipline issue that we've got that's going to come back on me.
I've got to get them to where they understand what good defense and what sound basketball is and what a good defensive possession is. It's all part of the building process.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Last couple of questions.
Q. Mike, talk a little bit about what the team was able to accomplish over the course of the year and maybe the second half of the season your record indicates maybe some teams caught up to you a little bit and maybe saw your limitations. Talk about the progress of the year itself.
COACH MIKE MONTGOMERY: I think that's a very valid question and point. It's hard to balance at this point, you know, the pride that you feel in the kids for getting to where they got. You know, you feel good about a kid like Jordan Wilkes who is a senior, started most of the year, if not all the year, has that to look back on now, but, you know, it just seemed like you're right, people figured out what we had to do and they were willing to take chances and take those people out as best they could and make other people have to make plays and we weren't always able to step up.
You know, we got hurt with athletic teams. We got hurt with physical teams. Alright. So essentially I guess what I'm saying, if somebody just let us play, we're pretty good but people figured out that isn't the answer. It's get up and force them, bang them and hold them, push them, so forth and we just weren't able -- then there wasn't anybody I could put in. We've got to change this.
So we have to get better at what we do and we've got to get a whole lot better at what we don't do. That's the challenge for the off-season. Now you see, now you feel. We're in the tournament. Where do we go from here?
I'll be real curious to see how much guys are willing to work in the weight room, to improve on the areas that we're not very good at because working on our strengths is easy. The hard part is working on the areas that you maybe aren't quite so good at and that's where we got to head.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Last question.
Q. How easy will that be to do, to get better at the things you don't do and how much of it is simple physical limitation?
COACH MIKE MONTGOMERY: I knew you were smart, Ray. You know, there's just some truth to that. You can't -- you know, we've got to -- it's going to be a good question that we're going to have to figure out.
We've got to bring people in, we've got to continue to bring people to augment what we have. I mean I guess the easiest example is Jerome is not going to get bigger. We have to figure a way to make him more efficient.
We've got to get tougher-minded and some of that comes in the weight room. It was really hard for us with our bigs. You know, Jordan has been wobbly, Harper has been, gosh, I don't know if you give a percentage what he's been all year long, thought he wasn't going to play and Taylor never got back. It was like where do we go?
Lot of them are freshmen. I want to see Max develop. D.J. is a freshman. Our guys are going to get better but you're right, how much does it change, how much -- the hard part is working on something that you don't do well perhaps because you don't understand it, perhaps just it's a limitation that's not going to change, you know.
But that's our job. We can't give into it. We're just going to have to do everything we can to change it and maybe we won't be 50 percent better but improve 15 percent. Get to the same place with a better opportunity to win a game like this.
So I don't expect it will change overnight but we'll be better. We will be better next year.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Thank you, Coach.
End of FastScripts