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March 20, 2013

Justin Cobbs

Allen Crabbe

Mike Montgomery


THE MODERATOR:  We are joined by student‑athletes Justin Cobbs, a junior guard, and Allen Crabbe, also a junior guard.

Q.  Allen, what are the challenges in shooting in a bigger building like this after practicing in Haas most of the year?
ALLEN CRABBE:  I feel that these 40 minutes, we're going to use that to our advantage, get a lot of shots up, get acclimated with the floor.  Hopefully this will help us.

Q.  I guess to Allen, does your proximity to Cal, when you were recruited by Mike Montgomery, what did you know about his reputation at Stanford and reputation in college, and how much did his past success mean when you made your decision to go play with him?
ALLEN CRABBE:  I had an interesting story.  I didn't watch much of college basketball growing up.  I was watching the Final Four and they were talking about Stanford, what a great season they had.  And it's funny I'm playing for that guy, the coach of that team.
I feel Coach has had a great success here on the college level, and also being a coach at the NBA level as well.  He has his experience.  Playing for a coach like that, you can't really go wrong with that, that's why I chose to come to Cal.

Q.  Justin, the turnovers in the last two games have been a big issue.  And second‑chance points and extra possessions seemed to be a deciding factor last time you guys played UNLV.  What have you done to prevent those and what do you plan to do going into that game?
JUSTIN COBBS:  Coach talked about it.  You can't turn the ball over and give the other team layups.  That's too much momentum going the other team's way.  We just work on taking care of the ball.  Me, as a point guard, I need to take care of the ball and try to set everything up, and give Allen shots and get other guys shots.
I think we're very well prepared.  We've game planned well for this game and now it's time to go out there and perform.

Q.  Allen, how nice was it this week logistically, how different was this week compared to a normal week with the location here and being able to practice at Haas today?
ALLEN CRABBE:  It's actually good for us not going out of state and having to do too much traveling.  I just feel like it's a 40‑minute drive helped us out a lot.  We got to stay in our gym.
So hopefully we get a good crowd from our fans, with it being so close to us.  We were pretty excited when we saw we were playing in San Jose.  Hopefully we can use this as one of our advantages to help us get a W tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR:  We are joined now by head coach of California, Mike Montgomery.

Q.  Mike, one of your former players is obviously the coach of Montana.  Did you see qualities in Wayne as a player that made you think he'd be a successful coach?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  I only had Wayne one year.  So it's hard for me to say.
We had a real good year his freshman year.  That was Krystkowiak's senior year, and was MVP of the conference.  But recruiting Wayne was really important to us, a kid out of Spokane, 6‑10, really good hands and good player, and turned out to be a good player for them.
I don't know at that point whether I was thinking in terms of guys being coaches.  I know he married right.  So the kids, the offspring are really good players.  I really couldn't ever figure out how he pulled that off.
Nonetheless, he's done a good job there.  He's done a really good job.  And I really like Wayne, I think he's a good guy.

Q.  If I can piggyback that off‑topic question, can you relate some of your experiences when you were in Missoula and what you remember about that time in your life?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  I can't tell you ‑‑ I can't tell you what I did in Missoula (laughter).
What happens in Missoula stays in Missoula, as far as I'm concerned, especially when you're late 20's, early 30s and single.  That's a whole different deal.  I used to pretty regularly beat Guff in hand ball, racquetball, I guess.
Other than that I have great, great memories of my time in Montana.  I met my wife there.  My two kids were born there.  I've got a lot of friends still there.  I don't see them all that much.  But it's kind of like if you're in Montana, you're one of us, and you keep friends for a long, long time.
A lot of fond memories.  A lot of guys came out of there, Krysko, Tinkle, Stu, Blaine, that have done really well.  Some played for me, some worked for me.  So it's a pretty special place.

Q.  What have you done to help tamp down on turnovers that seem to be kind of a big issue in the last two games for you guys?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  Well, if I was sarcastic, I'd say we'd have hand transplants.  But we turned the ball over against Vegas for layups, you know.  We had turnovers out front.  And that's the ‑‑ you can't do that.  We turned the ball out front and they converted them into layups.  We can't have that.
I think at this stage of the game you kind of are who you are.  You have to be ‑‑ one of the things that we were cautious of, we didn't go back and do a lot of drill work, I don't think players are going to be really receptive to a lot of drill work at this time.
We tried to get up and down in transition both ways, knowing UNLV likes to run.  We tried to tighten up some of the things we wanted to try to run, talked about where some of our turnovers came last time.  But we've just got to make better choices.
From the get‑go we talked about point of attack defense and decision making on offense.  And those are probably the two biggest things, that if you went and looked at games, if you struggle at point of attack we had a hard time winning, if we made bad decisions on offense, we had a hard time winning.  We've got to get good shots.  That doesn't mean just Allen Crabbe, it means getting everybody involved.
We tried to get a package that the guys are comfortable with, knowing how UNLV is going to play us, we know they're very athletic, and hopefully we'll do a little bit better job.
A lot of it has to do with focus and concentration, which again is not something we've been totally 100 percent with all year long.  That has a big part of how we play and what we do.

Q.  In the last two games the opponents are 18 for 36 on threes.  Was that hot shooting, a little bit of defensive breakdown, a little bit of both?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  You know, if you're coaching the teams that are making the shots, you're talking about great offense.  If you're coaching the team that's defending against it, you're saying poor defense.  I think it's a combination of both.  We ran into some people who really shot the ball well against us in a particular game.
Now, your job as a coach is to obviously try to change that.  You scout and you say, look, this guy shoots this shot, he's a good three‑point shooter, don't let him catch the ball where he's comfortable, force him to step out, get physical with him, all those things.
I think people the last two games shot the ball really well.  Maybe really inordinately well for where they had been up to that point.  But a lot of the blame has to go back to us on defense.  We've got to be more cognizant, more aware of where people are.
The old thing used to be if a guy jumps up and shoots a couple in on you, used to be you dumped the guy and let him know you were there, you can't do that anymore.  But you've got to let get closer and not let him shoot, make a believer earlier out of you.

Q.  I've read in the past that you said no matter where you were going to go, college‑wise, after Stanford that you knew it would be different recruiting and different building a program.  I wonder if you could talk about, has it been as different as you thought, has it been easier, tougher to build at a different program from where you came from, and your thoughts on that coming back?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  Well, we didn't have instant success at Stanford.  I inherited a great group of kids, really, really good group of players, and we were able to parlay that a little bit.
Stanford, as I always said, is a unique, one‑off deal.  There's not any place like that specifically.  So you have a specialty pool that you can recruit from, and if you can figure that out and get them, then you're going to be pretty good.  And we were very fortunate.
Being there 18 years I don't think I fully understood the differences between what everybody else was dealing with, particularly in our culture that is college basketball, in terms of some of the stuff that's going on now in terms of outside involvement and all the things that you did.
Every place has its strengths and weaknesses.  Every place has a little different approach to how they look at things and what you have to do to be successful.
In the five years that I've been at Cal we've had the best record in the league.  It hasn't been ‑‑ we haven't won a whole bunch of championships but we did win one, and the last two years been one game away from winning it.  We haven't distinguished ourselves as well as we did at the end of the Stanford thing.
If you've ever talked to Coach Rice, he could probably share some stories that we talked about the last time he played.  It's a different culture, and you have to be able to adjust to where you are.  Cal is a great school, it's very demanding, it's different culturally, and it's a place you've got to work to fit in.  But it's a great place.
So for all the coaches there, and we've got a great coaching staff that has done very well, you have to find the right person to fit into that place, and when you find it that person is going to thrive.

Q.  Given your experience, has today's players in a postseason environment, have you changed your approach at all from, say, your time at Stanford to now your time at Cal?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  I think the experience of going to the tournament is invaluable.  I know the first couple of times we went at Stanford, the first time we went it was the first time in 50 years, we were so happy to be there it was like, wow.  And then the second time we kind of went in with we want to win this thing.  And I don't think we were able to do it the second year, as I recall, either.  Then you started to realize, this is hard.  There's good teams.
Then as we won a couple you started to think this is pretty much fun.  And the kids started ‑‑ their mindset started to change as to we're supposed to win in this thing, we're supposed to advance, we can advance.  And it became more of who we were and what we wanted to try to do.
We've been to the NCAA four out of the five years that I've been there.  The one year we did win a game, we beat Louisville that was a heck of a win, and had to play Duke, who ultimately won it.
I don't know the guys are yet to the point where they start to look as something we should be doing every year, we should be looking at advancing every year.  I think this year will be better than it was last year.  Last year the playing game was really hard.  It was tough.  We weren't there.
So I'm hoping that this year they understand the value of competing and of the stage that they're on.  And it's just a process.  Once you win a game and you have young players, the next time they're going to have a better understanding of what it is, and they'll do a better job and it's just a process.

Q.  You didn't have Kreklow for much of the year, you got him back now.  Can you talk about what you think you might have missed not having him and perhaps how valuable it will be for him to get to play in a couple of games this year?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  I feel badly for Rick.  He was projected to be a starter and a very good player.  He's a transfer from Missouri.  And he's a tough kid, which is something that we don't necessarily have.  He'll run through a screen if he feels like you're screening illegally.  He's not having it.
He's a good shooter.  He spent a lot of time shooting on the side because he couldn't do anything.  He's not anywhere close to what he would have been.  He still practiced 6, 7, 8 times.  And he goes and drives and tries to jump and his legs don't give him very much because he wasn't able to do anything coming off that foot.
But I think for him, if he could have gotten a 6th year, if that would have been a mechanism for him to get a 6th year, I wouldn't feel like this would be the right thing to do right now.  But I don't think that mechanism exists for him to get that.
So to get him back on the floor I think is very valuable for him.  And he's gotten better every day.  In practice guys kind of look and like having him out there.  So there's minutes to be had for him.  He can help us.  And it will help him just getting back.
His dad helped with that.  Ricky was very tentative, afraid that he'd break that thing again and then really be out and it would become chronic.  And his dad said, hey, go for it, give it a shot.  And I think it's been really good for him.

Q.  What was today like for you being able to practice at Haas and especially in comparison to other years?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  Well, Syracuse came in Monday night.  Who else did I talk to came in Monday night?  Had we been east, we would probably have done that to get there and get acclimated.
Gosh, I've been all over the doggone country in this NCAA tournament.  Going west to east is harder, because you use the whole day to get there.  I think it's easier coming east to west.
We were going to come down Tuesday night.  But when we found our practice time wasn't until 5:55, why do that, why sit around the hotel all day, let's practice at home.
And it was important for several of our kids, honestly, to get to class this morning.  I mean, there were classes we preferred not to miss.  In fact, we're going to leave a couple of kids back to go to class.  We left a kid back tonight so he could go to class tonight, because we're getting into that point.
So it's great to have a practice, get a chance to get a shower, get cleaned up, get on the bus, come down.  It's just ‑‑ you're just in a better mind frame, you have more time to kind of sort things out.
I've always been a proponent, the pod thing, I know they can't put everybody close to home, but I've been a proponent.  Jamie who is on the committee, of course is a good friend, talked about the whole thing.  And they said would you rather be an 11 and play a No. 2 five ‑‑ second six or rather be a 12 and play a third five.  And then you really think it's that finite that there's that much of a difference?  I said I'd rather be a 12 and stay home.
I think for our fans, for people, there's a lot more excitement for us than there would be if we were in Binghampton, New York, where we have been before.

Q.  If you'll indulge me one more Montana question, Coach.  Hypothetically speaking, how would you feel about a third round match‑up with the Grizzlies?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  Oh, yeah, I keep thinking ‑‑ I'm forgetting this is a second round.  Hypothetically only from the standpoint that it would have meant we would have won our first game, I'd play the Lady Griz, if I could.  Maybe not.  I don't want to do that.
I think that would be fabulous.  I think that would be fabulous.  But that would be great for Montana.  It would be great for us.  It would be perfect.
I've watched Wayne's team and they're good.  We played Weber State a year ago and we had our hands full with them.  It would make for a good story line.  And we could probably, I don't know, Guff, Bill Johnson, would probably come out and ask about our preseason schedule.  I'm sure he's still writing into the editor ‑‑

Q.  Dave Johnson?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  I knew it was Johnson, but he's probably asking the same question.  He doesn't have my email address, thank goodness.

Q.  For someone who obviously coached in that league and there's not many finished products that come into that draft now, why would you think the NBA people look at Bennett, and what about him are they looking at saying 2, 3, 4 years, this is what we see in him?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  He's a classic power forward.  I think the first thing you look at when you're talking NBA is body.  It's silly, but that's what the league has gotten to.  They look at your body.  Do you have an NBA body, long arms, high hips, weight, strength, athletic ability, he's got all that.
He's got a prototypical four‑man body.  And he's skilled.  He can shoot the ball.  So you're talking about a big guy that can go in and match up and bang with big people in that league defensively and maybe on the glass, but yet he can step away and shoot the ball.  His 3‑point percentage is the best on that team, as I recall.  Here's a guy that's 6‑8 with that physical prowess, that can step away and shoot the ball from deep.  He's got great touch inside.
So there's not much not to like about him.  After one year in college you don't know the maturity level and what their work ethic is going to be.  That's where they get in trouble a lot when they go after these young kids, because they're not proven, they don't know the answer to those.  But from the standpoint of looking at him on surface, he's got it all.

Q.  You've kind of lamented throughout the year that your team has had a tendency to come out flat.  Is there something, you mentioned the stage a little bit, do you feel like the stage and perhaps the fact that you've faced UNLV before is giving the team a sense of urgency?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  Well, if you're not, if you don't have a sense of urgency coming into this, then you're in the wrong business.  I have told them that ‑‑ we don't have more games.  Now you're earning the right to play again.  Even in the conference tournament you're probably going to play again after you've won 20 games, whether it be NCAA, NIT or whatever.  You play on Thursday night, you're going to play Saturday night.  You play in December, you're going to play in January.  No more.
So the excitement of playing in this thing, I mean, these kids have watched NCAA basketball for years and have watched and one shining moment and watched people cut down nets and see people be heroes because of a shot made.  That's something that motivates kids.  If not, then we're going to be in trouble, then there's no excuse for it, then you don't have a heart.  And that's a big part of what any team has.  If you have a heart and want to compete, this is a great stage to do it on.

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