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March 22, 2013

Justin Cobbs

Allen Crabbe

Mike Montgomery


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

Q.  Allen, Syracuse is one of those nationally prominent programs you've probably been aware of for most of your life, watching them on TV.  What's your rationale to playing this team and the opportunity that presents for your team?
ALLEN CRABBE:  It's going to be a good experience for us.  We don't really play a team like Syracuse throughout the whole year.  Like you said, everybody knows about their success.  They've made a big name for themselves.
I just feel like it's going to be a regular game for us.  We're in the tournament for a reason.  We are going to play the best of the best.
We've just got to take it as another game.  We can't go out there afraid to play against them and just go out there and just play our basketball, just be calm and let the game come to us.

Q.  Allen, could you give a scouting report about yourself to us.  And Justin, if you could give a scouting report about Allen.
ALLEN CRABBE:  I guess I can say that I've grown over the years, people that have known me as a shooter.  This year I just tried to be more of a complete player, tried to put the ball on the floor more, try to get to the free throw line more, try to rebound more.  And, yeah, I guess I can say I'm trying to fill out to be a complete player.  I guess I can say that.
JUSTIN COBBS:  Like he said, he's a great shooter.  He scores the ball so easily, so effortlessly.  Like he said, he's working on being a complete player.
I think he's a great slasher, he's getting to the basket and getting a lot of assists, getting his teammates involved.
And another thing is that he's just unselfish.  He should be shooting a lot more shots, but he's just so unselfish, wanting to get his teammates involved.  So I would say Allen is the complete basketball player.

Q.  Allen, Syracuse is known for playing a lot of zone.  As a shooter is that something you look forward to going up against?
ALLEN CRABBE:  I know that it's not going to be easy to get the shots that you think you're going to get in your head.  You're thinking about it, playing against the zone, you get kind of excited.  But we know they're pretty long and athletic.
You've got to find the open spots they leave open in the zone.  We've got to be patient on our offense and just execute well.  We can't force things against them because they'll take advantage of it.
Guys shoot the shots that we feel most comfortable shooting.  If we shoot a lot of 3‑pointers, they may come off long, and they may lead out to fast break points.  We've got to be patient and just let the game come to us and just take the shots that we want.

Q.  Justin, could you tell me, what's your ambition?  You've been here at Cal two years, what's your ambition for the Cal program?  Do you want it to become on the level of a Kansas or an Indiana or do you have a vision in your head of what you'd like it to become?  And what does this weekend present in terms of possibilities to get to that point?
JUSTIN COBBS:  I feel like this is a big opportunity for us.  Like Allen said, all year long we haven't played a team like Syracuse with the notoriety they have, they've built a great program and they're known for their success.
Tomorrow will be a great opportunity for us to make a name for ourselves and put ourselves on that national scale with teams like Kansas and North Carolina and Duke.
It's just another basketball game.  But if we go out and play with the same energy we played with last night, execute the game plan and get the W, I think that will get a lot of people's attention to put Cal on the map as a national team.

Q.  Justin, yesterday against UNLV you played a lot of zone defense.  Is that something you've used a lot this year, and how would you describe your zone?
JUSTIN COBBS:  We didn't use it a lot.  We used it off and on, just match‑up issues.  And we felt like last night was a great time to use it with UNLV being such an isolation‑oriented team, that we got another guy in to help and guys to rebound and things like that.
We don't use it that much, but at the same time I think we're great at that zone with the length at the top with Allen and then Tyrone, 6‑5 point guard on the other wing.  So I think we're very active in that zone.  We move around.  We defend a lot of spots at one time.  And we rebound the ball.  So I think the zone is very active for us, and it's helped us a lot in this tournament run.

Q.  Allen, how much were you inspired by the crowd yesterday?  Did it feel like a home court?  Do you think it will be an advantage tomorrow night?
ALLEN CRABBE:  I felt it was a good crowd.  I saw a lot of fans from both sides.  But I guess you can kind of say ‑‑ people may say it's home court advantage for us.  It's only 40 minutes away from Berkeley.  But there's just a lot of our fans get to come out and get to support us a little more for this season.
I guess you can say our fans being behind us it gives us a little more energy to play.  If you make a big play, then your fans are really into it and all that stuff.
But there's going to be a lot of fans there.  It's not even going to be our fans.  Some other teams may stay over to look at the games.
But I feel like it's all up to us.  The fans are not going to be the ones out there helping us win.  It's going to be Cal basketball out there helping each other win.  We're going to have to be the ones that have to make the plays, so it's going to be up to us to win.

Q.  Justin, Allen already talked a bit about attacking the zone, but as the point guard, what do you do to facilitate the offense?
JUSTIN COBBS:  Just try not to get stagnant.  Usually in zone it's easy to get stagnant and just pass the ball around the perimeter, and not getting the interior of the defense.
Just as a point guard, try to penetrate the zone.  Obviously in their 2‑2‑1 or 2‑3, whatever you want to call it, the middle is going to be open.  They trap the corners and things like that.  So try to just get in the interior, try to get the ball to the high post and find shooters like Allen, and try to break the zone from the inside out.
THE MODERATOR:  We're joined now by California head coach Mike Montgomery.

Q.  What makes the Syracuse zone so difficult to attack?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  Well, it's ‑‑ one, it's really big.  It's really long.  So it makes passing lanes harder.
It makes ‑‑ I don't know if you remember years ago when Michigan State won a National Championship and they had Kelser and Magic at the top of the zone.  It just made it so much harder because when you thought you were wide open and you went to shoot, here comes Kelser jumping from 12 feet away.  And it made the zone so effective with that length.
Now, I'm not going to compare this zone to Kelser and Magic, but it's a similar type of deal.  They gap you, they play passing lanes and they've got great length.
It really is unique zone in that it's not a 2‑3 and it's not a 1‑2‑2, it's a 2‑2‑1 in a quarter court, which you've not seen much.  They play the forwards very high.  They play passing lanes, they almost dare you to throw to the corner because they'll trap some and they'll come running at you with length.
If you could move the ball cleanly and get it where you wanted to get, there's probably some vulnerable areas, but they don't let you do that.  They've very good at jumping to passing lanes.  They know exactly what they're trying to do.  They know exactly what the rules are as far as where they're not going to let the ball go and why.  And it makes it very effective.
And when you do something 35 times a year, 40 minutes a game for 30 years, somebody has got it figured out.  And they've been successful with it.

Q.  When Justin was up here a few minutes ago he talked about how the zone was something you used off and on this year.  And against UNLV you thought it was effective, and it was.  Is that something you'll use against Syracuse since they've struggled this year with some zones?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  You know, it's funny, that teams that zone don't like zones.  Teams that press don't like to be pressed.  It's odd, it seems like you'd play every day against yourself that you would probably be pretty good at solving it.
We're going to ‑‑ what we've always tried to do, unless you just feel like you can go out and flat dominate somebody with man and overplay and just, you know, you're always going to look at a zone at some point.  We've used it against in‑line out‑of‑bounds, and we've said, hey, let's do it against in‑line out‑of‑bounds, and if it works, we like it, we'll come back and do it again.  If they don't like it again, we'll probably stay with it a little bit.
We had a hard time last night transitioning back to man.  And I worry about that against Syracuse, as well, because they rely on run‑outs against their zone because a lot of shots are shot deep and shot deep, rebounded deep and they count on that to get buckets.
So my guess is at some point we'll take a look at it and see how they like it.  Boy, Southerland, Fair, awful good deep shooters from what I've seen.

Q.  When you were playing your zone last night how would you describe that?  You were just giving a great description of what Syracuse does.
COACH MONTGOMERY:  Ours is more of a 3‑2 zone.  We started off trying to play a 2‑3 zone.  And I played 2‑3 primarily for years and years and years.  And we had the rules down, knew exactly who had what coverage.  But we weren't able to get our forwards and center to do what we wanted to do.  And a lot of times we weren't able to get our guards to continue to run out and switch the forward down and so forth and so on.
So we decided to try the 3‑2 zone because Crabbe at the top gave us a 6‑6 long arm guy that was able to do a little bit more than some others.
It's nothing more than a 3‑2 zone.  We have had some coverage issues that we tried to resolve.  And teams that attack in certain areas, if we don't do a good job of taking it away, it can be very vulnerable.  Every zone has weaknesses, it just depends on the other team's ability to attack those weaknesses and weak areas.  If they're good at it, then it's not going to work very well.

Q.  Since you got to Cal kind of an underlying theme has been whether you could repeat in terms of a string of success, what you had across the Bay.  And I am assuming that was a goal of yours, as well.  And I'm wondering how you feel about that right now and what this week might mean towards something like that, giving a string of good, good seasons like that going?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  Well, that's a pretty deep question.  It's multi‑faceted in that everybody wants that, wherever they are.  I mean, there's not a coach in the country that doesn't take a job that doesn't anticipate having success.
Stanford would like to have that success.  It's not as easy as that.  It's not ‑‑ all jobs, all places, all things are not the same.  And as much as everybody would like to be Duke, they're not.  Drake is not Duke.  There are things about each place that make them different than the next place you might go and everything else.
Now, in the five years that I've been at Cal we've been to four tournaments.  Five years we've won more games in league than any team in the league, but I don't think anybody would really know that or acknowledge that.  We won a championship and the next two years we competed for a championship.  Had we won those, you know, maybe one would start to look at that differently.
So we've had a reasonable amount of success.  The thing that I've always pointed out, of the teams in our league, I think six of them have never won a PAC‑10 championship.  So it's not like it's everybody is going to be able to do this.
So Arizona dominated for a long time.  UCLA has always been good.  We had a good run.  And since then we've jumped up won one.  Oregon jumped up and won one.
We'd like to continue to build this thing.  We've got a great recruiting class coming in.  Slowly but surely.  But it's not like anybody else in the league is laying down to let you do that.

Q.  You're right, everybody wants to talk about can Cal be the Kansas of the West Coast.  That's the comparison they want to make.  How would you state your ambition?  Do you want to put it in those kind of terms?

Q.  I'm guessing you probably don't?

Q.  Can Cal become something along that kind of program, like a Kansas or an Indiana is now back to being?  Can that happen?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  Well, again, I think we're really reaching here for a lot of stuff.  This is discussion ‑‑

Q.  Slow news day?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  Yeah, a slow news day.
I could answer it.  We could sit and have a cup of coffee and talk for three hours, and I could tell you all about college basketball.  There's only one Kansas.  Everybody in the WCC wants to be Gonzaga.  Not going to happen.  There's one Gonzaga, for a variety of reasons.
Kansas has been good forever.  Would we like to have a program like Kansas?  Sure.  So if the 49ers and the Giants and the Sharks and the A's and they all move, we're going to have a better chance to do that is my guess.  And if moved to Kansas, my guess is Kansas ain't going to be Kansas anymore.  Dorothy might even move (laughter).
That's a question that is so far‑reaching.

Q.  State your ambition for this program.
COACH MONTGOMERY:  Win more games.  I mean, look at the history.  Look at the history.  I think right now with the way ‑‑ we're doing fine and we'll continue to try to get better every single year.

Q.  Apologize if you've been asked this question already, can you talk about ‑‑ a lot of people play zones and match‑up zones, what makes Boeheim's different, better, tougher, other than he recruits well and has long armed, great athletes?  Is there anything special besides that?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  Anybody take notes on that question the first time?  You could probably share those.
They play it well.  They play it exclusively.  They've got long‑arm people, and it's a little bit unique, it's not a match‑up, it's a 2‑2‑1 zone and they play it 40 minutes a game, 35 times a year, every year.  So they've got it pretty well down.  And they've got great length.

Q.  Last night Jim said he considers you one of his close friends in coaching.  How did you get to know Jim over the years?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  Well, you know, there used to be a golf tournament years ago that Santa Clara had.  Jim would come out.  PJ Carlesimo would come out and Bill Rafferty and Jim, and that's probably where I first met him.  And he was a crotchety guy, we laugh.  But I got on the board of directors of the NABC, Jim was on the board of directors.  I was on another subcommittee with a select group of people that met with the NCAA president and Jim was on that.
We go on a Nike trip every year with the coaches.  So over the years we've just been in a lot of places together.  We got to be good friends with Julie, his wife.  My wife and I and he and Julie laughed and giggled some together.
I think there's a lot of similarities in having been around a long time, the way we see the game, the experiences we've had over the years.  I really like Jim.  I think he's really a quality guy.  And it's been fun.  It's been fun to get to know him and watch his success.  So it's just been being around.
Some people you like more than others.  We worked the Michael Jordan fantasy camp every year, for example.  He and I and Krzyzewski, we have dinner together.  You get to know people over years, and you find out you have a lot more in common than you ever would have thought.

Q.  Over the first couple of days of the NCAA tournament we've seen a lot of flagrant one calls.  When the rule was put in, was it meant to be one where the player is swinging his arms?  Because it seems now that players are getting called for flagrant one just by raising the ball up.
COACH MONTGOMERY:  Yeah, I think that the intent probably has been lost a little bit.  The way that I understood it originally was that the head injury thing, you know, the vulnerability of a player above the shoulders with the strength and the size of these basketball guys, that if ‑‑ you're seeing guys clearing traffic and guys could get seriously injured.
So it became the deal where let's protect the players.  We can't have contact above the shoulders.  And if it was intentional or excessive, then it was a flagrant two.  If there was just mild contact, let's give them a flagrant one, and that's two free throws and the ball.  We're not going to eject anybody.
If there's an excessive contact that is maybe more than ‑‑ than it can be called a flagrant one, even if it doesn't involve above the head, I think that was what they called when Ty got dumped.  I think they felt like maybe there was excessive as compared to just playing the ball.
I thought when Justin's was called that he really was trying to play the ball.  But I think that since they had made the first call they felt like at least they had to balance it up and make the second calm.
I've seen more of them, gosh, lately than I've seen ever.  And they go to the monitor every time.  I've had coaches say, hey, he hit him in the head and they go look at the monitor.  It's a great way to get a timeout.  Seriously, look at, who was it, St. Mary's.  St. Mary's got basically a timeout that they didn't have, based on a timing issue.  So if you say to the official, hey, he hit him in the face or hit him in the head, then they're going to go look.
I don't know, I think maybe we have gone a little bit overboard on that.  We don't want excessive fouls.  We don't want kids getting hurt.  There was two I think in the Syracuse game.  There was two in our game.  I was watching TV this morning, there was another one today.
We had one called ‑‑ Allen gets pretty good attention, Allen Crabbe.  And they hold him and push him and shove him and get up into him and don't let him do very much.  And he was trying to get out and move the ball from one side to the other, and the guy did a hell of an acting job and dove back like he'd been shot.  We looked for snipers first, but it was ridiculous.
And they went and looked, there was contact.  Flagrant one.  Like most things, when we do something with a good idea, we tend to, then, overdo it.

Q.  I'm wondering if you could tell us what Allen gives you from an offensive perspective and how important he is to your team from an offensive perspective?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  Originally he was just a terrific shooter.  If you didn't guard him he was going to shoot it in on you.  And he's had games where he's really went off and been spectacular offensively.  Obviously as time has gone on they defend him better and put their best defender on him.  They've tried to deny him the ball and got physical for him.  It's been hard for him and it's sometimes been hard for us.
When he's able to get penetration, like he was able to last night, then it makes everybody else better.  Because they're typically not ‑‑ guys are going to go over and help on him and he's able to drop it off.  And Thurman got some dunks as a result of that.
They'll show up on screens.  And when they show up, then typically somebody else is going to be open.  His guy doesn't get in the help side.  If we had two more like him it would be hard to guard because there would be no help for anybody.  And so typically his guy never gets in help, and we can take advantage of that some.
But he's been pretty good.  I thought he was very aggressive last night.  I was pleased to see that.  And he'll generally make free throws and when he's really on he'll go rebound the ball.  I think he had nine last night.  He can get the ball.
He was freshman of the year, he was all conference sophomore year, he was most valuable his junior year.  It's been a nice progression for him.

Q.  I realize this is a slightly delicate topic, but I'll take a shot anyhow.  Do you think that the PAC 12 refs let the teams play a little bit more during the season and could that be helping the PAC 12 teams during the tournament?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  Will you pay my fine?  Sean's fine (laughter)?
Yes, the PAC 12 was way more physical this year.  Will it help us in the tournament?  I don't know.  And I don't know if that was their intention.  I think there was a lot of talk about that toward the end, but I do think there was an awful lot more let go.
But as I look across the country, I think there's a lot more being let go as a general rule.  I don't know exactly what the reasoning on that is, but we felt there was an awful lot of stuff that was different than it had been.  I don't want to say that it's been inconsistent or that it's favored one way or another.  But I don't think there's any question about that.
Will it help us in the tournament?  Hopefully.  I mean, we've gotten three wins so far and maybe it does get you accustomed to it.

Q.  When you're on defense, what challenges does the Syracuse back‑court present when you're trying to defend them with their length and height?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  Well, they're really aggressive.  Triche is going to go.  He's strong.  He's big.  Obviously Southerland and Fair are 6‑8 guys that can ‑‑ I think Fair, shooting 50 percent from three, but he'd probably rather put it on the floor and get midrange.  But Southerland comes off the screens.  If he's got a space, he gets up and you better be there on the catch or there's a good chance he's going to make it.
Their length causes you problems and their skill length.  They've got some guys that can shoot the ball, it's not like they're oriented.  They don't necessarily go to their big guys back to basket, their center.  I think centers have been told if you're going to score, you're going to get it off rebounds, but we're not putting it down to you back to basket.  But they will post up Fair at 6‑8.  Got some ISOs with him.  A little bit like what Vegas does, in that they'll isolate good players and give them an opportunity to make plays and they'll hit the glass pretty hard.
But the tape I watched, I think John put together, John and Gregg, I kind of apologized to the kids, I said they will miss.  And every shot was just pure.  So it was a little scary that way.

Q.  The poor free throw shooting at the end, do you address it or just treat it as an anomaly and not get the guys thinking too much about it?
COACH MONTGOMERY:  No, I don't address it at all.  We've been pretty good foul shooters.  Tyrone, if you look at his percentages, his percentages have been down.  That was a mistake on our part for the person that took it out and threw it to him.  It wasn't Ty's fault.  Somebody took it out that wasn't supposed to take it out in the press break, and he threw it right to Ty because that's the first guy he saw, and that's not what we're supposed to do.
Justin Cobbs is an 80‑plus percent foul shooter and he's even better at the end of games.  I read somewhere how astounded the coaches that write for a living, how he froze.  You don't freeze an 80 percent foul shooter.  Nine times out of 10 he's going to make that shot.
That's fairly uncharacteristic of us.  But, that having been said, that's because generally speaking the ball's in the hands of Cobbs or Crabbe, guys that are going to make foul shots.

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