Over The Line? Cal Coach Montgomery Shoves Star Player
Barbour: "Sunday's game was an emotional one for everyone who cares deeply about our men's basketball program, and the Bears certainly showed tremendous resolve coming back to earn a win over USC. However, it is unacceptable for our coaches to have contact with our student-athletes regardless of the circumstances. The second-half incident was certainly out of character for Mike Montgomery, and I am confident that something like this will not happen again."
At the time of Montgomery's shove, USC lead Cal 54 - 42 with 16 minutes to go. Crabbe, after being restrained by teammates and pacing in the tunnel adjacent to the locker room for several minutes, returned to the bench where he was inserted back into the game instantly, scoring 14 points in the final 15 minutes and finishing with 23 points and 10 rebounds in the win. Crabbe leads the Pac-12 in scoring at 19.8 PPG. It's difficult to determine whether the infamous push inspired Crabbe or he just played angrier. Whatever the case may be, Montgomery's shove was unnecessary and a suspension for at least a game or two should be warranted. If such behavior was mimicked in a classroom with an instructor, they would be dismissed immeadiately. After the game, Coach Monty had an interesting take on the shove.
Montgomery: "Worked, didn't it? Allen had came down twice went to the wrong side of the court and his guy shot two 3s. I was trying to get him going. Probably overdid it a little bit but Allen's my guy. We can't win if he's not ready to play."
Safe to say the "probably overdid it a little bit" part of the quote is the understatement of the new year. Montgomery issued another statement, significantly altering his tone.
Montgomery: "I have great passion for this game and tonight, I let my emotions get away from me in the heat of the moment. While my intent was to motivate our student-athletes, my behavior was inappropriate and I apologize for my actions."
The spirit and emotion of the game that Coach Monty refers to is understandable, however that doesn't justify him contacting another player physically to motivate. Try the old-fashioned methods like screaming, pointing or benching. Also, Montgomery's quotes would have made more sense and far less egregious had they been in the proper chronological order. Crabbe downplayed the whole incident saying "it's no big deal". It certainly makes Cal basketball moving forward the rest of the season much more intriguing and not for the play on the floor, but for the potential of fireworks on the sidelines. College basketball doesn't need Bobby Knight vs. Neil Reed revisited.