Harris: When push came to shove, coach failed
By John Harris
Published: Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
California coach Mike Montgomery won the game, but he lost something far more valuable, at least for a few stress-filled days: his good name.
Montgomery shoved his best player, junior Allen Crabbe, in an attempt to motivate him late in the second half against USC.
The ploy apparently worked. But the backlash has been extreme for Montgomery.
Crabbe, the Pac-12 scoring leader who left the game for a couple of minutes to compose himself, scored 14 of his 23 points down the stretch to spark Cal's 76-68 victory Feb. 17.
Afterward, Montgomery told reporters about his shove of Crabbe, “It worked, didn't it?”
Two days later — following reprimands from Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour and his own initial apology — Montgomery became his harshest critic.
“To try to mitigate or find an excuse or reason why something like that might happen doesn't work right now,” Montgomery said during his weekly conference call. “I got a little bit excited in a tough situation, and it's come back to haunt me.”
Montgomery also had to make things right with Crabbe and his father, who played basketball at Pepperdine.
“I don't think anybody feels threatened — we're in this together,” Montgomery said. “There's a lot of stuff there for young people to look at and learn.
“For me, it's a matter of knowing that as much as I try to win and get this team moving forward, I've got certain things that you just can't do.”
It's been a tough year for coach Bob Huggins in West Virginia's first season in the Big 12 — made tougher by two losses to Kansas State, where Huggins coached during the 2006-07 campaign.
Huggins credits Kansas State for reviving his career. A DUI arrest in 2004 ultimately led to Huggins' dismissal from Cincinnati following the 2004-05 season.
Kansas State finished 23-12 under Huggins for the school's most wins since 1987-88 and advanced to the NIT. Huggins left the following year for WVU, his alma mater.
Prior to WVU's 71-61 road loss, Huggins received a standing ovation from appreciative Kansas State fans.
“I said 1,000 times I would have never left Kansas State other than to come back home to West Virginia,” Huggins said. “What (Kansas State) did was give me faith and trust again in people.”
Gonzaga's Big 12 sweep
Gonzaga coach Mark Few has won 11 West Coast Conference titles in 14 seasons and made four trips to the Sweet 16, enhancing his status among the most underrated coaches in major college basketball.
Ranked No. 3 in the country, Gonzaga's highlights this season include signature wins over Big 12 opponents Kansas State (68-52), Oklahoma (72-47), West Virginia (84-50), Baylor (94-87) and Oklahoma State (69-68).
“We went 5-0 in the Big 12 this year. For a while, we were the leaders in the clubhouse in the Big 12,” joked Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth.
Around the country
Entering last week's games, the top six teams in the Big 12 were separated by a total of two games — making for the closest race in league history. ... Recent Penn State losses against Iowa (74-72) and at Michigan (79-71) were its first back-to-back games of scoring 70 points in the Big Ten since 2006. ... Tennessee's Jordan McRae scored a career-high 34 points in a win over LSU, the most points for a Volunteer in an SEC game since 2001.
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JHarris_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Alle-Kiski high school basketball notebook: Miller’s return boosts strong Knoch lineup
- McKeesport Area art class goes global to find Santa
- Kovacevic: A great day to appreciate No. 68
- Pitt’s Donald sweeps Outland, Bednarik awards, named All-American
- Duquesne schools, community leaders look for student connection
- Penguins notebook: Popularity with female fans brings test event to Consol
- Economic recovery hinges on feds, experts say
- Audit finds Jeannette’s accounting deficient
- Homeowner flees Ligonier Township fire
- Unity supervisors adopt budget with no tax hike
- Duo sought in spate of graffiti