When Mike Montgomery was hired as Cal's basketball coach, many figured that it would be only a matter of time before he led the Bears to the top of the conference. Few thought he would do it so quickly. The Pac-10 media picked the Bears to finish eighth in the conference. So much for that. Cal is a legitimate contender for the Pac-10 title.
Cal has just completed a sweep of the Arizona schools, including a win over No. 17 Arizona State, and will be looking to join the Top 25 in the very near future. Cal previously had a couple of nice wins over UNLV and Utah, but this win should legitimize them.
While Cal's rebirth has been amazing, it's important to note that it wasn't horrible last season. The Bears were 17-16 and did qualify for the NIT tournament. And there were a couple of talented players coming back -- Patrick Christopher and Jerome Randle. But Montgomey has molded them from alsoran to legitimate tournament team.
And you have to believe that even the most ardent of Bears fans didn't think that they would be this good.
The biggest difference seems to be in the scoring output, especially the 3-point shooting. Randle is one of the best in the nation. Unlike last year, Cal seems to be running acutal plays. The players seem to always be on the right spot of the floor. Like they are organized or something. And, I don't have the stats for this, but it seems that Cal always scores following a timeout. It's uncanny. That, too me, is one of the measures of a good coach -- if his teams score after timeouts.
Plus, he's always been a guy that rides the referees. That, to me, is the difference between being an NIT team and a tournament team.
To me, Montgomery is the coach of the year.