Cal men’s basketball coach Mike Montgomery retires

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Cal men’s basketball head coach Mike Montgomery has decided to retire. At a press conference at Haas Pavilion on Monday afternoon, Montgomery, alongside Athletic Director Sandy Barbour, announced he would be stepping down from his position.

“I’ve envisioned this moment for a long time,” Montgomery said. “I wish I could say something that encapsulated my entire career, but I don’t know what to say.”

Montgomery, 67, was hired in 2008 after serving as head coach of the Golden State Warriors from 2004 to 2006. In his six years at Cal, Montgomery compiled a 130-73 record, missing the NCAA tournament only twice in his tenure.

His best year as the Bears’ head coach, arguably, was his second year on the job during the 2009-10 season. That year, the Jerome Randle-led Cal team went 13-5 in conference play, winning the Pac-10 regular-season title. Given a No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament, the Bears lost to No. 1-seeded Duke in the round of 32. Despite Montgomery’s regular-season success, that was as far as his Cal teams would ever go.

The story was similar in his tenure at Stanford. From 1986 to 2004, Montgomery’s Cardinal squads made 12 NCAA tournaments, including 10 in a row from 1995 to 2004, and won four Pac-10 titles. Three of those teams won at least 30 games. He advanced past the round of 32 three times, including a Final Four run in the 1997-98 season.

Most of Montgomery’s accolades were compiled during his tenure as a Pac-12 coach. During his 24 cumulative years in the conference, Montgomery won four Pac-10 coach of the year awards, including the Naismith College Coach of the Year Award in 2000.

Before he moved out to the coast, Montgomery spent his formative head-coaching years at the University of Montana, where he spent eight years. He reached the postseason just once, losing in the first round of the NIT in the 1984-85 season. Stanford hired him away a year later, and Montgomery admirably revived a moribund Cardinal program that hadn’t made an NCAA tournament since 1942.

His foray into the NBA was the only aspect of his almost 40-year-long coaching career that might be deemed less than successful. Both of his Warriors teams finished with identical 34-48 records, missing the playoffs both years. After being fired by the Warriors, Montgomery took a year off and then transitioned to the Cal coaching position, where he remained until Monday.

“This is a great program, and Cal Basketball is positioned for success for many years to come,” Montgomery said. “The success I have enjoyed here would not be possible without the unconditional support from everyone I have been fortunate enough to work with throughout my coaching career.”

Montgomery had a health scare in 2011 when he was diagnosed with bladder cancer. He was treated, declared “cancer-free” in October and continued to coach. Montgomery contended his decision to retire was not prompted by health concerns.

“My health is great,” Montgomery said. “I just wanted to go out on my own terms.”

Montgomery finished with 677 wins in his career.

Near the end of the press conference, Montgomery proposed that Barbour hire his assistant, Travis DeCuire, as his successor.

“Sandy (Barbour) will hate me saying this, but we’ve got the guy in this room who should be the next coach,” Montgomery said, alluding to DeCuire.

Barbour confirmed she saw DeCuire as a “significant candidate,” but asserted that DeCuire would be just one candidate of many, as she plans on embarking on a “national search.”

Michael Rosen covers men’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @michaelrosen3.