NCAA

Montgomery gets Cal win in first game back

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Montgomery gets Cal win in first game back

BOX SCORE

BERKELEY -- Mike Montgomery wasted little time providing the update everybody wanted to hear.

"I'm fine," he said in his typical matter-of-fact tone.

California's fourth-year coach returned to the bench three-plus weeks after undergoing surgery for bladder cancer and guided the 24th-ranked Golden Bears to a 77-56 season-opening victory over UC Irvine and former assistant Russell Turner on Friday night.

Allen Crabbe scored 24 points, Jorge Gutierrez had 11 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals, and Cal shot 45.9 percent. The Bears jumped out to a 19-7 lead and controlled the game the entire way.

Montgomery moved well on the sideline and showed no signs of being limited. He spent a short stint away from the team to recover following the procedure on Oct. 19 and said he is now cancer-free.

He said he still has to be careful not to overexert himself.

"I get tired," Montgomery said. "You don't really realize what's going on. It's not something overt where there's specifics. But all of a sudden you go home and you're kind of, Whoa, I'm tired.' You do have to be aware of that. If you're going to do your job and be sharp, you've just got to make sure you don't do too much too fast."

Montgomery faced his former assistant from his days at both Stanford and the Golden State Warriors in Turner, the second-year Anteaters coach who worked under Montgomery at Stanford from 2000-04 and then in the NBA from '04-06.

Turner invited Montgomery to meet his team before the game.

"I doubt coaches really get all that wrapped up in coaching matchups but there's no question that Mike Montgomery is a man who's had tremendous influence on me," Turner said. "He's someone that I truly admire. I introduced him to my team today because he's going to be in the Hall of Fame as a college coach one day. I want to do at Irvine what he's done at Montana and Stanford and Cal. He showed me how to do it, so he's had a huge impact on my career and my life."

At one point, Montgomery showed some of his typical emotion and fire when he caught an errant pass thrown out of bounds by Cal reserve center Bak Bak with just under 10 minutes to go. Montgomery strongly bounced the ball in frustration before talking to guard Justin Cobbs.

"This is what he does and obviously it's what he loves," senior forward Harper Kamp said of Montgomery. "He's excited to be back out there. Everyone knows that kind of thing gives you a little bit of perspective. I'm happy to see he has some energy. He's the same old same old."

A sophomore guard, Cobbs made his Cal debut after sitting out last season following his transfer from Minnesota.

The Bears, who beat UC San Diego 88-53 in their lone exhibition game last week, shot 53.3 percent in the first half on the way to a 48-23 lead at the break and only built on that over the final 20 minutes.

Chris McNealy scored 14 points for the overmatched Anteaters, who shot 39.3 percent and were outrebounded 47-28.

Richard Solomon and Kamp each grabbed eight rebounds for a Cal team picked to finish second in the Pac-12 after going 18-15 last season and reaching the second round of the National Invitation Tournament.

Cal is in the preseason rankings for the fourth time in program history and first since it was 13th in 2009, when the Bears went on to win their first Pac-10 crown in 50 years and advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Gutierrez, Cal's senior leader and top returning scorer after averaging 14.6 points per game last season, Crabbe and Kamp give the Bears a formidable trio of scorers and also are the team's most experienced players.

Crabbe, the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year last season, shot 10 for 19 and scored Cal's first seven points of the second half and had a steal in the backcourt followed by a pretty one-handed dunk to put the Bears ahead 55-30 with 17:37 remaining to liven up the crowd at Haas Pavilion.

Cal made eight of its first 14 shots on the way to a 21-9 lead 8:21 into the game, with Crabbe scoring eight and hitting two 3s. Eight Bears players had a basket in the first half.

UC Irvine freshman Will Davis II had double-doubles in both of the Anteaters' two exhibition wins - averaging 11.5 points and 10.5 rebounds - but went 4 for 14 from the floor for eight points to go with nine rebounds.

Turner, who has one of the country's youngest rosters with only five returning players, eight freshmen and no seniors will keep his team in the Bay Area to play at San Jose State on Monday night.

"That's a different level of competition that we faced for the first time with a young team, and I thought it just looked like that," Turner said.

UC Irvine has not won in its last five season openers since 2007. The Anteaters haven't beaten a team from the Pac-12 since a 79-63 win at Stanford on Nov. 19, 2005.

This marked the schools' first meeting since Cal's 65-57 victory on Dec. 3, 2003, in Berkeley. Cal, 4-0 in season openers under Montgomery, leads the series 5-2.

Memory of the late Bob Murphy will live on the heads of those who heard him

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STANFORD.COM

Memory of the late Bob Murphy will live on the heads of those who heard him

Bob Murphy, who was the voice of Stanford athletics when such titles truly mattered in the Bay Area, died Tuesday after a long fight with Alzheimer’s Disease. He was 86.

Murphy was viscerally connected to the university in ways that were once in vogue across the nation but are now reserved only to the Midwest and Southeast. He was a walking ambassador for the school’s athletic history, a familiar face to the army of alums who linked to his voice and presence early and ultimately grew old with him, even when coaches and players and athletic directors came and went with unsettling frequency.

And while his time as the alternate face to Hoover Tower eventually faded, he was still Murph – to be honored and respected by all generations, even the ones who never heard him or saw him. If anyone below the age of 25 asked about him, he was spoken of with the reverence reserved for architectural structures or hundred-year-old trees. He belonged to the place, and the place belonged to him.

He mattered at Stanford, because Stanford is an insular community, watching the world outside with a palpable sense of “Thank God we’re safe in here.” He attended the school, he worked as its sports information director, and he was the radio voice who fought for Stanford when only a few people were listening. He had proven his devotion decades ago, until his devotion became part of the background noise and scenery.

And he didn’t even leave after he became ill, and then absent. Only the most successful coaches and athletes get to attain that omnipresent aura in college athletics, and in truth, Murphy reached more people in the community than any coach or player the school has ever had, simply by being at the place, and of the place, longer and more happily than anyone.

Sometime soon, we suspect, he will be remembered with a statue, either near the football stadium or near Maples Pavilion. He will be bronzed, wearing a polo shirt with the S-with-the-interlocking-tree and glasses wedged against the bridge of his nose. He will be seated, with a desk before him and microphone perched atop it, and there will be a plaque with a Wikipedia-ized list of his contributions.

But without the voice, it will be incomplete. That will have to be recreated inside the heads of those who heard it most often, and cared most what words it carried. It is there where Bob Murphy’s memory will thrive – as someone who defined Stanford in ways that no marketing campaign ever could.

David Shaw is quietly the second-best coach in the Bay Area

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USATI

David Shaw is quietly the second-best coach in the Bay Area

Steve Kerr has been the standard by which all other coaches have been measured in these parts since he arrived in Oakland – rescued as it was from the nine hells of the New York Knickerbockers. He is indeed so good that he is still getting credit for the 50 wins he actually didn’t fully merit – the 39 that belong to Luke Walton and the 11 that are Mike Brown’s.

But this is not to slag Kerr’s record – which even if you eliminate the 55 games he hasn’t coached in his three years because of his back issue is still the best in NBA history – but to remind you that David Shaw still exists, he still is supervising the golden age of Stanford football, and he is just as unavailable to pro teams as he ever was.

Shaw, whose team opens its season on Saturday night in Australia against Rice, has been beneath the radar since the day he arrived, for no better reasons than (a) the Bay Area doesn’t hold much stock in college football and (b) he likes it that way. His excellence is indisputable, but he is also in the perfect place to do his job without any of the irritants that surround most college coaches – media, embittered alumni, NCAA investigators, the late night call from the cops about your outside linebacker overturning a minivan, that kind of thing.

He has worn down all attempts to question him on his next job because, while he could get one at the snap of a finger, he was not infected with the standard coach’s ambition to see and be seen. He has seen the sport’s many excesses and has decided to ward off the ones that directly touch him.

He still believes in the game’s virtues, and can probably be considered a fairly doctrinaire figure on most issues confronting the sport and its practitioners, but does not have to pretend that he is too focused on the job to be interested in mundane things like eclipses, political turmoil, social justice and all the other noxious things that happen outside the cocoon.

But be not fooled. He likes the cocoon that is Stanford, and he has the sense to understand that the chance of a better job existing is almost infinitesimal. He may someday want something more public and lucrative, but until money and fame get a long winning streak going at his house, he’ll sit quietly, the second-best coach in the Bay Area and the first-best at making you not remember that he is just that.