With his team asleep at the wheel, Cal coach Mike Montgomery went to an unlikely, and perhaps over-the-top, motivational tactic on Sunday during Cal’s 76-68 win over USC.
As you can see in the video, he popped Allen Crabbe, the leader for the Pac-12 Player of the Year Award, in the chest as he came into a timeout. The incident was made worse when two of Crabbe’s teammates, Richard Solomon and Justin Cobbs, grabbed him to calm him down.
The downside for the Trojans was they had to deal with an angry Crabbe.
He finished with 23 points and Cal, which was down 12 points at the time of the “shove,” ended up winning by eight.
“Worked, didn’t it?” Montgomery said postgame. “I asked him if he wanted to play. He had no expression. ‘Woe is me.’ … We were standing around. Nobody was ready to play.”
“Coach used his way to motivate me,” Crabbe said. “There’s nothing wrong with it; spur of the moment. He was trying to motivate me. Everything is fine. He’s my coach.”
The incident, if we want to call it that, was exposed enough that Cal felt like it had to issue statements early Sunday morning. Montgomery apologized. The AD gave him a slap on the wrist. Here are the statements:
Director of Athletics Sandy 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 physical contact with 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.”
Head Men’s Basketball Coach Mike 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.”