California v Arizona

VIDEO: Mike Montgomery shoves star Allen Crabbe

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Cal picked up an enormous win over USC last night, erasing a 15 point deficit to knock off the Trojans and complete a sweep of the LA schools. More importantly, the win means that the Golden Bears are still right in the middle of the at-large conversation heading into the regular season’s stretch run.

But this game was overshadowed by an incident on the sidelines between head coach Mike Montgomery and star player Allen Crabbe.

Early in the second half, in an effort to get his star player going, Montgomery gave him a two-handed shove. Crabbe didn’t react well to it, and one teammate had to grab him by the collar while another brought him into the back hallway, where he was talked to by an assistant coach.

Here’s video of the incident:

This caused a bit of an uproar last night, and you can easily imagine why. Coaches aren’t supposed to make contact with their players, and after Sean Woods was suspended for a game for a similar incident with a player, folks were calling for the same punishment for Monty last night.

I disagree.

This wasn’t an attempt to embarrass or assault a player. This was a coach trying to find a way to motivate a member of his team. And judging by the reaction of Crabbe’s teammates, he needed some motivating. We don’t know the ins-and-outs of their relationship. We don’t know how to motivate Crabbe. Monty does, and based on the way both reacted after the game, neither of them have a problem with what played out.

So neither should you.

“It was coach’s way of motivating me,” Crabbe said, according to Ryan Gorcey of Cal’s Scout.com site. “Everything’s fine. It’s under the bridge. No hard feelings.”

Did it work?

“Obviously.”

Crabbe hit three threes and scored 12 points down the stretch to complete the comeback.

“It worked, didn’t it?” Monty said. “Nobody was ready to play. We were just standing. I was trying to get him going. Probably over-exaggerated it.”

“Allen’s my guy. I need him. We can’t get going if he’s not ready to play,” he continued. “I was asking him if he wanted to play. He had no expression. It was all, ‘Woe is me.'”

Cal Athletics Director Sandy Barbour released a statement on the subject last night:

“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.”

As did Monty:

“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.”

I’m fine with the way all parties handled the situation. I don’t think there needs to be a suspension.

Do you agree?

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: