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April 3, 2014 at 12:06 PM

What’s next for Mike Montgomery; Larry Krystkowiak gets new deal

I always suspected Mike Montgomery was a big ol’ softy and his retirement news conference Monday confirmed my suspicions.

He teared up at times, which was a good look for a guy who had a steely, stone-faced demeanor most of the past 34 years. He told us he was a little bit scared about what’s next. Monty scared? Imagine that.

I’ve talked to him dozens of times over the years when he coached at Stanford, the Golden State Warriors and California. He always came across as very knowledgeable about the game of basketball. In rare moments, he was charming, quick-witted and polite. Too often, he was grumpy, uncomfortable and a bit of a curmudgeon.

After four decades, Montgomery, 67, walked away from a Hall of Fame coaching career. His sideline antics – from moody, to annoyed, to fiery – were entertaining. He was a throwback, for sure. He’s more John Wooden than John Calipari. Montgomery had a disdain for most of the changes in the game that he loved. He lobbied against the new recruiting and transfer rules. His objections needed to be said, but he came across as a man out of time, too stuck in his ways to remain relevant.

On Monday, Montgomery said: “I leave and it’s just as positive as it can be. No negatives. I just think it’s time for me. It’s time for me to turn it over to somebody else. Some younger people.”

Bud Withers writes an eloquent piece about Montgomery, who received several literary bouquets post-retirement.

I’m hoping Montgomery replaces Ernie Kent and takes a gig as a basketball analyst for the Pac-12 Networks. If it were possible, I’d love to see him paired with Bill Walton and Kevin Calabro for a game or two. The stories they might tell would be TV gold.

THURSDAY MORNING LINKS:

— Utah’s Larry Krystkowiak, who had reportedly been a dark horse candidate at Cal, received a new five-year contract. Krystkowiak finished his third year with the Utes. They were 6-25 his first year, 15-18 last season and 21-12 this season. His old deal had two years remaining.

— There are several candidates to replace Montgomery, including former UCLA coach Ben Howland and Cal associated head coach Travis DeCuire.

— San Jose Mercury-News columnist Marcus Thompson III believes California is in need of a gigantic overhaul.

— Wednesday was Ernie Kent day at Washington State. The new coach drew a big crowd for his introductory news conference. Now he’s got to deliver on promises to make the Cougars relevant again.

Greg Hansen at The Arizona Daily Star makes compelling cases why Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Nick Johnson should stay in school. And he’s right on point. Hollis-Jefferson isn’t ready. Johnson, the Pac-12 player of the year, is physically and mentally ready, but his game doesn’t translate to the NBA. He would be wise to return to school on the condition that when T.J. McConnell needs a break, then Johnson takes over at point guard. At 6-3 – and probably more like 6-1 – Johnson is too short to play shooting guard in the NBA. He has to develop better ball-handling skills if he wants a long NBA career. Right now, his situation is similar to Miles Simons and Jason Gardner, two outstanding college players who didn’t make it in the NBA.

— Stanford football coach David Shaw doesn’t understand why Northwestern football players are fighting to form a union. Last week the National Labor Relations Board that Northwestern’s football team can be considered employees and have the right to form a union. The ruling only impacts private schools, such as Northwestern and Stanford, because the federal labor agency does not have jurisdiction over public universities.

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