The California coach stunned a Pac-12 men's basketball media day audience with the announcement that he underwent surgery to remove a polyp and is now cancer free.
LOS ANGELES — Mike Montgomery waited nearly two weeks to reveal he had bladder cancer.
The California coach stunned a Pac-12 men’s basketball media day audience with the announcement that he underwent surgery to remove a polyp and is now cancer free.
“It’s good to see everybody,” he said. “In lieu of recent circumstances, it’s good to be seen.”
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Montgomery hadn’t lost his trademark dry humor or his desire to coach the 24th-ranked Golden Bears.
“I’ve been in the office this week planning practices and have watched the last couple of practices,” he said. “We’ll be back on the floor full-time starting Monday, much to the players’ chagrin. So that’s good news.
“I’m 100 percent good to go now. I may continue to be a pain in your [rear] from now on.”
Cal announced his surgery on Oct. 9, but didn’t disclose any details.
Montgomery said he was diagnosed last month while a doctor was checking for diverticulitis, a condition in which the inner lining of the intestine becomes inflamed or infected.
“(The doctor) said three months ago we wouldn’t have found this (and) six months from now you’d be done,” he said. “So the timing couldn’t have been better.”
Montgomery lost weight and admitted he was frightened at times.
“Anybody that’s been through it or had something, you go from being relatively on top of your game to no longer being in charge,” he said. “It could have gone the other way.”
Bears senior guard Jorge Gutierrez said the team feels closer to the 64-year-old coach.
“We didn’t really have much of a connection outside of basketball, but he opened up a little bit more,” Gutierrez said. “I think that helped us to relate with him more.”
Added Montgomery: “I’m glad that this happened so that Jorge knows I’m human now. That wasn’t necessarily the way I would have chosen.”
Around the Pac-12
Arizona: Rather than schedule a private scrimmage, the Wildcats opted to play two home exhibition games. After 11 practices, they took the floor Thursday against Seattle Pacific and lost 69-68. “With four freshmen, we wanted to get them out in front of the crowd and go through that game-day experience,” coach Sean Miller said.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils return two starters from last season’s 12-19 team that finished last in the Pac-10. Coach Herb Sendek said he’s hopeful prized freshman guard Jahii Carson, who has not been ruled eligible by the NCAA Clearinghouse, will join the team this season.
Colorado: The Buffaloes lost 75 percent of their scoring and four starters from last year’s team that set a school record with 24 wins. Coach Tad Boyle would like to begin CU’s first year in the Pac-12 on a high note, but “if we get off to a slow start, it’s not the end of the world. This is a long-term relationship that we’re in right now.”
Oregon: Senior Garrett Sim will get the first chance to start at point guard, but Johnathan Loyd and Devoe Joseph are also candidates. Second-year coach Dana Altman said freshman Jabari Brown, who led the Ducks in scoring during their preseason trip to Italy, figures into the rotation. “He’ll definitely play for us and play a significant role,” Altman said.
Oregon State: Fourth-year coach Craig Robinson finally has an entire roster of his own players, and it’s filled with athletes who can play more man-to-man defense. But the Beavers will still use some of their trademark 1-3-1 defense. Robinson described junior center Joe Burton as the team’s “secret weapon.”
Stanford: Former Bellevue High star Aaron Bright is the Cardinal’s most improved player, but he’ll have to compete for the starting point-guard spot with newcomer Chasson Randle. “When I first saw Chasson, I thought he was a winner,” coach Johnny Dawkins said. “He had that innate ability to make that play.”
UCLA: Former Kentwood star Joshua Smith has improved his low-post moves, but the 305-pound center is out of shape again. “Josh is a force, number one, because he’s skilled and has great size,” coach Ben Howland said. “When he finally does reach his potential in terms of his conditioning, he’ll be unstoppable.”
USC: Coach Kevin O’Neill was bluntly honest about the dour prospects of the Trojans, who have suffered several injuries, including a season-ending one to star guard Jio Fontan. The team is relying heavily on sophomore guard Maurice Jones. “If he’s in trouble and gets hurt, we’re in real trouble,” O’Neill said. “Don’t come to the games; it will be ugly, don’t show up. Because if we don’t have this guy, it will be difficult for us to be competitive in major college games.
Utah: The Utes bring in eight newcomers and return four players, including center David Foster, who at 7 feet 3 is the tallest player in the Pac-12. Utah was picked last in the media poll, which prompted coach Larry Krystkowiak to ask: “It says 12 times in 19 tries you’ve picked a winner, and I wanted to know how many times in 19 tries have you picked the bottom team correctly? Hopefully that’s not quite as high of a number.”
Washington: Coach Lorenzo Romar spoke highly of the defensive prowess of sophomore Terrence Ross and freshman Tony Wroten Jr. Romar said it’s important the Pac-12 performs well in early nonconference games. The Huskies face No. 6 Duke and No. 22 Marquette in December.
Washington State: Size up front could be an issue for the Cougars, who ranked last in the conference in rebounding last season and have lost their best big man, DeAngelo Casto. Despite the loss of Klay Thompson, who led the league in points, WSU has scoring options in guards Faisal Aden, Reggie Moore, Marcus Capers and newcomer Mike Ladd.