California coach Mike Montgomery seems to be doing well after a recent health scare, and his team made sure he didn’t have a stressful season opener.
The 24th-ranked Golden Bears hope to provide Montgomery with another relatively pressure-free win and his 11th straight 2-0 start when they host George Washington in the schools’ first meeting Sunday night.
Montgomery was diagnosed with bladder cancer and underwent surgery Oct. 19, but he said he’s now cancer-free and feeling much better. While he still must take precautions on the sidelines, Montgomery feels well enough to continue coaching for the time being.
“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.”
The Bears pulled away early and were ahead by 25 at halftime in a 77-56 win over UC-Irvine on Friday, led by Allen Crabbe’s 24 points. Jorge Gutierrez added 11 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and Harper Kamp added 10 points and eight boards.
California is seeking a fifth straight 2-0 start and fourth under Montgomery, who has opened with at least two straight wins every season he’s been a head coach except for his first one with Stanford in 1996-97.
“This is what he does and obviously it’s what he loves,” 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.”
Crabbe, last season’s Pac-10 freshman of the year after averaging 13.4 points, went 10 for 19 from the field and knocked down four 3-pointers. Gutierrez, a senior, is the Bears’ leading returning scorer at 14.6 points per game in 2010-11.
Cal has won 26 of its last 27 home games against unranked, non-conference opponents, a stretch they will look to continue against the Colonials (1-0).
George Washington beat Maryland-Eastern Shore 64-48 at home on Friday in coach Mike Lonergan’s debut.
Tony Taylor scored 20 points, but the Colonials led by only eight points at halftime before leading by as many as 25 in the second half. They committed 15 turnovers but forced 24.
George Washington was outrebounded 45-42, and that may not bode well against a Cal team that won the rebounding battle 47-28 in its opener.
“We have to play a lot better this Sunday if we want it to be a competitive game,” Lonergan said. “Hopefully we’ll be ready by Sunday night.”
Both teams, though, played solid on the defensive end.
The Bears limited UC-Irvine to 39.3 percent shooting - only the second time in 14 games they’ve held their opponent below 40 percent. The Colonials held Maryland-Eastern Shore to 29.0 percent - their best defensive performance since limiting Richmond to 26.5 percent Feb. 28, 2009.
George Washington is facing its first ranked, non-conference opponent on the road since losing 83-60 to then-No. 2 UCLA on Nov. 28, 2007. It has lost three of its last five non-conference road games overall.