The California Golden Bears (16-9, 8-5 in Pac-12) are tied for fourth place in the conference, but head basketball coach Mike Montgomery is making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
That’s because Montgomery shoved the team’s and Pac-12's top scorer, Allen Crabbe, in the huddle during a timeout, causing the junior to be escorted from the bench area to calm down.
UPDATE: Monday, Feb.18, 5:25 p.m. ET by Ryan Rudnansky
Cal coach Mike Montgomery has been "reprimanded" for shoving Allen Crabbe on Sunday, via Pac-12.com.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said, via Pac-12.com:
While emotions can run high in competitive environments, Pac-12 coaches are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that will reflect credit on the institution and the Conference. Each Pac-12 coach must be aware that they are an example to student-athletes and other students, and consistent with this influence and visibility, must meet a particularly high standard.
There is no word as of yet what the specific punishment is.
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UPDATE: Monday, Feb. 18, 8:20 a.m. ET by Donald Wood
After shoving Crabbe, Coach Montgomery issued a statement (obtained by Bear Talk):
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.
After the coach made his statements, Crabbe was asked about the incident and told the media that the situation was no big deal (Bear Talk): "Just spur of the moment. It was a emotional game at the time. He was trying to motivate me. Everything’s fine. It’s under the bridge. He’s my coach."
This incident between the coach and student could have gotten ugly, but cooler heads prevailed.
---End of Update---
During Cal’s Sunday night 76-68 victory over instate rival USC, the Golden Bears were down 44-32 in the second half. Montgomery called a timeout after seeing his star player not giving enough effort.
The lack of hustle from Crabbe resulted in a firm two-handed shove to the student’s chest from the head coach. When Crabbe tried to retaliate with his words, his teammates jumped in to ensure that the young star calmed down before doing anything irrational.
He spent some time cooling off, and it was clear he was shook-up after getting shoved. However, he wasn't kept out of game action long, and his coach put him back in almost immediately.
He responded by dropping 10 points over the final four and a half minutes to help the Bears come back and win the game. Crabbe finished the game with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
Cal athletics director Sandy Barbour told USA Today in a prepared statement about the school’s stance on the incident:
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.
Both the head coach and player claimed the incident was no big deal (via Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz), though it wouldn't be surprising to see a one-game suspension levied against the coach for his shove.