Did Cal coach Mike Montgomery cross the line in shoving Allen Crabbe? (Video)
Cal picked up a crucial 76-68 win over USC on Sunday night, but the team’s come-from-behind victory after facing a 15-point deficit in the second half has taken a back seat to a more controversial discussion.
During a timeout in the second half, Cal head coach Mike Montgomery became frustrated with junior guard Allen Crabbe and let him know about it by giving him a stern, two-handed shove to the chest. Montgomery says he was trying to get Crabbe’s head in the game, but many people thought the physical contact crossed the line.
“He had no expression,” Montgomery told reporters after the game, via The Dagger. “Mentally, he just needed a wakeup call.”
Crabbe was clearly upset by the shove, as he needed some of his teammates and a trip toward the tunnel to finally cool down. For what it’s worth, he ended up scoring 10 points in the final 4:20 of the game to spark the Bears’ comeback victory. And after the game, Crabbe hardly seemed upset over the exchange.
“It was coach using his way of motivating me,” he said in his postgame press conference. “There was nothing wrong with it. It was just spur of the moment. An emotional game was going on at the time and he was trying to motivate me. But everything’s fine. It’s under the bridge. He’s my coach. No hard feelings about it.”
Montgomery joked with reporters that his motivation tactic worked before admitting that he “probably overdid it a little bit.”
“We were standing around. Nobody was ready to play,” he said. “Allen had come down twice, he’d gone to the wrong side of the floor and his guy shot two threes in. I was trying to get him going. … Allen’s my guy. I need him. We can’t win if he’s not ready to play.”
This is the third season Montgomery has coached Crabbe, so you could argue that he simply knows how to get through to one of his best players. Had Cal gone on to lose, the postgame discussion may have been much different. While I personally feel that the shove does not require any disciplinary action, we should note that coaches at the lower levels have been fired for allegedly making contact with players. In the 21st century, it’s usually best to just keep your hands off the youngsters you are coaching.