BERKELEY — Cal's basketball players are one week into absorbing a new system under first-year coach Mike Montgomery.
It's been an adjustment for Montgomery, too.
"Occasionally I have to remind myself just to be patient, slow down, let these kids learn,'' he said. "And it's only been a week. We've just got to be patient with things.
"But they've been great. They've been willing and they're working hard.''
For Montgomery, this marks the first time since his arrival at Stanford 22 years ago that he's had to implement his program from scratch. It's a different routine than it is when returning players already know the routine, different than it will be next year at this time.
"Even going in there, we probably didn't run all that we're trying to run right now,'' Montgomery said. "Probably when I first got to Stanford I was much slower with them.''
Assistant coach Jay John has watched Montgomery wrestle with taking things a step at a time.
"He's said, 'I've kind of forgotten how painful it can be at times to have to exercise patience,'" John said. "But if the energy and the attitude remains the same, then we're collectively fighting through some barriers and we'll get it."
John, who arrived at Berkeley after four seasons as head coach at Oregon State, said Cal's players are thirsty for success. There are ebbs and flows in how practice goes from one day to the next, he said, but the effort is good.
"Where we're at right now is we've got 15 guys just trying to do everything. Nobody wants to fail, everybody wants to please," he said. "There's a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and a tremendous amount of accountability, where if guys don't do well, they're mad at themselves."
The biggest obstacle the Bears are facing so far is the lack of depth. "We don't have enough guys right now that can play at a high level," Montgomery said.
The coach's reviews on most returning players have been good, including progress made by point guard Jerome Randle and junior center Jordan Wilkes, and the health of junior small forward Theo Robertson, who sat out last season after hip surgery.
Freshman Jorge Gutierrez, battling for playing time at point guard, has shown a good grasp of fundamentals, Montgomery said. Fellow rookie guard D.J. Seeley is having a tougher time, so far.
"It used to be freshmen just didn't play," Montgomery said. "But I think they're going to have to play, so we're just going to have to bring them along."
Montgomery said he feels badly that he so often has to whistle things to a stop to make corrections, but said this is the time for teaching.
Notes: Cal will stage a free "Fan Appreciation" event on Wednesday evening at Haas Pavilion, with a scrimmage from 5 to 6 p.m., followed by an one-hour autograph session with coaches and players. The first 250 season ticket holders in attendance will receive mini-basketballs, autographed by Montgomery and commemorating Cal's 100th season of basketball.