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Mike Montgomery becomes new Stanford coach
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Old 20 May 2004, 02:49 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Mike Montgomery becomes new Stanford coach

End of the line
Warriors fire Musselman; Stanford's Montgomery to take over
Updated: Thursday May 20, 2004 12:29PM

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Chris Mullin made a bold first move in his new position with the Golden State Warriors.

Coach Eric Musselman was fired Wednesday after just two seasons with the Warriors. He will be replaced by Stanford's Mike Montgomery, a Pac-10 source speaking on condition of anonymity told The Associated Press.

Musselman told the AP in a phone interview Wednesday night that he received news of the firing from Mullin, executive vice president of basketball operations.

The Warriors announced Musselman's dismissal Thursday, but the team said it had not chosen a successor.

"This was a difficult decision," Mullin said in a statement. "This team certainly showed some progress the last couple of years and Eric should be given some of the credit."

Stanford spokesman Gary Migdol told the AP that Montgomery met with his players Wednesday to discuss the Warriors' situation.

The Pac-10 source who spoke to the AP said Montgomery had accepted the job. Messages left for Montgomery weren't returned.

The Warriors missed the playoffs for the 10th straight year in an injury-plagued season, finishing 37-45.

"It's been a great two years. The players have played their hearts out," Musselman said by cell phone Wednesday night. "The organization's headed in a great direction."

The hiring of the team's ninth coach since 1994 is the first big move made by Mullin since he took over the team last month.

Montgomery has been one of the most successful college coaches during his 18 years at Stanford, but has no NBA experience. He led the Cardinal to their third No. 1 NCAA tournament seed in five years this season, but Stanford was upset in the second round by Alabama.

Stanford has been to the second round of the NCAA tournament for 10 straight years and made the Final Four in 1998. The Cardinal won their first 26 games this season and finished the regular season ranked No. 1 with a 29-1 mark. He has a career record of 547-244, including eight seasons at Montana.

Montgomery takes over a team with many questions. Centers Erick Dampier and Adonal Foyle might be on their way out. Foyle's contract is up, while Dampier has two years left but can opt out of it and become a free agent.

The 39-year-old Musselman is the franchise's most successful coach of the last decade, but he apparently clashed with team officials who wanted him to play the young players more so they could develop rather than relying so much on veterans.

Musselman led the Warriors to 38 victories last season, their best finish since 1994. Golden State won 37 games this season despite several big roster changes and significant injuries to Troy Murphy, Nick Van Exel, Speedy Claxton, Foyle and Dampier. There were times the team didn't even have enough bodies to practice.

"The next step is doing what Memphis did this year. We were looking forward to coming in and doing what Memphis did this year," he said.

The Grizzlies made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history this season after years of losing.

"I got an opportunity of a lifetime and will always be grateful to the Warriors for that," Musselman said.

The Warriors were among the most improved defensive teams this season and established a team single-season attendance record, averaging 16,235 fans.

Musselman, who had one year remaining on a three-year, $4.5 million contract, was 75-89 overall.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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Musselman did the best he could, IMO. He doesn't deserve to get canned.

As for the Stanford job, I think Mark Few (Gonzaga coach) will get the gig.
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