I sat in on a national teleconference call today with ESPN analyst Dick Vitale, who is beginning his 33rd season in broadcasting.
I asked Vitale about where Mike Montgomery fits in among the nation’s elite coaches and his impressions of Cal’s 2011-12 team. Here’s what the always expansive one had to say:
“First of all, please pass on to Mike . . . I wrote him a letter and sent him my best wishes for a speedy recovery of his surgery for bladder cancer, a disease that has really run rampant on so many good people. It’s great that ol’ Mike is coming back.
“You know, Mike among his peers, and people like myself as well, is one of the great teachers in the game. He’s a teacher. He’s a purist. He loves being in the gym. He likes taking a player, making him a better player and ultimately putting him into a team concept and having him play.
“You’ve got to make the commitment as a team. Kids have to learn. For example, I think one of the biggest adjustments for players, especially when you’re a talented superstar out of high school, is all of a sudden now you might not be option No. 1. You might be option No. 3 or No. 4. How do you handle that? How do you make that adjustment? How do you make that situation a positive and not go into a pout?
“I think Mike does a great job of blending his team to play as a unit. And right now, Cal is going to be right there in the hunt in the Pac-12. I have not seen them, but based on reports I’m getting from people, Cal is going to be right there, knocking on the door. Look at Arizona and UCLA and you certainly can’t count out Washington, but Cal’s going to be right in that mix.”