Following a 110-72 loss to UC Irvine Thursday night, Cal Poly head men’s basketball coach Joe Callero discussed being fired by the University once the 2018-19 season ends.
When the news broke on Wednesday afternoon that Callero wasn’t going to be retained as head coach, his phone blew up. Callero says he received a couple of hundred calls, texts, and emails, but kept limited interaction to only his immediate family out of the respect for his players.
“I’ve tried to stay away from all interactions outside of just trying to help this team move on,” Callero said. “My job is here and with those student-athletes.”
Callero didn’t want to dive into a reflection of his 10 years with the program quite yet.
“At this point in time, it’s all about Donovan Fields, and Marcellus Garrick, Jakub Niziol, and the kids that gave you their heart and soul,” Callero explained. “Let’s give it back to them and extend the season.”
Fields, Garrick, and Niziol are the lone seniors on Callero’s squad and were all signed from the junior college level. With so much experience and success at the junior college ranks, Callero says those three hold a special place in his heart and with this program.
“I think those three guys understand opportunity, and it’s the heartwarming part for me. What I think they’re passing on is to not take this for granted,” Callero said. “My time on the Central Coast I’ve never taken it for granted. I’ve worked every day with a passion that this is precious.”
Cal Poly trails UC Riverside by one game entering the final night of the regular season. If the Highlanders lose at UC Davis and the Mustangs beat UC Santa Barbara, it would force a tie-breaking coin flip to determine who will represent the eighth-seed in the Big West Conference Tournament next week in Anaheim. Callero says he knows what’s at stake and is focused on getting his team prepared with the right mindset.
“We’ve got to move past that and get ready to represent the community well, represent our school well, and play a great game for Santa Barbara.”
Cal Poly tips off with UC Santa Barbara at 7 P.M. Saturday night in what could potentially be Callero’s last game on the Mustangs’ sideline.