Mar 13, 2013 8:40 PM by Andrew Masuda

Legend in the Making: Joe Callero leads Mustangs into Big West Tournament

In his four seasons as Cal Poly basketball head coach, Joe Callero has guided the Mustangs to improved records each year. Cal Poly opens up play at the Big West Conference Tournament on Thursday in Anaheim as the third seed. It's a tournament that holds the key to a NCAA Tournament berth and a tournament the program has never won. Callero is hoping to change that this week. The Mustangs need three wins in three days to go the Big Dance.

"Everybody rewards success and everybody recognizes success and everybody will recognize our team going to the NCAA Tournament. But I've coached for 26 years and I'm not going to value all of our success based upon winning or losing a single game or a single tournament," said Callero.

When you grow up with 15 siblings it takes a lot to get noticed. Leading a team to a win at nationally ranked UCLA is a good way to get the Callero family talking about you. Cal Poly stunned the then-11th ranked Bruins, 70-68 on November 25.

Callero's philosophy is that if players make a commitment to academics, community and teammates, it will lead to success on the court. "If you focus on the little things, rather than the big things like winning, it should take its place," the fourth year head coach said.

Callero does a number of things away from the court to promote his team saying, 'If I don't do it, who will?' Callero hosts his own talk show with his players as guests and has embraced social media with regular twitter updates. "I think the little quirks about him are what makes him successful and he's definitely enjoyable to be around. And his promotional skills and the energy he brings, it's contagious and all of a sudden we want to promote ourselves and our games and we want to be just as intense as he is," said senior guard Dylan Royer, an All-Conference Honorable Mention honoree.

In 26 years of coaching, Callero says he has discovered his role goes deeper than just on the court. "At the end of the day, we're not coaching basketball, we are really coaching people. The most important job I have is being a really good leader of young men and help mentor them and help direct them, help motivate them that basketball is going to come and go. And if we win the championship that's going to be great but if we lose we're still going to have another day. We're still going to have relationships and we're going to have loyalty for life," said Callero.

His ultimate vision is to turn Cal Poly into a Mid-Major power like current #1 ranked Gonzaga. Getting to the NCAA Tournament will be a necessary step for that to happen. But the win at UCLA and a 13-1 record at home this season were significant steps.

In his four seasons, Callero has guided the Mustangs to an overall record of 62-61. They have gone 37-29 in conference and 36-16 at home.



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