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October 28, 2011
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LOS ANGELES -- Before launching into the question-and-answer session for today's Pac-12 Men's Basketball Media Day, head coach Mike Montgomery shared that his surgical procedure recently was to remove a cancerous polyp from his bladder.
Montgomery said that he was diagnosed one month ago with high-grade bladder cancer that, the doctor said, would have been undetectable just three months ago, and in six more months, "I'd be gone," Montgomery said.
Instead, Montgomery is now 100 percent cancer-free, and will return to practice on Monday.
He spent six hours in his office working the other day, and is making steady progress. He will have no physical limitations when he returns to full-time active duty.
"There's not a more respected coach in the whole country, not a guy who's done a better job at different places in the whole country, a hall-of-fame guy in my mind," said USC head coach Kevin O'Neill.
Montgomery's surgery allowed his players to get to know him better as a person, particularly one of Montgomery's favorites: Jorge Gutierrez, who Montgomery called one of the toughest players he's ever coached.
"He's great man. He's a great coach, couldn't ask for anybody else," Gutierrez said. "We missed him when he was gone, and we're excited to have him back."
Asked what he learned about his head coach through the whole ordeal, Gutierrez paused before Montgomery looked over, smirking, and said, "Now, remember what I told you, Jorge."
After a quick smile, Gutierrez answered.
"He's a funny guy, I guess," eliciting a smile from Montgomery. "He's just a great person, he knows how to take the best of me. He makes me a better player, a better person, a better student."
Stay tuned for more Pac-12 Media Day coverage.