Dickie V talks new book, UF-Kansas matchup


Hall of Fame ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale turned 75 this year, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

Vitale said he wants to broadcast until he’s 100.

“They can wheel me out there in front of the Rowdy Reptiles to do a game in Gainesville,” Vitale said when he joined me this week on the Gator Hoops Podcast.

Vitale also had a new book hit the shelves this week “Its Awesome Baby, 75 years of memories and a lifetime of opinions on the game I love” (all proceeds from the sale of the book, Vitale said, will go towards the V Foundation for Cancer Research). In the book, Vitale discussed overcoming being bullied as a kid and getting fired as head coach of the Detroit Pistons to embark on a successful 35 year broadcast career.

Vitale will call tonight’s Florida-Kansas game on ESPN (9 p.m.) and offered some thoughts on the Gators and the UF-Kansas matchup:

— On Florida facing Kansas:¬† “I think the edge goes to Kansas on the interior, their size. Perry Ellis is absolutely sensational and he really has some help as well on the interior, the kid (Landen) Lucas is big and strong and they bring guys off the bench like (Jamari) Traylor. This is a very active team.”

– On UF’s early struggles: “I think the big problem for them out of the gate has been tough competition but also injuries, Dorian Finney-Smith (broken hand) has not been able to be himself. Eli Carter shows glimpses of great offensive ability but he’s had ankle problems. I think any time you lose key players, especially at thin as they are, it’s going to hurt you.”

– On sophomore forward Chris Walker’s development: “Came in with so much hype and so much publicity and it’s very difficult to live up to that. I did his first game in Gainesville and you could see the raw talent, raw athleticism. How good he’s going to be is be determined by his work ethic. He’s got great coaches working with him like you cannot believe, work with him on playing in the post. He’s got to get physically stronger. You don’t have to go to Harvard to figure that out. He’s got to get stronger to hold that position down in that box. He’s certainly got great athleticism, great size. That’s something you can’t teach. But if he truly wants to be a great player, he gets in that gym, and he does all the things they say, he has a chance. He may not be a polished offensive player, but you can create offense¬† with defense with blocked shots and getting out in transition and converting them to layups.”