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Rick Pitino reiterates that he has no plans to retire any time soon

By Matt Norlander | Staff Writer

Rick Pitino has won at least 25 games in six of the past seven seasons. (USATSI)

Rick Pitino once said, "My contract runs out in 2017. I'm not coaching past that."

Less than a year later, he signed a new contract into 2022 (!) that made those words meaningless.

And at a press conference on Wednesday, the Louisville coach, now 61, said a "long time" remains before he considers retiring. Why? Well, winning a national title in 2013 had a say in it, but Louisville is now a member of the ACC, and with that, it's a new set of challenges.

The school can remain a top-10 program and is still bringing in quality recruiting classes. And compared to some of his contemporaries in the league -- Jim Boeheim, Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams -- Pitino is youngest among the legendary coaches in that conference.

According to the Associated Press, Pitino said his "passion and enthusiasm is better at 61 than it was at 31, and I had great passion back then. I think it's the players the last four years that have enhanced that passion. ... They stir my drink because they are so enthusiastic, so willing to learn and have such a great attitude."

It's going to get interesting for Louisville in 2014-15. Montrezl Harell is a project lottery pick -- as he was heading into last season -- but it's going to be largely a new look. Players like Russ Smith, Luke Hancock (the 2013 Final Four MOP, remember), Chane Behanan (kicked out of the program last winter) and Stephan Van Treese are gone from this team. The Peyton Siva/Russ Smith era spanned five years and came to define Louisville hoops under Pitino.

Now it's the next step. Wayne Blackshear will have one more season to prove he was worth the hype (injuries have beset his rise, to be fair).

"It finally got through to him that the sand is running out in the hourglass," Pitino said of Blackshear, per the AP. "He has dedicated himself more in a short period of time than he has in three years combined."

Chris Jones and Terry Rozier might wind up making Louisville's backcourt one of the five best in the country, if both play to their ability. And Mangok Mathiang could be the breakout big man for the Cards.

College hoops obviously is run by its biggest coaches, the 20 or so men who are household names nationally and keep the best programs prominent and relevant. Pitino is as respected in this regard as anyone. The sport is better for having him in it, and hopefully he can stick to his belief in the now, and for the future.

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