Rick Pitino's capability for a good quote has too often gone overlooked. Thankfully, in the doldrums of June, college basketball's second-worst month of the year (only August is worse), Pitino has delivered some fighting words. Words that will have some lasting impact by the time Kentucky and Louisville play each other around New Year's Eve.
And the words aren't even directed at Kentucky -- they're a shot at the SEC. The Louisville coach sent a verbal barb flying Wednesday in the direction of the conference, a clear response to something John Calipari said last week.
After the SEC ditched its two-division format, opting to have one league with 12 teams, giving the league a better chance at more NCAA tournament teams, Cal said, "This is no knock on the Big East but they’ve had 19 teams in the tournament the last two years and how many have made it by the first round? How is this happening? When they start playing each other they say the 11th team is really good. What? We have to figure out how you play the best schedule you can play and still win. That’s different for all of us. I think that’s more important than 16 or 18 (conference) games."
Card Chronicle also brings up the fact Calipari, in March, said the Big East is a product of "media hype." So Pitino, the former Kentucky coach who led them to a title in '96, clearly knew what he was doing when he said this:
The coach jabbed back just a bit tonight at a Cardinal Caravan event in Shelbyville. When introducing his son, Richard, to the crowd, he said:
"(Richard) went away for a couple of years to learn how to do things in a second-rate league, then get back to the big time."
Richard Pitino spent the past two seasons in the SEC as an assistant under Billy Donovan, a Pitino disciple. It's as much a playful jab as it is an under-the-surface shot. And a truthful one. The Big East has been a better league than the SEC for most of its existence. Undeniable. And Kentucky, you'll remember, saw its 2011 season end in the Final Four at the hands of Connecticut, a Big East team.Photo: AP