Twenty-three of Rick Pitino’s former players and assistants have gone on to hold their own NCAA head coaching jobs. Some have won national titles and some have flamed out. Only Mick Cronin, though, has shown up in a pink shirt and tie and made his former teacher pay under the watchful eye of Nick Lachey.
The Cards came out firing early in this first round matchup and had the feel of a mid-90s Pitino team, forcing turnovers and riding the hot shooting of a Delk (this time it was Reginald). But, despite Louisville’s best efforts, the Bearcats proved to be more persistent than Karen Sypher and just would not go away, ultimately outscoring Pitino’s troops by 12 in the second half.
In that period, the Bearcats looked like an old Bob Huggins edition in kicking Louisville’s tail on the boards to the tune of a 46-29 advantage. Yancy Gates led the way with 16 points off the bench and Darnell Wilks and Lance “Born Ready For Another Year of School” Stephenson both added 12, but the Bearcats shot only 34% from the field and 22% from the three-point line. By comparison, Louisville shot 44% from the field and 10-18 (56%) from downtown. That’s not how things usually work.
After the game, in typical Rick Pitino fashion, the Cards’ head man went into meltdown mode when asked about his team’s performance and berated Murray Rubin of the Hackensack Daily News for asking that sort of question on the day Nene’s son was arrested. Things then got even uglier later when Pitino’s ego climbed the Empire State Building and had to be shot down by the National Guard, though Louisville AD Tom Jurich advised everything was under control because Vinny Tatum was laying on the ground keeping an eye on him.
For Pitino’s team, an NCAA berth still seems likely. Where they get seeded, however, will most likely not be where many Louisville fans hoped it would be after entering the tournament with the momentum of beating Syracuse. But, this headline will be on the New York Daily News and not the New York Post, so that’s a positive.
For Cincinnati, they’ll keep their faint NCAA hopes alive on Thursday against former coach Bob Huggins and Mick Cronin will hopefully make a wardrobe change that keeps him from looking like a fleshy earthworm for the second game in a row.
*It should be noted that Montana's Anthony Johnson just scored again