Posted on: July 1, 2011 10:50 am
Edited on: July 1, 2011 11:08 am
By Matt Norlander
The Big East intra-conference schedule was released yesterday. Here's what Rick Pitino had to say about it:
"We have one of the premier commissioners in athletics, but whoever's doing our scheduling must be doing it with a Ouija board. How can you play two of the top three (projected) teams in the league twice and have to play another top team that's a rival game (at Cincinnati) on the road for a second straight year? It just doesn't make any sense to me. West Virginia has a similar argument. They must be doing it with a Ouija board."
OK, that was in Louisville's press release. Crafted by the school and looked over by a few people before it was shot out to the public. And that's the quote Pitino chose to supply and the school was cool going with.
All I can say is ... awesome.
If that was the quote that was allowed, then Pitino must be really pissed. Without the filter of Louisville's athletic department offices, who knows what sort of disgust Pitino would have spit had a reporter got him one-on-one. By the way, here's Louisville's schedule: home games against Connecticut, DePaul, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, USF, Syracuse and Villanova; on the road versus Cincinnati, DePaul, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall, Syracuse and West Virginia.
Yeah, it's tough, but not the toughest. Look at that link, and you'll see other schools who have harder 18-gamers within the conference. And, to channel Dan Hawkins, it's the Big East! Tough games are coming, and the better you are and more high-profile you are, the more rigorous the schedule, generally, because TV dictates a lot of what goes on here. Pitino and Louisville are big sells. He knows that.
This is his only way of fighting back. Let's wait and see what the non-conference schedule looks like for Louisville, when the school releases it in a few weeks. If it's loaded, we'll know why Pitino's got his britches in a bunch. If it's weak, then this is nothing more than whining.
Posted on: June 10, 2011 10:31 am
By Matt Norlander
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:
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
Posted on: June 7, 2011 5:09 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2011 5:26 pm
Posted by Eric Angevine
Richard Pitino is one of the hottest young names in coaching. The son of Louisville coach Rick Pitino is just 28 years old, but he's been mentioned as the top candidate for the open Boston University job, which was vacated when Patrick Chambers headed off to Penn State.
Boston's Daily Free Press blog Full Court Press followed up on a tweet by CBS Sports hoops pundit Jon Rothstein, which stated that the Pitino progeny was not a candidate at BU:
The 28-year-old Pitino rejoined his father Rick Pitino's staff at Louisville in April after a two-year stint as an assistant at the University of Florida under Billy Donovan. His arrival was part of an overhaul of Pitino's staff after former assistant Steve Masiello left to become the head coach at Manhattan College and former assistant Tim Fuller left for a similar position at the University of Missouri after just one season on the Cardinals' staff, a departure that prompted Pitino to consider a two-year commitment contract from anyone he brings on to his staff.If it seems rash to offer a head-coaching job to a 28-year-old with a big name, consider this: Pitino the Younger was also considered for the job in 2009, when he was just 26. At that time, it was Chambers who ended up getting the job, leading to his brief reign over the Terriers.
Louisville AD Tom Jurich has denied rumors that Richard Pitino was brought aboard as the eventual successor to his father. The elder Pitino is only 58 years old, makes more money than anyone else in college hoops, and seems to be in good health, so it seems more likely that his son will eventually get his head coaching career started at another school around the time he turns 30.
Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: March 12, 2011 1:00 am
Edited on: March 12, 2011 1:02 am
Posted by Matt Norlander
Who had Louisville in the Big East title game back in October? Yeah ... that's what I thought. I snared Rick Pitino for two minutes before he was released to the scatter-shot of media waiting in the hallway, so I got him to discuss his team's "overachievers," how they came back against Notre Dame's stiff defense, and why or if seeding means much to him.
Posted on: February 18, 2011 5:06 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2011 5:08 pm
Posted by MATT JONES
It's finally over for Louisville coach Rick Pitino. Yes, there are certain things in his life that have changed forever. The jokes will likely never end. Every time the Louisville coach calls a thirty-second timeout, someone will make the crack that it is time for "two Pitinos." Opposing student sections will continue to chant the name "Karen Sypher" towards him at every opportunity. And the once fruitful motivational speaking career has been all but completely destroyed by the legacy of his infamous night at an Italian restaurant.
But for the parts of Pitino's life that matter most, the sentencing of Karen Sypher on Friday to 87 months in federal prison will close the door on its most embarrassing event. After a circus of a trial this summer, numerous attempts by Sypher to destroy Pitino's name in public and numerous pleas to the court for a new trial, a federal judge in Louisville ended the Pitino-Sypher saga for at least the next seven years.
The remains left behind aren't pretty for the Louisville coach. He had to sit in a public courtroom and recount the graphic details of his sexual encounter with Sypher and her subsequent abortion. The testimony included some of the most embarrassing admissions a man could ever have to make and ensured that from a comedic perspective, the terms "Pitino", "15 seconds" and "Porcini's" will forever be linked.
Due to the events, he was forced to ask his son Richard to leave the sidelines as an assistant under him at Louisville and instead take a job at Florida in order to avoid the limelight of the situation. Pitino said at the Sypher trial that the decision was one of the hardest of his life and he broke down while talking about telling his son to leave the UL program. He has had to deal with a diminished public perception that has made the state he once owned, a much more difficult place in which to reside.
But even if the events have been difficult to get through, make no mistake, he has overcome them. His Louisville team is overachieving this season, playing a form of basketball that harkens back to the exciting early Pitino years. The Cardinals will make the NCAA Tournament, likely as a 4 or 5 seed, an achievement that far exceeds where they should be from simply a talent perspective. Recruiting, which was once thought to be the true negative legacy of the trial, is at an all-time high for Pitino since he has been in Louisville. The Cardinals will add two McDonald's All Americans to next year's team and are situated to potentially contend for one of the best three classes in America in 2012.
I will be honest, those achievements have truly surprised me. I sat and watched all ten days of the original Karen Sypher trial and thought there was virtually no way Pitino could survive it. He was publicly humiliated to such a degree that I found it difficult to believe he could remain as the Louisville coach. The Pitino that sat in that courtroom looked like a shell of the Pitino we knew on the sidelines and I assumed that at the first opportunity, he would leave the city and start again.
But Pitino has persevered and some would even say, excelled. Boosted in part by naysayers like me and energized by competition coming from his rival John Calipari in Lexington, Pitino has put together his best coaching job thus far at Louisville. Now, with his extorter headed to prison and unable to spend any more time in public seeking to embarrass his name, Pitino can fully concentrate on his basketball program and turn the page on one of the darker chapters of his life. I still contend that there are less than five coaches in America who could have survived the ordeal and possess the rare combination of intense willpower and unquestioned University support necessary to remain in their position after such events. But Pitino had both, and he has not only survived, he has actually thrived.
Rick Pitino will never be able to forget the Sypher mess and it will put a stain on his legacy forever. But now with the blonde vixen headed to a federal penitentiary near you, he will no longer have to face it on a daily basis. The final chapter of Rick Pitino's coaching career is beginning and he now can face it from a pure basketball perspective. That must be music to the future Hall of Famer's ears.
Posted on: January 29, 2011 2:56 pm
Edited on: January 29, 2011 3:53 pm
Posted by Matt Jones
After two months of fighting it, I grudgingly come to praise Rick Pitino’s coaching performance this season in Louisville. Believe me, all of my natural tendencies are to say that Pitino’s team has had success due to a combination of weak scheduling and fortuitous breaks in close games. But with Saturday’s win on the road against UCONN, I can no longer deny it. Rick Pitino is doing the best work of his Louisville career this season.
This edition of the Cardinals does not have the roster one would, or should, expect from a Rick Pitino team. There is not one player that has a certain NBA future and arguably the one with the most talent, Terrence Jennings, has consistently underachieved. The Cards are soft as butter inside and when they match up with most of the top teams in the Big East, they look vastly undermanned at nearly every position.
But this team has a moxie and toughness that recalls Rick Pitino’s Providence and early Kentucky teams. They hustle after every loose ball, play a tenacious brand of defense that gives their opponents fits and as shown against UCONN on Saturday, have a never-say-die attitude that allows them to remain in games long after they should have been eliminated.
Already in the Big East this season, Louisville has come back from an 18 point deficit with 5:44 left against Marquette to steal a victory, but amazingly what happened against UCONN is more impressive. Down by two late in regulation, Peyton Siva (who just Wednesday added a game winner against West Virginia to his resume) weaved into the lane, driving by a host of UCONN defenders before squeaking in a game-tying layup. Then, down five with under a minute left in the first overtime, the Cards scrapped back with two late three pointers and once again saw Siva finish a clutch drive to send the game to a second overtime. In the unfamiliar setting of protecting a late lead in the second overtime, Louisville pressured UCONN into a desperation Kemba Walker thirty footer miss before stealing the most important win of the season.
It has been a trying few months for Pitino and the specifics of his difficulties often seem to be worn on his face every game. But his team has the youthful energy of the best of Pitino we remember over the last 25 years. Attacking the basket, dishing to open teammates and playing with an unselfish enthusiasm that as put a spring in Pitino’s step all season, makes the Cardinals a fun team to watch perform. They are capable of producing a dud every now and then, but they are also able to win games, in which from a talent perspective, they have no business even competing.
When I watch Louisville play, I continue to shake my head and wonder how the program has so little top-flight talent and what Pitino has been doing on the recruiting trail over the last three years. But then when the game gets to its closing moments and the team with the most poise and guts shines over the one with the better talent, I see Louisville grinding out another big win. None have been bigger than Saturday’s over UCONN and it is time for even Rick Pitino’s biggest critic to stand on the side and applaud what he has done this season.
Posted on: January 6, 2011 12:16 am
Edited on: January 6, 2011 12:17 am
Posted by MATT JONES
Back in the olden days, when all blogs were local and Seth Davis was simply a "handsome CBS television personality" and not a "handsome CBS television personality with his own shown on the CBS College Sports Network", I used to do a nightly post in which I would attempt to wrap up all the important news in college basketball in one quick roundup. The point of course, was to make sure that those of you who are too busy to come home, sit by the television with your significant other and scan the cable networks for the latest news from the WAC, would have a way to understand what happened in the world of college basketball in one ridiculous summary. I have decided to move this concept over to the bright lights and big city atmosphere of CBSSports.com, and thus we have the first edition of the "Night in Review."
Every evening we will begin the Night in Review by giving a quick tip of the hat to someone in the news who is not focused solely on college basketball. Tonight we give a big "HOWDY!" to George Jones, aka "the Possum," who apparently had a heart scare in Nashville on Wednesday. Jones is best known for the country classic "He Stopped Loving Her Today", producing # 1 hits in four different decades and looking damn smooth in a white leisure suit. Thankfully for his fans, the heart scare turned out to be temporary and he is expected back home on Thursday. But in the mean time, check out some of the Possum's work if you aren't familiar. I know some of you sophisticated types with your highfalutin dinner parties, NPR tote bags and New Yorker cartoon book compilations might not be familiar with George's catalogue, so let me give you a few starters: "She Thinks I Still Care", "What a Good Year for the Roses" and "Choices." You folks can thank me later.
To the Wednesday notes worth knowing:
1. Its Jimmer Time in Vegas --- The Game of the Night in college basketball turned out to be a dud all because of the force of Jimmer. After falling behind 23-15 early, UNLV fell faster than the political stock of Sharron Angle in the second half as Jimmer Fredette took over, powering BYU to a 89-77 victory. The man whose name my girlfriend hates with the same passion she had previously reserved for the girl with fangs on "The Bachelor" (I actually like it...both the names and the fangs), Fredette put on an offensive show, scoring 39 points and hitting seven three-pointers to bring out the boo birds in the Thomas & Mack Center. With the win, BYU strikes the first blow in the battle with San Diego State for Mountain West Conference supremacy, while UNLV proves that the hints of problems suggested by the UC-Santa Barbara and Louisville losses should have been taken seriously.
2. Bruce Pearl gets a sendoff --- The only person who may have had a worse December that Bruce Pearl is Brett Favre, likely only because I refuse to open any text pictures I receive from Knoxville. Wednesday's Memphis game saw Pearl's Tennessee team having lost four of its last five and about to begin an eight-game SEC stretch where the coach would not be allowed on the sideline due to an SEC suspension. So the Vols responded as any group of kids about to watch Daddy head off to the NCAA gulag would, by absolutely annihilating its in-state rival, Memphis. The Vols dominated in a 104-84 shellacking that was not as close as the score indicated. What seemed to be a team reeling, instead found its groove and begin the SEC season with some positive momentum.
3. Boston College hates the Ivy League --- As anyone who has ever had a friend go to Boston College can attest, the school does have a serious case of Ivy League envy. Every BC student will try to convince you that "I could have gone to an Ivy League school but BC's academics are just as good as those Ivy schools and you know what, I wouldn't want to go to school with all those nerds anyway. Plus, we have great sports here, so take that you little Harvard/Yale/Dartmouth/Brown dork." While that self-rationalization is always fun to listen to, now it is even more incorrect than usual as Harvard beat Boston College 78-69 for its third straight win over the Eagles. Piled on top of the earlier loss to Yale, and it becomes clear that BC should be thankful ACC play is beginning and the nerds are going to go back to beating up on each other.
4. Fear Missouri --- Yeah I know Missouri's 98-58 victory tonight was only over North Alabama and no, I am not Gary Parrish so I couldn't tell you (a) what conference North Alabama is in or (b) if it is an actual university or just a set in a DJ Qualls movie. However, I am impressed with a team that has seven scorers in double figures against any team and goes into Big 12 play with just one loss and having played as well as anyone outside of the top five in the non-conference season. Plus Mike Anderson just seems like a guy you would want to hang out with...and his hair is not nearly as creepy as Quinn Snyder's. They have my attention.
5. Duke's Schedule is Putrid --- Have you noticed that for the #1 team in America, you don't hear a lot about Duke? Want to know why? Because Coach K somehow lost his manliness on the way to Bobby Knight's record and has stopped scheduling anyone of note in the non-conference. This year's slate saw only two Top 25 teams, one of which was mandated by the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, multiple games against bottom feeders and only one true road game...and it was at UNC-Greensboro of all places. Tonight they beat Mike Davis and UAB, which is sweet, but when will Duke go play games that matter? You are Duke! You matter in college basketball. Act like it.
6. Wake Forest won --- With fellow "worst teams in the BCS", Auburn and Oregon State, getting big wins this week over Florida State and Oregon State, Wake Forest had to do something to keep up. Beating High Point 79-63 might not seem like much, but lets remember that this is a school that got beat by Presbyterian and went into a road game at Richmond as a 16 point underdog...and DIDN'T COVER. So yeah it is High Point...but it is also Wake Forest.
7. Central Florida Keeps Rolling --- If you were on CBSSports.com today, you read about fifteen stories on Central Florida and so you know that they are a Conference USA team ready to make a national splash. Tonight they beat Marshall 65-58 and Marcus Jordan had his team come fly with him for 26 points. If you haven't paid attention yet to Central Florida, you really should, because if I am reading George O'Leary's resume correctly, his ability to coach both the football and basketball teams to such good seasons at the same time is quite impressive.
8. Rick Pitino Likes Kevin Willard --- The Louisville Cardinals got back on track tonight, beginning Big East play with a 73-54 victory over Seton Hall. The Hall has been part of what I like to call the "forgotten neighbors" of the Big East, often forgotten by commentators who trumpet the power at the top but ignore the train wrecks at the bottom of the 16 team league. After the game, Rick Pitino said that Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard would turn the program around and that he would be the "next Billy Donovan" in college basketball. High praise indeed, although to be fair, Rick's track record of prediction has never been the best, including comparing former Kentucky Wildcat Jared Prickett to Larry Bird and calling current Cardinal Mike Marra "the greatest high school shooter I have ever seen."
So there you have it, your night in review. Tomorrow is highlighted by the Xavier-Cincy battle, a decision by 2011 five-star recruit Deandre Daniels as to his college destination and more decimation of whatever comedy soul is left in "The Office." Stay tuned....
Posted on: December 30, 2010 2:08 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2010 2:26 pm
Posted by Matt Jones
While I can already hear the outrage emitted from the Duke and UNC fanbases who believe all basketball worth seeing is played either within their 15-501 highway or at the very least, down the road in Greensboro, notice I said “most intense” and not “best”. I have attended seven Duke-UNC games over the years and am a graduate of one of the institutions. When it comes to sheer talent and relevance on a national scale, Duke-UNC has been the unparalleled king for the past 25 years. But talent and television coverage does not intensity make. Kentucky-Louisville is not the most intense rivalry in the land because the game usually involves the two best programs, but rather, like Alabama-Auburn, UK-UL is the most intense rivalry because it simply matters more to all involved. A special concoction of factors combine to create an environment between the Wildcats and Cardinals that the overhyped Cameron Crazies and wine and cheese crowd of Chapel Hill could never hope to replicate:
HISTORY --- Unlike UNC and Duke, who are forced by conference affiliation to play each other twice every season, the vitriol created by UK-UL is actually a relatively recent creation. Until 1983, the schools never had an annual battle, as UK believed in its own superiority to such a degree that it saw no need to downgrade itself to schedule a game with the program Coach Eddie Sutton later called “Little Brother.” Even as Louisville rose in the 1970s under Denny Crum, culminating in a NCAA title in 1980, UK cruised along whistling obliviously as Cardinal fans demanded a matchup. Attempts by the NCAA to pair the two teams always fell a bit short, most famously in 1975, when one last John Wooden run kept the two programs from meeting for a National Championship. The more Cardinal fans howled, the more UK cackled that they would not stoop to UL’s level.
But then came 1983 and the battle known as “The Dream Game.” The NCAA placed the two teams in the same Regional in Knoxville, Tennessee and fate finally put the programs on the same court. A battle that led the state’s governor John Y Brown to wear a half-red and half-blue sports coat (a sell out move if there ever was one), saw Louisville win the initial battle between the two programs and be granted ammunition of supposed superiority that it could hold over UK fans in perpetuity. That was unacceptable to the UK brass, and the rivalry was on, likely never again to be extinguished. The same intense hatred and feeling of moral superiority that prevented the game from beginning has permeated its existence ever since.
FAN HATRED --- And with that historical backdrop, the hatred between UK and UL fans has yet to diminish over the last 27 years. To each fan base, the other group represents all that is bad about college basketball, and in extension, the country as a whole. Kentucky fans believe UL represents the big city, full of brash, obnoxious fans who would be better placed in Southern Indiana, rather than in the great Commonwealth of Kentucky. While Louisville sees UK as a fan base full of country hicks, whose country mannerisms embarrass the UL faithful when they travel to other states and say they are from Kentucky. Being a fan of UL or UK is not simply about representing a program, it’s about representing a way of life, and when you see the 18-22 year olds on the court playing a game, they are actually standing up for values far greater than they could ever know.
This is all of course nonsense. Those of you from the other 49 unfortunate states would look at all of us in Kentucky and see little difference, but to those of us who call Kentucky home, these distinctions matter. The hatred is most intense in the city of Louisville, which has become ground zero for UK-UL passion. With estimates of the number of UK fans in the city ranging from 40-50 percent, all of us are forced to interact with members of the other tribe and on a Rivalry week like this one, it is all we can do to maintain our cool. Louisville fans do not like their city infested with all these Blue low-class heathens, while Kentucky fans want their general superiority and overall larger fan base accepted in the Commonwealth’s largest city. It isn’t so much about winning, because we all know our team and fans are better, but it is about not losing, so we don’t have to listen to that obnoxious co-worker, neighbor or radio host crowing about it for the next 365 days.
PITINO/CALIPARI --- While the fans have always had the passion necessary to make the rivalry intense, what has taken the UK-UL game to a new level these last two years was the introduction of two Northeastern Italians, with a dislike for each other that rivals that of any fan. Rick Pitino was already the epitome of evil to the Big Blue Nation, after committing the mortal sin of leaving UK, bombing with the Boston Celtics and then having the audacity to return to the state and coach the Wildcats’ arch-rivals. The Benedict Arnold quality is almost unmatched in modern sports. Would Coach K join the Tarheels? Joe Torre the Red Sox? Bear Bryant take his hat to Auburn? Its unthinkable, but Pitino went to Louisville, showcasing to UK fans that he was never really one of them anyway.
But even with Cat fans hating Pitino, the Cold War didn’t really begin until John Calipari found his way to Lexington. The slick former Memphis Coach gave Card fans their perfect UK foil. For a program that has a history of NCAA violations, hiring the modern Coach most associated with walking the NCAA tightrope was exactly what UL fans needed for ammunition. The cheating school hires the cheating Coach, allowing the Card faithful to crow that while they do it the “right way”, there is a rogue problem in Lexington.
The best part is that these two coaches seem to be obsessed with each other as much as the fans. John Calipari openly takes slight shots at Pitino, making comments on his weak non-conference scheduling and referring to the “school down the road.” Pitino for his part can barely hide his contempt for Calipari, deflecting all questions about him in a “please don’t bother me with THAT guy” type of manner. Each has given the other fan base something to focus upon, whether it is Calipari and his vacated Final Four trips or Pitino and his infamous night at Porcinis with Karen Sypher. For every “Derrick Rose” chant, a “15 seconds” one can follow. And while neither will come from the Coaches themselves, they both probably secretly love every one.
Thus with all of those factors in play, how can the games not be legendary ? Over the years, stars have been born in the UK-UL game, whose names live forever in the state. Every UK fan knows about Rex Chapman’s historic Freshman debut to the rivalry in 1986, Cedric Jenkins’s tip-in for the win in 1987 and Patrick Sparks doing his shuffle and drawing a foul to help pull it out in Freedom Hall in 2004. And UL fans can point to the magic of the Dream Game, Samaki Walker’s Triple-Double or the three from deep that Edgar Sosa drained before the buzzer in 2008. Legends are made in one afternoon and individuals who otherwise had forgettable careers, like Marvin Stone and Lukask Obrzut are known as Cat and Card killers forever.
The opening line for the game has Louisville favored by two. And if one looks at the game, a case can be made for either team coming out on top. But ultimately, the final score is only a small part of what will be the most intense game in college basketball. In Kentucky, we have little to focus on but college athletics. There are no Carolina Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, Charlotte Bobcats or NASCAR headquarters to focus our energy. Louisville is the largest metropolitan area in America without a pro sports franchise and the energy of the population is focused squarely on college kids playing basketball. When UK-UL tipoff Friday at noon, the entire state will be holding its breath and focused in a way unrivaled anywhere except in Alabama the day of the Iron Bowl. Duke and North Carolina are nice and their games are made-for-television theater. But for unbridled passion and intensity, there is no place in college basketball that can rival gameday when Kentucky plays Louisville .