Tag:Rick Pitino
Posted on: October 17, 2011 3:54 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2011 4:26 pm

Pitino's Louisville First vs. Cal's Players First

By Gary Parrish

LOUISVILLE -- So I was walking around Louisville's practice facility Saturday, and I kept seeing shirts that read "Louisville First." Apparently, that's this season's slogan for the Cardinals. Team first. Nothing else matters. Check your ego at the door. Louisville First.

No big deal, right?

Coaches do stuff like this all the time.

But then I started thinking about John Calipari's Media Day on Thursday and the speech he gave at Friday's Big Blue Madness, and I couldn't help but make a connection between Louisville's new slogan and Calipari's favorite new phrase -- Players First. "This is a players-first program," he said over and over again, and it really is classic Calipari. He's always one step ahead, trying to turn somebody's something into something else. You see, once Pitino decided to tout his program as a program that puts the team first, Calipari decided to take the opposite approach and hammer into recruits' heads whatthat he's a players-first coach and only at Kentucky to help prospects "reach their dreams." Yes, Calipari has used the phrase before, but he's never used it as relentlessly as he's been using it lately. Everything is players-first-this and players-first-that. If Final Fours and national championships happen to come with that, well, that's fine, too. But it's players first at UK. Players first. Players first. Players first. Don't ever forget it.

So funny.

I love stuff like this.

Season tips Nov. 7
Anyway, besides that it's been fairly quiet in the Pitino-Calipari War of Words since the Louisville coach, in response to the Kentucky coach, said he planned to "ignore the jealous ... ignore the malicious ... ignore the ignorant and ... ignore the paranoid." If true, that's too bad because the Pitino-Calipari rivalry makes the Louisville-Kentucky rivalry tops in college basketball. I personally won't be satisfied until Calipari brings up Karen Sypher and Pitino spends 20 minutes talking about how much he'd hate it if one of his five Final Fours were ever vacated, much less two. Up to me, that's where we're headed. But after talking to some Louisville and Kentucky players about it over the weekend, I'm convinced I'm more into the rivalry between their coaches than they are, and you, the fans, probably are, too.

"We don't hear much about it, but our fans are always like, 'That Calipari is this,' and then the UK fans are like 'Rick Pitino is this and that,'" Louisville guard Peyton Siva said with a laugh. "Hey, it's Louisville vs. Kentucky. It's the fans' rivalry, and they feed into it. So anything Coach P says about Kentucky, they're gonna blow it up. And anything Coach Calipari says about Louisville, they're going to blow it up.

"It's fun," Siva concluded. "But we don't worry about it much."
Posted on: October 16, 2011 11:50 am
Edited on: October 16, 2011 11:51 am

Louisville freshman still waiting to be cleared

By Gary Parrish

LOUISVILLE -- A shoulder injury has Louisville's Wayne Blackshear unable to practice.

But the NCAA Clearinghouse is delaying his college career, too.

"It's just a matter of the Clearinghouse clearing him," Louisville coach Rick Pitino told CBSSports.com, meaning the Clearinghouse hasn't yet cleared the McDonald's All-American to compete as a freshman.

Blackshear is a 6-foot-5 wing from Chicago.

CBSSports.com rated him as the 24th-best prospect in the Class of 2011.

"Yes," Pitino answered when asked if he's optimistic Blackshear will get through the Clearinghouse. "They're being a lot tougher this year than they have been in the past. But Wayne's situation is, I think, pretty good. We are optimistic."

To Pitino's point about the Clearinghouse being "a lot tougher this year," Kansas announced Friday that two of its freshmen -- Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor -- have been ruled ineligible. St. John's has had three heralded freshmen ruled ineligible. UCF's top recruit, Michael Chandler, also failed to make it through the Clearinghouse.

This development is not the first problem with Louisville's recruiting class.

Kevin Ware, a 6-4 guard from Georgia, was ruled ineligible last month, but he could join the Cardinals in December if his SAT score increases. Pitino said Ware is scheduled to retake the SAT next week. Meantime, McDonald's All-American Chane Behanan also didn't open practice with his teammates. The 6-6 forward watched Saturday's workouts with a boot on his right foot because of a sprained ankle suffered in Friday night's scrimmage.

"But he'll be ready by Monday," Pitino said.
Posted on: October 6, 2011 9:25 am
Edited on: October 6, 2011 9:28 am

Rick Pitino shoots back at John Calipari

By Jeff Goodman

It was only a matter of time.

Just a few days after Kentucky coach John Calipari's verbal jab directed squarely at Pitino and Louisville, the Cards' head coach fired back.

"Four things I've learned in my 59 years about people," Pitino told CBSSports.com on Wednesday. "I ignore the jealous, I ignore the malicious, I ignore the ignorant and I ignore the paranoid."

"If the shoe fits anyone," he added. "Wear it."


To refresh your memory, here are Calipari's comments earlier in the week in which he purposely omits Louisville when talking about programs in the state of Kentucky.

"It's a unique thing," Calipari said. "There's no other state, none, that's as connected to their basketball program as this one. Because those other states have other programs. Michigan has Michigan State, California has UCLA, North Carolina has Duke. It's Kentucky throughout this whole state, and that's what makes us unique."

This is why the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry currently has no peer in college hoops.

At least while Pitino and Calipari run their respective programs.

It edges out the one with closer proximity down in Tobacco Road between Duke and North Carolina. Not due to the hatred between fan bases, because that exists at a similar level in Bluegrass country.

But because of the hatred of the two coaches who run the programs.

Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and North Carolina's Roy Williams aren't exactly partners, but those guys are buddies compared to Calipari and Pitino.

Louisville Courier-Journal columnist Rick Bozich touched upon Calipari's jealousy in a column this morning and there's certainly some merit to his points.

It's no coincidence that Calipari accepted the job to coach the Dominican Republican national team shortly after Pitino agreed to (and later decided against) coach the Puerto Rican National club.

Calipari is envious of the fact that Pitino won a national championship.

Calipari is brash -- and even his closest friends in the business will tell you behind closed doors that he'll turn on anyone. I mean, think about the fact that Pitino was a key proponent in Calipari getting the UMass job years ago.

But that is ancient history now.

Pitino is nearing 60 and doesn't care what he says or who he offends these days.

A year ago, his team was over-matched talent-wise by Calipari's Wildcats. This year, although Kentucky remains loaded due to another stellar freshman class, the gap has closed significantly.

The two coaches will square off on New Year's Eve.

This makes for terrific theater, so grab some popcorn and enjoy the show.

Because it's not going to last forever.

Photo: AP
Posted on: October 4, 2011 9:43 am

Calipari's new geography eliminates Louisville

By Matt Norlander

Of all the veiled shots John Calipari has taken at Louisville basketball and Rick Pitino, this might be my favorite.

Because Calipari doesn't mention either. He simply refuse to acknowledge that Louisville has a basketball program, and that basketball program is located within the defined borders of the state of Kentucky.

Calipari is very smart, very wily and very much in hate with the Cardinals and their coach. Our former blogger, Matt Jones, now has a full-time gig working Kentucky television and radio. He landed an interview with Calipari the other night, when all the UK fans were still camping out for tickets. Calipari got to talking about how great that was, how Kentucky's unlike any other school. The typical stuff. And without prompt, as he's prone to do, Calipari managed to sneak in a shot at Louisville.

"There's no other state -- none -- as connected to their basketball program as this one," Calipari said. "Because those other states have other programs. Michigan has Michigan State. California, UCLA has all those ... North Carolina has Duke. It's Kentucky, throughout this whole stae, and that's what makes this unique."

No love for Morehead State, coach? They did beat Louisville in the tournament last year, after all. If you want the context of the quote, here's the video.

This is completely unnecessary and hilarious. Some Cards fans are reacting the way you'd expect. Calipari knows exactly what he's doing. It's why we thought he was talking about Mike Krzyzewski when he made these comments. There is nothing that isn't calculated by this man. More often than not, it serves to our benefit to watch him needle others. There are so few coaches that can and will do this, and that's because there are so few coaches with as many enemies as Cal.
Posted on: September 26, 2011 12:58 pm

Pitino campaigns again on behalf of Big East

By Matt Norlander

I don't have many issues with Rick Pitino spending his free time blogging, but one of them is certainly his insistence on using the PR-smelling "BIG EAST" capitalization approximately 15 times per post. The other is the outdated use of auto-play music on his site. You remove those two distractions from RickPitino.com, and his message gets even louder and more genuine.

Pitino's a pleasure to read. He's challenging convention and remains to be the outspoken guy he's always been. Some like him, many don't, but he's always going to talk. Why confine it to a microphone or camera during the season? Pitino's got thoughts, lots of them, on conference unrest. His school stands to be one that's considerably vulnerable, should the Big East's football arrangement collapse on itself. There isn't a better coach in place to speak -- and fight -- on behalf of his university than Pitino, who many in and outside of his industry listen to.

Pitino, who first came out and spoke on the issue two weeks ago, put up today a post that's going to cause some more conversation. The man's always been a reliable quote. At least someone his age (59) is willing to embrace the Internet and use it adequately. 

The post, which unintentionally (or was that an intentional shot?) misspells Jamie Dixon's first name as "Jaime," makes good mention of how all non-football and men's basketball sports will struggle in the coming years, as conferences neglect reasonable geographical connotations in favor of money-chasing. And, yep, there's an irony to a coach in Louisville, effectively located in the Midwest, railing against geographical decisions. That lack of awareness extends itself even further when Pitino haphazardly suggests Air Force (located in Colorado Springs, Colo.) join the league in football. 

Doesn't undo the point that volleyball, softball and men's soccer teams will feel a squeeze in areas outside of direct competition. The money's going to be there? Most university athletic departments operate in the red, you know.

In the wake of Dave Gavitt's wake and funeral, Pitino insists the Big East get back to the fundamentals Gavitt built the conference on. (Omitting the nature by which Gavitt did that, for the record. He was a brilliant businessman and is one of the 10 most influential men in the history of college basketball, but there are DNA strands connecting Gavitt's Big East construction in 1979 and what's happened in the past two years in conference realignment.) Foremost, he went after the narrow-minded visions of university presidents. 

"When it comes to athletics, they should defer strongly to their conference commissioner and their athletic director," Pitino writes.

He wants honest discussions with hopeful and willing and eager future members of the conference. Pitino also wants Temple to join the Big East as soon as possible. That notion isn't new, but Pitino's push gives it mainstream attention.

"They have a highly competitive football program with outstanding basketball tradition," Pitino writes. "They are a past BIG EAST member and an excellent school academically. And as all my friends say in Philadelphia, they are located in BIG EAST territory."

That they are, but I'm not too sure Villanova would be all that pleased with having Temple come back aboard, especially when Villanova would love to join the league in football. Overall, I'm glad Pitino's speaking, even if some of this is grandstanding and ultimately he has little-to-no say about what happens in the league. I completely agree with him re: presidents, but that power simply will not be acquiesced. Ever.

The only hope there is that most presidents have a very good relationship with conference commissioners and athletic directors; that movements made or not made will happen for reasons beyond the dough and promise of more. Even when coaches lack power, they still have the opportunity to speak up. More should follow Pitino and Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun's lead. They are the faces of the sport, even if the body's controlled by presidents pulling the strings.

Posted on: August 15, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 2:01 pm

Trippin' Louisville returns from Bahamas

In our Trippin' series we're talking to teams as they return from preseason trips to foreign locales. Click here for all Trippin' related stories

By Jeff Goodman

Rick Pitino admits his team overachieved last season.

It’s difficult not to agree.

Louisville wasn’t all that talented, yet managed to win 25 games and get to the Big East championship game.

``For the next two years, we’ll have the type of talent we need,” Pitino said. ``Last year we weren’t confident in any game we went into. We were confident in our preparation and our approach, but we didn’t have the size and ability.”

The Cardinals lost leading scorer Preston Knowles and the enigma that was Terrence Jennings, but added a strong freshman class which includes four Top 100 players.

Pitino will bring in Top 25 players Wayne Blackshear and Chane Behanan as well as big man Zach Price and late signee Kevin Ware.

Blackshear and Behanan should be key contributors immediately, while Price is slated to be the back-up center – and Ware’s role is still unclear.

Pitino and the Cards just returned from a six-day trip to the Bahamas in which the team played four games.

What Pitino learned: Who is fundamentally ready to play – and who isn’t. The competition wasn’t very good, but now I know what to work on once we start individuals. Peyton Siva, Gorgui Dieng and Kyle Kuric are ready to play right away. If we opened up tomorrow, they could play. The rest of the guys could not.”

What or who impressed him: ``By far the best player was Peyton Siva. When he came here, he was a combo guard. Now he’s a true point guard.”

What concerned him: ``I don’t worry about it, but our freshmen don’t know how to play the game. But that’s true for most freshmen. (Jamal) Mashburn was the only freshman since I’ve been coaching who came in and knew how to play.”

- Freshmen Wayne Blackshear and Kevin Ware did not make the tip because they were both taking summer courses. Pitino said both are scheduled to arrive on campus, with the rest of the team, on Sunday, and he doesn’t expect any issues with them getting through the NCAA Clearinghouse.

- Pitino said that freshman Angel Nunez, who has a similar body type to that of former Louisville star Francisco Garcia, is well-behind Garcia on the defensive end. ``Francisco needed work,” Pitino said. ``And he’s light years behind Francisco.”

- Dieng, who Pitino feels will be among the nation’s leaders in block shots, is up to 232 pounds. ``He’s a good player, not a great player,” Pitino said. ``I think he can be a great player his junior and senior years. He needs to get up to 255 pounds.”

- Pitino said that in addition for the trip being beneficial for the players, it was also an advantage for his staff – which completely turned over. Richard Pitino is back after a couple years in Gainesville and Pitino also brought on Kevin Keatts from Hargrave Military Academy and Wyking Jones, who spent last season at New Mexico.

- Pitino also said he had no idea when the game between the Kentucky Legends and the Dominican Republic national team, coached by John Calipari, was slated to be played in Louisville at the Yum! Center. Well, the game is set for tomorrow night. ``I honestly had no idea," Pitino said. 

CBSSports.com's list of teams taking preseason trips

Photo via Louisville athletics

Posted on: August 5, 2011 11:27 am
Edited on: August 5, 2011 12:15 pm

Top-50 recruit's father can't trust Cal, Pitino

By Jeff Borzello

The major story surrounding Derek Willis on Thursday was the news of his decommitment from Purdue.

The father of Willis, a top-50 junior from Bullitt East High School in Kentucky, later denied the commitment withdrawal, but said we would all know more on Sunday.

If this were solely a decommitment story, though, you would find it on the recruiting blog.

This is about a quote found at the bottom of an article at Rivals.com’s Purdue affiliate site, made by Del Willis, Derek’s father.

“I don’t know if I can trust a Coach [Rick] Pitino or Coach [John] Calipari,” Willis said. “Their agenda is more for their benefit than the kid’s. They’re more worried about themselves.”

Remember, Willis is a four-star recruit from the state of Kentucky – and his father is disparaging the two biggest coaches in the commonwealth, if not the country. Besides the implications that his father clearly doesn’t want him staying in-state for college, it’s very interesting that he would alienate two of the most successful programs.

What makes it even more interesting is the fact Willis’ high school coach said Kentucky and Louisville have already reached out since news of Willis’ decommitment leaked out on Thursday.

This will certainly be fun to follow in the next few weeks, especially if Willis has indeed decommitted. One can assume his father will fight to keep Calipari and Pitino far, far away from his son’s recruitment.

Posted on: August 4, 2011 11:55 am
Edited on: August 4, 2011 11:59 am

Pitino, Calipari rivalry reaches a new level

By Matt Norlander

"It's a free country, and the KFC, last time I checked, was part of this country."

Oh, you bet, Rick Pitino. You bet your esteemed coif that KFC is part of this great, great country. Pitino was more specifically referring to the KFC Yum! Center, where Louisville plays its home games. It's also where John Calipari will coach the Dominican National Team against former Kentucky players on Aug. 16.

Calipari will scheme against former Kentucky players in an exhibition match that the state is eagerly anticipating. It's just another not-so-obfuscated way of Calipari milking whatever he can out of the system. It should be a blast for folks in Kentucky who will take any semblance of organized, Wildcats-infused basketball they can get.

But, yeah, the game's taking place at Louisville's digs. According to our former colleague Matt Jones, Louisville and Pitino were so anti-Kentucky when this new joint got built, they had it put into the contract that Kentucky could not play any games at the Yum! Center. And, technically, they're not -- it's former Kentucky players going up against the Dominican National Team. Still, Pitino is biting the inside of his cheeks as much as he can on this. Just (not really) grinning and (barely) bearing it. And I'm sure he hated having to address it to the media yesterday, when a press conference was scheduled so he could discuss his team's upcoming summer plans.

Pitino and the Cardinals will be just getting back from the Bahamas when this game is taking place. And then there's this, from the AP:
When an obviously irritated Pitino was asked why isn't the exhibition game being played at Freedom Hall, he said: "Why don't you ask them that?"
So we have another little drama inside the Bluegrass State. Amazing how much blogging material can be borne out of Kentucky and Louisville's programs, right? Think about it: Duke and North Carolina, two programs that collectively have more impact and history on college basketball than the aforementioned two, don't produce half the amount of news or conversation that UK and U of L do.

The rivalry extends beyond the maniacal fanbases. And with this thorn in Pitino's side, the feud between he and Calipari plunges to another depth.

Photo: AP
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