Apr 9, 2013, 3:50 AM EST
ATLANTA — Think about where Rick Pitino was four years ago, as Karen Sypher dragged him through what was likely the most embarrassing scandal in the history of college athletics.
Then think about where he was just two years later, as he lost his second straight opening round NCAA tournament game while watching arch-nemesis John Calipari lead arch-rival Kentucky to the Final Four. Think about where he was after last year’s Final Four, when he not only lost to those Wildcats in New Orleans, but he had to watch them win the National Title afterwards while everyone proclaimed Kentucky to be the next college basketball dynasty.
There were a lot of people that didn’t think that Pitino would still be coaching right now, and yet there he was on Monday night, cutting down the nets after his Cardinals won him his second national title in a thriller over Michigan, 82-76.
It wasn’t just the ring that Pitino won, however.
It was his horse that won the Santa Anita Derby and qualified for the Kentucky Derby. It was his son, Richard, getting hired to be the next head coach at the University of Minnesota. It was the announced that he had been elected for induction into the Naismith Hall of Fame. And all of that happened as he became the first coach to win a championship at two different schools.
“It’s been the most unbelievable week that a guy can go through in sport,” the younger Pitino said after the game. “I’m really proud.”
But here’s the thing about Pitino: he did everything that he could to share the credit for this title with those around him. Somewhere deep down, there’s an ego that needs to be stroked, but that wasn’t happening on this night. When asked what it means to win a title and get named to the Hall of Fame in the same day, Pitino said “players put coaches in the Hall of Fame.” When asked about the emotions that with hearing that final buzzer sound, Pitino told a long and rambling — and heart felt — story about how he gave the jersey he received from the Hall of Fame to his sister-in-law, who lost her husband and her brother within a five-month span and who overcame alcoholism to raise three kids.
I believe it.
I don’t think this is an act.
You can see it in the way that he interacts with his players. How long would Russ Smith have lasted on the Louisville roster if this was six or seven years ago? But Smith not only has thrived under Pitino, he became an all-american after he actually wanted to leave the program and now the two have the most charmingly dysfunctional relationship between a coach and a player in the country. Pitino can needle him about not listening to him at the same time that he praises Smith for going shirtless and painting his chest to women’s soccer games.
Pitino cares. He really, truly cares about his players, and that may be the reason that he is able to get so much out of them. It’s not that difficult to leave it all on the floor for a coach that you believe is family.
“It feels amazing to get this win for him,” Peyton Siva said. “Playing for a great guy, not just from coaching, just a great father figure.”
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Dec 4, 2013, 9:39 PM EST
Ohio State entered Wednesday night’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchup with Maryland ranked No. 5 in the country. The Buckeyes were No. 2 according to Kenpom, which is largely the result of the Buckeye’s stifling defense. Thad Matta’s team leads the country in defensive efficiency, holding their opponents to 39.0 eFG% (effective field goal percentage), forcing…
Dec 4, 2013, 9:24 PM EST
In a game in which both No. 8 Wisconsin and Virginia struggled to make shots, redshirt junior guard Josh Gasser who was the most accurate shooter and made the plays that helped the Badgers pick up the 48-38 win in Charlottesville. Gasser (team-high 11 points) attempted just two shots from the field but he made…
Dec 4, 2013, 7:47 PM EST
Among the many interested observers at No. 10 Duke’s 79-69 win over No. 22 Michigan was former Duke great Grant Hill, who during his time in Durham was an incredibly versatile player. In analyzing the play of current Duke freshman forward Jabari Parker, some have made the comparison between the Chicago native and Hill. On…
Dec 4, 2013, 6:02 PM EST
With the changes in the way that contact is being called, college basketball has seen an increase in the number of fouls called and the number of free throws attempted in 2013-14. This has been one reason why scoring’s increased after being historically low last season; added opportunities to score by way of an “unchallenged”…
Dec 4, 2013, 4:45 PM EST
A J.J. Avila layup with a second remaining on Saturday gave Colorado State a dramatic 85-83 victory over New Mexico State, and it turns out that the result may have come at an even greater cost for the Aggies. Junior reserve forward Remi Barry went down in the first half with a left knee injury,…
Dec 4, 2013, 4:01 PM EST
GAME OF THE DAY: North Carolina at No. 1 Michigan State, 9:00 p.m. ET So which North Carolina team shows up tonight? Will it be the one that beat Louisville handily at Mohegan Sun earlier this season, or is it the group that lost to Belmont at home and UAB on the road? The Tar…
Dec 4, 2013, 2:54 PM EST
DURHAM, N.C. — The story of No. 10 Duke’s 79-69 win over No. 22 Michigan on Tuesday night was some combination of the Blue Devils’ defensive prowess and the Wolverine’s offensive struggles. Whether you believe that Michigan’s horrendous night, which saw them score 50 points and shoot 39.1% from the floor in the first 38…
Dec 4, 2013, 12:53 PM EST
On Tuesday night, Duke knocked off Michigan at Cameron Indoor Stadium, which was big news for both the Blue Devils, who had been struggling defensively for much of the first month of the season, and the Wolverines, who have never looked this bad offensively in the John Beilein era. It was bigger news for Coach…
Dec 4, 2013, 12:34 PM EST
The Julius Nyang’oro case took another turn this week, as the former UNC African-American Studies professor was indicted by a grand jury in North Carolina. He’s facing a charge of obtaining property through false pretenses, a low-level felony with a maximum punishment of 30 months in prison, although according to the Raleigh News & Observer,…
Dec 4, 2013, 11:51 AM EST
Who is the best shooter in the country? It’s a tough question to answer, isn’t it? Does being a “shooter” simply mean merely being a high-level marksman from beyond the arc? Can a player who thrives in the mid-range but rarely ventures out into three-point land be eligible? How heavily should we be valuing stats like…
Dec 4, 2013, 11:46 AM EST
Tuesday was a big night for Stetson’s basketball program. Not only did the Hatters pick up their first win of 2013, but Kentwan Smith made became Stetson’s first player to make it to POSTERIZED. Alley-oops off of a set play are the best, aren’t they? (h/t Dan Forcella)
Dec 4, 2013, 1:50 AM EST
GAME OF THE DAY: Boise State 69, Utah 67 Lost in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge hype was the battle between Mountain West and Pac-12 programs. The Broncos and Utes entered as two of the time scoring teams in the nation, but both struggled from the field early. Derrick Marks had 17 points and Anthony Drmic added…
Dec 4, 2013, 1:01 AM EST
It took until the later stages of the second half, but No. 18 UCLA remained undefeated following a 89-76 win tover UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday night at Pauley Pavilion. The game was much closer than the final score, as one of the contenders in the Big West gave the Bruins a fight throughout. The Gauchos…
Dec 3, 2013, 11:43 PM EST
The Big Ten got its first win in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge from Iowa’s offensive firepower. The Hawkeyes, playing in front of a raucous crowd, held off a Notre Dame second half comeback, countering the rally and holding off the Fighting Irish in a 98-93 win on Tuesday night. The Irish posted 43 points in…
Dec 3, 2013, 11:26 PM EST
DURHAM, N.C. — Caris LeVert is a good basketball player. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that there aren’t five players in college basketball that are more improved than No. 22 Michigan’s 6-foot-6 sophomore, and nothing about the 24 points he had against No. 10 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Tuesday…
Dec 3, 2013, 9:51 PM EST
The second half of Tuesday night looked a lot like last March’s Sweet Sixteen game when the Syracuse zone defense caused problems for the Indiana offense. The Hoosiers tied the game early in the second half before falling into a 13-minute drought. During which the Orange broke open the game, claiming the first game in their…
Dec 3, 2013, 8:13 PM EST
Troy Williams had four points in the first half of Indiana’s ACC-Big Ten Challenge contest against No. 4 Syracuse. The first two points were off an uncontested breakaway dunk after he intercepted a Tyler Ennis pass. This was his second bucket of the evening, and as you can see there were a few bodies in…
Dec 3, 2013, 7:15 PM EST
Michigan State sophomore guard Gary Harris injured his ankle in late August, though, that force him to miss any regular season games. That was until Friday during the top-ranked Spartans’ 98-65 win over Mount St. Mary’s Tom Izzo sidelined his reigning Big Ten freshmen of the year for the entire weekend, not just the 33-point…
Dec 3, 2013, 6:13 PM EST
Conference play is still weeks away. The ACC should have another exciting season with three new program’s joining the conference. Despite the changes in the league, one thing has remained the same for ACC competition for years: How do you spell Coach K’s last name? North Carolina’s Brice Johnson, Notre Dame’s Eric Atkins, Virginia’s Joe Harris,…
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