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Monday, February 20, 2012

Conversation with Coach Rick Pitino

Last month, the high school whose basketball games I cover, Madison Prep Academy, played a road game at Lafayette, Louisiana against Lafayette Christian Academy (audio from the game can be heard at the Louisiana All American Sports on USTREAM). That evening, Louisville Head Men’s Basketball Coach Rick Pitino was in the audience, scouting Madison Prep center Jarell Martin (ranked in ESPN’s top 20 prospects of the class of 2013). I had the opportunity and privilege to speak with Coach Pitino after the game. The following is a transcript of our interview.

Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino 1

The Daily Hat Trick (TDHT): We have special guests visit us often, but this is, far and away, the most special guest of my short broadcasting career. I am here with…1996 National Champion, 1997 (NCAA) runner up…2005 Final Four participant and 1992 Elite Eight finalist…future Hall of Fame, Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino. Coach, thank you for coming down to Louisiana tonight. First of all, how are things up in Louisville?

Coach Rick Pitino: Everything’s great. We’re 17-5. The Big East is a tough league this year. There’s no bottom to it, not as great at the top, but extremely competitive.

TDHT: I see that you have Georgetown, Connecticut, Syracuse, Marquette, everybody looks really tough this year. How are the Cardinals?

Pitino: You know, we’ve been injured this year, but even with that, we started out 12-0, beat some good teams. Vanderbilt was good, Long Beach State was very good. We weren’t as good as the 12-0 record and, certainly, we’ve reached a little bit of a lull, where we lost four out of five. But now we’ve won the last three in a row.

TDHT: Do you think that, this year, that the Big East is so loaded that you can have (a team) like Connecticut, last year, (who) was the ninth place team in the Big East in the regular season and they ran through (the NCAA Tournament). Do you think the Big East has that kind of muscle this year?

Pitino: I don’t. I think Syracuse is the real deal. They could win the National Championship. They’re probably the only team that would give Kentucky, in terms of a style of play with that zone, problems. I don’t see anybody beating Kentucky, unless (Anthony) Davis is on the bench. Now, on a given night, anybody can get beat, but you’re talking about the number one player in the draft and he changes the game with his length.

TDHT: He is a special young man. I actually saw him down here this weekend at LSU and I wanted to ask you, with Kentucky there and that being the long time team you coached…with them being a cross-state rival, you must keep up with them. What do you think about them right now?

Anthony Davis of Kentucky 3

Pitino: They’ve got the best talent in the game. You’re talking about five draft choices of a year ago. This year, they’re probably going to have three go in the lottery. So, they’re always going to be there. That’s the way they recruit. We’re a different program. We like to develop our talent to keep them around for a while. That’s their signature and we’ve got a different type of signature. They’re both successful.

TDHT: It has been an honor and a privilege to chat with you. Thank you every much for your time.
Besides knowing how to dress (check out that suit) Pitino knows how to find talent. He found Dominican born Edgar Sosa (left), who became a standout at Louisville and now plays professionally. 2

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