Tag Archives: Rick Pitino

What Rick Pitino Knew, And When He Knew It

That header got your attention, right?

Good.

Truth is I have no copy of a check made out to Brian Bowen’s dad with Pitino’s verified fingerprints on it, nor a tape of the former U of L coach cutting a deal with an Adidas shoe rep over the phone.

Stick with me anyway. Because it really doesn’t matter what Rick Pitino knew or not, it’s what he chose not to do.

As has become the nature of our national dialog these days, there are two oppositional positions about the coach for whom the starmaker machinery is cranked to 11 this week to promote his latest book.

There is a faction who believe that Pitino knew nothing about the strippers in the dorm, knew nothing about the promise of money to Bowen’s father, was the innocent victim of an extortion attempt after an extramarital affair, and was shafted by the university when he was dismissed as coach.

Then there are those who believe it doesn’t really matter what Pitino actually knew, that the Bowen scandal was merely a called third strike, that the coach should have been terminated when he admitted having sex with a woman not his wife, on a banquette in a restaurant no less.

Count me firmly in the second grouping.

As a Louisville Cardinal basketball fan for six and a half decades, I simply need to vent one last time and move on. Actually, I would have kept my mouth shut but for two reasons. Continue reading What Rick Pitino Knew, And When He Knew It

Padgett, Pitino & the Cardinal Coaching Carousel Coulda Woulda

At the top, before I get to opinionizing, conjecturing, rumor mongering, innuendo disseminating and other stuff my phalanx of attorneys have advised me against, let me add my words of praise for David Padgett.

The fellow was dropped into a situation that was extremely difficult at best, and exasperatingly impossible at worst.

At every twist and turn, he comported himself with poise, class and humility.

David Padgett, dare I say it, is a mensch.

University of Louisville fans owe him a debt of gratitude for the stalwart way he handled an untoward situation.

I hold him in nothing short of the highest regard.

He has all the peripherals for a long and successful coaching career. I don’t know a Cardinal fan who doesn’t wish for his success. Continue reading Padgett, Pitino & the Cardinal Coaching Carousel Coulda Woulda

Tom & The Rick: Greek Tragedy x 2

It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair . . .

. . . it is the Tale of Two Men.

Fallen.

The tale of two empires really, one inside the other, conjoined, intertwined, two conquerors of all that could be seen and beyond.

Two “brands,” to use a term these men in full so often invoked, who reached further, higher than than their constituents would have ever hoped.

Two empires, two men, whose reigns have collapsed under the weight of their own hubris and neglect. Two stars, their light extinguished, their constituencies swallowed into a black hole.

Tom Jurich and Rick Pitino were the greatest show in town from the get go. Continue reading Tom & The Rick: Greek Tragedy x 2

Louisville CardFile: Boston College

Panache (puh-nash): a grand or flamboyant manner; verve; style; flair.

It is a noun rarely used in the sports vernacular, more usually found when some fashion guru with a purple pen is describing the John Varvatos spring men’s clothing collection.

But, ever the rebel, with a mind still a bit hazy from overdoing it in the 70s, I won’t back down. Since it’s the word that came to mind as Mangok Mathiang displayed any number of moves around the hoop in a cruise control 90-67 U of L W on Saturday afternoon in Chestnut Hill.

Jump hook. Up and under. Fake right, go left. Vice versa.

Mangok Mathiang, Silent K, a guy a pundit recently called “a solid third string pivot” — OK, it was me. A center of which it was stated, “he’ll never be a force of consequence on offense.” Yeah, that was also c’est moi.

So, excuse me a second while I take another drink of water to wash down my words and some gristle of crow.

Like a butterfly from a coccoon, Silent K is morphing into Special K.

Which is probably a bit too much hyperbole. But, really now, who saw this offensive, uh, panache coming? Certainly not me.

In 24 minutes of action off the pine, MM canned 7 of 11 shots from the field and both of his FTs for 16 points. Yes it came against Boston College, an eminently mediocre squad with little inside presence . . . but still.

Those shots that he’s short-armed throughout his career are now caressing the board and netting.

And he’s still windexing that glass and playing steady D.

It’s February kids, in the wackiest college hoops season in memory, and another piece of the Cardinal puzzle has apparently found its spot. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Boston College

Louisville CardFile: NC State

There are ever so many things that Rick Pitino does as a mentor that are as good or better than any other member of the coaching fraternity. There are valid reasons other than his sartorial splendor that he’s in the Hall of Fame.

Arguably his best attribute is what he’s been able to do through the years when he’s got enough time to prepare, and the foe has one player who is clearly the team’s star and go to guy and needs to be disenfranchised.

The Rick can fashion a game plan that takes that baller out of his game, out of the ballgame and turns him into a non-factor.

The latest example is State’s Dennis Smith Jr., the best frosh point guard in the land not named Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz, or De’Aaron Fox. “A sure first rounder” is what the NBA Draft wags say.

Well, thanks to another boffo game plan and execution, Jr. never got untracked against the Cardinals Sunday afternoon. Hell, he hardly had room to breathe. At the half, his team already down a dozen on its way to a 25 point shellacking, he had but four points on 2/8 shooting.

He had only 6 when the Cards were up 30 at 76-46.

He finished with 8, 11 under his average, on 3/12 shooting. His 6 assists were wiped out by 5 turnovers.

The Cards’ game plan was perfecto. Jr. needed an extra long shower after the loss just to wash off all the Cardinals’ defense.  Continue reading Louisville CardFile: NC State

Louisville CardFile: Purdue

ccjoaniecardPurdue’s Game Notes in advance of last night’s encounter heralded Caleb Swanigan, Vincent Edwards and Isaac Haas as “The Nation’s Best Frontline.”

Thus, the trio’s first half stat line provides empirical evidence of how good the Cardinals’ defensive game plan and execution of it was.

In the first 20 minutes, Swanigan was 0/2 from the field, didn’t get to the line and corralled 4 rebounds. Edwards was 0/4 from the field, didn’t get to the line with 3 rebounds. Haas — truly a mountain of a man, he dwarfs Matz Stockman — was 0/6 from the field, hit one of his two FT attempts and had only three boards.

While Edwards is somewhat lithe, like his Cardinal foes, Swanigan is an NBA-ready beast. (Which he put on display after halftime.)

My point is this. U of L’s thin but long bigs proved they can perform at championship level when they have time to prepare and follow Rick Pitino’s game plan.

Because, it was proven yet again that the Louisville coach is as good as there is or has ever been when preparing a team for a game if he has time. His plan was to give up threes but minimize the impact underneath. Good strategy. Good execution.

It worked perfectly for a half. And was a winning formula for the tilt, as U of L prevailed, 71-64. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Purdue

Louisville CardFile: Baylor

ccjoaniecardNote: This piece was written before I became aware that Rick Pitino, in his post game comments, blamed himself for the loss.

In this age of hyperbole people, especially sports fans, are inclined to speak with exaggeration.

That’s the best ever. He’s the worst.

So and so played his best game of the season in the second half against Whatchmacallit A&M. Youknowwho couldn’t hit a jumper if his life depended on it, he’s the worst.

I’m as guilty as anybody.

But I’m going there this time around in the wake of U of L’s second half meltdown against Baylor, during which the Cards blew a 15 point halftime lead, losing by three, 66-63.

There’s one more caveat before I make my point.

As much as I think I know about basketball, as closely as I observe every dribble, back cut and sneeze of every U of L Cardinal down to whether Ray Ganong has a firm hold on the timeout stools, I realize that Rick Pitino knows more. Much more.

He’s in the Hall of Fame. He’s coached two national champs. He’s generally recognized as one of the best now and best ever. He sees these guys every day in practice.

So, as much as I sometimes question his moves or motives, as much as I occasionally disagree with how he prepares this squad or coaches in game, I keep it to myself. He knows more. Much more.

That said, there’s always a first time.

While he himself obviously didn’t turn the ball over, didn’t fail to get back on defense, didn’t block out, didn’t take a bad shot or short arm one, this loss is squarely on Rick Pitino. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Baylor

Louisville CardFile: William & Mary

dunikcardBecause his game was so smooth and effortless, Jamal Wilkes’ nickname was “Silk.”

He went by his real middle name Keith when he was a two-time All American at UCLA, during the Bill Walton years.

He’s the Hall of Famer who came to mind last evening as I watched V.J. King fashion his 17 point, 5 rebound performance in U of L’s 91-58 beatdown of The Tribe.

King was smooth. King’s game appeared effortless, though we know how that works. And it was nothing if not efficient. Seven of those points and a couple rebounds came in the first half, when King was only on the hardwood for four minutes.

His moves to the bucket can’t really be described as slashes. He finds a crack in the D, and wends — slithers — his way through the opening, for a deft but more difficult than it looks floater or short J. Or he drives all the way for the lay in, if the space is there.

He just never seems to be rushing or trying to fashion something when nothing is there.

In thirteen second half minutes, he tallied ten more points, and nabbed three more boards.

In just his second game as a Cardinal, King looked to justify the double arches hype surrounding his arrival on the Belknap campus. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: William & Mary

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Tipoff Has Arrived

b-ballArriving just in time as soothing balm in this time of anxious trepidation: College Hoops.

Can I get a witness?

Can I get a Hallelujah?

Because . . . well, just because it’s our beloved college basketball, and . . .

Because even though consensus #1 Duke has a bench that would probably be a #6 seed, Coach K’s “best” teams recently have faltered come March.

Because thanks to a rule tweak, The Rick will again be able to call a TO from the bench when Ray Spalding can’t get the ball inbounds.

Because when it’s late, and our eyes are shutting, and we figure it’s time for bed, there will be Bill Walton’s delightfully bloviating non sequiturs to energize us for another little bit.

Because of Monmouth’s bench. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Tipoff Has Arrived

Louisville CardFile: Bellarmine

joaniecardA few observations about the Cards after the final tune up against crosstown foe Bellarmine.

Rick Pitino was not mincing words when he said postgame: “We have a lot of weaknesses we need to work on.”

They were masked in the opening half against the Knights. The visitors from Norris Place seemed blinded by the lights and the big stage.

Early on, Louisville used its superior speed, height and talent to overwhelm Scotty Davenport’s team. The Knights were spooked into 3/16 shooting (18.8%), and 16 turnovers before halftime.

The Cards ran and shot before halftime. Especially hitting half their treys. 7/14.

After the break, U of L showed how young they are, how much this edition of the Cards is a work in progress with a new O and new D to learn and execute, and what happens when they lose focus. Continue reading Louisville CardFile: Bellarmine