Pitino, No. 4 Louisville down FIU
by C.L. Brown, USA TODAY Sports
LOUISVILLE — No one really expected the father to lose to the son, yet an uninformed observer watching the two on the sidelines probably couldn’t tell who coached the nation’s No. 4 basketball team and who had the fledgling program.
The University of Louisville dominated Florida International 79-55 Wednesday night in the Billy Minardi Classic — a spanking that Louisville coach Rick Pitino had joked was 30 years in the making when he scheduled the game against son Richard’s new team.
“You know, I didn’t even know he was down there during the game, I really didn’t,” Rick Pitino said. “I’m just trying to get our team ready because we’re going to be thrown into the fire. We’ve got to improve, and we’re running out of time.”
That explains why even though the Cardinals (10-1) never trailed and held a double-digit lead most of the way, the elder Pitino coached his players as if they trailed by double digits.
His pleas could be heard virtually every possession, especially on defense.
“Chane, get back, Chane!” Pitino screamed at sophomore Chane Behanan. “Chaaaane!”
Pitino, punctuated by two foot-stomp exclamation marks, also got after Luke Hancock, hollering, “Luke, you’ve got to guard somebody.”
The Cardinals held the Panthers (3-5) to 33 percent shooting and only six assists, which Pitino admitted was a sign his players executed the game plan.
“That means you’re stopping their options, and they run some really good offensive sets,” he said. “The only thing they could basically get was dribble penetration, and that’s where we broke down a few times.”
Despite the many breakdowns by the Panthers, Richard Pitino paced the sideline with his arms folded, maintaining a consistent but quiet presence. His instructions could be heard only when the crowd of 21,411 had quieted.
The younger Pitino emulates Florida coach Billy Donovan’s sideline demeanor more than his father’s. He spent two seasons on Donovan’s staff, not to mention growing up observing Donovan as a player for his dad at Providence and later an assistant.
“I try to be myself,” said Richard Pitino, 30. “I can’t focus if I coach like (my dad). I’m constantly trying to think of the … [For more on Father beats son: Pitino, No. 4 Louisville down FIU, click here.]