Rick Pitino: NCAA title at two schools?
by Eric Prisbell, USA TODAY Sports
ATLANTA — Seventeen years after winning the national championship with one of the most dominating teams of the sport’s modern era, Rick Pitino is in the midst of what could be the most rewarding week of his storied coaching career.
A victory in Monday night’s NCAA title game against Michigan would give Pitino national championships with Kentucky and Louisville, making him the first men’s coach to win titles with two different schools.
“It would be an incredible accomplishment,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said by phone Sunday. “Obviously he is coming toward probably the end of his career right now. And what a way to kind of close out the end of your career with a national championship.”
Donovan, a former player and assistant under Pitino, said he has had no indications that Pitino, 60, would retire if he won Louisville’s first national title since 1986. And Pitino joked Sunday about Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim being incessantly asked if he will retire.
“You all got to realize something — I am probably getting close to that — it wasn’t the fact he was upset that you [media] were asking if he’d step down,” Pitino said. “What you’re basically telling him is, ‘You’re getting old.’ … Inside, that is what bothers us because we all want to be Peter Pan and stay young.”
Also on Monday is the formal announcement that Pitino, who has taken three different schools (Providence the other) to Final Fours, will be among those introduced as the newest members of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
What’s more, Pitino’s son, Richard, recently accepted the head coaching job at Minnesota. And Goldencents, a horse co-owned by Pitino, just won the Santa Anita Derby.
Richard Pitino said by phone Sunday that winning the national title would be a special achievement for his father in light of his tenure with the Boston Celtics — where Pitino compiled a 102-146 record between 1997 and 2001. The lesson Pitino learned though that experience: humility. And he preaches that to his son all the time.
“If I had one regret in life … it’s that I was not more humble at an … [For more on Rick Pitino chases historic double: NCAA title at two schools, click here.]