On Saturday, the mentor took down the disciple, again.
Rick Pitino is now 7-0 in his career against the man who was known as “Billy the Kid” at Providence College where he led the Friars to the 1987 Final Four. It was that year when Coach Pitino earned his first final four appearance.
After beating Donovan and his Gators on Saturday, Coach Pitino earned his sixth final four appearance. He is also 10-0 in Sweet 1t games. Rick Pitino was the first coach in NCAA history to take three different schools to the final four (Providence, Kentucky, Lousiville). John Calipari has also taken three different teams to the final four (Umass, Memphis, Kentucky). Rick Pitino is also only the second coach ever to take a team to the final four in four different decades (1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s).
In NCAA basketball the head coaches are the faces of the programs, yet Rick Pitino never seemed to get the respected he deserves amongst the elite coaches in the country. I’m hoping Pitino will start getting the credit he deserves because this most recent run to the final four might be his most impressive showing yet.
Coach Pitino has always been known for having teams with a high octane offense, running a lot of fast breaks and shooting a lot of three pointers. This year, Coach Pitino just didnt have the personnel to run that offense successfully. The Cardinals ranked 155th in the country in ppg (68.8), 225th in FG% (.425), 93rd in assists/game (13.8) and 200th in 3pFG% (25.6). This was one of the worst offensive teams Coach Pitino has ever coached, yet they’re one of the final four teams standing.
There’s a reasons for that, Coach Pitino is one of the best there is at making in-game adjustments. For most of the year the Cardinals played a matchup zone defense but the Gators sharp three point shooting shredding the zone for most of the game. Coach Pitino switched to a high pressure man-to-man defense that was sparked the Cardinals 18-4 run to end the game, and lead Lousiville to the final four.
Next up for the Cardinals will probably be Kentucky. As i’m writing this Kentucky is leading Baylor 58-43 with 10:27 left. Kentucky is one of the most talented teams I’ve seen in years. But i know one thing, i wouldn’t bet against Coach Pitino. The man finds a way to win.