Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 12/17/12
Rick Pitinos wife has put the Louisville coach on notice for Wednesday nights game against son Richard and Florida International University. Shes very much torn, and shes telling me, You cant embarrass your son, whatever you do, said Rick Pitino, father of FIUs rookie coach. I said, I dont embarrass a stranger. I play my walk-ons if were up. I play everybody. We never embarrass anybody. Sorry, Rick. Not good enough. She said, But this is your son! This is your son! I said, Its FIU, Joanne! Its FIU! " Pitino said. She said, No, its not FIU. You just stay in that office if hes embarrassed slightly. Dont bother coming home. Clearly, this is an interesting, if not entertaining, week for the Pitinos. Father and son will oppose each other when fifth-ranked Louisville (9-1) plays host to FIU (3-4) at the KFC Yum! Center on Wednesday. Richards family (wife and daughter) will be staying with Rick and Joanne. The Pitino clan will go out for a pregame meal Tuesday night. And, according to Rick, Joanne Pitino probably will sit behind the FIU bench. Shes rooting all the way for Richard, I can tell you that, Rick said. Richard wasnt so sure. My moms probably rooting for Louisville to win by one, Richard said. Shes probably thinking, If we keep it close, then my son doesnt get blown out and the Cardinals dont lose. Once they play, I leave and still have to go home with him. Richard Pitino, 30, called Louisville home as Cardinals associate head coach before accepting the head job at FIU in April. Soon thereafter, the two schools agreed to play a three-year series, the first two meetings at Louisville and the third at FIU. At the time of the announcement, Rick Pitino kidded by saying he was looking forward to the series because he hadnt spanked Richard enough as a kid. But things have changed, and not just because of spousal pressure. When he said that, obviously he was messing around with me, but I think its a little different now, to be honest, Richard said. He has become so involved in our program. When we play a game, hell watch the film, hell chart it, hell let me know what he thinks about what we need to do to get better. On a recent recruiting trip to Florida, Rick Pitino attended FIUs 82-79 victory at Stetson on Dec. 9. Ive been coaching 35 years and I never really get anxiety before a game. But before that game and during the game, I was having almost heart palpitations, Rick said. I had so much anxiety watching him and hoping he would win. Someday, I was planning on retiring and going to see his games I dont think I could do it. My anxiety level blood pressure everything was up so high. When they finally won the game, I was so relieved. Born into a basketball family, Richard Pitino, his three brothers and one sister all were discouraged from going into big-time coaching by their famous father. I told them, This is not a great life for a family. Youre away quite a bit. So, I tried to discourage all of them, Rick said. Only Richard didnt listen to me. Richard Pitino began his coaching career at a nearby high school team while attending Providence College. He also was a Friars manager under then-coach Tim Welsh, before assisting at the College of Charleston, Northeastern and Duquesne. He then joined his father at Louisville. Richard left Louisville in 2009 to work two seasons for Billy Donovan at Florida. Best thing I ever did, Richard said. Ive seen so much of how my dad runs things, and its great, dont get me wrong, but hes my dad, and Im me. I cant try to impersonate him because Im not him. Donovan has been close to the Pitinos since playing for Rick at Providence, where he helped lead the Friars to the 1987 Final Four. I told Richard, If you go into this profession, take Billy Donovans work ethic, his devotion to his family, his kids everything about him, and emulate that, Rick said. I told him that as a young kid, and he has done that. Im very proud of him. As when he went into coaching, Richard chose not to listen to his dad by deciding to leave for FIU and his first head-coaching job. Rick thought a few more years assisting a talented Cardinals team would be better both professionally and personally. I could have stayed, I could have waited longer we had a great team coming back at Louisville but I loved the opportunity presented me at FIU, Richard said. I believed in it. I thought it was a job where I could win and build something special there. It wasnt going to be a place where Id want to win and just try and get out. I wanted to be at place where I thought I could be there 10, 20 years if they have me and I could be happy there and build the program the right way. Staying in one place for a long time hasnt always been a Pitino family trait. Now in his 11th year at Louisville, Ricks previous longest stint was eight years at Kentucky. But stops at Hawaii, Syracuse, Boston University, Providence, the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics were much shorter. To build a quality program at FIU, Richard Pitino will have to recruit talented players to the Sun Belt Conference. He has relied heavily on junior-college transfers to join just five returning letter-winners and no starters in Year No. 1. I think the biggest thing that you battle is, everybody wants to go play at the highest, highest level, Richard said. Everybody thinks they should be going to (North) Carolina, Louisville, Duke, UCLA. So now, for the kids that dont go to those schools, you have to show them that were going to play at a very high level. Were going to run this program just like those guys do and were going to try and build something very special. Owning the Pitino name already has helped in recruiting, The major thing was him coming off a Final Four appearance and him having the recipe for winning, that was a big thing I wanted to do. Coming in, only having only two years left, I wanted to win right away, said junior guard Malik Smith, who transferred from Jacksonville (Texas) College. I felt that he was gonna to be one of those coaches that not talk about it but actually make things happen, said junior forward Tymell Murphy, who transferred from South Plains (Texas) College. I had looked up the places he had been and it seemed like he had been around a lot of winning programs. After initially trying to dissuade his son from moving to Miami, Rick has been a priceless fountain of knowledge for Richard. Its funny, we probably talk more now than when I was an assistant for him because he wants us to be so successful, he wants to be involved and be a part of it, Richard said. He told me, Learn from all my mistakes of just being impatient and trying to making impulse decisions because its not going to happen over night. Being his son has opened up a lot of doors and has made me extremely, extremely fortunate, and I embrace it. Im extremely grateful for it. With that being said, there comes a lot of negatives, too. I just try to focus on the task at hand. Which brings us back to the game at Louisville. But unlike for every other opponent on the FIU schedule, Richard knows hell be down one loyal supporter. When the ball goes up, hell do everything to beat the University of Louisville and well do everything to beat Florida International, Rick said. Were supposed to win the game, so hes not going to have a lot of pressure. But once its thrown up, it wont be father and son anymore. Hes been taught that way. You go for the kill, and he will. Something he certainly didnt learn from his mother.
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