Found April 07, 2013 on Fox Sports:
This is what's called a pretty darned good 36 hours. On Friday morning, Louisville coach Rick Pitino's son Richard was introduced as the new coach at the University of Minnesota, at 30 becoming the youngest head coach in the Big Ten. An hour or so later, reports broke that the Louisville coach would be part of the 2013 class of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. The next day, as Pitino's Louisville Cardinals prepared to tip off for their coach's seventh Final Four, a horse Pitino co-owns, Goldencents, won the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby and qualified for the Kentucky Derby next month -- which happens to take place in Pitino's hometown of Louisville. The greatest 36-hour streak in sports ended Saturday night when Louisville, shorthanded without the injured Kevin Ware and down 12 in the second half to upstart Wichita State, rode its coach's courtside confidence to a furious comeback victory built on Pitino's signature full-court press. As Pitino attempts on Monday night against Michigan to become the first coach in college basketball history to win a national championship at two schools, there's no better time to contemplate what it is about Pitino that makes him such a great coach -- and where his legacy measures up in the pantheon of coaching. Here's a simple way to think about Pitino's legacy: If he hadn't spent six years as an NBA head coach, the 60-year-old easily could be approaching the magical 900-win plateau and be talked about as one of the greatest coaches alive -- if not the hands-down greatest, with apologies to Coach K. As it stands, with 663 wins as a college coach and a national championship in 1996, Pitino arguably is already in that class. He was one of the first to fully embrace the adoption of the 3-point line, during his Final Four run at Providence in 1987, and one of the experimenters who turned the full-court press into an art form. And he's had legendary success at two of college basketball's elites, Kentucky and now Louisville, where he has built winners since 2001. "I'm going to be honest with you: I haven't thought about it for one second until you mentioned it," Pitino said Sunday in response to a question about his legacy. "It's really not that significant to me. We have built a brand on Louisville first. Everything we do is about the team, about the family. I'd be a total hypocrite if I said it's really important. It really is not important. I want to win because I'm a part of this team. That's it. Those of us in team sports always think that way." That mentality, of course, is what turns this brilliant X's-and-O's man into an equally brilliant leader of young men. "A guy like Russ Smith in the beginning, when he first came in, never thought that way," Pitino continued. "It was about points. It was about scoring. Now Russ Smith has gone full cycle; it's all about the team." OK, fine. It's a big fat sports cliche: It's not about me, it's about the team. When most players say that, the first instinct is to roll your eyes and wonder when this player turned into such a robot. But Pitino talking about the importance of team is something different. As Kevin Ware's horrific injury showed the nation, what Pitino has done with this Louisville team is foster a sense of camaraderie that might be the most impressive in college sports. Though the Cardinals returned home that night, Pitino and his son, who recruited Ware when he was a Louisville assistant, stayed in Indianapolis to be with the sophomore guard. "I really wouldn't say Kevin's injury brought us together as a family," freshman forward Montrezl Harrell said Sunday. "What y'all seen might have seemed to bring us together as a family, because y'all aren't really around us all the time. But it didn't bring us together as a family. We was already like this before the injury. Y'all just haven't got a chance to happen to see it." Ware's injury and the team's inspired response pulled back the curtain on the main intangible that makes Pitino an all-time great coach, and why Louisville is winning without lottery-pick talent. Devising a devastating full-court press on the whiteboard is one thing, but having players riffing off each other on the court in such a complex defensive system takes a coach who knows how to get every player to buy into every other player. It's a sense of camaraderie that's been fostered with this group since summer, when Pitino worked on these guys' conditioning -- the essential ingredient for being able to run a full-game press -- with grueling, repeated three-minute sprinting drills that made plenty of players vomit. "You do your best, and he says, 'Naw, that's not enough,' " Senegalese center Gorgui Dieng said Sunday. "He always tries to find room for perfection. That's how he is, and that's what makes him special." "(But) he's just like a dad to me," Dieng continued. "He's not only teaching me basketball. He's teaching me life. Seriously... When I had a bad game, he come talk to me, and he said, 'Son, people don't just judge you on one game. Yesterday, I know that wasn't your 'A' game, but people won't just judge you on one game. People know what you can do. You need to move on to the next game.' " In the pro game, the players are the stars, but in the college game it's all about the team. And that's why Pitino might be the single brightest star in all of college basketball. ''If I had one regret in life, it wouldn't be what you think,'' Pitino said. ''It's that I wasn't more humble at an earlier age.'' Louisville has won 30 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time. Its 34 wins this season are a school record, and its 15-game winning streak is its longest in 10 years. On Monday, Pitino might turn the greatest 36-hour streak in sports into the greatest four-day streak in sports history by entering the Hall and winning his second title (Louisville is an early 4 1/2-point favorite). If he does, it'll be a testament to a man who, more than being a basketball genius, is a genius at encouraging a disparate group of young men to work together, which is what college basketball is all about. Follow Reid Forgrave on Twitter or email him at

Rick Pitino wins national championship, then ducks for cover (Video)

Louisville Cardinals men's basketball coach Rick Pitino led his team to the 2013 NCAA championship Monday night with an 82-76 win over the Michigan Wolverines. Pitino probably expected to win the championship after getting the top seed in this year's NCAA tournament. What Pitino didn't expect, however, were the loud fireworks that went off a few seconds after the...

Rick Pitino Agreed To Become Michigan’s Coach….In 2001 Michigan might have a little extra motivation ahead of tonight’s matchup against Louisville for the national championship. Cardinals coach Rick Pitino apparently accepted the Wolverines’ head coaching job in 2001, only to rescind it and head to Louisville instead. According to, Pitino actually signed an agreement to become head coach of Michigan, but a conversation...

Louisville women, men share bond

A little pep talk from Louisville men's coach Rick Pitino has helped the women's team go on quite a run. Pitino talked to the team at the end of the Big East tournament. The Cardinals haven't lost since. The Cardinals became the 10th school to have both basketball teams reach the Final Four in the same season. UConn was the only school to win both titles in the same...

Column: Maybe the best week a coach ever had

Someday soon, Rick Pitino is going to have to explain the tattoo to his grandkids. But first, he's going to tell them the story of how getting into the Hall of Fame might have been only the second best thing that happened to him on a serendipitous Monday in April. Because barely 12 hours after Pitino became a member of one of the most exclusive clubs in sports, he did something...

Rick Pitino said he would get a championship tattoo, could this be the design?

Louisville coach Rick Pitino announced to the world that he had promised his players that he would be getting a tattoo if they won it all. Is this it?

Good to be Louisville's Pitino these days

It's good to be Rick Pitino these days. Top-seeded Louisville is playing for the national championship, giving Pitino a chance to be the first coach to win titles at two different schools. His son, Richard, is the new Minnesota coach. One of his horses has a spot in the Kentucky Derby after coming from behind to win the Santa Anita Derby. Oh, and Monday morning, the Hall of...

2013 Louisville Cardinals National Championship: By the Numbers

We take a closer looker at the numbers after coach Rick Pitino and Louisville took down Michigan to win the 2013 NCAA national championship.

Louisville wins national championship

Rick Pitino capped the greatest week of his life with the prize he wanted most of all. Luke Hancock produced another huge game off the bench, scoring 22 points, and Pitino became the first coach to win national titles at two schools when relentless Louisville rallied from another 12-point deficit to beat Michigan 82-76 in the NCAA championship game Monday night. This title came...

NCAA Red Tape Keeps Louisville Men’s Team From Supporting Women’s Team

Today, the Louisville women’s basketball team will compete against the UConn Huskies in New Orleans for the national championship. If the Cardinals are successful, Louisville will join UConn as only the second school in history to win the men’s and women’s basketball championships in the same year. Unfortunately, if the Cards pull it off, the two teams won’t celebrate together...

Gary Payton, Rick Pitino among 2013 Naismith Hall of Fame class

BallertainmentGary Payton and Rick Pitino elected to Hall of Fame with five others Monday, Gary Payton became a first ballot Hall of Famer and Rick Pitino added to what could be his personal “Best Week Ever” as the official announcement of the 2013 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class was made in Atlanta. Payton played 17 years in the league, made nine All-Star appearances...

Michigan leaves it all on court in title game loss to Louisville

Volume beat quality as Louisville took down a game Michigan squad, 82-76, to earn their 3rd national championship and 1st under Rick Pitino in what will likely go down as one of the best played national championship games of all-time.  Why say volume was the difference? Perhaps because the Cardinals were able to get off 13 more field goal attempts, going 28-61 (45.9...

Congratulations Louisville ... what's next?

The last note of ''One Shining Moment'' had yet to reach the people in the cheap seats at the Georgia Dome when college basketball started doing what it does so well - looking ahead to next season. Louisville's 82-76 victory over Michigan on Monday night is going to go down as one of the best national championship games. Cardinals coach Rick Pitino won his second...

Rysheed Jordan Paramount to 2013 UCLA Basketball Recruiting Class

The 2012-13 NCAA men's basketball season is over. It ended when Louisville took home their own trophy on Monday night, which is just their third in program history. (Big deal - UCLA has 11; call us when you reach the halfway point, Rick Pitino.) With that, though, comes the scrambling associated with basketball recruiting. For UCLA, that scramble is mostly over. The Bruins...
Cardinals News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.