Unlike seemingly most of the country, head Louisville Cardinal and former Kentucky Wildcat coach Rick Pitino is not openly celebrating the demise and early flame-out of UK this year. Pitino had these comments for Larry Vaught:
“I just don’t have the personality to revel in anybody else’s failure,” the University of Louisville coach said Wednesday at Rupp Arena. “They won a championship last year. They had one of the best teams we’ve gone against. So, they’re rebuilding and to me it’s not about them failing and us moving on.”
“I really don’t pay attention to it too much, and probably only 10 percent of our fan base think that way and probably only 10 percent of the fan base of Kentucky think that way. There’s always empty barrels at each place, because I’ve coached both places. The other 90 percent just are good people that want to see good basketball and they don’t get into that stuff.”
The former University of Kentucky coach and current Louisville boss still roots for his former team 99 percent of the time. The other one percent is devoted to the one time the two teams meet during the regular season.
“I don’t root against Kentucky except one game a year,” Pitino said. “I’m very, very proud of this place (Lexington). I had eight years where I really didn’t have a bad day here so how I could root against them In the one game a year that we play, we want to win.”
It’s good of Pitino to show class, especially since he is a guest at Rupp Arena this week for the second and third round NCAA games. Of course, you really did not expect Rick to guffaw and openly celebrate the hard times of his former school, did you? Especially when he has a game at Rupp next year against the best recruiting class of all time?
Of course not. That’s why he has this guy to do that for him.
Even if Rick Pitino is not taking shots at John Calipari, the national pundits are getting their fill in. And to be honest, some of it is well deserved and for most of the season, John Calipari has stepped up and taken a lot of bullets for this team. However, even some Kentucky fans are throwing Cal under the bus and John Clay tells us that blaming Cal is a Big Blue overreaction:
If anything, the disappointments and shortcomings associated with the 2012-13 campaign should only heighten your appreciation for the rare gift of the 2011-12 team. If it were easy, every talented young team could do it. As we found out this year, every talented young team can’t do it.
In four years, Calipari has taken Kentucky from the depths of Billy Gillispie to an Elite Eight appearance, a Final Four appearance (with a team that was of questionable Final Four quality), a national championship and now a first-round knockout in the NIT by a team from the Northeast Conference.
To stay hungry, everyone needs a good humbling.
In Tuesday’s post-game news conference — in which Calipari was great, by the way, honest about his team, classy in congratulating Robert Morris — the coach was asked whether maybe Sean Woods wasn’t right when the former Cat and current Morehead State coach said early in the year that he didn’t like the vibe of this Kentucky team, that he sensed a feeling of “entitlement.”
“Maybe,” Calipari said.
Now there’s a balancing act. It’s hard for a team not to feel entitled when it lives in a new, specially built dorm mere footsteps from its practice center, when it has a luxurious locker room in Rupp Arena that would make even Mark Cuban drool.
And Calipari has had his own balancing act. Before winning a title last year, he had never been on top. Now that he has lived it, he will learn from it.
And this one comes from the “rich get richer” department. We already know that Kentucky has the best recruiting class in 2013 and a leg up on the best class in 2014 with Karl Towns Jr. Towns was recently named the Gatorade State Player of the Year for New Jersey. And what is scary is he is just a sophomore in high school. Already the numbers for Towns are mind-boggling:
Towns averaged 20.6 points, 14.0 rebounds and 5.3 blocked shots per game this past season in leading his school to a 27-5 record, the NJSIAA Non-Public A championship and a berth in the Tournament of Champions final.
In two seasons, Towns has recorded 1,002 points, 725 rebounds, 284 blocked shots and 94 3-pointers. St. Joseph is 56-7 over the last two seasons with two Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament titles, two Non-Public A titles and two appearances in the Tournament of Champions.
Before Towns arrived at St. Joseph, the school had never won a group championship in its history and had never reached the Tournament of Champions. The school opened in 1961.
And it’s not all the on the court stuff that has made the BBN fall in love with Towns already. One and off the court, Towns is a very special player:
The legend of Karl Towns grows every single day,’’ said Smith. “He was playing in our flag football league as a freshman and a kid got his nose dislocated and had to go to the hospital. He didn’t even know the kid, but he called the kid’s parents to let them know. When he found out the parents couldn’t get there right away because they worked in the city, Karl went to the hospital because he didn’t want the kid to be there all alone. Ninth graders don’t do that.’’