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 â€œBilly the Kidâ€ 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 trip to the Final Four. He is also a perfect 10-0 in Sweet 16 games.
Pitino was the first coach in NCAA history to take three different schools to the Final Four (Providence, Kentucky, Lousiville). Likewise, Kentuckyâ€™s John Calipari has also taken three different teams to the final four (UMass, Memphis, Kentucky). Pitino is also only the second coach ever to take a team to the final four in four different decades (1980s Providence, 1990s Kentucky, 2000s Louisville, 2010s Louisville).
In NCAA basketball the head coaches are the faces of the programs, yet Rick Pitino never seems to be mentioned amongst the elite coaches in the country.
Iâ€™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, always looking to push the ball up court.
This year, Coach Pitino just didnâ€™t 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 theyâ€™re one of the Final Four teams standing.
The lack of personnel to run this offense was evident in Louisvilleâ€™s 57-44 upset over No. 1 seed Michigan State in the Sweet 16. But this victory showed what an innovative coach Pitino his showed and his ability to win games with a variety of styles. The Cardinals held Michigan State to 14-49 shooting from the field and forced them to commit 15 turnovers.
Pitinoâ€™s uncanny ability to make in-game adjustments makes him one of the elite coaches in college basketball. This was apparent once again in Louisvilleâ€™s Regional Final matchup against the Gators.
For most of the year the Cardinals played a matchup zone defense, but the Gators sharp three-point shooting shredded the zone for most of the game. Coach Pitino switched to a high-pressure man-to-man defense that sparked the Cardinals 18-4 run to end the game, and lead Louisville to the Final Four.
Louisville will meet none other than in-state rival Kentucky Saturday in the Final Four. If both teams play their best games, Louisville wonâ€™t have a shot. Kentucky is one of the most talented teams the nation has seen in years.
I wouldnâ€™t bet against Coach Pitino though. He has shown the ability to surprise his opponents by adjusting his game plans on the fly. No coach has done a better job of this in the 2012 NCAA tournament.
Kentucky-Louisville. Pitino-Calipari. This one should be fun.