Indeed, GG, they are.
A running joke among U of L boosters, who always seem to be looking eastward over their shoulders, is the apocryphal tale of the UK fan, calling into sports talk radio after the Cats first loss of a season after 15, 18, 20 wins and stating, “I haven’t given up on this Kentucky team.”
The cacophonous stirrings of the Red & Black Nation in the aftermath of last night’s disgraceful performance have a similar feeling as expressed by the desperate UK fan.
What’s wrong with the program? Should Pitino be fired? Now? What’s wrong with Siva? Why doesn’t the coach give the freshmen more of chance? Why can’t he get Kuric more shots?
Every one of the faithful has a theory. Few, including myself, know the solutions.
But, despite the knee jerk despondency, I do feel it appropriate to look at the big picture. So I shall.
Frankly, one guy’s opinion, the problem is Rick Pitino.
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Accountability. Of all the bad juju last night, far and away the least acceptable is the fact that U of L’s multi-million dollar coach, Rick Pitino, a mentor who expects accountability from his players on every single possession, sent his son out to do the post-game radio show, an obligation that is part of his contract from which he earns an obscene amount of money.
For this alone, he should be docked his next paycheck.
This is a coach who, without qualms, disses his players in the media. He does it often. He does it with impunity. His penchant for criticizing his players consistently in the public sphere is reprehensible.
Recruiting. It is in the area of gathering the herd of future Cardinals that I find great fault with Pitino. It is why the “product” on the court has only rarely, during RP’s reign, been what the Cardinal fans had hoped for, nor what they should reasonably expect, given the excessive cost of tickets and the absurd size of Pitino’s shill and salary.
Must I recite the litany of misjudgements? Ignoring a local five-star Rajon Rondo, while falling in love with one of many NYC guards who caught his wandering eyes, Sebastian Telfair. He’s like a guy standing outside of Bloomingdale’s lusting for every gal walking out the revolving doors in a miniskirt and 4″ Jimmy Choos.
Game Management. He has never at U of L allowed his players to play through their mistakes. A guy can hit five treys in a row, play stalwart D, but if he gets faked on one ball screen, he’s jerked to the bench.
Louisville fans have been spoiled by the fact that Denny Crum was as great as any college coach ever in making in-game adjustments. That Pitino doesn’t meet Crum’s standard in that regard is acceptable. Few do. That he rarely changes a game plan, or significantly tweaks the system during a contest is simply run of the mill mediocre coaching.
At the end of regulation and the first OT of the recent L to Notre Dame, every one who has ever been in the same room with a basketball knew that Peyton Siva would drive and try to score. That group included, of course, ND coach Mike Brey, who had the play perfectly defensed. It is but the latest example of Pitino’s intransigence.
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Okay, even I’m getting tired of this. Before I’ve mentioned Pitino’s oversized ego that puts him front and center for the never ending pre-game intros, his talk of “rebranding,” his obvious machinations on behalf of his son’s career, his embarrassing private life, his inexplicable substitution patterns, his scheduling that makes money but doesn’t prepare his squads for the league and post-season, etc, etc.. I’m sure I’ve missed some of your concerns.
So, you might ask, what should Tom Jurich do?
I do not believe you fire him during the season. For all of his many faults, Pitino, if not the coach and recruiter and motivator he once was, if not the one Cardinal fans thought they’d be getting in a devil’s bargain, is still a cut above the norm. Though he is getting closer to old and in the way by the season.
I would hope that TJ starts to put the pressure on for a resignation, if not this coming off season, the one after that. That they work it out, so RP leaves so everybody still thinks he’s a mensch, and Cardinal fans get some new blood and refreshing energy.
It would be nice for U of L fans to have a likeable guy on the bench, one who lives the values he espouses, a stand up guy who is willing to admit mistakes and accept them of the youngsters he coaches.
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Yes, I know, I have not talked about the players on this team, and the fact that they simply quit last night. It was dumbfounding. They are not devoid of responsibility. Doris Burke nailed it. In the second half, they looked like they didn’t want to win, they just wanted it over with.
I do not excuse them. But I think that they responded to adversity as they did results from factors emanating at the top. Nineteen year olds should be responsible, yet that’s a hard lesson learned when their mentor chooses not to be, when their mentor berates them and teaches constantly through negativity.
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– Seedy K