Pitino Bashes Big East Scheduling

By Josh Herwitt - October 24, 2007

NEW YORK -- Over the last couple of weeks, Louisville coach Rick Pitino has been rather outspoken about the 18-game schedule that the Big East has switched to this season.

And the Louisville coach is certainly not in favor of it or happy about it.

"I'm not for it," he said when a young reporter posed the question to him, "for probably the 1,500th time."

Pitino made it known last week that he was going to rip the conference and its officials even more here at Big East Media Day, so with that in mind, I managed to sneak in a question to the 55-year-old coach right after response, referencing those particular comments made earlier this month.

"I'm doing it in jest now," he said. "I'm not doing it in any mean-spirited way. I don't think they did a very good with their schedule. It needs to be on an even playing field. You can not let TV tell you who wins the conference. The ADs all agree, and then they get behind close doors and say, 'We get paid a lot of money, the hell with this.' It's not the way it should work. It should be fair for everyone."

And while the Cardinals will have a much tougher conference schedule now with two games against each Georgetown and Marquette -- two of the Big East's top-tier teams -- Pitino is well aware that those games will improve Louisville's RPI down the road.

But in his mind, it's still an uneven playing field that he's dealing with now.

"Our RPI is going to be unbelievable," Pitino said. "That's the one good thing. With our luck this year with the 18-game schedule, someone from the committee is going to come out and say, 'I'm not considering your RPI this year.' You can just see it."

If there's one thing that Pitino does like, though, it's his team.

The Cardinals, after all, return one of the deepest and most talented clubs in the nation with both a backcourt and frontcourt that has been there before and knows about the druthers of playing in the ultra-competitive Big East.

"I think we have the talent to fulfill some of those rankings," Pitino remarked about being a Top 10 preseason pick. "We [all the Big East coaches] have outstanding players."

For Pitino, it's always been about the players and nothing else. That's why the legendary coach is in full support of the new bench decorum rules that the NCAA has handed out for this upcoming season.

"I think it's one of the best changes," he added. "I thought it was terrible what was going on. Guys were berading officials to the point where it got out of hand. I think the NBA is the best situation because you say one word to them, and it's a technical. We get paid to coach our teams, not berade officials. That doesn't mean you can't question them.

"This is a players game."

And it's those players who make the game what it is, even in this "microwave culture" that we now live in, says Pitino.

"I think these young guys want everything [to happen] so quickly. They're so impatient, and everybody's so impatient," he said. "You just have to have patience with these guys, but you can't sacrifice your principles. You just stay patient because they're worth a great deal.

"Bobby Knight said this at Michael Jordan's camp [this summer], and I believe it whole-heartedly. He said, 'The kids have not changed today. They're same they were 30 years ago. Parents and teachers have changed.' And they have."

Pitino, who is father of five, followed by saying that in this day and age, the lack of discipline that parents provide their children with is overwhelmingly disappointing.

"The lack of discipline is just incredible," he said. "When I go around and speak to parents, I always say, 'Whatever punishment you deem necessary that you're gonna give your child, multiply it by three and then you'll have your parent.' That's pretty much the way it is today. The baby boomers have been very soft on their children and done a major disservice to their children. So, in one sense, I don't want to be that way with my team, and that's why I show patience with my team."

Having patience with senior Juan Palacious is also something that Pitino has had to develop over the last four years. The 6-foot-8 forward has been sidelined with a multitude of injuries during his time at Lousiville, and that left Pitino with another joke to crack.

"He's like an NBA guy who just signed a new contract," the eighth-year coach said with a smile. "He knows he's got four or five years left on his contract so he doesn't want to play a full season every year and takes off the first couple months of the season."

With those sort of jokes coming out all afternoon, I'm pretty sure that if Pitino never became a basketball coach in his life, he would have made a pretty good living as a standup comedian.

Posted by Josh Herwitt at 12:34 PM on October 24, 2007

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