NCAA Tournament 2023: Rick Pitino sounds off on coaching vacancies after Iona’s loss to UConn in first round
Iona scared UConn for real. Rick Pitino’s gals led by two points in 20 minutes and Husky coach Dan Hurley was 20 minutes away from a third consecutive NCAA Tournament exit, but fourth-seeded Connecticut restored order by dominating the second half in Friday’s 87-minute win. 63. Now all eyes are on Pitino’s status. The Hall of Fame coach was reportedly linked to the St. John concert.
Other teams in the previous coaching carousel and this cycle began sniffing around Pitino — considered one of college basketball’s elite coaches — after he was exonerated in the Louisville pay-per-game scandal.
“Honestly, I really don’t have an answer to that question,” Pitino said when asked if this was his last game in Aion. “I have no idea if this is true or not, because I focused all my attention on this game, trying to develop a plan to defeat Connecticut. They just physically dominated us on the glass and in the bottom rack. It really taught me a lesson in what it takes to compete at that level and we didn’t have a frontcourt that could compete at that level. So that taught me a lot that Jonah needs in the future.”
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Here’s what Pitino said at the post-match press conference:
“I want to congratulate Connecticut. They had a great second half. They physically dominated us in fifth place. , but that’s because of Connecticut’s defense and offense. They have all the indicators to win the national championship. On average, they make 17 passes. They have a plus nine on the glass against a lot of competition. They shoot 46% from the field. They roll 3 well.
“Their reserve units are just as good as their starting units. So they did it all. I thought we had a legitimate chance of beating them early in the game, but we came out in the second half and they just dominated us. deserve all the congratulations. I’m very happy for these three guys. They had a hell of a year and they gave me everything they could give me. It’s a great learning experience while playing this competition. year and it was the best team we faced.”
On what it means to get this chance from Jonah:
“Well, first of all, I was completely acquitted because I was not guilty of anything – I received two Level 2 violations for being unable to control. I got letters from every player I’ve coached, every assistant coach I’ve ever coached to tell them what a disciplinarian I am. So I had to wait five years until they actually stopped my career to finally be rehabilitated. people, they manually collect. So for five years they put me in the toilet because they couldn’t collect their things.
“So it’s just breaks in the game. You cannot look back. The past has always been valued. You learn from it, you value the past. I’ve been to seven Final Fours, two championships, and I cherish it. I also learn from the mistakes that were made. The present is where we’re at right now and that’s disappointing for my guys because they’re a great group of kids. In the future, I really have no idea what the future will be. can bring because I need to look at the overall pattern of winning, and winning is very important because we all work so hard, every coach works so hard.
“We had an almost perfect game. We played the best half of the season and then they – you know, one thing, 24 assists per game and lost on the glass 45-29, we were a weak shield. team all year because we lost our main forward, our power forward was center, back-up center, and he weighs 194 pounds. So that’s always been our Achilles’ heel. But I’m so proud of these guys, because whoever loses, someone else comes up. Today in the first half, I thought we had a chance to get them, but they just wore us down. They were a much better team in the second half and a team that can go very far.”
On whether he has a deadline to make a decision:
“Not really. You know, I really didn’t think about it at all. I hear a question from you, and I think that when you start thinking ahead, you always fail. We put a lot of effort into this game. I don’t know. I don’t know if another job is right for me. I do not know that. It’s something like I said before, I know you all allude to St. John’s, but I’ve never seen St. John’s. Someone sent me a clip. If you look on YouTube, one of the funniest games of all time was 1987. , and Louie goes crazy saying one second on the clock, one second on the clock.
“Maybe I got my team. I threw Billy Donovan in the shower. He said, “Coach, my shoes are on.” I said, “Turn on the water and take a shower.” The referee comes up and says: “One second,” and I say: “My guys are in the shower, we will not come out.” And we never got out, and the referee said, “Game over.” That was the last thing I remember about being in St. John’s. It was 1987 guys. 1987 So I don’t remember too much about it, to be honest, to be completely transparent. You don’t buy a house without looking in the garage, upstairs, the kitchen and everything else. You don’t just buy a house.”
“Look, this may sound strange to you, but if we were in Kennesaw State right now, I would be even more disappointed. I can look at this game and say that UConn was much better. It won’t make me smile, but I can say, hey, they were the best basketball team, as many of my teams have had many nights. If you lose on the buzzer, you will lose everything in your mind a hundred times. So now all I’m going to do is look back and cherish what these guys have done for me.
“When I talk about basketball culture, when I was in Louisville with all their problems, we had a number 1 academic record in the ACC and the Big East. Each of my guys always went to class. We are here in Aion. , there is a rule, you do not miss classes at all. I don’t even need to check them. They check. We had a GPA of 3.1 two years in a row, other than these guys playing 42 minutes of morning development, weight lifting, practice.
“They gave me everything they could give. So Iona is a special, special place, and it’s not… this loss, I mean, we’re building this program right now to a level that’s damn good. You witnessed it in the first half. I just have to make sure we get deeper than that. Many times I have had to take players with me to COVID that I have not even seen, except in the movies.