How should Pitino be Remembered?

No job is safe.  We all learned that today when the news came out that Rick Pitino had been fired from Louisville amid allegations of serious recruiting violations.  Yes, Pitino has gotten off before.  He had the extortion case which dealed which personal conduct issues.  And more recently he was involved in the sex-for-pay scandals by bringing strippers in for prospective Louisville basketball players.  The Cardinals however, didn’t see any of this as enough to fire him.  But now, with all eyes on the recent recruiting scandal headlined by Louisville’s basketball program, they were left with no other choice but to let Pitino go.  Right now, it is hard to look at Pitino without him being tainted.  If these allegations are true, it would be not the first, but the second time he has gotten in trouble for not recruiting fairly.  After all, recruiting builds a program, so these are very serious charges.  However, is it fair to view Pitino as a cheater?

In order to tackle that question, we need to look at a lot of things.  First and foremost, the stats.  In 16 years at Louisville, he compiled 416 wins with a .747 winning record, 1 National Championship, and 3 Final Four appearances.  In other words, he is a coaching legend.  On top of this, he is respected in the coaching realm, is seen as a good role model for aspiring coaches, and is extremely involved in charity work.

I don’t think he’ll go down like Joe Paterno did.  I’m not saying what Pitino did was wrong, but it would be inconceivable to think that Louisville is the only program with this going on.  Pitino may be tainted for his life.  None of these allegations will go away.  They’ll haunt him forever.  With that being said, no one will ever deny his ability to coach a basketball team.  He learned from Boeheim, coached a powerhouse in Kentucky, and finally took a struggling program like Louisville, and turned them into a national powerhouse.  On top of all this, Pitino has served as a coaching mentor for the likes of Mick Cronin, Billy Donovan, Andy Enfield, Tubby Smith, Frank Vogel, Kevin Willard, and countless others.  I know that it’ll be hard to remember Pitino without thinking of the shadiness that his program was run with.  However, I’ll never forget the impact he made on college basketball.

ACC as Strong as Always

Some things never change.  Barring any insane atmospheric changes, the sky will always be blue, day will be light and night will be dark, and the Earth will be round.  The same goes for the ACC in College Basketball.  It will always be the conference to beat.

Obviously UNC is the team to beat.  They are the reigning NCAA Tournament champions, and return star guard Joel Berry II, along with Theo Pinson, Luke Maye, and incoming freshman Jalek Felton.  Yes, the Tar Heels lost a lot of big time players.  However, Roy Williams knows how to win, and North Carolina will most likely have another 20-plus win season and find themselves in contention to repeat.  However, there are some teams that can top the Heels.

  1. Duke – The Blue Devils had arguably the best recruiting class in the nation, so that already has them one step ahead of most teams.  Not to mention that college superstar and supertripper Grayson Allen will be back.  He may be hated, but this doesn’t deny him of the amazing talent he is.  Coach K’s roster is loaded, and they seem like a good bet for a Final Four team come March.
  2. Louisville – The Cardinals have a loaded roster.  It may not have the star power that most big time schools have, but every team in the nation would love to have Quentin Snider, Anas Mahmoud, Deng Adel, and Jaylen Johnson.  Louisville is balanced and experienced.  The only thing haunting them is how they will fare during Pitino’s suspension.  Only time will tell for Rick’s squad, but anything short of a Sweet 16 appearance would be inconceivable.
  3. Miami – The Canes were expected to have an off-year after the departures of Angel Rodriguez, Sheldon Mac, and Tonye Jekiri.  However, they silenced the critics and finished 21-12 with an NCAA Tournament birth.  They return 3 of their top 5 scorers from a year ago, and boast one of the best coaches in the nation in Jim Larranaga.  It won’t be easy for Miami, but they should pass 20 wins again, and even win a game or two in March.
  4. Syracuse – The Cuse has had a rough year.  They missed the big dance and lost Tyler Lydon to the NBA draft, not to mention 2 other double-digit scorers.  However, the Orange provide a lot of hope.  They do return Tyus Battle and Taurean Thompson – two players who show a lot of promise heading in to the new season.  Also added are Freshmen Matthew Moyer and Oshae Brisssett, as well as the return of  7-2 Paschal Chukwu.  Yes, it is a long shot for the Orange.  However, they seem to know how to defy odds.