Wednesday, December 28, 2011

LOUISVILLE LOSES TO GEORGETOWN: HAS PITINO LOST HIS FIRE?

#4 Louisville just lost its first game of the season to #12 Georgetown by a score of  71-68. With this loss comes many observations and questions. The most obvious question being, how does this loss affect Louisville going into their rivalry game against Kentucky on Saturday? That will be decided on the court then but in the meantime I have other questions.

Has Coach Rick Pitino lost the "fire" in his belly that has propelled him to so much success throughout his career?

I am not writing this from a Card or Cat fan perspective but from a Coach Pitino fan perspective.

It seems to me that Pitino is basically going through the motions these days and has lost some of his competitive spirit. Many will argue and say I am wrong, or that I'm a disgruntled fan, or insert your thought here, but I believe I am right.

I have been a fan of Pitino's for many years going all the way back to his Providence days. I remember seeing Pitino work a sideline like no one's business and work his players even harder throughout the game. When he was hungry none could compare to Coach Pitino in my mind.

Pitino has been through a brutal few years now personally and perhaps that has taken its toll.

From the Boston Celtics, loss of his brother in law Billy Minardi in the September 11 attacks, and to the most shameful public lashing in the Karen Sypher case, Pitino has had his hands full dealing with personal crises. Is this why he seems so distant to me in his job as coach? Has Pitino the man's personal life finally hurt Pitino the legends professional one?

Coach Pitino was the standard others measured themselves against. He was wanted by every major program in the Country while at UK but decided to go the Boston Celtics and coach in the NBA. This proved to be disastrous as well. Though Pitino was well paid his players were as well and that clashed with the expectations and style of Coaching by Rick Pitino.

Eventually forced out of Boston he returned to Kentucky and took the UL program amidst great expectations and has yet to deliver on an NCAA Championship most expected would come by now. While Pitino has grown stagnant in many ways other programs seem to be developing quite nicely with inferior talent and lesser known coaches.

And that is part of the problem. Look at game film from his days at Providence. Look at film from his days at Kentucky. Check out the body language and facial expressions during interviews of that time. Look in his eyes then and now.

I see a different Coach Pitino then what I have seen through the years. I see a man who has announced he will retire at the end of his contract and is showing he may be ready to do so now. I see a man who was given a technical in this game for talking to his own player yet didn't seem too fussed about it.

The younger Pitino would have never been so calm about that. Perhaps he was thinking about Kentucky on Saturday and didn't want to chance ejection. I don't know.

I also saw his players slamming into the lane out of control praying for foul calls instead of running the offense or dishing the ball. Louisville looked lost in the final 2 minutes. They looked lost in much of the second half period. I didn't see Pitino get angry about that either.

I am not knocking Rick Pitino I have great respect for his coaching ability. I am not knocking UL they have great potential if they will come together. I am asking only one thing.

Does Rick Pitino still have the desire and heart to win?

I hope so or it will be a long day Saturday for the Cards.


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Ed Springston

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