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Rick Pitino on geezer ball, derision from his players, next year’s Cards, Derby winnings, and sleeping in church

Rick Pitino played in his 55+ basketball league and lived to talk about it…live from a hot tub where he was nursing his wounds. (full transcript at bottom of page)

After reflecting on his tournament play, Pitino talked about his next UofL team, his kids grabbing all of his Derby winnings, and why he was sleeping (or deeply praying) at Mass. (audio above)

Rick Pitino in Miami's Masters Association Basketball Tournament, May 9, 2017 (photo: Chris Fischer, NBC6)
Rick Pitino in Miami’s Masters Association Basketball Tournament, May 9, 2017 (photo: Chris Fischer, NBC6)

Pitino’s former players were having a ball tweeting praise and jokes about the coach’s skills.

Coach P made some news with his projections for replacing NBA-hopeful Donovan Mitchell.

Some UK fans were reading a bit too much into Coach Pitino’s comments on my radio show.

transcript via WDRB News:

Q: Coach Pitino, are you alive?

Pitino: I am. Reggie Theus and I both have pulled groins, but we’re alive. He pulled himself out of the game and left me in the game.

Q: We heard you were down 15 in the last couple of minutes and reports are that you dove on the floor for a loose ball. Which is, some of your former players said, at least he did that for us.

Piitino: You know, I was surprised. I played the last two weeks. I haven’t played organized in 25 years. The way this all started was the superintended of our golf club comes up to me and says, ‘Would you like to play in the Masters League?’ I said well, when is it? He said it’s in May. I said yeah, May’s a good time. But I said, I’m a 13 handicap, so I’m probably not good enough to play in the Masters League. And he said, “No, basketball.” He says to me, ‘Obviously you play all the time, being a coach.’ So i was too embarrassed to say, no, not at all, I haven’t played in 25 years. So the good thing is, I played decent, and I’m playing down. In other words, it’s every five years. I should be from 65 to 70, and it goes all the way from 75 to 80. And I’m playing down 10 years. So I’m pleased with that. Now, we got beat. And tomorrow we’re going to play an Indiana team and we’re going to get killed, because I watched them a little bit.

Q: Are you icing? You’re going to feel pretty ragged tomorrow morning, aren’t you?

Pitino: Yeah. You’ve got to ice some areas that we shouldn’t talk about on the air.

Q: Are you in an ice bath right now?

Pitino, laughing: I am. I’m in a hot tub right now.

Q: Now you had three three-pointers in the game, but let me read some of the Tweets from your former players. Peyton Siva: ‘Where’s Ray at? That man looks tired out there! We don’t get tired.’ He’s talking about Ray Ganong (strength and conditioning coach).

Pitino: You know, I mean it’s crazy. I’ve watched guys playing the court afterward, 80 or more playing basketball. And the team we’re playing tomorrow, Jim Sweeney played at Boston College, and three guys who played in college, they’re going to Montecatina, Italy, to play in a tournament with over 300 teams. So these teams will practice. We didn’t have a practice at all. But we survived; we got out of it. Nobody really — besides Reggie and me — nobody got really hurt.

Q: Anybody else we know on your team?

Pitino: Rick Avare from Lexington. And Reggie. I said, ‘Reg, I need you to play man. Our team is really weak. I need you to come.’ He said, ‘Coach I haven’t touched a basketball. I’ve got bone on bone in my right knee.’ I said, ‘Reg I’ve got bone on bone and I’m playing down ten years Reg. He said, ‘Do you really want me to play in this?’ And I said I do, so he flew in to play and it was fun.”

Q: Now we saw some video and there was a guy from NBC 6 taking some video and posting it on Twitter and we were all Retweeting it. One of them showed you taking a three that did not go in, and Russ Smith Tweeted in: “I’m a sub his ass out he take a contested shot like that.”

Pitino: Well you tell Russ, two plays later, of course, you know it’s a Kentucky fan that took it, two plays later, it was nothing but net.

Q: You made two threes in a row, right?

Pitino: Two threes in a row, nothing but net. We had a blast, though. The guys from Toronto were really great guys and we had a really good time.

Q: This is fun. Now how many potential games do you have this week if you win?

Pitino: We’re going to go 0-4, I can tell you that much. And the great thing about that is we don’t have the playoff and we can play golf on Friday instead of playing basketball. That’s the nice thing. Even if we’re close, I’m telling everybody to miss their shots so we can play golf.

Q: Now what are the odds that a piece of one of these threes that you made being used in in the hype intro video for games this fall?

Pitino: I think my passing was much better than the hype of my shot. You know, Terry, we’ve got a team coming back of really good athletes that really have to learn how to play, and this will probably be the first year since I’ve been at Louisville where freshmen are going to have to have a major impact for us to be successful. So I’m really looking forward to getting them in this summer. We’re going to practice, probably, in two weeks. Actually we’ll practice in less than that. And I’m excited to see the freshmen play.

Q: We’ll ask you, then, Donovan Mitchell obviously rolling out. What do you expect in his place?

Pitino: We’ll probably move Deng into the two-guard spot and V.J. into the three, and let Darius and Q battle it out at the one. Ray Spalding at the four will battle it out with Malik then will battle it out with Anus. Jordan Nwora there and then certainly then Lance is another freshman who will battle it out at a few positions, he’ll probably need some strength training, but we’ve got a really nice team coming back. I’m surprised Donovan left, but I’m not concerned about it. I would be really concerned if our frontcourt was weak. But we’ll be a Top 20 team again, and I think because of the schedule we played last year, having the top schedule in the nation, I think competitively we’ll be ready. We’ll play, obviously, Indiana at home, Kentucky away, we’ll play Seton Hall at home. We’ll play in the Big Ten challenge on the road, probably, I would guess with Donovan leaving, we won’t be 1-2, we’d probably play Minnesota on the road, because they have a home game.

Q: You do have one scholarship left. Do you plan on using it?

Pitino: Once I’m sure that Deng is coming back — if Deng didn’t come back, I probably would use it. If Deng comes back, which I’m 99 percent sure he is, I probably won’t use it. We’ve got enough. We’ve got two really good walk-ons coming in that can help us in practice, and we have a young man from Manual, Dwayne Sutton, that can help us. So we’ve got enough players to compete. I’m very bullish on the basketball team, because we’re very, very athletic.

Q: I have to ask you, one other thing you were bullish on last week was Always Dreaming. How exciting was that for you on Saturday to see your really good friend in the Winner’s Circle of the Kentucky Derby.

Pitino: My friend went through some really tough times. And all winter was trying to keep him up, calling and texting. I’d say listen man, I’ve been through a lot in my life, it all changes. Don’t get down. You’re younger than me and haven’t been through half of what I’ve been through in my life. From 9/11 to early on, there’s a lot of things in my life that are much more important than business failings or something going wrong. Good things will happen for you because you’re such a great person. And when he told me he had a horse in the Florida Derby and it won, and I watched him race, I was just so, you could give me five Kentucky Derby winners and I’d much rather see him win one than myself five. So I was so pumped up for him, because he needed that. Vinny Viola, his partner, who owns the Florida Panthers, is a great guy as well. He didn’t need it because he was a successful businessman, but for Anthony and his family, it was a much-needed boost, with nothing better than sharing in the Kentucky Derby spotlight for him.

Q: That was a terrific show all the way through. And I know you did well in that race. I saw Jacqueline in the winner’s circle.

Pitino: I made a significant amount of money, relatively speaking. But when I left the track, I had very little money, because all my children just took every penny.

Q: That’s what your wife told me. She was like every kid was just grabbing hundreds.

Pitino: Not only that, but my wife was grabbing the most. I won a nice bet. I never bet win, by the way, I always bet win/place. I never bet just to win. But I was superstitious, I just bet everything to win. And when I walked out of the place, I had to pay off the suite and pay the bills, so I broke even on the Kentucky Derby but my family made a fortune.

Q: Last thing here, your wife told me yesterday, we were out walking our dogs, she said you flew down because you had to be at your granddaughter’s first communion. She said you fell asleep in mass and another of your granddaughters said, “Pawpaw’s asleep.” She said, “No, he’s praying.”

Pitino: I was not sleeping, I was praying. I was praying that we go undefeated next year. And I got a message back from God, saying, ‘Be real. Pray for something that can happen.”

dad. husband. observer. media personality. pathological flyer.