While watching Louisville celebrate it's NCAA Championship a little while ago, I started thinking back to my conversation a year ago with Rick Pitino. I caught up with him in Miami, where he was attending a Marlins game with one of his sons and trying to decompress from the loss to John Calipari and Kentucky in the Final Four a few days earlier. His voice was scratchy, and he admittedly was exhausted and depressed. But as usual, he offered helpful insights on former Kings guard Terrence Williams, and then digressed to chat about Francisco Garcia, one of his former (and all-time favorite) players.
At the end of the conversation, I asked Pitino how he expected to compete against Kentucky's powerhouse program and Calipari's exploitation of the "one and done" approach to recruiting. The two campuses, by the way, are located within an hour of each other. Why continue knocking heads with an old adversary? But Pitino was insistent; he believed he could develop championship contenders by recruiting prospects who would be more inclined to stay in school for three or four years instead of jumping right to the NBA after their freshman season, thus, giving him time to develop cohesiveness and reinforce a team concept.
His philosophy is definitely old school, but hey, he must know what he's doing. Besides being a 2013 Hall of Fame selection, Pitino, who has been an NBA assistant and head coach, is the only college coach to win NCAA Championships at two schools (Kentucky, Louisville).