Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Rick Pitino's Shining Week

March Madness came to quite an exciting close Monday evening, particularly for Rick Pitino, head coach of this year’s NCAA champions the Louisville Cardinals. After a season rife with plentiful surprises, game-changers, and buzzer-beaters, the University of Louisville’s basketball team ultimately came out on top, beating the University of Michigan Wolverines 82-76. The game was a magical one to watch from the start. The first half saw Michigan, for the most part, in the lead…and the second dominated by Louisville. If at first Louisville appeared lackluster, it is because they were saving their slick quickness for the end to bring it home.  A strategy that almost always results in success. And they have their fiercely loyal coach to thank. Pitino trained his team to be seasoned pros and on Monday night, it showed. Pitino has held the position of head basketball coach at Louisville since 2001 after formerly coaching Boston, Providence and University of Kentucky and brief stint in the NBA with the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics. Throughout his career, Pitino has been known for his passion, but 2013 marks the first year in twelve that he led the Cardinals to earn the national championship title. Previously, he also led the University of Kentucky to the national championship in 1996, making him the first male college basketball coach in the NCAA to lead two teams to the championship.

The win for Louisville would have been an incredible victory in and of itself. Earning the distinction of only coach with two NCAA championships under his reign would have been doubly victorious. But these two accomplishments merely capped off Pitino’s glorious week. Five days prior to his emotion-filled acceptance of the championship medal, Pitino won another merit worthy of tears. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. “It’s a pretty special distraction,” Pitino reported at the Hall of Fame announcement in Atlanta, prior to watching his Cardinals clinch the win.*  And boy, was it ever special. On Wednesday, a hall of fame induction, Monday night a national championship title, and Tuesday, a $425,000 bonus. Not a bad way to start off a Tuesday. Pitino has absolutely earned his keep this year, and if there ever was one shining moment for Rick Pitino, there is no doubt this is it.

*Quote reported by New York Times

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