Richard Pitino, Jr. has a little different take than his dad on his decision to leave the University of Louisville basketball team for a similar position at the University of Florida in a Gator Sports report:

Richard Pitino, Jr.
Richard Pitino, Jr.

“Yeah, he likes to make it sound like it was his decision,” the younger Pitino said, then added with emphasis. “I decided to leave.”

The comment was made not to disrespect his father, the only coach in college basketball history to lead three different programs to the Final Four. It was just meant to signify that, though grateful for the opportunities that his dad gave him, the 26-year-old Pitino is his own man with his own vision.

“It was hard because that was probably the first time in my life I had to make a life-changing decision like that,” he said. “Every other move I had made was kind of stepping up and it was a no-brainer. But everyone kind of told me the same thing, do what’s right for you in your career. And I thought it was right for me to get out and learn under another guy.”

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Ralph Willard, the new assistant to Rick Pitino, obviously had a few more issues to consider than just working with his best friend when making his decision to leave Holy Cross, via his blog:

“With this continuity of success has come challenges in scheduling all successful mid-majors face. Two factors have magnified this problem for us. We are in what is considered a low major conference, with only 14 conference games, that requires us to go out and schedule 15 non conference games. We also play a so-called match-up defense, that requires a special preparation, that teams would rather not play against in the non conference schedule. I say so-called match-up, because for the last four years it has basically been a 2-3 zone, that varies slightly with each opponent, and a switching man to man. However the fact that in our four NCAA and one NIT appearance we have been able to largely negate any opponents physical superiority, by causing them to think on offense, the defense has taken on a life of its own.

“This spring we called 131 BCS and mid major schools for games that said no. To be fair, some just didn’t have matching open dates, but the vast majority simply did not want to play against the match-up. When George Blaney, a Holy Cross alum and head coach for 22 years, told me at a charity golf tournament we were both at, that “we (UCONN) will never schedule you”, I guess that crystallizes the problem. It is a perception that creates a reality that I don’t see an answer for. It is untenable going forward.”

Read the rest of Willard’s blog comments here.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

2 thoughts on “Addenda: Richard Pitino, Jr. and Ralph Willard”
  1. Richard’s remarks are about what I expectd him to say. Father/son combos usually don’t have a ton of success…witness Bobby/Pat Knight and Eddie/Sean Sutton as a couple of examples.

    Unfortunately, there are a ton of other rumors out there on why Richard went south, and will be for a long time. But, given the choice of Kentucky vs. Florida climate..I think he made a great move.

  2. I feel it is a good idea that Richard finds his own place in basketball.
    Hanging out with dad is a little too close for comfort.
    Watching the video of Rick Pitino introducing Willard felt uneven.
    Rick appeared slightly worn and slipping in the mention of Billy Minardi and the old neighborhood – was like a prodigal son making a humble realization of reconnecting with his past.
    Papa Pitino has a few dents to work out with his integrity… personal and professional.

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