Former Louisville basketball coach Denny Crum and current coach Rick Pitino have always had different approaches when it comes to employing the three-point shot. Don’t see either of them changing their opinions in the near future.

Still an avid fan who attends U of L home games, Crum has been reserved in his comments about Pitino, acknowledging at times that Pitino is a good coach and an excellent recruiter. But after the UConn game, which U of L lost while connecting on 11 of 33 three-point attempts, Crum could no longer restrain himself.

On his local radio show, Crum was highly critical of the number of “bad” three-point shots in recent games. While acknowledging that players should be responsible, he pointed the finger at Pitino for allowing players to get away with taking so many out-of-balance shots, suggesting that Pitino’s coaching was at fault.

Crum, it can be argued, saw a great career frizzle away because he was slow to adopt the three-pointer. This probably affected his ability to recruit good shooters in the nineties (yes, we remember Boo Brewer). Pitino, meanwhile, took great advantage of the shot while taking three schools to the Final Four and a national championship and becoming one of the most sought-after college coaches in the game.

It’s difficult to argue with Crum’s assertion that too many attempts are coming while players are not in balance and that some players should not be taking three-point shots. Crum would never have put up with it. Jeremy Hazzel, of Seton Hall, would have been sitting at the far end of the Crum’s bench [instead of collecting 29 points as he did recently in burying U of L].

Even more difficult is denying Rick Pitino’s overall success in giving players the green light to shoot the three. Pitino believes the three-pointer is the great equalizer. He encourages his players to be aggressive, not timid in shooting threes, often living and dying with his three-point philosophy.

After a loss, it is too easy to find fault with coaching philosophies, a fact with which Denny Crum should be well acquainted. Fans respect your opinion, coach, but we place even greater value on your restraint.

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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.

3 thoughts on “Crum, Pitino Still Differ On The 3”
  1. If you do a little math, 11 for 33 is not a BAD percentage when shooting the 3.
    This basically equates to shooting 50% from inside the three point line.
    In other words, 11 for 33 on threes equates to 33 points. If they had made half of those shots from inside the arc (16 of 33), that would have yielded 32 points.

  2. oorrrrr…Crum is the better coach, and knows it. After all, Denny = 2 Sweet 16s in 7 years > Rick = 1 in 7 years.

  3. I woudl disagree that the three point shot makes players more aggressive. I have watched the last couple games (and especially with UConn fresh in my mind) and I saw players settling for threes, jacking up threes after a few passes around the outside, and never even looking to drive or pass inside before hoisting a long shot. One play that really stuck out (and at the time it happened I said to myself “UL is going to lose this game”) was when Williams hit a three, came back down and got the ball in the exact same spot, hesitated slightly, then jacked up a BAD shot (heat check?). I think early on there was something like 4 straight possessions where the cards took a three and didn’t get any second shots (when they all missed). Aside from a handful that came off REALLY nice ball movement, all the other shots felt like shots of boredom – “I’m tired of passing it around the perimeter, so I’m going to shoot it.”

    And of course on the final shot… take that ball hard to the rim!

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