LOUISVILLE – Got to town in time for the Cardinals interview opportunities. Louisville honors its own exceptional senior class on Saturday, so the focus was on Russ Smith, Luke Hancock, Stephen Van Treese and Tim Henderson.
But Pitino took a moment to talk about UConn and about his long relationship with Jim Calhoun.
The Cardinals have won eight of the last nine against the Huskies, the only loss coming in the Big East Tournament in 2011. They have beaten Kevin Ollie’s teams twice by double-digits, including 76-64 at Gampel on Jan. 18. With Louisville joining the ACC next year, this marks the last UConn-Louisville conference game … for now.
“It’s not me having success, it’s the players having success. I haven’t scored a bucket in 12 years I’ve been here.
We’ve had great games against them.They’ve got a great backcourt, we have a great back court. They have a center [Amida Brimah] that, I said earlier, has really gotten a lot better and is going to be a great one before it’s said and done. They have great shooters.
We didn’t play great against UConn at UConn. Sometimes, when you break down film, you think you did but you didn’t. We played very well against SMU, and against Cincinnati. We didn’t play great against UConn. I’m hoping we play much better even though we did get a victory.
I started off very competitive with Jim Calhoun at Northeastern, we didn’t care for each other very much. Then I became friendly with him, with great respect for him and what type of coach he was. With BU-Northeastern, you’re fighting for Page 14 in the Boston Globe. It was different back then.
The two greatest building jobs I’ve seen in my lifetime are him taking a Yankee Conference school and making it into the national championship and [Jerry Tarkanian[ building something down in the desert [at UNLV] to be a national champion.
We’ll miss them, certainly. We’ll miss the Big East certainly, but they’ll go in their direction, we’ll go in our direction and football will have a great deal to do with it.”
Also had a chance to talk to Russ Smith about his year prepping at South Kent, up in Connecticut’s northwest hills, where he credits coach Kelvin Jefferson with helping him become more professional, punctual and a better student. More on that later on our website, and in the Saturday Courant.