Rick Pitino coached in his very first game for Panathinaikos BC this afternoon, and he couldn’t help but bring up the Kentucky Wildcats in his post-game press conference.
And surprisingly, the former Kentucky head coach had extremely high praise for the program.
“It reminded me of Kentucky,” Pitino said after his team’s 96-84 victory over CSKA Moscow. “Just like that, and that’s the highest compliment I give any crowd. Because I’ve always felt that in Kentucky basketball is a religion, and the fans tonight motivated us to play that type of defense.”
It’s been quite an eventful past couple of years for Pitino, as embarrassing scandal after scandal ultimately ended his coaching career at Louisville. From there, he has participated in countless interviews, wrote a book, filed lawsuits, and started a Twitter page for all of his “Pitweetos” to follow.
Now in Greece coaching in the EuroLeague, Pitino is just thankful for the opportunity to get back in the game overseas.
“I’m really impressed. It’s an honor to coach this team,” Pitino said after the game. “I said to the owner of the team, he congratulated me, and I said, ‘It’s my honor and I thank you for having me.'”
We even got our first look at Pitino inside the huddle for the first time in almost two years:
— EuroLeague (@EuroLeague) December 28, 2018
Former Florida guard and current Panathinaikos star Nick Calathes said Pitino’s presence has already made a difference in his short time in Greece.
“You could tell we were more hungry out there, we were more tenacious, defensively, offensively,” he said. “You know, it was just a great win and hopefully, everything will build off this for the next games.”
The former Kentucky and Louisville head coach is off to a solid start in Greece, so hopefully they update his official team photo sometime soon.