You. Are. Turrible.
Warning: Louisville and statistic heavy post. If you’re not into either, please proceed to the comment section and begin hating.
Yesterday on the radio show, Matt got in another discussion on whether or not Rick Pitino has underachieved during his time at Louisville. As the summer months drag on, this is the kind of thing we get to talking about. Still, it’s an interesting question and one I think most logical fans would answer ‘yes’ to. But just because our gut feeling tells us that Rick Pitino underachieved doesn’t mean that he has, so let’s take a look at the numbers and see what they tell us.
First let’s get the two perspective most readers will come at this from out of the way. Kentucky fans will almost always say he has underachieved. First because he coaches for our rival and any dig we can get in at him is one we will take. But second and more importantly, because when Pitino went to Louisville, most Kentucky fans thought he would replicate his years at Kentucky down the road – the fact that he has not leads us to believe he hasn’t lived up to expectations. Louisville fans will likely side with Pitino, because a number of them believe he has brought them back from the depths of the basketball world. The question remains, has he brought them back far enough?
For our purposes, we will look at a number of factors.
1.) Pitino’s winning percentage (in the college game)
2.) The programs winning percentage
3.) Post season performance for both
Pitino’s Wins By The Numbers
First let’s take a look at Pitino’s winning percentage. The rationale behind this, is to see if Louisville has seen the results they would have predicted when they first hired him. Pitino’s first coaching job was at Boston University where he took a team from the bottom of a conference to winning the America East. His total record was 91-51 with a 21-10 final season, to give him a winning percentage of 0.64. Not bad for a first head coaching gig – this lasted five years, when he made the move to Providence.
At Providence, Pitino kept his winning ways going and went 42-23 to stay at a 0.64 winning percentage. He capped his second year with a run to the final four that catapulted him into the NBA ranks as the head coach of the Knicks. As you all know, he spent two years in New York before taking over at Kentucky, where he found a new level of success for himself.
Pitino’s tenure at Kentucky was no doubt his best run so far. In eight seasons, he amassed a powerful record of 219-50 (with 14 of the losses coming in his first season) – a winning percentage of 0.81 for the Cats. As I’m sure you are all well aware, this included one national title, one runner up, one final four finish, and two finishes in the elite eight in only 6 post season eligible seasons. Pretty huge numbers for Slick Rick.
After another disappointing stint in the NBA, Pitino returned to coach at the University of Louisville and has been coaching there for 10 seasons to date. His total win/loss record (C-USA and BEast,) is 220-85 – a winning percentage of 0.72. This is just a smidge under his career average of 0.73.
Meanwhile, under Pitino the Cardinals have been to one final four finish, two elite eights, five losses in the first weekend and two trips to the NIT.
Looking At Louisville
Next let’s take a look at what Louisville fans should expect. As Matt often brings up in these discussions, Louisville should be considered a top 7 program in the nation. When ranking traditional powers, you would put UK, UNC, UCLA, Kansas and Duke in the top five in some order. Then likely follow with Indiana and Louisville at 6-7. These rankings are not solid, of course, but they are generally considered to be correct based on historical significance (see Indiana/UCLA) as well as how well the programs are currently doing.
It took Louisville until 1944 before they got their first consistently good coach in Bernard Hickman. Hickman won the NAIB championship as well as the NIT championship back when it meant something. He established Louisville as a national program, and his overall coaching percentage was .71, for those keeping track at home.
With that being understood, we will begin looking at the Louisville program at the start of Hickman’s tenure. From 1944 to 2001, from Hickman to Dromo to Crum, the total win loss record for UofL was 1186-501 for a winning percentage of .70. During the Crum era from 1971-2001, UofL amassed two titles, four final four finishes, one elite eights and nine sweet sixteens (though only five of those finishes of those happened after the field expanded to 64.)
Putting It All Together
If you look solely at total wins, Rick Pitino has increased the Louisville winning percentage by a hair (0.70 to 0.71,) while dragging his own down about the same amount (0.73 to 0.72.)
If you take into account post season finishes, prior to Pitino (during the modern era – we’ll say beginning with Crum) Louisville was finishing with a sweet sixteen or better 53% of the time. With Rick Pitino it is 30%. Crum made it to the final four in 20% of his seasons, Pitino has made it there in 10%.
It’s tough to draw a definitive answer to the question of whether or not Rick has underachieved, but here are the facts as we see them.
-Before Rick came to Louisville, he was much more successful both in the regular season and post season. Meaning the average fan would have expected more from Pitino at the beginning of his ten year run, regardless of allegiances.
-Before Louisville hired Rick Pitino, they were much more successful in the post season, though a little less in the regular season. Does success in the regular season continue to cement your status among the elite – particularly when teams from your own conference are consistently out performing you?
So here’s what you have to ask yourself – are post season or regular season results more important? Should the number seven program in the nation be okay with three trips past the first weekend in March in ten years?
As a Kentucky fan, I will always look at Pitino through the glasses of what he did here and believe him to be a disappointment at Louisville (though not too disappointing considering who they are and all.)
So what say you?