Rick Pitino thinks his team is number one.
Yes, he actually included that bonehead statement in his defense for flipping the bird. Well, it’s obvious they aren’t number one given yesterday’s 75-73 defeat.
As a reminder, Pitino flipped off UK fans on his way back to the locker room. He then proceeded to send out Ralph Willard for the post-game media conference. While that was in progress, Rick would sneak his way out of Rupp Arena, avoiding any and all contact.
A top-25 NCAA head basketball coach avoiding his media obligations, how that’s not a breach of contract and doesn’t result in a fine, I don’t know. If this was the NBA, it would’ve been a hefty one. It’s hard to believe the NCAA doesn’t have something similar. Nonetheless, it happened and Rick is getting slammed, even by some of his biggest supporters. For example, Yahoo’s Pat Forde. Here’s what he had to say about Pitino’s actions following the game:
Sending out associate coach Ralph Willard to handle the press conference was a colossal copout. Willard has done a few other postgame media ops in Pitino’s place this season — including their only other loss, at Michigan State — but you don’t pull that maneuver here and now. Not after the Kentucky game.
Still, he handled this loss like a thin-skinned 37-year-old — like the guy who came to Kentucky as its coach in 1989 — instead of a 63-year-old Hall of Famer. Which probably has a lot to do with who he lost to.
Pitino always has been one of the world’s worst losers, which is a significant reason why he loses so rarely. It clearly eats away at his innards and tends to make him an incredibly hard guy to be around in the hours and days after a loss.
And nothing brings out the sore-loser demon in Pitino more than being defeated by Kentucky. Especially Kentucky coached by John Calipari. Regardless of the pregame grip-and-grin they annually stage, the two men detest each other.
Another shot at Pitino would come from Louisville WDRB’s Rick Bozich:
When Calipari says the right thing, Pitino does the wrong thing. When Calipari is the gentleman, Pitino is the adolescent. Calipari gets it. Pitino gets himself in messes he should be too wise to create.
In the end, no matter how both coaches comport themselves, Calipari always wins — on the scoreboard (75-73, Saturday in Rupp Arena) and in the Miss Manners’ competition (1-0 after Calipari’s eighth win in their last nine meetings).
Congrats, Rick! You’ve literally managed to turn everyone against you.