“You don’t buy a house without looking”
ALBANY, NY (AP) — Rick Pitino insists he doesn’t know his next move. He’s given a pretty good indication of what’s being considered.
After the 70-year-old Hall of Famer’s 13th-seeded Iona team was kicked out of the NCAA tournament by UConn on Friday, he addressed speculation that St. John’s is targeting him as his next coach.
He also said he doesn’t know if he coached his last game with the Gaels.
“I really don’t have an answer for that, to be honest. I have no idea if it is or not because I was totally focused on this game and trying to come up with a plan to beat Connecticut,” Pitino said.
Pitino spoke earlier this week about how much he admires St. John’s President, Rev. Brian Shanley, who previously worked at Providence.
Pitino joined the Big East in 1986 as Providence’s head coach and in 1987 made one of the most memorable Final Four runs in tournament history with the Friars.
St. John’s, which fired Mike Anderson after the Big East Tournament, was a force in the conference back then, but the Red Storm has slipped into a long stretch of mediocrity over the past two decades.
Pitino said he has no timeline as to when he will make a decision about his future and spoke directly to reports of St. John’s interest.
“I really didn’t think about it at all,” Pitino said. “I hear the question from you, and I think when you start thinking ahead, you always fail.
“We tried very hard in this game. I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s right for me, another job. I don’t know that. It’s something like I said, I know you’re all alluding to St. John’s, but I’ve never seen St. John’s. Someone sent me a clip.”
Pitino shared an anecdote about playing at St. John’s in 1987, when he defeated Lou Carnesecca’s team and then pushed star guard Billy Donovan into the locker room shower because officials were still debating whether to change the clock should reset extra second.
“That was the last thing I remember when I was in St. John’s. That was 1987, folks, 1987,” Pitino said. “So I don’t remember it too much to tell the truth, to be totally transparent.
“You don’t buy houses without looking at the garage and the upstairs and the kitchen and everything. You don’t just buy a house.”
Pitino has won national championships with Kentucky and Louisville but was fired from Louisville before the 2017-18 season after an FBI investigation into college basketball led to allegations of NCAA violations.
It was the third personal and professional scandal involving Louisville in eight years.
Ultimately, Pitino was exonerated in the FBI-related case – which he reminded everyone at his post-game press conference on Friday – five years after his release.
“So they put me in the outhouse for five years because they couldn’t get their stuff together,” Pitino said.
“So it’s just the breaks in the game. You can’t look back The past is always treasured. You learn from it, you appreciate the past. I’ve been to seven Final Fours, two championships, and I really appreciate that. I also learn from the mistakes that have been made,” he said.
Pitino is 64-22 in three years with the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s Iona, including two NCAA tournament appearances. The small Catholic school in New Rochelle, New York, just north of the city, hired him with the NCAA cloud overhead, but it’s a far cry from the big East.
He lamented the pressure to attend a one-NCAA bid conference earlier this week. After being routed by UConn in the second half, he opened up about how physically the Gaels just couldn’t compete with one of the best teams in the country.
“The present is where we are right now and it’s disappointing for my boys because they’re a great group of kids,” said Pitino. “Going forward I really have no idea what the future might hold because I have to look at the big scheme of things to win and winning is very important because we all work so hard, every coach works so hard.”
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