Rick Pitino saw a thing or two throughout his long college basketball coaching career. The two-time national champion coach said he does have a few regrets in the game however.
Pitino spoke with Dan Dakich on ESPNU Radio on Sirius XM to go back in time to a few moments that he regrets. One, he regrets leaving Kentucky and Providence but there’s one moment while coaching he wishes he could’ve done differently.
He spoke with Dakich about one of the most famous moments in college basketball.
“(Dick) Vitale is a close friend of mine and he says to me all the time, do you realize you’d have more wins than Coach K today if you stayed at Kentucky,” Pitino said to Dakich. “Do I regret it? Yes I do in a way. It’s a special place but I also regret leaving Providence College. I’ve said that many times. That was a two year Cinderella ride with Billy Donovan as my captain and I regret leaving there. You know, you look back. I’m sure as a basketball coach and athlete that there are so many things you regret.
“I regret not putting a guy on the ball with Christian Laettner. You mentioned coach Knight. Coach Knight called me after that and said ‘I don’t ever put a guy on the ball in a full court situation. I said ‘Bob, I made a mistake at that game, it wasn’t putting a guy on the ball.’ I said ‘whatever you do, (don’t foul Laettner). If you see it, both guys freeze and instead of knocking the ball down….they froze and that was my mistake in that game so I regret that big time.”
Of course, Pitino refers to the famous Christian Laettner shot in the 1992 Elite Eight as Duke beat Kentucky. What could have been?
In any event, Pitino returned to college basketball in March of 2020 right as the world turned upside down with the COVID-19 pandemic. He was hired by Iona as their new head coach.
So far, they’re 5-3 on the season and winners of three straight.
In his career, Pitino is 652-274 with two national championships, one with Kentucky and one with Louisville. Pitino, 68, spent the last two seasons coaching Panathinaikos B.C. in Greece.
Pitino was fired from Louisville in 2017 after a “pay to play” scandal involving recruits Adidas allegedly gave a prospect’s family $100,000 to attend the university.
Prior to his time at Louisville, Pitino was the head coach at Kentucky for eight seasons where he compiled a record a 219-50 record and won a National Championship in 1995-1996.
Grand Canyon also reached out to Pitino’s camp about its coaching vacancy last year, but the Iona job was more attractive to Pitino.
“I’m back with my family and back with where it all started for me,” Pitino said to 247Sports in 2020. “I had to know the people involved and I just happened to know the President because he was the President of Transylvania. We had a conversation when I left Louisville and I left him tickets to some Louisville games, he and his wife. If it wasn’t for the President, it probably never happens.”