LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Let the record show that the leadoff speaker for the University of Louisville's 2012 Tipoff Luncheon was not Rick Pitino, not Peyton Siva, not Chane Behanan or any other dignitary.
The leadoff speaker was Logan Baumann.
Don't bother checking your roster. He isn't on it. They haven't had time to add him yet.
Until a couple of weeks ago, Baumann was washing the team's jerseys. He'd been an honorable mention All-Stater as a 6-foot guard at Ohio County High School, but had landed a spot as a student manager with the University of Louisville.
After Mike Marra was injured, Pitino put out a call for walk-ons. Then one day, he gave Baumann a call.
"He called me up and of course I'm freaking out,'" Baumann said. "I'm like, 'What could I have done?' All I do is wash the clothes. So coach sits me down and I'm kind of nervous shaking his hand. And he's like, 'Can you play?' And I tell him, 'You know, I played in high school and I was pretty good and I could shoot it a little bit.' And he said, 'Here's a jersey.' And I was like, 'This is getting serious quick.'"
Baumann walked into the office a manager, and he walked out as a walk-on, so to speak.
"I took the jersey," Baumann told a chuckling crowd of 1,400 at the Downtown Louisville Marriott on Thursday. "Today, I still don't know why I took the jersey, but we're about to find out as the season goes along."
A year ago, Pitino spent the entire season telling his team to focus. It was the key to persevering through injuries and negative public reaction, until a healthy roster and positive outlook could be fanned into a Final Four run at the end of the season.
Repeatedly, Pitino told the team during the season, they would not be graded on the struggles they were having in January and February. He told them the Final Exam, their postseason, would determine what their final grade would be.
This year, the theme is different. It is humility. That's why a guy presumed to be the least among this most highly-touted team of Rick Pitino's tenure would be the first to speak to the public.
One by one, U of L players made a few remarks, then introduced a teammate. Pitino trusted that it would be an entertaining procession, because he trusts his players, who clearly have a comfort level with each other, and their coach.
Siva got up and was reading Pitino's college statistics. "So, Coach Pitino went to UMass, and his senior year was a great passer, he tells us all the time. He averaged 6.5 assists, which is excellent. But for some reason, his turnovers are not in the stats. I think he paid the stats guy not to list his turnovers. Another thing I'm going to get on him about is he shot 66 percent from the free-throw line. Now we all know we've had our free-throw problems in the past. It's a credit to this guy."
Pitino, not to be outmaneuvered, later said, "If we can get Peyton to average 6.5 assists per game, to my 1.6 turnovers per game, we are going to have an outstanding backcourt."
Pitino said he has a team that knows how to prepare and maintain focus. He said he expects his team is ready for a tougher early-season schedule than it had a year ago.
What he hopes the team isn't doing is taking its lofty preseason rankings and expectations to heart.
"Our team needs humility to get it done this year, because after having success, the worst thing you can do is embrace it, hug it, believe it was you that got the job done," Pitino said. "By introducing each other, they realize that it was the guy they introduced that helped get the job done. So humility is our word this year."
He even urged the fan base to adopt the byword. Warning them not to go overboard when the team loses, he also said, "If we win a few games, stay humble. Don't be calling in those shows telling people how good we are. Don't be doing that. Hug your wife, have a glass of wine and relax. Don't be turning on those shows."
A day after the University of Kentucky held its tipoff luncheon in the same room, Pitino referenced the series, claiming that he didn't put undue importance on the game when he was at UK or at U of L. But he noted one exception.
"The guys will tell you this, I'll prepare much harder for Manhattan than I will Kentucky, because we'll need more emotion that night," Pitino said. "That's how great boxers get knocked out, when they're not ready for that opponent that doesn't have that name. Only one time since I've been a coach did the (UK-U of L) game really matter. That was last year. Kentucky cost us the national championship, and that's a credit to them. Outside of that, it's just a game. An important game, but it's a game.
"It matters when you get to the tournament, because if they knock you out they take away your dream of winning it all. And they did last year. And I have a feeling, even though we've only played each other once in the history of the (Final Four), I have a feeling we'll face them again. Because they're of that level, and so are we."
With those kinds of expectations, humility will be a challenge. But that's Pitino's priority as the curtain draws up on what is expected to be an historic season.
NOTES: Pitino said Chane Behanan had been nursing a minor injury for a couple of weeks but is good to go in Saturday's 4 p.m. Intrasquad game.
-- After national news outlets reported that Pitino had reversed an earlier statement that he'd coach to the end of his current contract then retire, the coach said Thursday that he simply isn't in the frame of mind to walk away just yet.
"My whole theme is as long as Tom Jurich is here I want to coach here," Pitino said. "But I always say this: As long as I can get in at 6:30 in the morning, coach every individual instruction, coach in the afternoon, coach the games with still the same passion, that's really my contract. It's not anything other than that. It's all based on health and emotionally feeling good and I will say I feel better than I've ever felt in my life, that's the good thing. Now I'll probably roll a 7 tomorrow. ... If I ever have to cut back and delegate more, that's when it's time to go."
Copyright 2012 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.
Sign Up for the WDRB Sports Newsletter
Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 12:03 PM EDT2013-05-21 16:03:47 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- This has a familiar sound. Bobby Petrino takes over a program making a conference change and looks to lift it in stature.The new Western Kentucky University coach was at the ConferenceMore >>
In Eric Crawford's "Morning Line," Bobby Petrino says he's not patient and wants to get WKU "cranked up pretty good" in a hurry, plus John Calipari's storm donation and more.More >>
Monday, May 20 2013 10:38 PM EDT2013-05-21 02:38:47 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Teddy Bridgewater doesn't ask for much. So when he told University of Louisville football coach Charlie Strong and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson that he wanted to ask somethingMore >>
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is certainly going to be a Heisman Trophy candidate to start next season, but he has told coaches he doesn't want a Heisman publicity campaign.More >>
Monday, May 20 2013 12:41 AM EDT2013-05-20 04:41:21 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The scene is always the same. After every University of Kentucky basketball home game, the coach walks across the Rupp Arena court, puts on his headset and starts talking withMore >>
Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari will do things a bit differently with his young but talented Wildcats team this season.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:54 AM EDT2013-05-18 11:54:38 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Longtime golf commentator and 1964 U.S. Open champion Ken Venturi died today, and there's nearly no need to add to the tributes that surely will come, because there's a greatMore >>
Ken Venturi left a lasting memory in Louisville when he opened Hunting Creek Country Club's championship course with a record that still stands, and with a simple gesture to a sportswriter 25 years later.More >>
Tuesday, May 14 2013 5:25 PM EDT2013-05-14 21:25:36 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- I like Andrew Wiggins. Here's a kid who didn't want to make a spectacle of his recruitment, despite being the top-ranked basketball recruit in the nation and being hailed as theMore >>
Eric Crawford surveys the carnage of the Andrew Wiggins circus, and ponders what it means for the future of civilization.More >>