If Rick Pitino completes the contract extension he negotiated with Tom Jurich, Pitino can join the 900-win club.
Notes Written in the Margins of Rick Pitino's Contract Extension:
*Are 900 career college basketball victories as well as 21 seasons in one job in Rick Pitino's future?
I'll never forget a story that Tony Kornheiser wrote about Pitino more than two decades ago. He called him "Larry Brown on training wheels," a tag Pitino earned with the job-hopping that marked the early days of his career.
Well, Pitino has already completed 11 seasons at U of L – and if he fulfills every game of the five-year contract extension that he negotiated with athletic director Tom Jurich Tuesday, that will give Pitino 21 years at Louisville.
Brown, for the record, never stayed in any basketball job more than six seasons.
Pitino has averaged 26.6 wins over his last five seasons at U of L. If he can bump that average to 27.1 over the next decade, that will get him to 900 wins. His college coaching record is 629-233 – with eight seasons lost to working in the National Basketball Association.
Mike Krzyzewski of Duke (927) and former Indiana coach Bob Knight (902) are the only Division I men's coaches to win 900 games, although Jim Boeheim (890) will make the club a threesome this season.
Bob Huggins of West Virginia (710), Roy Williams of North Carolina (675) and Stanford's Mike Montgomery (635) are the other active Division I coaches with more wins than Pitino.
Imagine if he could have resisted the temptation of Madison Square Garden and Boston.
*Bigger surprise: Kentucky facing Vanderbilt in Commonwealth Stadium as a 7 ½-point underdog Saturday – or Indiana being listed as a 1 ½-point favorite against Iowa in Bloomington, also Saturday?
I checked www.PhilSteele.com. Two years ago the Wildcats were 15-point favorites against the Commodores. The Hoosiers have not been favored against the Hawkeyes since 2000, a streak of nine consecutive games.
*U of L women's basketball coach Jeff Walz wants Shoni Schimmel, his point guard, to play the way a junior is supposed to play this season – better shot selection, fewer turnovers. But Walz is not going inhibit Schimmel's creativity,
"She's going to sit there and make plays, where you're going to be like, ‘What kind of pass was that?'" Walz said during his team's media day Tuesday afternoon at the KFC Yum! Center.
"But then she's going to come down the floor and make three or four (plays), that you're like ‘Wow, that's unbelievable, how she can see that?'"
"That's one thing that I told her when I recruited her. I'm not going to take that away. I'm not going sit there and pull her back so much that she's thinking on the basketball floor."
Schimmel shot 35.3 percent last season. She led the Cards with 146 assists, but also had 119 turnovers. For comparison, Notre Dame point guard Skylar Diggins, the best player in the Big East, shot 50 percent. Diggins had 222 assists with 103 turnovers.
Schimmel said he was committed to upgrading several parts of her game.
"I would say handling the ball better, not turning it over," Schimmel said. "Better shot selection, too. That's something I worked on last summer."
"They bug me, yes," she said. "But I don't really think of them because I don't want to beat myself up about it."
*Whenever Cody Zeller decides to depart Indiana University for the NBA, he won't be Tom Crean's first lottery pick. Crean's signature player at Marquette was Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade, who led the Golden Eagles to the 2003 NCAA Final Four.
I asked Crean about the qualities that Zeller shares with Wade.
"Very humble," Crean said. "Confidence. Quiet confidence. For both, their passing is contagious and excellent. Both of them didn't always understand how good they could be.
"Much like what we had with Dwyane, we all knew coaching him that we would never see his best days (in person). We would watch his best days. It was our responsibility to get him as far as he could be while he was with us. It's the same thing with Cody."