CRAWFORD | Amid the hoopla, Pitino puts the Hall on hold - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Amid the hoopla, Pitino puts the Hall on hold

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? Associated Press photo. ? Associated Press photo.

ATLANTA (WDRB) -- According to some close to him, when he got a call informing him that he'd been voted into the Basketball Hall of Fame this past Wednesday, Rick Pitino kept it quiet, at least around the University of Louisville basketball offices.

In fact, as far as his handling of it was concerned, it wasn't even the biggest news of the day. That was reserved for his son, Richard Pitino.

The only Hall of Fame hint Pitino has dropped publicly in Atlanta came Thursday. Speaking with reporters who were asking how he found out his son had gotten the job at Minnesota, Pitino said he was on a "very important call" that he wound up cutting short to talk to Richard.

For Pitino, who has waited undoubtedly too long for enshrinement, the Hall could wait. Even a phone call with the good news.

In a remarkable turn of events, Pitino finds himself having to put the Hall on hold. The announcement will come Monday. But a major line on the resume remains to be written Saturday night, and perhaps in Monday's national title game.

Pitino is making his seventh trip to the Final Four. He has won in the semifinals twice.

If you want to hear Pitino's thinking on the Hall of Fame, just listen to his players. They're so tuned in that at this point many of them will repeat their coach's exact phrases.

Someone asked Gorgui Dieng about Pitino and the Hall of Fame on Friday, and he gave a kind of wry smile, in his way.

"We'll wait," he said. "We're not going to anticipate anything. We're going to take one thing at a time. When it happens, we'll congratulate him and be happy for him, because we think he deserves it. But right now, it's not Coach P's show. We have to take care of business. We have to win."

Later, we found out that Pitino had let the team know that reports of his election to the Hall of Fame were true. But Dieng's words, "it's not Coach P's show. We have to take care of business," might as well have come from the coach himself.

When asked about it in Atlanta on Thursday, Pitino said, "When September (and the induction ceremony) rolls around, I'll have my 10-15 minutes of a great experience if it is to happen. But right now this is about the guys, players, the city of Louisville and the university winning a national championship."

I've spent quite a few hours in discussion with Pitino over the past year. He's never broached the subject of the Hall of Fame. And apparently, even the day he got the news, he didn't, other than perhaps with his family.

He did stick his head in a doorway or two at the basketball office to say, come on, let's go to dinner and celebrate. He didn't say what he wanted to celebrate.

There will be time to recount Pitino's Hall credentials, to sort through his place in the game. Before the injury to Kevin Ware, their own awareness of the part they are playing in the bigger picture of their coach's legacy was maybe one of the greatest motivating influences for U of L players.

"We know how big this is for him," Dieng said. "But he taught us you don't think about those things. You think about getting ready to play, and getting rebounds and setting good screens. We're not going to start thinking about all these other things now."

Neither is their coach.

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