LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino has had enough -- of his team's trash talk.
Speaking with New York Times columnist Joe Nocera during Wednesday's Kentucky Author Forum discussion promoting his new book, "The One-Day Contract," Pitino said that his latest U of L team is talented, but not as easy to coach has his national championship team a year ago.
"They are very annoying in practice because they are constantly talking trash," Pitino said. "It drives me up the wall, it really does. I just had a nice meeting with them, and I told them that if this continues at tomorrow's practice, they will regret it for the rest of their lives. They're different."
The discussion between Nocera and Pitino was wide-ranging, stretching back to Pitino's origins in basketball, and delving into the topics of one-and-done players, the prospect of paying players and the role of technology in society.
The interview will air at a later date on Kentucky Educational Television, and on PBS nationally as part of the series "Great Conversations."
But Pitino saved one of his most heartfelt observations for the end. During the audience question-and-answer session, he was asked about coaching Gorgui Dieng and Peyton Siva. He responded at length.
"What I have found in coaching 35 years, one moody person takes the air out of an entire basketball team," Pitino said. "That's why Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng were so incredible. They were never moody. If you look at Peyton's background, it staggers me the fact that he came so upbeat every day. . . . Peyton and Gorgui, and Gorgui is in this book, Eric (Crawford) and I sat him down and interviewed him. And he said something, Eric and I looked at each other, he said, 'If I'm in a room and there's only four chairs and there's six people, and one of the guys is 20 and I'm 19, I must give up my chair to the older person.' After interviewing him, we knew why he was Gorgui. Every single day in our building, Gorgui would show up, would go around to all the people working, from the custodians, the assistant coaches, me, the trainers, and just shake their hands and say good morning. Every one of them. We asked him why he did that, and he said that was his culture. When people would visit the gym, visit practice, he'd greet them, say hello to them, find out who they are, and then say goodbye to them. And so did Peyton Siva. They greeted those five people in that gym, who then tell that to 50 people, and it multiplies. They were so special. I haven't seen people like this in my career. I've had some great kids, but not like them."
He continued with one more memory.
"Kids ran out for the starting five in the championship and it's great, 80,000 people, and they ask why they play," Pitino said. "'I play for my grandmother,' Chane Behanan. And another one comes out and says, 'I play for my family.' When Gorgui comes out he says, 'I play for my teammates.' And Peyton comes out and says, 'I play for Louisville.' In this day and age, it's so incredible to have kids like that. Now they're gone, and there's a big void in our basketball team. We have replaced them with talent. We have not replaced them as people. And I'm going to miss them."
Pitino will be back out signing copies of his book before Thursday night's U of L football game against Rutgers. He'll be positioned in the "Street Fest" section outside Papa John's Cardinal Stadium from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. Carmichael's Bookstore will sell the book at the stadium.
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