BOZICH | Monday Muse: Pitino vs. Pitino or Pitino vs. Calipari? - WDRB 41 Louisville News

  • Who is your pick for college basketball Coach of the Year?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Chris Collins, Northwestern
    16%
    135 votes
    Mark Few, Gonzaga
    11%
    93 votes
    Rick Pitino, Louisville
    43%
    358 votes
    Richard Pitino, Minnesota
    17%
    137 votes
    Roy Williams, North Carolina
    3%
    22 votes
    Other
    10%
    83 votes

BOZICH | Monday Muse: Pitino vs. Pitino or Pitino vs. Calipari?

Posted: Updated:
Rich and Richard Pitino are both in the race for college basketball coach of the year. (AP photo) Rich and Richard Pitino are both in the race for college basketball coach of the year. (AP photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Awards season is here. I’ll try to read the correct envelope – with help from Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, not Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.

The winner for Best Weekend Sports Roundup is … The Monday Muse. Trust me on this one.

1. Pitino Vs. Pitino

Last week I discussed the college basketball player of the year race with the recommendation to hold all ballots for as long as possible.

Ditto for Coach of the Year voting.

We’ve reached the final week of the regular season, and the list of candidates stretches from here to Spokane, where Gonzaga’s Mark Few has been the frontrunner since January.

But the Zags lost a game they weren’t supposed to lose, and it’s time to consider fresh resumes. Here is my list, although The Muse is always open to audience participation.

Chris Collins of Northwestern – if the Wildcats finally inch into the NCAA Tournament. The ACC Williams non-brothers (Roy, North Carolina and Buzz, Virginia Tech) have done solid work.

Ditto for Jay Wright of Villanova, if you agree that chasing the back-to-back thing is difficult. I’d listen to arguments for Mike White of Florida, Steve Alford of UCLA and Tim Jankovich of Southern Methodist.

But two more names belong on the list – Rick (Louisville) and Richard (Minnesota) Pitino.

In a season when Louisville was expected to finish fourth or fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Cardinals have a solid shot at finishing second and earning a two-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Nobody would be shocked if U of L bounced all the way to Phoenix and the Final Four.

Richard started this season looking like a guy about to follow Tubby Smith and Dan Monson out of Minneapolis. After finishing 2-16 in the Big Ten last season, Minnesota was predicted for finish 11th or 12th.

The Gophers are 10-6, locked in a tie with Maryland and Michigan State for third.

Joe Lunardi projects the Gophers will be a seven seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Louisville is a two seed.

Hmmmm.

Two- and seven-seeds attract in the second round, but Lunardi does not have a Pitino vs. Pitino matchup – yet.

He’s got something equally enchanting – a Pitino vs. John Calipari matchup with the Gophers playing Kentucky in Round Two in Indianapolis.

Yes, please.

2. More Rick About Richard

I’m sure Rick Pitino would prefer not to play Richard Pitino in the NCAA Tournament – unless it was in the championship game.

But Father is comfortable discussing Son, as evidenced by this story Charley Walters wrote for the St. Paul Pioneer-Press. (The link.)

In the story, Rick said that before Richard accepted the Minnesota job he advised him that he’d have success with Tubby Smith’s leftover players in his first season – and then struggle with a rebuilding job.

Bingo. An NIT title the first year was followed by back-to-back seasons without a post-season appearance, which was followed by reports that Richard was on the Hot Seat.

Winners of seven straight and 22 of 29, the Gophers have no reason to sweat on Selection Sunday this year.

3. Perfection Reminder

Most basketball observers expected Gonzaga to lose a game this season. They just didn’t expect it to happen during the Zags’ regular-season home finale against 21-10 Brigham Young last weekend.

But it happened, extending the gap since the game’s last unbeaten champion to 41 seasons.

I know better than to call Quinn Buckner, Scott May, Tom Abernethy, Kent Benson, Bobby Wilkerson and other members of that 32-0 Indiana team to collect reaction. They have no problem adding another team to the club. Never have.

But those guys, along with former IU coach Bob Knight, sat down for extensive interviews with producer George Ray of Flagstaff Films for a documentary on the 1976 Hoosiers titled: “Perfect in 76.”

It will air for the first time on Showtime on Friday, March 10 at 9 p.m. but I’ve been promised an advance look before then. (Here is a link to the trailer.)

4. Mock Draft Mania

NBA Mock Drafts are like ear buds. You can never have enough, right? (Anybody have a recommendation on a nice set of Bluetooth buds? That needs to be the next addition to my collection.)

The latest projection comes from the folks at FanSided.com, who start with the same guy I have seen on every Mock Draft – Washington point guard Markelle Fultz.

But he doesn’t interest you. Local players interest you. I found six local guys. Here they are (in order):

Kentucky guard Malik Monk – Most mocks have Monk in the Top 10, and he’s seventh here. The NBA would be totally gaga if Monk was four, three or even two inches taller.

Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox – FanSided ranks him 10th, but I have to question which video they have studied to label Fox a “lockdown” defender. He isn’t.

Indiana forward OG Anunoby – The biggest mystery in the Top 15 because he has not played since mid-January after suffering a knee injury. Seems risky to take him at 14.

Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell – There wasn’t any buzz about Mitchell departing after his sophomore year before the season. There is now. He’s ranked 21st.

Kentucky center Bam Adebayo – John Calipari has been preaching about Adebayo’s defensive versatility, but he ranks 25th because you have to wonder if the pros see him as an undersized center who isn’t a sure thing at power forward.

Indiana center Thomas Bryant – Some expected Bryant to play his way into the middle of the first round. It has not happened. He’s ranked 36th.

5. Don’t Cross Cuban

Warning: Never utter a discouraging word about Dallas Mavericks legendary forward Dirk Nowitzki.

If you do, prepare for a response from Mavericks owner (and media titan) Mark Cuban.

Nowitzki ranks sixth on the NBA all-time scoring list – and the next player he will pass is Wilt Chamberlain. Even legends occasionally air ball, which is what Nowitzki did at Minnesota the other night.

Somebody at Bleacher Report noticed and thought it would be fun to attach a clip of the shot to a Twitter account with the words: Dirk Forever.

Forever did not last long. Cuban saw the Tweet and was not amused. He delivered a quick response to a big shot that he knows at Turner Sports (which owns Bleacher Report) as well as NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

Poof.

Gone.

For the record, I’ve always been a big Dirk fan.

Really big.

6. Barry Switzer Still Has It

Baker Mayfield has not been the Oklahoma quarterback since Barry Switzer was the Sooners’s head coach. It only seems that way.

Mayfield, an 18th-year senior, likely eliminated himself from Heisman Trophy consideration next fall by making a move that was not in the OU playbook.

During a visit to Arkansas, Mayfield struck a mug shot pose after he was arrested for public intoxication, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

I’m sure Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops gave the usual we’re aware of the situation and blah, blah, blah comment. Leave it to Switzer to handle it the way only Switzer could handle things, by taking to Twitter and posting this zinger:

“They couldn’t have caught me quarterbacks!!”

Guess what? He’s right.

7. Turn off LaVar Bell’s Mic

It’s only late February and LaVar Ball already has more Monday Muse mentions than Steph Curry, Bryce Harper or Lamar Jackson.

Turn on the microphone – and Ball will fill up your tape recorder.

Led by his son, Lonzo, UCLA enjoyed a wonderful week, winning at Arizona State and Arizona. The Bruins have won seven in a row. Some are discussing Steve Alford’s team as a Number One seed for the NCAA Tournament in the aftermath of Gonzaga’s burp against Brigham Young. They’ve moved to third in the latest AP Top 25 poll, just behind Kansas and Villanova.

Not good enough for Mr. Ball.

He swiped the headlines from his son – again – by saying Lonzo would only play for the Lakers when he jumps to the NBA next season.

Mr. Ball, when I get my Lakers’ news, I prefer to get it from Magic Johnson.

8. Zack Burdi Warming Up

The Chicago White Sox didn’t wait long to expose former University of Louisville relief pitcher Zack Burdi to big-league hitters. Less than nine months after he was selected in the first round of the Free Agent Draft, Burdi has camp with the Sox regulars in suburban Phoenix.

Burdi pitched in the ninth inning of the Sox second spring training game Sunday. Three batters. Three outs. A soft fly out. Two ground outs. I didn’t get a radar gun reading but White Sox radio announcers Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson were impressed. (Yes, I was listening.)

I don’t expect Burdi to break camp with the Sox. They’re a rebuilding club, unlikely to contend in the AL Central. No reason to burn an entire season of service time.

But don’t be surprised if Burdi makes his big-league debut by June.

9. Poll Results I

Do you agree with Kentucky's John Calipari that college basketball coaches should not be fired prior to the end of the season?

Yes – 55.9 percent

No – 44.1 percent

10. Poll Results II

Which player deserves to be the frontrunner for college basketball's Wooden Award as the game's best player?

Caleb Swanigan, Purdue 30.3 percent

Other 20.7 percent

Frank Mason, Kansas 18.5 percent

Lonzo Ball, UCLA 13.3 percent

Josh Hart, Villanova 7.6 percent

Luke Kennard, Duke 7.6 percent

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