Rick Pitino is 70 years old and talking about coaching for at least another decade.
That’s quite a revelation from a Hall of Fame coach who is one of four coaches to guide five different schools to the NCAA Tournament and has also endured scandalous moments during his long career.
During a press conference in Albany, N.Y., on Thursday, one day before his 13th-seeded Iona squad meets fourth-seeded UConn in West Region play, Pitino threw out 12 as the number of more seasons he would like to coach before calling it a career.
“But I’ll take six to seven,” Pitino said. “… I think you just take it one year at a time. Now, my desire would be to coach that long.”
Pitino said he got the wake-up call he needed when he was on the sidelines without a team to coach.
“Really, the two years I was out of coaching was really the most miserable two years of my life,” he said, “because I missed it so much because I love teaching, I love coaching, I love motivating — everything about it, I missed it terribly.”
The opening at Iona was Pitino’s way back into coaching. He has guided the Gaels (27-7) into the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons.
Pitino is out of the national spotlight at the private Catholic school located in New Rochelle, N.Y. near New York City, but that could change soon.
His success at Iona suddenly has Pitino back in demand, which is much different than after his ouster from Louisville six years ago. Following his firing with cause — which was later changed in court to a resignation. Louisville’s 2013 national title was vacated by the NCAA.
But after 64-21 in the three sesasons at Iona, among the schools mentioned to have interest in him are St. John’s, Georgetown and Texas Tech.
“I’ve always taken it as a compliment throughout all the years that if somebody else is interested in you, (be) very thankful for that, but I never pay attention to it,” Pitino said.
Pitino’s career record is officially 711-289 and includes winning the 1996 national championship game at Kentucky. He also guided Boston University and Providence to the NCAA Tournament in addition to Louisville and Iona.
Pitino was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013, and also has coached the NBA’s New York Knicks (1987-89) and Boston Celtics (1997-2001).
–Field Level Media