Rick Pitino talked for about 15 minutes on Sunday evening with the Courier-Journal and WLKY. He talked about still having the passion to coach, what this team needs, Terry Rozier, Mangok Mathiang being named a captain, and more. Here is just some of that interview.
On naming his captains
I know Mangok’s going to be one of those guys. I don’t know who the other will be. I’m hoping it’ll be a fifth-year senior who has leadership qualities.
On if he helps departing players with anything
What I do is I stay out of the agent business. The only time I give advice to my guys is if they need financial advice. I tell them what to do because that’s where they make their biggest mistakes.
On Terry Rozier
We talked about this at the beginning of the year, at the midpoint of the year. I knew he was going pro 100 percent. His mom thanked my wife at the game and said Terry just loved playing for your husband. I knew it. It was not an agreement as much as I knew his family plight, and I knew if he had a good year, he was going to go. It wasn’t just me saying it. We talked about it. You don’t just come at the end of the year and, in 24 hours, make this decision. If you have a good year, I’m going. If you don’t, you come back. Well, he had a good year. He led his team, he was the leading scorer of his basketball team. The fans were hoping he’d come back. I was very up front and honest he wasn’t coming back.
On how grad transfers can help U of L
Well, first of all, they’ve got to be a great person. I’m very much for the one and done in this regard. I love one and dones at the fifth-year level because you get mature individuals who have leadership qualities who really, really want to be part — maybe they weren’t a part of the NCAA tournament and the national stage, and this is their opportunity and they’re hungry for it. I love one and done players. This will be my first one and done.
On the national title game
I have an opinion on most games. I thought that Duke would handle Michigan State because of how they’re playing right now. I couldn’t pick the Wisconsin-Kentucky game. I thought Kentucky would win based on — they haven’t lost — but this game I can’t pick because Duke is at a different level than what we saw at Louisville earlier in the year. Wisconsin has gone through teams — the teams they’ve had to play to get there. Can they get themselves back from that emotional high of beating Kentucky? Duke had a relatively softer game. It happened to us when we played Minnesota (in 1997). We got the hell beat out of us physically, and then we had to play Arizona and lost in overtime. Sometimes games take a heck out of you emotionally and physically, so it all depends on how much it took out of Wisconsin.