After two-plus seasons at Lamar, head coach Pat Knight, son of the Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight, was fired by the university on Sunday morning, according to a report from ESPN’s Andy Katz.
The Cardinals are 2-11 in the Southland Conference and lost to Northwestern State, 87-67, on Saturday; the team’s fourth straight defeat.
“I was told last night to meet with the president and the AD this morning at 10 a.m.,” Knight told Katz on Sunday afternoon after confirming the news. “I knew it. There’s no talk. They said they want to go in a different direction. We struggled for two years. It’s all based on the record. It’s part of the business.”
Pat Knight took over the program in 2011, and led the Cardinals to the 2012 NCAA Tournament in that first season, before losing to Vermont in a play-in game in Dayton. Knight made news late in that campaign when he went on an epic post-game rant following a 62-52 loss to Stephen F. Austin on Feb. 22.
During that press conference, he stated, this was “worst group of seniors right now that I’ve ever been associated with”. Following that outburst, the then-17-11 Cards won six straight games, including the Southland Conference tournament.
However, it has been downhill since that late-season run into the NCAA tournament. Lamar went 3-28 last season, and 25 games into this season the team had matched that dismal win total from the previous season with a 3-22 record. Knight took over for his father for final 11 games of the 2007-2008 season at Texas Tech after Bob Knight suddenly resigned. In three-plus seasons with the Red Raiders, Knight went 50-61.
Lamar, currently half a game out of last place in the Southland Conference, has five games remaining in the regular season. The Cardinals begin the post-Pat Knight era on Saturday at home against Sam Houston State.
One of the biggest storylines of Saturday’s college basketball schedule had everything to do with a team that no longer matters in the championship picture.
Less than 24 hours after being informed that the school would be imposing a postseason ban that will leave the Cardinals out of the ACC and NCAA tournaments, No. 19 Louisville tipped off against Boston College, and they did so without leading scorer Damion Lee, who is battling a knee issue.
How would the team respond to the decision — the despicable, shameful decision — that the university’s president made?
Well, it seems.
The Cardinals jumped out to a 19-2 lead in the first eight minutes and cruised to a 79-47 win over an overmatched Boston College team in the Yum! Center.
And head coach Rick Pitino, after the quote, said exactly what everyone is thinking.
“We should be penalized, no question about it,” he said. “But not this team. But the NCAA didn’t make that decision. We made that decision.”
He’s totally right. The school sacrificed the season — and the only shot that a pair of fifth-year seniors would get to play in the NCAA tournament — to protect the school, the brand and the bottom-line moving forward. Like I said earlier, it’s despicable.
But credit the Cardinals for responding.
Because they still have something on the line. They’re just a game out of first place in the ACC, and while an ACC regular season title isn’t a shot to play in the ACC or NCAA tournament, it’s still a banner that would probably mean more to Damion Lee and Trey Lewis than any league title has meant to a Louisville player before.
Oklahoma State’s star point guard was not in the lineup on Saturday against No. 13 Iowa State.
Evans injured his shoulder in the Cowboys’ loss at Texas Tech on Wednesday and was ruled out of Saturday’s game.
According to the school, his official status moving forward is questionable. The Pokes are just 11-11 on the season and likely need to earn the Big 12’s at-large bid to get into the NCAA tournament. It makes sense to let him get healthy.
Evans was averaging 12.9 points, 4.9 assists and 4.4 boards this season, but he had been arguably the best point guard in the Big 12 during league play, averaging 15.6 points and 5.6 assists.