Rick Pitino

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino reacts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Clemson, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
AP Photo/Richard Shiro

Rick Pitino responds to Calipari’s comments on NCAA investigations


Last week Kentucky head coach John Calipari raised some eyebrows with his comments on a podcast hosted by Mike Lupica. During his appearance on the show Calipari alluded to the NCAA investigations at Louisville and North Carolina, stating that “if it happens on your campus, and it happens with your assistants and those people, you probably have a pretty good idea of what’s going on.”

Now Calipari didn’t refer to either Louisville’s Rick Pitino or North Carolina’s Roy Williams directly, but it wasn’t too hard to figure out the cases he was referring to in his comments. He also remarked on the NCAA’s enforcement of its rules, and the idea that some believe the governing body practices selective enforcement with the more powerful programs getting away with more.

Monday afternoon Pitino issued his reply to Calipari’s comments during his media availability at Louisville.

“Whether it’s Duke last month or us this month, these type of comments – we’re here to build up the image of college basketball, not tear people down,” Pitino said, making a reference to Calipari’s recruiting manifesto that many believed was a shot at Duke and its recruiting tactics.

“I don’t live in a glass house, and I don’t throw stones.”

Throughout the still ongoing NCAA investigation into the Katina Powell scandal that led to Louisville self-imposing a postseason ban, Pitino has stated that he personally knew nothing about the events that took place. Some may believe that while others remain skeptical

Per the Louisville Courier-Journal, Pitino also stated that he would look to see what Calipari meant by his comments should the two see each other at some point this summer. And with the two programs recruiting many of the nation’s top prospects, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which they don’t cross paths when recruiting reopens next month.

As investigations continue, Louisville’s Pitino looks ahead

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, right, talks to Mangok Mathiang during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Western Kentucky, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, in Louisville, Ky. Louisville won 78-56. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Rick Pitino raved about Louisville’s potential next season, suggesting Tuesday that the Cardinals’ length and speed mirrors the strengths of the 1996 NCAA championship squad he coached at archrival Kentucky.

That’s high praise for a team that must replace its top three scorers, but it’s a way for the coach to try and move past a tumultuous season of scandal that engulfed his program.

Several investigations are ongoing into escort Katina Powell’s book allegations that former Louisville basketball staffer Andre McGee paid her and other strippers to perform for recruits and players from 2010-14. The school has self-imposed several penalties, including a postseason ban from last year’s NCAA Tournament and reductions in scholarships and recruiting visits.

Pitino has been mum about whether the NCAA has interviewed him as part of its investigation. But he talked about the scandal in the past tense Tuesday as he discussed next season’s bright prospects.

“It still bothers me, I’m not going to lie to you,” Pitino said. “It bothers me when a trust is broken, and I still have sleepless nights thinking (why) you did something like this. …

“You put it behind you by getting encouraged and excited about this schedule, the team we have and the potential to be a contender for a championship next year.”

There is so much potential, that Pitino foresees Louisville being able to show the same strengths as that Kentucky team that earned one of his two titles as a coach.

The group has a major void to fill.

Sophomore center/forward Chinanu Onuaku is entering the NBA draft along with graduate transfers Trey Lewis and Damion Lee, a trio that combined for more than 37 points per game in helping the No. 16 Cardinals finish 23-8.

Despite the departures, Louisville returns plenty of size up front with 6-foot-10 senior Mangok Mathiang, who’s progressing from a season-ending foot injury. He’ll be joined by Anas Mahmoud and Matz Stockman, two 7-footers, and forwards Jaylen Johnson, Ray Spalding and Deng Adel – whom Pitino said he expects “big things” from.

“I’ve been toying all spring because I’ve had time on my hands with a style that would fit this team best,” Pitino said, “but we’re going to try to play just like that basketball team. (By) no means do I say we have that type of talent.

“But we have that type of length, that type of quickness, that type of athleticism, so we are going to play like that team.”

Pitino named Mathiang and junior guard Quentin Snider (9.4 points per game, team-high 109 assists) as co-captains of a team that also returns dynamic guard Donovan Mitchell.

Though Louisville’s self-imposed sanctions include eliminating one scholarship for 2017 and 2018, and 30 fewer days to recruit, Pitino said the investigation hasn’t hurt the school on the recruiting trail. The Cardinals will welcome their first high school All-American since 2011 in 6-7 guard/forward V.J. King and 6-3 guard Frankie Hughes.

“We haven’t had any resistance whatsoever and we’re off to a great start,” Pitino said of recruiting, adding that he’d like to surrender the scholarships for this year if possible.

With a challenging schedule featuring neighboring Indiana, Purdue along with its usual Atlantic Coast Conference docket and annual Bluegrass showdown against Kentucky, Pitino suggested that looking ahead was the only choice.

“We want to get everything behind us,” Pitino said. “It was a very difficult year emotionally, it was a very difficult year for all of us and we’d like to put every single thing behind us. Sometimes you cherish the past, and other times you’d like to forget the past.”

No. 4 Virginia clamps down on No. 11 Louisville

Virginia guard London Perrantes, left, steals the ball from Louisville center Chinanu Onuaku, right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, March 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
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In boxing there’s the old adage of “styles make fights,” with those styles either producing instant classics or absolute mismatches. When it comes to No. 4 Virginia and No. 11 Louisville this season, it was clear in their two meetings that the Cavaliers were a bad matchup for the Cardinals. Saturday night Tony Bennett’s team completed a sweep of the season series with a 68-46 win in Charlottesville, and it was Virginia’s seniors who led the way.

Malcolm Brogdon, who is seen by many as the favorite to earn ACC Player of the Year honors next week, scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half and Anthony Gill added 15 points and four rebounds. But the senior star on this night was none other than Mike Tobey, who scored 15 points and corralled a staggering 20 rebounds on the night.

Tobey became the first Virginia player since Travis Watson in 2003 to grab at least 20 boards in a game, and his total was just eight fewer than Louisville tallied as a team. The rebounding number was just one aspect of this beating, a game in which Virginia controlled the action in all areas. Virginia committed 13 turnovers but shot 51.3 percent from the field, supplementing their scoring from the field with a 23-for-30 night from the foul line.

As for the defense, that was the biggest reason why Virginia is a bad matchup for Louisville. The Cavaliers limited the Cardinals to 27.6 percent shooting from the field, with Louisville getting just 14 attempts from the foul line (making ten). Gill’s ability as a defender in ball screens is well-known by this point, but he wasn’t the only Virginia big man who performed well.

Louisville’s guards were unable to turn the corner, and on many occasions the ball stayed on one side of the floor as a result. Quality shots were tough to come by, as one would expect when playing against Virginia’s pack line defense, and Louisville struggled mightily. In the first meeting, the Cardinals shot 32.7 percent from the field and had many of the same issues. Much was made of Virginia’s defense earlier this season and the underrated impact of Darion Atkins’ departure, and there was some work to be done when it came to how big men other than Gill defended in ball screen actions.

There were no such issues Saturday night, and as a result the Cavaliers will be the two-seed at next week’s ACC tournament. And if they can continue to defend at this level, Tony Bennett’s team will have a good shot at winning their second ACC tournament in the last three years.

No. 19 Louisville rolls past Boston College 79-47

Surrounded by teammates, Louisville graduate students Damion Lee, seated left, and Trey Lewis meet with reporters during a press conference, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, in Louisville Ky.  The president of Louisville announced a one-year postseason ban Friday for the Cardinals men’s basketball team amid ongoing investigations into a sex scandal, a decision that stunned coach Rick Pitino. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Trey Lewis scored 16 points and Deng Adel added 13 as No. 19 Louisville routed Boston College 79-47 on Saturday, a day after the school imposed a postseason ban for recruiting violations.

The Cardinals (19-4, 8-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) followed up Monday’s upset of No. 2 North Carolina with a lopsided win despite uneven stretches. The absence of leading scorer Damion Lee (bruised knee) impacted their rotation, but plenty of teammates stepped up to fill the void in an emotional game.

Several baskets by Lewis midway through the second half help spark a 10-0 run that got Louisville back out to a comfortable lead en route to keeping the Eagles (7-16, 0-10) winless in league play.

Donovan Mitchell added 10 points, Quentin Snider and Jaylen Johnson each had nine and Chinanu Onuaku added eight with 13 rebounds.

Sammy Barnes-Thompkins scored 11 points for Boston College before fouling out.

Even with their top scorer on the bench in street clothes, the Cardinals got the dominant win they wanted one day after an announcement by Louisville’s president that the team would not play in either the ACC or NCAA tournaments. President James Ramsey said an investigation revealed that violations did occur when the school reviewed allegations by escort Katina Powell that former staffer Andre McGee paid her and other dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players.

Lee and Lewis – graduate transfers who came to Louisville with hopes of playing in the tournament – said the team wanted to make the most of its nine remaining games with a focus on holding serve at home. Other than a few lapses that allowed Boston College to get within single digits, the Cardinals used most of their bench to that end.

The Cardinals made 16 of 26 from the field after intermission to finish at 51 percent. They controlled the paint 44-20 and out-rebounded Boston College 38-30.

Louisville’s reserves outscored the Eagles 24-12, chipping in some key points for a 32-14 lead at the break despite 42 percent shooting. Johnson’s seven points led nine Cardinal scorers and featured a 3-pointer by reserve David Levitch late in the half.

Boston College meanwhile started 1 of 7 from the field and shot just 30 percent in a first half, which included 11 turnovers leading to 12 Louisville points. Those struggles made it easy for the Cardinals to mount a 17-0 run over 4:05 for a 19-2 lead and an advantage that reached 19.

The Eagles showed some life early in the second half with five straight baskets to get within 37-28 and create some uneasiness before Lewis took charge.


Boston College: Dennis Clifford added nine points for the Eagles, who shot 39 percent. … Saturday’s game ended a three-game road stretch against ranked teams.

Louisville: The Cardinals’ 1956 NIT Championship team was honored in a halftime ceremony that featured several members. … Louisville took a 4-3 lead in the series and remained unbeaten at home against BC.


Boston College: Hosts No. 2 North Carolina on Tuesday.

Louisville: Visits Duke on Monday.

Louisville self-imposes postseason ban as part of NCAA investigation

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino reacts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Clemson, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
AP Photo/Richard Shiro

Friday afternoon news dumps are rarely positive, and that was the case for the Louisville basketball program.

A source confirmed to NBC Sports that as part of the ongoing NCAA investigation into allegations levied by former escort Katina Powell, the school has declared the men’s basketball team ineligible for postseason play this season. The investigation has yet to be completed, and the NCAA has yet to send Louisville an official Notice of Allegations, but the school has decided to take this preemptive step.

During a press conference in which the school made the news official, head coach Rick Pitino noted that “speaking to the team and watch the players cry” was one of the hardest things he’s had to deal with in his coaching career. The players hurt the most for Damion Lee and Trey Lewis, grad students who transferred to Louisville in hopes of experiencing the NCAA tournament. 

This is the second consecutive season in which an ACC team has self-imposed a postseason ban in the middle of the year, with Syracuse doing so in 2014-15. In regards to this season, Louisville joins Missouri, Pacific, Southern Miss and SMU as programs that have announced postseason bans for their programs.

The Cardinals are currently ranked 19th in the AP Poll, with an overall record of 18-4 with a 7-2 record in ACC play. Considered a lock for the NCAA tournament, Louisville is also in position to win the ACC regular season title after handing No. 2 North Carolina its first loss of the season Monday night.

Now, that’s the only honor a team led by two players in Lee and Lewis who transferred to Louisville in hopes of competing for a national title can aim for.

News of the self-imposed sanction was first reported by Kentucky Sports Radio.

Lee’s 29 lead No. 16 Louisville past Virginia Tech, 91-83

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) Damion Lee scored 29 points and No. 16 Louisville used superb shooting from behind the 3-point arc to overcome foul trouble and beat Virginia Tech 91-83 on Wednesday night.

Lee hit his first six tries from long range and Trey Lewis made four 3s in the second half for the Cardinals (17-3, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference). Lewis finished with 22 points, all but two coming after halftime.

Jalen Hudson scored 27 points, Seth Allen had 26 and Zach LeDay 20 for the Hokies (12-9, 4-4), who have dropped three in a row since a surprising 4-1 start to conference play. Virginia Tech stayed in the game by making 33 of 38 free throws, but allowed the Cardinals to hit 12 3-pointers in 18 attempts.

The Cardinals arrived with the nation’s top field goal percentage defense (36.4 percent), and the second-stingiest scoring defense (58.8 points), but much of their interior presence was taken away quickly as 6-foot-10 Chinanu Onuaku was whistled for two quick fouls.

Onuaku was never much of a factor, but the Cardinals stepped outside to make up for it.

Lee, a graduate transfer from Drexel, finished 6 of 7 from deep. Lewis, a graduate transfer from Cleveland State, went 4 of 7, their shots continually breaking any momentum the crowd at Cassell Coliseum tried to encourage.

In the closing minutes, with the Hokies forced to foul, the Cardinals were on target from the line as well, preventing Virginia Tech from getting any closer than six down the stretch. Louisville finished 25 of 34 at the free throw line.

Jaylen Johnson had 11 points for Louisville. Justin Bibbs scored 10 for the Hokies.

The Cardinals hit six 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes of the second half, opening a 67-57 lead, and appeared poised to put the Hokies away. But Virginia Tech continued driving the ball to the basket, getting Onuaku and 7-footer Anas Mahmoud into foul trouble – both eventually fouled out – and the Hokies made their free throws.

The Hokies led 20-12 before going more than 10 minutes without a field goal and getting just 12 points on free throws. The Cardinals used a 12-2 run to take a 24-22 lead, and closed the half on Lee’s buzzer-beating fourth 3-pointer of the half to lead 38-34 at the break.


Louisville: Onuaku arrived at Cassell Coliseum as the first Cardinals player in 22 years to record six consecutive double-doubles, but was whistled for two personal fouls in 3 minutes and sat out the rest of the first half. He finished with nine points and five rebounds.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies were 17 for 18 from the foul line and outscored Louisville 17-5 from the line in the first half.


Louisville is at home against No. 11 Virginia on Saturday.

The Hokies play at Pittsburgh on Sunday.

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