The winner of summer’s most hilarious anecdote goes to Rick Pitino. And it’s not even close.
As part of two fantastic stories by ESPN.com’s Dana O’Neil, the Louisville coach recounted his best “On the Road” adventure while recruiting as a Syracuse assistant in the late ‘70s. That’s enough setup, though. I don’t want to detract from O’Neil’s excellent work:
Rick Pitino had spent so much time recruiting Rich Shrigley that he told his boss, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim, not to say a word during their visit to Shrigley’s home in Nashua, N.H.
“I just said, ‘I got this. I’ll do all the talking,'” Pitino said. “I must have said it 20 times. ‘I know everything about this kid. You don’t need to talk. I’ll do all the talking.'”
Pitino begins his spiel, pitching what would make Syracuse a better fit than NC State, another school in the running for Shrigley’s talents. He wanted to emphasize that the Wolfpack and coach Norm Sloan had more players at Shrigley’s position, so he’d be better served at Syracuse, where there wasn’t such a numbers crunch.
“So I’m just getting started on the part about NC State and his mother says, ‘Yes, I told Norman that,'” Pitino said. “And Jim and I just look at one another. Finally Jim says, ‘Do you know Coach Sloan?’ She said, ‘Yes. He’s my brother.’ I didn’t say a word the rest of the night.”
Boeheim, however, said plenty and nearly 30 years later, he remembered the tale vividly.
“We had to pull over after we left the house,” Boeheim said. “Funniest thing I’ve ever seen. Yeah, I’ll do all the talking, he kept telling me.”
The perfect capper? Shrigley went to Boston College.
Anyway, that’s just one of several amusing anecdotes O’Neil compiled. Also worth a read is her rundown of coaches’ recruiting hits and misses through the years, including how Rick Barnes had Tim Duncan all set to attend Providence, but the school hosed him.
Though maybe that was a good thing. I can’t imagine what Barnes’ rep would be like if he’d had Duncan and Kevin Durant at different points of his career.
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