Rick Pitino among 12 finalists for Naismith Hall of Fame

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Rick Pitino’s had quite a ride the last 16 hours or so.

Louisville’s coach was livid at how the officials called Thursday’s loss to Cincinnati, but Friday afternoon’s news that he was one of 12 finalists to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame brought a smile to his face.

“I’m extremely honored and grateful to be a finalist for the Hall of Fame,” he told CBSSports.com.

Other first-time finalists include for UCLA and Indiana Pacers star Reggie Miller, NBA coach Bill Bitch and two-time Olympic gold medalist Katrina McClain. Other finalists who are up for induction again include Don Nelson, Maurice Cheeks, Bernard King, Dick Motta, Hank Nichols, Ralph Sampson, Jamaal Wilkes and the All-American Red Heads, which the AP says is known as the female version of the Harlem Globetrotters and the first women’s professional basketball team.

Pitino, 59, is one of the two coaches in college hoops to have taken three programs – Providence, Kentucky and Louisville – to the Final Four. (John Calipari hasn’t officially taken UMass or Memphis, according to the NCAA.) He won a title with the Wildcats in 1996 and has won more than 600 games in 27 seasons at five schools.

Inductees will be announced April 2 at the Final Four in New Orleans. To be inducted, Pitino needs at least 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election.

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