Taking a look at what Louisville coach Rick Pitino said, he is undoubtedly sincere, but perhaps not telling the complete truth.
“I marvel at what John [Calipari] does. I couldn’t do it,” Pitino said about the “one-and-done” trend, following Louisville’s loss to Kentucky on Saturday night. “I can’t say hello and good‑bye in seven months. It’s just not me.”
He went on to speak about his graduating seniors.
“I love getting to know Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith. I feel like they’re my children, part of their life‑ not that [Calipari] doesn’t feel that way about his kids.”
There is no doubt Pitino is sincere about building a relationship with the players, especially those who stay in his program, but it’s the other side of the coin that may be called into question.
The implication of his statement is, because Pitino “couldn’t do it,” namely sign a crop of one-and-done players, that if a player like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Anthony Davis wanted to put his signature on a piece of paper and head to Louisville, Pitino would turn him down to uphold a principle.
Call me crazy, but I don’t think it’s happening. If a player of that caliber is available, Pitino would welcome him.
Pitino could be referring to the idea of building an entire program on the one-and-done player, which would then perhaps be more understandable, but the reasons why may have nothing to do with a concern for personal relationships with players.
Predicating a program on the one-and-done player is a tough way to live, in general.
“I like that emotional attachment of the players,” said Pitino. “Every person’s different. I marvel at what they can do with that. I could never do it because I just emotionally get too attached to these guys. I want to see them grow as people ‑ not that [Calipari] doesn’t, I’m sure he does.”
The thing about Calipari’s system, though, is that, unlike what Pitino said, Calipari is not really saying “hello and goodbye in seven months.”
The players who have entered the NBA continue to build the Kentucky brand and are associated with the Kentucky program, though they have departed.
Call it two different philosophies, both of which have had success. Either way, there is one fact: Calipari and Kentucky are headed to the national championship game.