Rick Pitino has had many opportunities throughout his coaching career to coach against former assistants and/or former players, most recently beating Billy Donovan in the West regional final in March.
But on December 19th he’ll coach against his son for the first time, as Richard’s FIU squad will visit the KFC Yum! Center.
To say the least this will be a tough match-up on the floor for the younger Pitino, who has a serious rebuilding project on his hands at FIU.
Louisville, on the other hand, is expected by many to be a national title contender after falling to in-state rival Kentucky in the Final Four last season.
While a game like this could serve as a great motivating factor for the son, it’s the father who’s been more vocal about the battle.
Rick Pitino has coached three teams to the Final Four, but he has never coached against a son before — much less a son who was his top assistant on a team that made a stirring run to the Final Four two months ago.
“I never got to spank you as a child, would you like to get a spanking this year?” Rick Pitino texted his son, not long after Richard got the FIU job last month.
“He uses that line all the time on the golf course. He needs some new material. I’m going to ask him, ‘When’s your new album coming out?’ ”
According to Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com Richard had the following response: “At FIU, we let our game do our talking. Not our mouths.”
The only other father vs. son coaching match-up that comes to mind is the 1993 battle between son Jan van Breda Kolff (then at Cornell) and father Butch (then at Hofstra).
The younger van Breda Kolff left the gym victorious on that day, with the Big Red winning by a final score of 70-56.