When the University of Louisville went looking for its first new men's basketball coach in 30 years just four years ago, it didn't just get the best person available. The Cardinals got arguably the best person, period.
Rick Pitino, one of the most brilliant minds in coaching, began a new era in University of Louisville men's basketball when he was named head coach of the Cardinals on March 21, 2001. And as he successfully accomplished at his previous three collegiate coaching stops, it is clear that there couldn't have been a finer choice to lead Louisville back among the nation's elite teams.
Among active coaches, Pitino has the third-highest winning percentage in NCAA Tournament games, winning 75.6 percent of his games in the post-season event with a 31-10 record in 11 tournament appearances. He is one of a select group of four coaches who have taken teams from four different schools to the NCAA Tournament. He is one of 10 coaches all-time who have reached the Final Four on at least five occasions.
Pitino's impact goes beyond the teaching, motivation and X's and O's of his on-the-court skills. His incredible charisma, tireless work ethic, captivating speaking skills and widespread appeal not only mesmerize the Cardinal faithful, but have the collegiate basketball world abuzz as well. His arrival in Louisville has generated incredible attention beyond the borders of the state he and his family have come to love.
Pitino is known for getting his players to believe in themselves, instilling the desire to succeed and driving his players to overachieve. His former players speak of their coach's caring nature beyond their basketball skills.
For three and a half years, Pitino served as president and head coach of the NBA's Boston Celtics. With the Celtics, he took over a team that had posted a franchise worst 15-67 record before his arrival. He quickly made an impact, improving the Celtics' victory total by 21 games in his first season. He resigned his position with the storied franchise on Jan. 8, 2001 after compiling a 102-146 record there.
Pitino was only 25 years old when he accepted his first head coaching job at Boston University in 1978. He produced a 91-51 record in five years there, departing as the most successful coach in BU history. In his final season there, he guided the Terriers to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 24 years. He was twice named New England Coach of the Year (1979, 1983).
Pitino left Boston U. to become an assistant coach for the New York Knicks from 1983-85, where he worked with head coach Hubie Brown. It was a team he would return to lead as its head coach in two seasons.
He was head coach at Providence College for two seasons (1985-87), producing a 42-23 record there. He guided the Friars to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 1986 and a trip to the NCAA Final Four in 1987, winning the regional championship in Freedom Hall.
Before his stint at Kentucky, Pitino served as head coach of the New York Knicks for two seasons. In his initial year there in 1987-88, the Knicks improved by 14 victories and made the NBA Playoffs for the first time in four seasons. The Knicks won 52 games in 1988-89 and swept the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
Aside from his hoops prowess, Pitino has achieved success off the court as well in such realms as broadcasting, publishing, motivational speaking and horse racing. He is an accomplished author, producing such books as the best seller "Success Is A Choice" and "Lead to Succeed."
He earned his degree in 1974 at Massachusetts, where he was a standout guard for the Minutemen's basketball team. His 329 career assists rank eighth all-time at UMass and his 168 assists as a senior is the sixth-best single season total ever there. Pitino was a freshman during NBA legend Julius Erving's senior year.
Born Sept. 18, 1952, Pitino is a native of New York City where he was a standout guard for Dominic High School in Oyster Bay, Long Island. There, he captained his team and established several school scoring marks.
Robert C Pohlad
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer
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