Friday, March 30, 2012

The Battle of Redemption for the Bluegrass Bluebloods


Kentucky versus Louisville - Calipari versus Pitino

As if the significance of the basketball game was not enough when Bluegrass Bluebloods Kentucky and Louisville take the court in the NCAA national semi-finals in New Orleans Saturday there are a host of sidebar stories worthy of merit as well.

Start with the fact both are coached by fiery Italians from the Eastern US, Rick Pitino of New York City and John Calipari of Moon Township just outside of Pittsburgh, PA.

Both played out east in college.

Pitino played for U. Mass while Calipari played for the University of North Carolina at Wilmington before transferring to Clarion University in Pennsylvania.

Both were assistant coaches for coaching legends, Pitino at Syracuse under Jim Boeheim and Calipari at Kansas under Larry Brown.

Both got first head coaching jobs in Massachusetts, Pitino at Boston University and Calipari at U. Mass.

Pitino, former star player at U. Mass, was on selection committee to hire Calapari.

Both revived their schools making them national powerhouses.

Both coached Kentucky.

Both coached in college and the pros.  

They are the only coaches in history to take three different schools to the NCAA final 4.  (Yes I know 2 Calipari trips no longer count.)

Both are among the top winning coaches in college.

Pitino is one of a select group of eight coaches who have taken teams from four different schools to the NCAA Tournament.

Pitino is one of 10 coaches all-time who have reached the Final Four on at least five occasions.

Both are seeking redemption, Pitino from personal blackmail scandal and Calipari from coaching violations at U. Mass and Memphis.

Pitino is seeking his second national championship while Calipari is seeking his first national championship.

Pitino is the Dapper Dan of college coaches whose sterling courtside dress style changed forever the coaches bench in college basketball.

Not only are they two of the best college coaches of all time but they are also two of the most animated and entertaining coaches of all time.

Let the game begin.

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