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Tuesday / May 21.
  • Willard to Louisville

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    Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard has decided to join his old friend Rick Pitino on the Louisville staff, ZAGSBLOG reported Wednesday morning.

    Willard, who also served as head coach for four seasons at Western Kentucky (1990-94) and five years at Pittsburgh (1994-99), has previously coached with Pitino at two others stops. Willard was an assistant under Pitino with the NBA New York Knicks (1987-89) and at the University of Kentucky (1989-90).

    “I’ve been pursuing Ralph for the last 10 years,” Pitino said in a statement after the story was broken. “I can’t tell you how excited we are that he has joined our staff and we are back together again. Ralph is truly one of the best minds in our game. I can’t be happier for our players, our program, our university and our fans that such a quality coach and person has joined our U of L family.”

    Eight of Willard’s collegiate teams won 20 or more games, including four that won as many as 25. His teams participated in postseason competition on nine occasions, including six NCAA Tournament appearances.

    Willard compiled a 192-117 record in 10 seasons at Holy Cross, his alma mater, while guiding five teams to postseason competition (NCAA Tournament in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007; NIT in 2005). Holy Cross advanced to the Patriot League tournament championship game seven of the last nine years and Willard had a 17-6 record in the event.

    “Leaving my alma mater and the players at Holy Cross was obviously a difficult decision,” said Willard. “However, the opportunity to work for U of L and coach with Rick is very special. I’m excited about tackling the challenges a great program like Louisville will present.”

    Willard battled prostate cancer in 2005 and heart troubles in 2008, but that didn’t deter Pitino from going after him again.

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.