Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Rick Pitino and John Calipari already share a rivalry within the Bluegrass State.
Could they be expanding their rivalry to Latin American basketball?
Multiple reports indicate Pitino, the Louisville coach, is on the verge of accepting a job as Puerto Rico’s next national coach, while a blog report has Calipari, the Kentucky coach, considering coaching the Dominican Republic.
Pitino will reportedly meet Sunday in Miami with Carlos Arroyo of the Miami Heat and J.J. Berea of the Dallas Mavericks before their teams play Monday night. They are the only two Puerto Rican players in the NBA.
“He’s very excited and it’s almost a done deal,” Barea told ESPNDallas.com. “And I’m excited for it. We need a guy like that. It’s going to help us as a team.”
Barea played for Richard Pitino, Rick’s son, for one season at Northeastern when Richard was an assistant.
Rick Pitino would coach Puerto Rico in next summer’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Argentina, and then, assuming it qualifies, in the 2012 London Olympics.
Puerto Rico hasn’t qualified for the Olympics since Athens in 2004, when they beat the U.S. 92-73 in the Americans’ Olympic opener.
“We’re going to try something different. This year we are going to take a chance and see what happens,” Barea told ESPNDallas.com. “We have to finish in the top three over there [in Argentina]. We’re going to have a really good chance.”
Meantime, the blog Inside Puerto Rico Basketball (IPRB) reports that Dominican officials have reached out to Calipari about coaching their outfit. Calipari’s connection is that one of his current players, Eloy Vargas, is Dominican.
“If the Dominican Basketball Federation can bring in a well respected coach they have a real chance of qualifying for the 2012 Olympics,” a source told the Website. “They have four very good NBA players in [Al] Horford, [Charlie] Villanueva, [Francisco] Garcia and [Trevor] Ariza plus a bunch of very talented role players. They put those four NBA guys together with Cal and its a wrap.”
A source close to the Dominican Basketball Federation told ZAGSBLOG: “The Federation is seriously considering this. The fact of the matter is it makes all the sense in the world. Coach Cal and you bring in Coach Orlando Antigua [who is Dominican].
“Coach Cal is a proven winner and there is no question about his ability to communicate and get the most out of his players. He gets Wes [William Wesley] in the mix and all four NBA guys play.”
An email to a Kentucky spokesman was not immediately returned.
Follow Adam Zagoria on TwitterAnd like ZAGS on Facebook.
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.