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Monday / June 5.
  • Pitino Blasts Selection Committee Over Louisville-Manhattan Pairing

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    PitinoBy JOSH NEWMAN

    Special to ZAGSBLOG

    When Louisville was awarded the No. 4 seed in the Midwest Region on Sunday evening, that struck many people as a surprise given the Cardinals have won 12 of their last last 13, including the American Athletic Conference Tournament.

    Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino doesn’t have a problem with the seed. His problem lies with the fact that the seeding committee has his team playing 13th-seeded Manhattan, which is coached by former Cardinals assistant and Pitino disciple Steve Masiello.

    “I think the pairings sometimes lack common sense,” Pitino said Wednesday in Orlando. “I don’t think they would put somewhere down the road Duke-North Carolina, so the matchups don’t make sense to me. I’m OK with the seedings. I’m not OK with the matchups.”

    “But the selection committee is very fair, very honorable, very honest people, so I can’t protest too much because they’re doing the best job that they can do. Maybe they’re a bunch of soccer ADs? I don’t know.”

    The relationship between Pitino and Masiello goes back to when the latter was a ball boy for the Knicks at the age of 12 when Pitino was the head coach in the late 1980’s. Masiello was a freshman on Pitino’s 1997 Kentucky squad, which advanced to the national championship game before losing in overtime to Arizona.

    In 2005, Pitino hired Masiello at Louisville, where he became one of the nation’s elite assistant coaches before taking over as the head coach in Riverdale in 2011.

    In putting his stamp on Manhattan, Masiello has tried to mold the Jaspers into what Pitino has made of Louisville. That said, neither coach is thrilled about having to face the other.

    “We press like him, we trap like him, his offensive sets are just like ours,” Pitino said of Masiello. “That’s why I don’t like the game. I don’t think it’s fair. I don’t like it. I don’t know why they would do it. I just don’t like the game at all, for either one of us. We won the national championship and obviously we’re more heralded, but this is anybody’s game. This is not a 1-16.”

    “To see them come up and then see us come up against them, it takes a little fun out of it,” Masiello said. “It’s just, that’s not fun for me going against someone that I have to now try to beat, and almost in my mind, think negatively about. It’s hard for me to do that.”

    Manhattan is through to the NCAA Tournament for the first since 2004 thanks to winning the MAAC Tournament on March 10 with a victory over archrival Iona.

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