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 Says Current Kentucky Team Isn’t Better Than His ’96 Team; Would Love Rematch in NCAA Championship Game
Rick Pitino says as good as this current Kentucky team is, they’re not better than his loaded 1996 Kentucky team.
That club featured Antoine Walker, Tony Delk, Walter McCarty, Mark Pope and Nazr Mohammed and went 34-2 en route to winning the NCAA championship game against Syracuse.
“Well, I don’t think they’re as good as my ’96 team,” Pitino said Wednesday on “The Dan Patrick Show.” “Remember, the SEC was much tougher back then. Much tougher teams. Our average margin of victory back then in the SEC, I believe, was about 28 points per game. They’ve had a lot of close games.
“I think they’re an awesome basketball team, one of the best of all time…Somebody’s going to have to play a Villanova-type game to beat them.”
This current Kentucky club is 34-0 and seeking to become the first unbeaten team since Bob Knight’s Indiana team won the NCAA title in 1976.
They are loaded with future NBA picks, including Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Devin Booker, Trey Lyles and Dakari Johnson.
Yet several former Kentucky players believe their teams would beat this one.
Anthony Davissaid his 2012 team would “destroy” this one, and Doron Lambtold SNY.tv his team would probably beat this one “by 10 or 12 points.”
Kentucky beat Louisville, 58-50, Dec. 27 at Louisville.
Told that the only way Louisville could face Kentucky again would be in the NCAA title game, Pitino said, “I would love to see that, I would love to have a rematch. We couldn’t score against them the first time. It would be awesome if we could possibly get there but it’s a long way off.”
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.