In battle of Pitinos, father will try to end son's undefeated season | Zagsblog
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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.
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Sunday / May 26.
  • In battle of Pitinos, father will try to end son’s undefeated season

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    The father’s team is 7-2 and coming off a thrilling win over Princeton on Tuesday night.

    The son’s team is a perfect 10-0 and one of only seven unbeaten teams remaining in Division 1.

    And on Sunday, Rick and Richard Pitino will square off when Iona visits New Mexico in a family affair that also has national significance (6:30, FS1).

    “Look, they’re going to have a sold-out Pit, the altitude’s tough, we’re traveling on our way to Hawaii,” Rick Pitino said of New Mexico on Sunday. “But to be perfectly honest, I’d rather die than lose.”

    He then pointed out that he’s beaten Richard twice, but, “If he should upset us, he’s going to get the biggest blow-by [handshake] he’s ever gotten in his life.”

    Iona went into New Jersey on Tuesday night and came out with a hard fought 70-64 win over Princeton at Kean University. Sophomore Walter Clayton Jr. and junior Daniss Jenkins each had 20 points in the game to lead the Gaels.

    The Gaels are now 2-0 against Ivy League teams this year and 4-0 under the Naismith Hall of Famer Pitino.

    Iona is ranked No. 57 by KenPom, and New Mexico is No. 78. The Lobos feature Wichita State transfer Morris Udeze (18.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and Jamal Mashburn Jr. (17.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg). Jamal Mashburn played for Rick Pitino at Kentucky.

    “New Mexico is going to be great because my son called for the game,” Rick told reporters after the Princeton game. “He never called me before. I think it’s going to be a big treat for the players, and I told them this: They’re going to have 13-14,000 fans, and I said, ‘Richard’s gonna look to beat us by 30. Thirty!’ He’s not gonna say, ‘I’ll take it easy on Dad.’ And the reason he’s going to try to beat us by 30 is I taught him that way. I taught him that way. We’re going to go in there and do everything humanly possible to win the game. We know at every position, they’re great. That’s a tribute to Richard.”

    The elder Pitino, who has led three programs to the Final Four, said he’s “very proud” of Richard, who has a career record of 182-156 at FIU, Minnesota and New Mexico.

    “I made Richard, when he was an assistant coach, do every scout of every game, all the underneath sideline press offense”, Rick said. “Nobody else could touch it. I think I took him off two games. I didn’t want him to feel one ounce of being entitled. He was working 14-15 hours a day when he was in college at Providence, and he became a high school coach, then he became a GA. He didn’t have the normal fun of college, going out and drinking beer. He was coaching. So I’m very, very proud of him, I love him to death, but he knows he’s not coaching against me, he’s coaching against Iona. And he knows how much I want to win, and even more so, how much I hate to lose.”

    Asked if he was going to be doing any trash-talking, Richard Pitino said, “There’s not going to be any trash-talking from me…it’s not gonna happen from me.

    Told that his father was doing some, Richard replied: “He’s different than me. He’s 70 years old and in the Hall of Fame. I’m trying to rebuild a program. I’d be trash-talking too if I was his age.”

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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.

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