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THE MONKS, Iowa – Chris Mack's tone was slightly upset and some subtle criticisms were stating it.
The men's basketball coach at the University of Louisville was not engrossed in Rick Pitino's account of the opening match of his team's NCAA tournament as a basketball – did not even mention it, he said to his players – but he remains puzzled and slightly surprised at the first-round match between his Cardinals and Richard, son of Pitino, of the Minnesota Gophers.
"I think the (selection) committee probably would have had a little more self-awareness," Mack said Wednesday afternoon. "It is therefore not necessary to be here to answer such questions and focus on student-athletes and the experience of coaches and the experience of the grassroots. supporters, but, you know, I can not control that. "
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Maybe the chips have fallen precisely when the NCAA Bracket tournament describes. Perhaps the game Louisville-Minnesota was the product of seeding and geography, and not the idea of some conflict-oriented programming. It may be completely random that the tournament begins with a match between Pitino's son and his father's school. A) led to a title (released since) of 2013, B) was sacked following a series of scandals and C) now suing for about 40 million dollars.
Perhaps we are all too suspicious, too quick to attribute an ominous motive to an obvious (and no doubt unconscious) oblivion. Yet when asked if a committee member would talk about the provocative couple and if anyone in the room had asked, "Do we really want to do that?", NCAA spokeswoman Emily James replied, "We will not refuse to comment on this one.
In the end, Rick Pitino will not affect the results of the Louisville-Minnesota case. He will travel to Milan on Thursday to train his Greek side in a EuroLeague match. Any projected shadow will be felt more by fans and media types than by participating players. Nevertheless, as Mack suggested, any attentive person should have known enough to avoid reopening old wounds and causing collateral damage to innocent people.
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"When you see Louisville appear, you ask yourself more about the following questions:" What will I say to the media? How will I lie to the media? Richard Pitino said Wednesday, "questions."
For his part, Elder Pitino has maintained an unusually low profile since the revelation of the parenthesis Sunday night. When contacted by the Courier Journal, he declined to speak for the Minnesota-Louisville match. He refrained from mentioning one or the other school on his Twitter feed (while choose Virginia to beat Duke for the NCAA title).
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Could be a coincidence. Or maybe Rick Pitino knows when it's time to be heard and when it's time to be rare.
"We talked," Pitino said of his father's recent reluctance. "Normally, he would not listen if I told him to keep quiet. … We did not talk much about anything other than his question about Matz (Stockman) (the former center of Louisville), his behavior, about the team. At the end of the day, my goal is to help our team put itself in a position to succeed, no more than that. "
Although he acknowledged Rick Pitino as "the elephant in the room," Mack is anxious to isolate his players from outside noise. "Focusing on something other than trying to be at our best against a very good Minnesota team, I think, would deprive them of the experience of being here."
In addition, attributing any meaning to the Pitino subplot could minimize the hardships that Louisville has already experienced. The Cardinals have already played nine games against the top eight ranked teams in the tournament (2-7 in these games) and could play an extra match on Saturday against second-seeded Michigan.
"I know our players feel that there will not be a team we will face and we will wonder if we can compete with them or not," Mack said. "I think a lot of teams participating in this tournament say," Hey, we want to win games. But, man, if we face a few teams, can we really play with these guys and give us a chance to win? "
"I know our group feels like we can do it because we have been. We had to do it because of our schedule. We came out on the right side and there is a reason for that: they are the best teams in the country. I think one of the teams we played with will have a national championship trophy if it's not us. "
Mack's eyes are on that price. He would prefer that this path does not start with a Pitino.