Delk: Pitino "Took His Hands Off The Steering Wheel," Hired The Wrong Guys

Rick Pitino hired people who "didn't have his back," Tony Delk says, but he deserves another opportunity

Taz and the Moose
April 04, 2018 - 10:14 am

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Rick Pitino’s Louisville tenure came to an unceremonious end last year, this after an alleged pay-for-play scheme involving a highly ranked recruit. This incident was the latest of several transgressions committed by Pitino – or by people in and around his program.

Pitino, however, has maintained his innocence throughout and expressed a desire to coach again.

“I talked to coach a few months ago, and I know he’s very passionate and he still loves the game and definitely wants to get back in the game,” SEC college basketball analyst and NBA TV analyst Tony Delk said on Taz & The Moose. “I don’t know if it’s on the collegiate level. I just think coach wants to be given the opportunity.”

Delk played for Pitino at Kentucky. In 1996, Delk was SEC Player of the Year, a consensus first-team All-American, and the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, as he led the Wildcats to the national championship.

“He’s by far the best coach I ever played for,” Delk said. “That’s not a knock against the guys I played for in the NBA and my high school coach, but Coach Pitino taught me so much about the game from a mental aspect, physically being in great shape, and just understanding the game from an IQ standpoint. He was one of the most knowledgeable coaches that’s in college basketball. He was able to not only take his players and make those guys pros, he has really good assistant coaches that became head coaches.”

It's difficult to dispute any of that. At some point, though, Pitino lost his way.

“During his time at Louisville, he had a chance to hire a lot of people and give those people opportunities to be able to take care of the family,” Delk said. “I just think the last couple years, he hired the wrong guys. He hired the wrong guys – guys that didn’t have his back. When you think about loyalty, I thought he had a lot of it early on, and then there were guys that were just coming in, basically doing their time and they were looking to get to the next job. Coach might have took his hands off the steering wheel. But it doesn’t mean he doesn’t know basketball or he’s not passionate about what he does. I’m just waiting for somebody just to step up and give him the opportunity.”

Pitino was reportedly close to becoming the next head coach at Rhode Island, but both sides have denied that.

“I know there’s been a couple different talks about different programs,” Delk said. “It’s going to have to be the right situation for him. Whatever AD or program hires him, they’re getting a really, really good coach – a great coach, not a good coach."