Pitino vs Pitino: Dad-son matchup highlights Lobos-Iona game

Dec 16, 2022, 5:42 PM | Updated: Dec 17, 2022, 10:50 am

FILE - Iona head coach Rick Pitino gestures as his team plays against Alabama in the first half of ...

FILE - Iona head coach Rick Pitino gestures as his team plays against Alabama in the first half of a first-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament in Indianapolis, March 20, 2021. University of New Mexico coach Richard Pitino says the upcoming matchup Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, against Iona is business as usual for the unbeaten Lobos. He still acknowledges the game is getting added exposure because it pits him against his father, Rick. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Fielding questions about his father is nothing new for New Mexico coach Richard Pitino.

“It’s been 40 years of answering dumb questions about my dad, so you guys get a free pass,” Pitino recently told a group of journalists ahead of Sunday’s meeting with Iona, coached by Rick Pitino.

The elder Pitino, of course, is no ordinary papa — or head coach for that matter.

Rick Pitino led both Kentucky and Louisville to national championships and has amassed more than 800 college victories. Along the way, he also coached the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks. He was let go from Louisville in 2017 after the men’s basketball program was part of a federal investigation into alleged bribery of recruits.

Now the Pitinos will be on opposing benches for just the third time. Richard Pitino is 0-2 against his father. Both losses came when the elder Pitino was coaching Louisville.

“I think it’s going to be a big treat for the players,” Rick Pitino said in his postgame news conference following a win over Princeton. “They’re going to have 13,000-14,000 fans. And I told them this, ‘Rich is going to want to beat us by 30, 30.’ He’s not going to say, ‘I’m going to take it easy on dad.’ And the reason he’s going to try and beat us by 30 is I taught him that way.”

Richard Pitino, in his second season with the Lobos after being fired following a 54-96 regular-season record over eight years at Minnesota, said the game really has nothing to do with the father-son matchup.

“Yes, it’s an interesting story line, me versus my dad,” he said. “But if you were at our practices, if you were at our film sessions, you wouldn’t know who the coach of the opposing team was. It’s business as usual for us.”

For the Lobos, that business means trying to extend their 10-game winning streak to open the season.

“All I care about it that the Lobos find a way to get a win,” Richard Pitino said.

And dad, well, he would have no qualms about hanging an L on his son’s program behind the 7-2 Gaels. He’s entering his third season at Iona, a private Catholic university in New Rochelle, New York.

“I’m very, very proud of him and love him to death,” said 70-year-old Rick Pitino. “And 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.”

The pairing is a good chance for both programs to raise their profiles.

“I understand it’s a storyline but it has nothing to do with the game,” Richard Pitino said. “I scheduled it because I wanted the exposure for our program as we rebuild it.”

It was also a way to create some excitement among local fans who had grown increasingly lukewarm to the Lobos after years of passionate embrace.

In that respect, Richard Pitino said it absolutely has been a success, perhaps even more so than he anticipated.

“When I took the job, I was concerned, as everybody is, when you’re down and coming out of a pandemic, of bringing the fans back,” he said. “So that’s why I did it and it’s certainly proven to be something that the community has been excited about.”


AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Pitino vs Pitino: Dad-son matchup highlights Lobos-Iona game