Discover more from The UConn Fast Break
Spicy Nuggets: Coaches say the darndest things
These guys just go out in public and tell lies.
Spicy Nuggets is back! And we have a lot of material to work with.
The premise of this column is to revisit some on-court stuff that we don’t have time to address in game coverage and also write about absurd events surrounding the basketball.
Regarding the latter, UConn just won a national championship after going against head coaches Rick Pitino, Eric Musselman, Mark Few, and Jim Larranaga, among others. Most of these guys said regrettable, hilarious things in the last month. Let’s go explore.
St. John’s? I don’t know any Johns!
Rick Pitino was an artful dodger in the post-game press conference after Iona’s season ended at the hands of the Huskies in the first round. The first question was about whether it was his last as Gaels’ head coach.
“I really don't have an answer to it, to be honest with you. I have no idea if it is or isn't because I've focused everything on this game,” he said. “It really taught me a lesson of what you need to compete at this level.”
Later, unprovoked, he addressed the school he was reportedly tied to, “I know you're all alluding to St. John's, but I've never seen St. John's.”
Pitino also made clear how he felt about his treatment by the NCAA.
“I had to wait five years for them to basically stall my career out to finally get exonerated. It was exonerated by an impartial committee made up of legal people…not ADs and not people they hand-pick. So for five years, they put me in the outhouse because they couldn't get their stuff together,” he said.
When pressed again about his future, Pitino launched into story mode.
“One of the funniest games of all time was 1987. There's a loose ball out of bounds, we're up one, and it goes out of bounds, and Louie's going crazy saying there's one second on the clock, one second on the clock, probably was
“I got my team. I threw Billy Donovan in the shower. He said, ‘Coach, my shoes are on,’ I said, ‘Turn the water on and get in the shower.’ The referee comes and says, ‘One second,’ and I said, ‘My guys are in the shower, we're not coming out,’ and we never came out, and the referee said game over.
“That was the last thing I remember about being at St. John's. That was 1987, guys. 1987. So I don't remember too much about it, to tell you the truth.”
Pitino continued: “You don't buy houses without looking at the garage and the upstairs and the kitchen and everything. You don't just buy a house.”
That Friday night, less than an hour after the press conference wrapped up, reports emerged that he was confirming a contract to be the next St. John’s head coach. On Tuesday, they held his introductory press conference.
To Pitino’s credit, he did say that UConn has “all the metrics to win a national championship,” and was right about that.
“The best center in the country”
Photo: Twitter - @ESPN
Before the second-round matchup with UConn, Saint Mary’s head coach Randy Bennett expressed minimal fear for big man Adama Sanogo.
“We don't play against anybody that's tougher to deal with than Gonzaga offensively,” Bennett said before the UConn game. “They lead the country in points per possession every year and have for maybe eight years now…You're going to see teams like that that have a Sanogo, that have other good bigs.”
He also said: “I think [Drew] Timme is the best center in the country and has been for two or three years now. We get a good test every year when we play those guys.”
Sanogo finished with 24 points on 11-16 shooting with eight rebounds against Saint Mary’s.
The next week, UConn held Gonzaga’s Timme to 12 points in a 5-14 shooting performance as the Bulldogs’ had their lowest point total of the season. Unfortunately for them, it happened in the Elite Eight. That’s a shame.
Take your shirt off!
Bill Murray tried to get Dan Hurley to take his shirt off after the Huskies’ big win over Arkansas, and it was captured on video. This of course would have been in response to Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman, who seems to enjoy disrobing after winning second-round NCAA Tournament games.
By the way, can we take a moment to enjoy THE Bill Murray being at UConn games?!?!? He was rocking a Joey California shirt for the national championship, as seen in this iconic photo with Jonathan XIV.
Photo: Twitter - @UConn
Larranaga cops out
After the Huskies’ thorough domination of Miami Saturday night, Hurricanes’ head coach Jim Larranaga, a ghost from UConn’s past, gave some credit to UConn but also had a few excuses ready in the chamber.
“We were never in sync offensively…it wasn't the script we were looking for. Some of that credit goes to Connecticut and the defense they played. And some of it probably just goes because of the venue.
“Being in the Final Four for the first time in the school’s history, the guys being a little bit anxious, and we really never were able to just relax and play our game.”
Larranaga seems to be saying that his team was happy to be there and that they were too taken by the moment to compete in the Final Four. The dude literally mentioned sightlines when playing in a football stadium, a problem that famously only applies to one team in the game, as we all know.
“I think the stage that we were playing on was so huge that every guy wanted to play so hard that they forgot how we play,” he said. “We didn't execute what we planned to do at either end of the floor.”