Rick Pitino: John Calipari is the national coach of the year

Rick Pitino had some praise for his in-state rival.
Joe Robbins/Getty Images Sport

By Matt Hladik

The U.S. Basketball Writers Association recently voted Virginia’s Tony Bennett its Henry Iba Award Winner as the national Coach of the Year. According to the Associated Press, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino was asked on Tuesday about Bennett taking home the honor, and his response is one that probably caused a ripple across the Bluegrass State.

“I think John Calipari has done a brilliant job, so I’d put him at the top” of the list of candidates.

Pitino added, “When you’re undefeated and nobody’s beaten you, it’s clear cut who the coach of the year is right now.”

Sure, Calipari is the skipper of the undefeated and top-ranked team in the nation, but that team is Kentucky, Pitino’s former employer and Louisville’s biggest rival, so this response is somewhat noteworthy. Still, Calipari as coach of the year isn’t exactly an outside-the-box thought from anyone.

The most surprising thing, given Pitino and Calipari’s respective resumes, is that neither of them has ever won the USBWA Coach of the Year award. 

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