Thursday, June 4, 2009

ITS OFFICIAL: Rick Pitino has offered Ralph Willard, the head coach at Holy Cross, an assistant position on his staff at Louisville. The spot was opened up with Pitino's son, Richard, left Louisville for Billy Donovan's staff in Florida.

Pitino and Willard have been friends for years after Pitino attended the same high school Willard went to. Willard has already been an assistant to Pitino with the Knicks and for a season at Kentucky.

Jeff Goodman says that this would not be a good fit for Louisville, and I would have to agree. Nothing against Willard, who by all accounts is a good person and a fantastic coach, but college basketball in this day and age is less about coaching ability and more about recruiting. To be the best, you have to get the best talent.

I've said it a thousand times here, but in the last 40 years, the only team that has won a national title without three players that were either drafted in the first or second round, or eventually ended having a semi-relevant NBA career, was the 2003 Syracuse team (and they had Carmelo Anthony, Hakim Warrick, and a young Gerry McNamara).

Bottom line: great coaching will put a game in the win column, good coaching with the most talented rosters will put banners in the rafters.

I understand the value of another veteran presence on the sideline, but with your biggest rival (and former team) vaulting to the top of the preseason polls after hiring possibly the greatest recruiter of all-time (John Calipari), and with your 2010 class taking a big hit (Jeremy Tyler to Europe, Justin Martin de-commiting after the younger Pitino left), would it not make sense for Pitino to hire a hot-shot young assistant that can land him some all-american talent?

Alas, this all seems like it may be a "tribute" job-offering. In a statement released by Louisville, Pitino said:

Yes, I have offered the position to Ralph. I've also offered the last four openings we've had at Louisville to Ralph because he's always my number one choice. I do it every time and it's nothing new. I fully expect him to turn me down for the fifth straight time.

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