One college coach glad to have Rick Pitino back, says he’s “not the monster some portray him to be”

Former UK and Louisville coach Rick Pitino is now the head coach at Iona.

By LARRY VAUGHT

Centre College basketball coach Greg Mason is an avid University of Kentucky basketball fan. He was when Rick Pitino was coaching Kentucky and is now with John Calipari coaching and has had numerous interactions with both coaches.

He was not surprised when Pitino was hired at Iona to put him back into college coaching after he was fired two years ago at Louisville.

“He’s one of the five best basketball minds in the last 50 years,” Mason said. “He is an innovator. He changed the game back in the late 1980’s, early 1990’s. It good to have hm back coaching. He made mistakes and paid dearly. Many in the world have made mistakes and not paid as dearly as he has.”

One of Mason’s former players, Jordan Sucher, was part of the basketball staff at Louisville under Pitino. That gave Mason a chance to get to know Pitino off the court a bit.

“He is fun to be around. He is not the monster some portray him to be,” Mason said.

Mason has seen the success Dayton has had, including this year when it figured to be one of the No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.

“He might actually be able to do better than Dayton. Just not this first year,” Mason said. “He is a brilliant basketball mind. Toward the end of the season his teams always play their best basketball. They did at Kentucky and always do.

“His people are intensely loyal to him. He has a knack for coaching and a knack for relating to people. I think he will crush this opportunity. His impact will be tempered this year because of the (coronavirus) situation in New Rochelle (N.Y.) will limit how much he can even work with his guys. But I think having him back in college basketball is good because anyone who is honest knows he’s a great coach no matter what else you might think about him.”

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