Pitino & Louisville Leave Garden Nets Up, Aim for Atlanta


NEW YORK
— Let the record reflect that the Big East Conference as we know it officially died at 10:52 PM EST on March 16, 2013.

It ended with Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals completing a dominant second-half comeback fueled by Peyton Siva and Montrezl Harrell that swept them to their second straight Big East Tournament championship compliments of a 78-61 blowout of Syracuse after they had trailed by 16 points early in the second half.

It would have been customary and celebratory had Pitino — a native New Yorker and former coach of the Knicks — and his players ascended ladders and cut down the nets at Madison Square Garden.

But the coach instructed his team not to do so.

As Obi Wan-Kanobi might have said, these aren’t the nets he’s looking for.

Pitino and his team are looking to cut down the nets in the  Georgia Dome on April 8.

And by leaving the nets up on the same court where Pitino once signed his scholarship papers to UMass, it seemed a fitting coda to the Big East, which will never again be the same.

“I told the guys, I said, ‘Look, there are no guarantees you’re going to get out of the first round,” Pitino said of his decision to leave the nets up.

“But we cut down the nets last year so we know the feeling. So let’s see if we can do something special, and if it happens for us, it happens. If not, we didn’t miss too much because we cut it last year.”

Russ Smith, the former Archbishop Molloy standout who is playing the postseason in honor of his late high school coach Jack Curran, who passed away last week, echoed Pitino’s message.

“We want to cut down some other nets,” said Smith, who managed just eight points on 2-of-8 shooting.

“That’s the goal. It’s no disrespect to the Big East Tournament, but we have a goal and we want to reach it, so for us to keep the eye on the prize that’s kind of what we felt like we needed to do.”

Louisville (29-5) or Indiana will enter the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed and Pitino said he expected thee Cardinals to get it.

While Indiana and Duke have already lost in their conference tournaments, Louisville throttled Syracuse, 56-26, in the second half to win their third Big East championship in five years.

Harrell, a 6-foot-8, 235-pound freshman who had never led Louisville in scoring all season, took the game over to the tune of 20 points, seven rebounds and one block.

Louisville’s bench outscored its starters, 41-37.

They certainly look like a team that could cut the nets down in Atlanta.

“We are just very happy and we just we have the Final Four coming up,” Louisville big man Gorgui Dieng , who nearly had a triple-double with nine points, nine assists and eight boards, told me as he celebrated with his teammates.

“We got the NCAA Tournament. We’re trying to get to the Final Four and win it all.”

Do you feel like you can win it all?

“Of course, if we keep playing like that, I don’t see anyone beat us,” he said. “We are ready to compete and I’m really proud of my teammates.”

Said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who was trying to make history in his final Big East Tournament game ever: “I thought they were the best team in the league from the beginning of the year and they proved that today.”

Pitino said only once in his coaching career did he enter a Final Four confident his team would cut down the nets.

That, of course, was at Kentucky in 1996 because “we had seven or eight NBA first-round picks.”

This team doesn’t have that.

It has a couple of future pros in Dieng and Smith and Siva, the first man since Patrick Ewing to win back-to-back Big East Tournament MVP awards.

What it does have is tremendous depth and a “humility” that Pitino praised.

“I think this team is very, very humble,” he said. “There’s no ego involved in this basketball team at all.”

Pitino is too savvy and experienced to make any crazy predictions at this stage.

“I’m not overly confident,” he said. “If it happens, it happens for this basketball team.”

On this historic night that marked the end of the Big East as we know it, Pitino’s actions spoke volumes.

We aren’t cutting these nets down.

These aren’t the nets we’re looking for.

Photo: Daily News

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291 comments
roadyhorns
roadyhorns

What is the difference between a bucket of sht and a Buffalo Bills fan? A: The bucket.


fatrex
fatrex

Does anyone know if they're broadcasting this game nationally? I've heard they're not and sunday ticket may not cover it for some legal reasons.Those of us outside ny metro would appreciate some help!

Disgruntled Jets Fan
Disgruntled Jets Fan

Who would Lions fans root for, assuming there are some that will come out just to see the game?

Charles David Haskell
Charles David Haskell

I am glad that NFL decide to make up their mind and decide to care about the fan for a change. I am still surprised that Buffalo Bill didn't built an dome stadium since the area have always get heavy snowstorm. I know about the cost but Detroit Lion Stadium will get the money from all the fan that will go to the game. What will Buffalo Bill going to do about the next home game. Pray/hope that the snow will go away for a long time.

cippycups
cippycups

I'm torn on our WR position going into next year. If we want to cut Harvin does that happen before the draft or after?

boose2
boose2

Has anyone heard anything regarding tickets? I think im goin to try & go monday night...

Brendan
Brendan

It's going to be fun seeing Percy on the indoor turf. With the Bills hurting at CB I hope they have him run plenty of deep routes to test that secondary. 

roadyhorns
roadyhorns

Someone posted this elsewhere about playing the game in Buffalo:

"Never underestimate the residents of Buffalo and their love of the Bills. If they'd simply sprinkle beer and liquor over the snow, they would likely eat it gone before game time! Let's go Buffalo!"

williamg1
williamg1

I don't think Buffalo has practiced yet this week. Are they expected to use their facility, or are they planning on using a facility in Detroit? Anyone know?

roadyhorns
roadyhorns

@Brendan 

This is the perfect opportunity.  Cancel the Vick protest.  Scramble the snow mobiles.  We'll just show up at Bills players' houses on a snow mobile and then drive them into Springfield gorge.  It's not like they're going to ask for identification before they hop on the back.

roadyhorns
roadyhorns

@fatrex 

Last I read, NFL okay'd it for DirecTV Sunday Ticket.

On a side note, only DirecTV brings you every play of every out-of-market game, every Sunday.  Get the action on your TV with NFL Sunday Ticket.  Or up your game to NFL Sunday Ticket MAX and get lives games, real-time highlights, the Red Zone Channel, and NFL.com fantasy right on your computer, phone, tablet, or game console.  You aren't a football fan unless you sign up for this package.


Paying $400 a year to watch a 2 and 8 team isn't normal.  But on Jets, it is.

Disgruntled Jets Fan
Disgruntled Jets Fan

It was a freak storm. NFL almost never changes plans due to snow, but hey, it happens.

BDarc23
BDarc23

@cippycups I just can't see the worst offense in the league the last 2 years cutting Harvin. 

Paul Samuels
Paul Samuels

@cippycups Why cut Harvin though? I mean I know he is expensive, but what has he done on the field to show you that he doesn't belong in the long term plans? 

Brendan
Brendan

@cippycups Before. 


Edit: To clarify, I believe they have to cut him before if they want to hand over a lower round pick. But I don't know if the escalators were ever confirmed, most people felt it was based on playing time. 


If they want to free up $10 mil in cap space they have to cut him any time before Week 1 of the 2015 season when his deal becomes guaranteed (I think). 

roadyhorns
roadyhorns

@boose2 

Tickets are free; no pat downs; BYOB.

NFL is billing it as "A once in a lifetime opportunity for any resident of Detroit to see a live NFL game."

Brendan
Brendan

@williamg1 That scheduled practice is assuming they can get everyone and get out of Buffalo. Right now there are at least a couple players walking to the stadium because they're still snowed in. 

a57se
a57se

@williamg1 

they are scheduled to practice tonight in Detroit..

fatrex
fatrex

@roadyhorns @fatrex Why do you think I'm so bitter? I dropped that cash plus bar road trip and ticket costs. We didn't even get to be hopeful this year. The Jets are a bad investment.

jsadolph
jsadolph

@Paul Samuels @cippycups 

If you cut him with the plans to restructure we may be able to only give a 6th rd pick for him instead of the 4th we are currently on the hook for.

Of course that only works if the trade states that the conditional 4th is if he is on the roster at the begining of the league year and not week 1.  It would just depend on the wording of the trade and I do not have the trade details available to me.

Does anyone know where to find the trade details? 

cippycups
cippycups

@Brendan @cippycups Ah so they can't...for example get Cooper then decide to cut Harvin?


Or any other WR they love with their first pick

boose2
boose2

Thx for the info roady ...i was unaware. I heard about the 8 mile rap battle at halftime, and i figd ladies wld get in free before 9 ...but i at least figd there wld be a cover for guys...

tsjc68
tsjc68

I don't remember where I saw it but in pretty sure it's if he's on the roster on the 22nd day before the new league year (so like a week after the Super Bowl or something is the decision deadline).

IIRC.

Brendan
Brendan

@cippycups They could, but waiting that long may be the difference between giving up a 4th and 6th rounder. Is that escalation worth it? 


FWIW, even if the Jets take a guy like Cooper, I want to keep Harvin. His average depth or target (aDOT) is over 9 yards with the Jets, which is almost 2 yards higher than it was in Minnesota and like 6 or 7 yards higher than Seattle. He's being used with the Jets in a way that justifies his pay, if he produces. 

Bytor
Bytor

@cippycups @Brendan Keep Harvin. Decker-Harvin-Cooper is pretty delicious, even with Vick or Hoyer throwing the ball.

roadyhorns
roadyhorns

@boose2 

I heard at half time, they are going to fill the inside of a tire with kerosene and then jam it down over a lucky fan, pinning their arms to their sides, before lighting it on fire.  Then everyone gets to throw bottles at it as it runs around the field to die.

Brendan
Brendan

@williamg1 Yup. Maybe Mario is running around scooping guys up. I gotta tell ya, that dude really made an impression with all the stuff he did the past few days. For whatever reason he isn't mentioned as being a nice dude in the media or anything, but he clearly is. 

Brendan
Brendan

@fatrex I think the Giants/Vikes game when it got moved ended up with 45,000 people show up, which is actually more than 50%, so I guess something around that number is a fair guess. 

Lloyd Jay Reife
Lloyd Jay Reife

Denver once had to get their players out of their homes by snow mobile, as per Mark Schlereth.

a57se
a57se

@Brendan @fatrex 

Yeah, the NFL gave away 30,000 tickets...

Who were the 15,000 dummies who actually bought them?

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se It's not something that ever makes it into the MSM. I guess local media makes it known, which is better than nothing. 

Brendan
Brendan

@Lloyd Jay Reife That's what they're doing in Buffalo right now. Snowmobile from house to plowed road, then a car from the plowed road to the stadium, bus from the stadium to the airport. 


They have a scheduled practice in less than 7 hours. 

williamg1
williamg1

@Brendan @a57se Just reading on Twitter that Cumby has been involved in charitable work in NY and Ohio. 

Brendan
Brendan

@williamg1 It's just not as fun to report guys being nice, I suppose.