Home Exhibit A of why you don’t hire a ‘sh-tty’ guy like Rick Pitino to run your program

Exhibit A of why you don’t hire a ‘sh-tty’ guy like Rick Pitino to run your program

Chris Graham
rick pitino
(© kcube – kaan baytur – Shutterstock)

Rick Pitino, not willing to own up to being a sh-tty coach, and sh-ttier person, threw several of his St. John’s players under the bus after another loss on Sunday, including a transfer from VMI whose name caught my attention as soon as I heard it come out of Pitino’s mouth.

That would be the name of one Sean Conway, a VMI transfer who averaged 12.1 points per game for the Keydets last season.

Pitino put Conway, among others, including the school, and its “sh-tty” facilities, on blast after the 68-62 loss to Seton Hall on Sunday, because this is what Rick Pitino-type people do.

This one hit home because I worked VMI broadcasts on ESPN+ for several years before giving that gig up a couple of years ago.

The time I spent at VMI gave me perspective on the kids and the athletics program there, which is used to losing productive guys like Conway to schools in the power conferences.

Conway isn’t exactly getting a lot of run at St. John’s this season – 8.4 minutes a game, though of late, Pitino, in his first year at St. John’s, has been using Conway more, 15.5 minutes per over the last four, including 13 minutes in the Johnnies’ to Seton Hall.

Conway had 11 points and six rebounds in 27 minutes in a 75-72 loss to Providence on Tuesday, then had four points and four boards in Sunday’s L.

But, yeah, it’s Sean Conway’s fault that St. John’s has lost eight of 10, to fall to 14-12, way, way off the NCAA Tournament bubble.

This was Pitino, diatribing with reporters after the loss to Seton Hall, in which his team blew a 19-point first-half lead:

“We just don’t move our feet on defense. They shot 37 free throws. Throw out the stats. You see it every game. The amount of free throws they shoot, the amount of free throws we shoot. Look at what Nahiem (Alleyne) shot on the year. Look at what Chris Ledlum shot on the year. You’re a power forward, you played 29 minutes without a free throw. That means you’re not offensive rebounding, you’re not getting to the line. It’s really all the toughness things are why we give up leads.

Joel (Soriano)’s slow laterally, he’s not fast on the court,” Pitino said. “Chris Ledlum is slow laterally, Sean Conway’s slow laterally. Brady (Dunlap)’s physically weak, Drissa (Traore) is slow laterally.”

So, that’s actually six guys thrown under the bus, the bus backing up and then running over a couple a second time, just to make sure.

Pitino, 71, was hired last spring after St. John’s fired Mike Anderson, who was 68-56 in four seasons at the school, which has won exactly one NCAA Tournament game since Mike Jarvis led the program to an Elite Eight appearance way back in 1999.

Pitino came in guns-a-blazin’, rebuilding the roster with 10 transfers and two incoming freshmen.

It’s basically an EYBL team that he’s putting out there.

“I had no choice,” Pitino said. “We just could take who we could get, who was available, we had no choice. I don’t think we were going to win the first year anyway, because when you rush like that, you don’t see the players. Not a whole lot we can do.”

That’s … nice.

I mean, seriously, I’d want my kid to play for this assclown, who, you may remember, has a past that includes him getting fired for cause by the University of Louisville in 2017 as his program there got caught up in a pay-for-play scandal.

A different scandal there, you may also remember, led to the NCAA vacating Louisville’s 2012 Final Four appearance and its 2013 national championship.

It’s hard to make any kind of NCAA history, but that vacated national title was a first for the NCAA.

Rick Pitino had a banner taken down; Tony Bennett’s NCAA record is highest career three-point percentage.

You take what you can get.

Pitino got scraped up from the bottom of coaching landfill by Iona in 2020, and in three seasons there, his teams went 64-22 and made two NCAA Tournament appearances, neither of which, to date, have had to be vacated, so he had that going for him when St. John’s came calling.

No way the folks who pulled the trigger on the hire have any regrets on that now, right?

OK, so, Pitino did kinda, sorta throw the school under the bus, too, calling out the “sh-tty facilities” for basketball at St. John’s.

There could be buyer’s remorse now, is what I’m saying.

“I’m not gonna lie to you. This is the most unenjoyable experience of my lifetime. This has been so disappointing.”

That wasn’t Karen Sypher describing the infamous “15 seconds,” but actually, no, it was Pitino, talking about his first season at St. John’s.

My guess is, talk to his players once the season is over, they’ll tell you something similar.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].