Pitino shares thoughts with Calipari on what UK was like when he arrived in Kentucky

Rick Pitino (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky coach John Calipari finally released his podcast with Louisville coach Rick Pitino discussed the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry, Pitino’s early days at UK and their introductions to coaching during an hourlong podcast the Kentucky coach released on Thursday morning.

Obviously a lot of things the two coaching rivals discussed has been widely reported. But a couple of things not mentioned that much caught my attention concerning Pitino’s thoughts on when he first came to UK as head coach.

“I was blown away when I arrived at the facilities,” Pitino told Calipari. “When you think of Kentucky, you think obviously it’s going to be the Taj Mahal and I did hear about the Wildcat Lodge … everything was antiquated. There was no weight room, there were barbells on the floor behind bleachers. I couldn’t believe it.

“They just lived on the reputation of Kentucky basketball. From a facilities standpoint everybody would be really shocked knowing what we have today.”

Pitino said he was shocked by the attention paid to UK basketball. He said he thought it was a “make believe world” in Kentucky.

But he also revealed that he sent strength coach Rock Oliver to “intimidate” businesses that were giving discounts to players. He told Oliver to tell those giving players discounts that he would pull their season tickets if it continued.

“He (Oliver) would come back and say, ‘Who the hell does this New Yorker think he is trying to tell us what to do?’ We did it. We went around store to store making sure they understood the rules, making sure they understood everything. You had to change every single thing,” Pitino said.

 

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