By LARRY VAUGHT
With the leadership issues Kentucky had this season, I thought it might be worth sharing the answer Louisville coach Rick Pitino gave Saturday night after his team rallied to beat Wichita State in the Final Four about why he named Luke Hancock a team captain before he ever played his first game for the Cardinals.
Q. For those of us who don’t follow your team regularly, can you explain why you made Luke a co captain before he ever stepped on the court.
PITINO: “Well, it’s a long conversation I had with Jim Larranaga and the assistant coach about him. They sort of filled me in on what he was all about. We tried to get Luke to improve defensively, and he has. The players in the summertime decide what they want to do as workouts. We don’t have anything organized. They want to lift, get it over with at 6:15 in the morning. They’re really into weight training.
“Rakeem and Russ, two of our better players, showed up late. Remember now, they’re just seeing Luke really for the first time. They knew him a little bit. Luke said, That stuff is not going to cut it here at Louisville. Right away you think some guys would answer back, Who are you to say that? They immediately said, It’s our bad, it won’t happen again.
It was repeated to me. For the rest of the summer, everybody kept telling me from training and strength coach what Luke was all about. I named him captain right away. He has the maturity, he has that Louisville first attitude. It’s all about the team with him. He’s one of the better leaders I’ve been around. It showed you when Kevin got hurt, he immediately went to pray over him, immediately took charge of the situation.”
Sort of sounds like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or maybe Anthony Davis. I also think it might be the same reaction Calipari will have with Aaron and Andrew Harrison and probably Julius Randle next season. All three certainly seem like players that can be leaders from day one and that is something UK needs next season.