Since my perception began to change we have seen top 10 recruiting classes,back-to-back final fours, and now a National Championship. Those are great things to see, but it is the changes in Rick Pitino as a person that I have come to like the most. I always saw him as a coach who more stern than happy and who rode his players too hard and they were gased come tournament time. I think the last two years have greatly changed that.
Over the last two years we have seen Rick Pitino go from being stern to constantly smiling, laughing, and joking with his players. The players have seemed more at ease and hungry than ever before. They seem to truly love the man they are playing for. It is the Rick Pitino that can win and recruit, but at the same time tell stories of Bourbon St., that I have been waiting for. I attribute some of this to his age and as he is getting older he realizes what is important; however, I feel it also has a lot to do with the attitude in Louisville.
In Louisville we do want to win, who doesn't. However, if we don't win it all we aren't chasing you out of town. We stand behind you and realize that for the good, you have to ride out the bad. We are a town that truly believes that the name on the front comes before the one on the back. Rick Pitino has fully embraced that and so have the players he has recruited. I never thought I could love a team more than last years, but I was wrong. The bond that the players share with each other as well as with Rick Pitino is truly something to be in awe of. I do not believe we will ever see a team as close to each other or to a coach as you will see at Louisville under this "new" Rick Pitino.
All I can really say is thank you to Rick Pitino for making me truly love the team I cheer for. Their bond would not be nearly as strong without you. You are welcome for as many years as you wish, and then we will take your son. Another coach who understands that is the bond between the players not the most talent that wins on and off the court.