Four months from Monday, father and son will face off in a basketball season opener on the shores of Puerto Rico.
Rick Pitino just hopes his son, Richard, isn’t sunburned before he arrives.
How soon is too soon to start the playful trash talk leading up to the event? The elder Pitino sees no need to wait, taking some lighthearted swipes at his kid, coach of the Gophers, in a Louisville news conference on Wednesday.
“Richard’s a lot different than me — he takes his summers drinking piña coladas,” he said. Chuckles from the media in attendance encouraged the Cardinals coach — a wide smirk crossing his face — to continue. “We go to work,” Rick went on. “We’re cut from a different cloth. He’s out there right now on the beach somewhere. We’re not doing that.”
The son wasn’t tempted to take the bait when contacted for a retort on Wednesday. But based on the evidence, it seems Pop doesn’t quite have his facts straight.
The younger Pitino, according to a blog he posted earlier on Wednesday, had his players in the gym at 6 a.m. for a surprise workout.
Tough to do from the beach, icy adult beverage in hand.
“It was a good way to break up the monotony of individual instruction and get them to play together a bit,” Richard wrote on his gophersports.com blog.
Rick did have some kind words, praising Richard’s first two seasons and calling his team’s turnaround at Florida International “truly amazing.”
Last year, the 31-year-old coach brought the Gophers to an NIT championship in his first year at Minnesota.
“We’ve got to be ready right away,” Rick said, becoming more serious. “You play a Minnesota team with 10 players back and won the NIT, you have to be ready.”
Another of Rick’s concerns, smirking again: mixing family and business.
“I didn’t want to play the game, to be honest with you,” he said. “I said I’ll play it if you want to play it, but I don’t want to play it. He said it’ll be great for our program. Now we have to ride back together.”