INDIANAPOLIS – Mike Krzyzewski and Rick Pitino are finally doing an encore.
For the first time since their teams played perhaps the greatest game in the history of the NCAA tournament, Krzyzewski and Pitino will meet in the tournament today when top-seeded Louisville faces Duke. In the regional finals, no less.
Never mind that few of their current players were even born in 1992. Or that Pitino is no longer at Kentucky, having switched sides in the state’s civil war after his brief trip to the NBA ended badly.
Krzyzewski and Pitino are forever linked by that one game in Philadelphia, immortalized by Christian Laettner’s improbable shot.
“It’s one of those moments in time that helped define our sport,” Krzyzewski said Saturday. “When I’ve talked to Rick about it, we realize we were the lucky guys. We had different roles at that time, but we were both lucky to be there.”
Said Pitino, “It was like being in Carnegie Hall and seeing the best musician or the best singer. Just sitting there in amazement of what they were doing out on the basketball court.”
Krzyzewski and Pitino are two of the finest coaches of their generation, with five NCAA titles and 1,618 victories between them. Yet for all of their success, and for as good a friends as they are, Krzyzewski and Pitino rarely play each other.
When Louisville (32-5) and Duke (30-5) played in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in November – Duke won – it was the first time Krzyzewski and Pitino had played each other since ’92.