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Pitino Meets Louisville Students

April 17, 2001

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ Rick Pitino announced a string of nonconference games against big-name opponents for his first season as Louisville’s coach and said he wanted a new or renovated arena to get students closer to the action.

In a 20-minute session with students in which he answered questions and signed autographs, Pitino said that Indiana, Tennessee and the UNLV were all on the Cardinals’ schedule for 2001-2.

``We want to play a tough schedule, and we want to get on national television,″ Pitino said. ``We want to get your faces on national television back home to your families.″

Pitino, who coached Kentucky to a national championship five years ago, is coming off three disappointing seasons as coach and president of the Boston Celtics. He was hired last month to succeed Denny Crum, who retired after 30 years and two national championships at Louisville.

Pitino said he was focused on the students, and taking the basketball program back to national prominence through them.

``You will become the alumni and you will support this team,″ he said.

Pitino said he planned to organize buses to take students to both home and away games and either have a new on-campus arena built or renovate Freedom Hall so that students would be closer to the court.

Pitino also promised that Midnight Madness _ the first practice of the season marked by glitz, dunks and thousands of fans that Pitino made famous at Kentucky _ will take place next year, just not at Freedom Hall.

But for all the promises he made, Pitino was cautious about the teams’ chances next year.

``We might not have a lot of talent, but when you watch them next year you will leave saying, ’They were the hardest working team in college basketball, bar none,‴ Pitino said.

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