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13 > Image 13 of The Cats' Pause, December 16, 1989

Part of The Cats' Pause

f77/e Coats' {zxiase .*.V.Vi*iV.V Pitino understands job media have to fulfill UK coach keeps things in perspective No coach, including Rick Pitino. is going to agree with everything that is written or said about him. The new University of Kentucky basketball coach, however, no longer worries about what the media does Larry Vaught Cats' Pause Columnist or does not say about him. "I can honestly say I have reached a point where I am over worrying about the media,'* Pitino said recently. "That was not always true while I was in New York. But I've reached a point where I just really don't care anymore. "The media has a job to do and it's not up to me to do that job. It would be boring if you didn't have any media coverage of any program. That's why I say I understand the media's job. But no longer do I worry about what the media does." The UK basketball coach is the center of attention in the Bluegrass. He can't go to a movie, dinner or church service without being noticed. And the media coverage is as intense, or maybe more intense, than at any other program in the country. Pitino. though, is well prepared for the attention, especially with the media. He spent the previous two years directing the New York Knicks and had to deal daily with the NY press. "The New York media is a sick environment but 1 understand it." Pitino said. "I actually feel sorry for some of them (writers) because of the pressure their editors put on them. You have three tabloids there competing ferociously so they must sensationalize every story. "It's a bad environment for a good writer. He can't do his job the honest way. That's why I have a great deal of respect for the media. In one sense I don't like what the media does, but I understand what it does in New York and why. "New York is a tough town. I don't have anything against the media there, but I wouldn't want to go through that for too many years." Pitino. unlike some coaches, understands that writers are as entitled to their opinions as coaches. "Coaches, including me at one time, can be very sensitive about what it written about them, especially when they think it is not true," the UK coach said. "They (coaches) always perceive stories they don't like not to be true although they could be true." Pitino says he no longer reads every newspaper available. Normally he confines his reading to USA Today. "I want the information in the USA Today," he said. "I want to know scores and what is going on across the coun'ry. I don't want editoralizing. I want scores, statistics and information." He doesn't read any Kentucky newspaper daily. He leels that is the best way to maintain a professional relationship with each writer who covers the UK basketball program. "If you disagree with me and openly disagree with me in a column or story I don't want to read it and either ask you why you wrote it or hold something against you that might ruin our relationship." Pitino said. "One thing I learned in New York is not to treat the guys who write good things about you different. I treat everyone professionally and don't care what you say about me because I don't read the newspapers. I've found that works best for me. "I'm enjoying the Kentucky media. Writers in New York were more interested in each other a lot of the time. They were writing for each other instead of the fans. Writers' egos in New York were monstrous. Their egos were unbelievable and the coaches were the same way." Many New York media members felt Pitino's ego was as large as the "Big Apple" itself. He denies that and feels those who feel that way are either jealous, don't like successful young coaches or envisoned how much more money he made than they did. "The ego thing with me would have never come up if it wasn't for my age." the 37-year-old coach said. "People like successful teams. They don't always like successful people. Even more don't like you if you are successful and young. "I'm young and considered very successful in the eyes of some people. That makes you a person everybody is not going to say great things about. People who do that are fighting a battle but you can't worry about their battle. You just have to do your job the best you can and go on. I finally learned that." Pitino has his own way of doing things. The media found that out immediately when he limited access to the players and practice. But he's been fair to each media outlet and he's also been a bit more lenient with media access than he had led many to believe he would be. Everyone has still been able to do his job, but at the same time Pitino has given his players more privacy. It's a mixture I can certainly live with and one UK players probably need. Pitino doesn't worry about being a media darling, but he knows the value of good public relations for himself and his program. Still, his primary concern is with his team and that's the way it should be. I'm just glad, though, he understands how big Kentucky basketball is in this state and has made time for the media so UK fans across the state can keep up with the amazing job this coach is doing at Kentucky. ? ? ? JUST HOW Pitino can keep his team playing at the emotional level it has so far this season remains to be seen. However, the UK coach and players realize without that intensity they have two chancesslim and nonein most games. "If we are not the most emotional team, we will not win." he said. "We have to feed off emotion because we will get tired. It's difficult to play the way we do with basically eight guys." Can Kentucky do it for an entire season? "We can do it 100 games." Pitino said. "We'll never surrender to fatigue. That won't be a problem." His players agree, too. They know every game is special because there will be no post-season tournament play for two years. "All we look forward to is winning every game we play," junior forward Reggie Hanson said. "We have to play emotional because that's the only chance we have." It helps that players no longer worry about looking at the bench after a mistake. He wants his players to play hard and doesn't jerk a player after one miscue. "There's a 360-degree difference this year," senior guard Derrick Miller said. "Coach Pitino's approach rubs off on us. He's never negative. Even when he gets on us we don't think he's being negative." It's even more amazing that Pitino's enthusiasm has been so contagious among the faithful at Rupp Arena. It's almost like the "Cats are back playing in cozy Memorial Coliseum. The fans, even the fat cats in the lower arena, have actually been standing and cheering. Reserve Johnathan Davis even got a standing ovation last week against Mississippi State for a foul that prevented a breakaway layup.. "I think we have impressed the fans." sophomore Deron Feldhaus said. "They have all been off their feet at times and that really surprised me. It's the first time I've seen that in two years. I guess they really enjoy the style and love the way we are hustling." They should because it is an entertaining, aggressive style of play and Pitino has already worked miracles with this team. He has UK playing better now than I expected he could in February. The man has worked his magic and made a believer out of me. It's just hard to imagine what he might be able to do in two or three years when he has a full team stocked with athletes that he's hand-picked. Emotion, says Wildcat center Reggie Hanson, is something the Wildcats must have this season. ________-______-------.....MAWMW.WftWAVi^^^^ i'S-^^