Rick Pitino steps down as Puerto Rico head coach
This summer was a busy one for Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, who spent most of his time split between his players at Louisville and his position as head coach of the Puerto Rico men’s national team. Pitino took his Cardinals to Puerto Rico for six exhibition games in preparation for the upcoming season, with some of those games also serving as tune-ups for Puerto Rico in the FIBA Americas championships.
While Puerto Rico was unable to clinch an automatic spot in next summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, they were able to do enough to earn a spot in next year’s Olympic qualifying tournament. And prior to coaching Puerto Rico in their tournament finale Wednesday, Pitino announced on the “Ramsey and Rutherford” radio show in Louisville that he would be stepping down as the team’s head coach.
It’s understandable that Pitino would step down at this point, given the amount of time he spent away from his family this summer while preparing two teams for competition. Coaching through the Olympic qualifying tournament would result in another scenario in which Pitino would spend a lot of time away from his family, especially if they were to qualify for the Olympics to be held in late August.
Puerto Rico, which was led by guard J.J. Barea and included pros such as Renaldo Balkman, Carlos Rivera and Ramon Clemente, finished fifth in the FIBA Americas tournament.