Rick Pitino won his first national championship with Kentucky. Now, Dick Vitale wants to see the new Iona coach battle his old school.
There are few people in the world as passionate about college basketball as Dick Vitale, a long-time broadcaster for ESPN and former college coach. Vitale is now pushing hard for Rick Pitino and Iona to play John Calipari and Kentucky next season.
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) March 15, 2020
With his unmistakable voice, Dickie V offers his support to former Iona head coach Tim Cluess, who recently had to step down for health reasons. But after giving Cluess his due, Vitale starts his pitch for an Iona-Kentucky meeting next season.
“How would you like this? Hey, I’ve got a matchup,” Vitale exclaims. “What about Madison Square Garden? What about the Jimmy V Classic? Iona vs. Kentucky. Pitino and Calipari in New York City. Can’t get better than that, baby! It would be awesome with a capital A! Come on Rick, get it done. John, get it done. Bring the two paisans to New York City and raise a lot of money for another paisan, Jimmy V!”
Obviously, Iona would probably be outmatched against Calipari’s Kentucky, but this is an excellent idea. Despite the fact that Iona would be the heavy underdog, it would give the tiny Catholic school some national exposure.
“I may schedule, if John — I spoke to Cal, he was nice enough to call me. I would love to schedule Kentucky in the Garden in the Jimmy V Classic,” Pitino said on The Dan Patrick Show. “I think that would be a great draw and that would be exciting to see and I hope John would entertain that.”
The thought of Pitino going against his former team just feels right. After all, while he was at Louisville, the Cardinals and Wildcats played each other almost every season.
This matchup would be a good way to put Iona basketball in the limelight while benefitting a great cause at the very same time. The Jimmy V Classic is a tournament in honor of legendary college basketball coach Jim Valvano.
Although Jimmy V is best known for his speech at the ESPYs and his frantic search for someone to hug after winning the 1983 National Championship, he was the head coach at Iona before moving onto North Carolina State.
Whether or not this game will happen is still a mystery, but the matchup makes sense.