Dougherty: Rick Pitino can learn from Jim Boeheim after media day no-show

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 28, 2015 at 6:38 pm CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For Trey Lewis and Damion Lee, a day of interviews started at 9:02 a.m. and Lewis was asked about their head coach three minutes later.Lewis, a transfer to Louisville by way of Cleveland State, was the first player from any team to talk in the press conference room at Atlantic Coast Conference Basketball Media Day. He was first asked about becoming a leader as a transfer. Then his 3-point shooting ability. Then, if to only acknowledge the elephant in the room, a reporter asked if Lewis felt “hung out to dry” by head coach Rick Pitino.Pitino was not at media day on Wednesday.Lewis and Lee were.Pitino is under fire for a sexual scandal.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textLewis and Lee are not.Two transfers who joined the program months ago were in Charlotte to answer questions surrounding the program. The coach who’s run the program for 15 years hung behind.“We understand why he’s not here,” Lewis said. “He sent us because we are the leaders of this team.”On Friday, Louisville announced that Pitino, as advised by counsel, would not attend media day with the swirling allegations that former director of basketball operations Andre McGee hosted parties that connected players and recruits to escorts. A year ago, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim was in the middle of an NCAA investigation that resulted in the well-documented sanctions at season’s end. The situations aren’t completely parallel, but it’s clear that Pitino can still learn from the coach who hired him as a 24-year-old assistant in 1976.Like Pitino, Boeheim was told he couldn’t speak about the impending investigation at last year’s media day. Unlike Pitino, Boeheim showed up last year and told reporters what he could and could not say. Most importantly, Boeheim didn’t leave Trevor Cooney and Rakeem Christmas to speak on behalf of his embattled program.“No I have not (had a conversation with Pitino), I will call him but I have not right now, but I will talk to him,” Boeheim said at media day. “I don’t give advice. I’ll just talk to him as a friend, that’s all. He knows, he’s smart, he knows what he has to do.”Cooney, who went through a similar experience to the Louisville players at last year’s media day, said he “wouldn’t wish it upon anybody.” Michael Gbinije, who joined Cooney this year, said he and Cooney definitely “feel for” Lewis and Lee because they’ve been there before. Gbinije’s advice to the Louisville players was to do their best to take the attention and turn it toward basketball and the coming season.That’s easier said than done, as Lewis and Lee faced a steady stream of Pitino- and scandal-related questions in an hour with reporters.“I didn’t really know what to expect,” said Lewis, who added that the players were advised not to speak on matters unrelated to basketball. “I knew I was going to be asked some tough questions, but I also believe that’s why (Pitino) put me and Damion here to talk about these things — because first of all, it doesn’t involve us.“I can’t really speak on it too much because I really don’t know anything about it. I came here to talk about basketball and have some fun and enjoy this experience. And so far, I have been.”Pitino’s absence from media seemed to have little effect on Lewis and Lee, but that doesn’t mean it was the right way to go about this. The two players continually echoed Louisville’s initial release, saying Pitino was advised by counsel to not attend and that they understood why he wasn’t there. Lewis, after implying that his and Lee’s presence was in some ways strategic, said that Pitino “would love to speak on things, he just can’t.”But there have probably been a lot of times Pitino was “advised” not to do something but did it anyway. Pitino’s a grown man capable of making his own decisions. His past tells us as much. He chose not to represent Louisville when his representation was most necessary, and left two players to talk about something that did not and should not concern them.“We don’t let any outside distractions get to us,” Lee said during his press conference.And while that may be true for Louisville’s players, it can’t be said for its absent coach.Jesse Dougherty is the Web Editor at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at or @dougherty_jesse. Commentslast_img

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