‘Better Have an Anthony Davis’: Rick Pitino Calls Out One-and-Done System of Duke Blue Devils and Kentucky Wildcats

Published 03/22/2021, 1:00 PM EDT
Jan 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski reacts on the court during the first half against the Pittsburgh Panthers at the Petersen Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports


The 2021 NCAA Tournament has been absolutely wild. There are already so many upsets, but the biggest of them came when both the Duke Blue Devils and Kentucky Wildcats failed to qualify. While this is a big deal for many, it is for people like Rick Pitino.

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Of course, college hoops fans are shocked that neither Duke nor Kentucky is taking part in March Madness at the moment. These are two of the most celebrated teams in NCAA basketball, but they didn’t perform well enough to book a place in the prestigious tournament. 

Moreover, it is the first time since 1976 that both Duke and Kentucky have missed the NCAA Tournament. This stat speaks volumes about their dominance, but former Wildcats coach Rick Pitino has an alternate approach. 

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Coach Pitino is glad that the Wildcats and Duke Blue Devils aren’t part of the 2021 March Madness 

Pitino once coached the Kentucky Wildcats and led them to the National Championship in 1996. He has been at the top of the college basketball stage before but now coaches the Iona Gaels in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

“Well, if you’re Kentucky or Duke, you don’t feel good. It’s great because it can happen to anybody. It can happen to anyone in a COVID-type season. Both of those guys have done it a different way. When I was at Louisville, our two biggest rivals were Kentucky and Duke,” Pitino mentioned. 

“But they did it with the one-and-done basketball player. John Calipari with young players is the best coach in the game. He understands how to coach young players. It takes a lot of patience and Coach K went the same way. But you better have an Anthony Davis. You better have some maturity on that basketball team because it’s very difficult,” he further added. 

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These are rather contradicting statements from Rick Pitino. While he fired shots at both schools for exploiting one-and-done players, he also credited the coaches for developing young talents. However, both Mike Krzyzewski and John Calipari were unsuccessful this year. 

Kentucky finished eighth in the SEC, while Duke got it worse and landed in the 10th spot in the ACC conference. However, fans are still enjoying college hoops as the 2021 March Madness tournament is giving them plenty of moments to cherish! 

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Arjun Athreya

1830 articles

Arjun Athreya is a senior writer at Essentially Sports and has been contributing since early 2020. Having developed an avid interest in sports at an early age, he pursued a Journalism degree and graduated from Madras Christian College. Arjun manages the Golf division and its content, and primarily covers news pertaining to the NBA as well.

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