Louisville Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino will coach the Puerto Rican men's national team in next summer's FIBA Tournament of the Americas. If Pitino can lead Puerto Rico to a top-two finish in the tournament, the team will qualify for a spot in the 2012 Olympics. And he's doing it for free, too.
Why in the world is Pitino interested in coaching Puerto Rico basketball, and doing it gratis? He did get his coaching start at Hawaii, so he may have a soft spot for island hoops. Other than that, Louisville is the farthest down south the New York native and former UMass guard has ever coached. Pitino says it's because he likes turnaround projects:
"It's a tall order and that's why I'm taking it," the Louisville coach said Monday. "If they were already in (the Olympics), I wouldn't do it. Their backs are to the wall."
The more likely answer: recruiting. The Courier-Journal's Jody Demling reminds you the nation's top shooting guard prospect for 2012 is Ricky Ledo, a Rhode Islander of Puerto Rican descent and a top Louisville target.
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