It's Pitino vs. Pitino when Cards meet FIU

Richard Pitino/Rick Pitino

It will be father vs. son tonight at the KFC Yum! Center when the University of Louisville men's basketball team takes on Florida International. Rick Pitino will be coaching for the first time against his son, Richard.

University of Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino said he won't be taking many looks down at the other bench when the Cardinals face Florida International tonight at the KFC Yum! Center.

Pitino will be trying to guide his team to a 10th victory of the season but it will have to come against a familiar foe. Pitino will be coaching for the first time against his son, Richard, who is the first year coach at FIU.

"Richard has been taught when the ball goes up, he has to beat Louisville and we have to beat FIU," Rick Pitino said. "So, I won't be looking down at him.

"We'll concentrate on winning the game and then we're going to have a party afterwards in Billy Minardi's honor and that's it, the game is over. We'll talk about the game and what he thinks we can do better and what we think he can do.

"But that's about it."

Richard Pitino, who had two stints as an assistant under his father at U of L, said his thinking is the same way but he knows it's "going to be weird."

"We can blow it off all we want, but it's going to be weird," the younger Pitino said. "We're so close and coaching against those players that I was so invested in their lives. And that whole staff I am so close with. It's going to be hard."

Florida International is 3-4 in the younger Pitino's first season. He took over the program and knew it was in need of a major overhaul.

He has former U of L assistant coach Mark Lieberman on his staff, while his director of basketball operations – Casey Stanley – was also on the U of L staff. Former U of L player Rakeem Buckles is sitting out this season at FIU and will play for the younger Pitino next season.

"It's going good," Richard said. "I liked the opportunity at FIU because nobody had ever done it there before. I don't want anything handed to me."

"Billy (Donovan) told me and I asked him what do you think. He said you are going to learn there are no easy jobs. I probably wouldn't have taken the FIU job had I not worked with Billy. If you look at it, my dad told Billy not to take the Florida job and look where he's at now."

Rick Pitino said his son had "matured the right way," noting that his son "had to work twice as hard as the other assistants when he was here."

Now, the elder Pitino will make him work hard tonight.

The family went out for dinner last night and Rick Pitino noted he would "lie to me and I will lie to him," joking he was changing a lot of his game plan.

"He knows I know them well, only he thinks he knows us better," the elder Pitino said. "But we have changed an awful lot to get ready for this game.

"We have some things he hasn't seen before."

All joking aside, Rick Pitino said he's excited to play FIU and his son. FIU will also play here next season before U of L makes a trip to Miami in two years.

"Our family right now is more apprehensive and nervous than Richard and me – we know what it's all about," Rick said. "It's just a basketball game.

"Everybody else is on edge a little bit."

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