Rick Pitino 2021 Alabama holds off Iona as speculation about 39;s future .
Rick Pitino Rick Pitino 's speculation about future … Alabama as holds Iona off
Sat, 20 Mar 2021 14:00:00 -0700
Rick Pitino has sworn that Iona will be his final job, but his name has already been floated for the opening at Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS — Rick Pitino’s return to the NCAA men’s tournament was a short one.
Second-seeded Alabama was able to withstand a challenge from another small Catholic school coached by Pitino, holding off Iona 68-55 on Saturday.
Herbert Jones led the Crimson Tide with 20 points and six rebounds and John Petty Jr.
added 10 points and seven boards for Alabama, which will face the winner of UConn-Maryland, in the second round Monday.
Isaiah Ross had 19 for the Gaels and Asante Gist had 16.
Though Iona is going home, the question now is where is Pitino going?
This was the first season at Iona for the Hall of Fame coach, who spent a year coaching in Greece’s professional league after an unceremonious exit at Louisville.
Pitino has sworn that Iona will be his final job, but his name has already been floated for the opening at Indiana, and any school looking for a coach would be foolish not to make a run at a guy who has won 782 games and national titles with Kentucky and Louisville.
That Alabama had to work as hard as it did for Saturday’s win will only add to Pitino’s appeal.
The Crimson Tide has one of the country’s most explosive offenses, leading the country in 3-pointers made and taken, and has a defense to match.
But it found itself in a dog fight against the Gaels, who took a 43-40 lead after a 3-pointer by Berrick JeanLouis with 12:12 to play.
If Alabama fans had a sickening feeling of déjà vu, well, they could be forgiven.
You might remember another time second-seeded Alabama ran into a small Catholic college in the NCAA men’s tournament.
Then coaching Providence College, with a sharp-shooting guard named Billy Donovan, Pitino’s sixth-seeded Friars upset the Crimson Tide in the Southeast Regional final to reach their first Final Four.
But Alabama was simply too deep for the Gaels.
Juwan Gary had been scoreless until a putback with 11:24 to play.
He would score six points during the decisive 18-4 run over the next five minutes as Alabama pulled away from the Gaels.
Rick Pitino Rick Pitino
Sat, 20 Mar 2021 14:00:00 -0700
Charles Barkley has a blunt message for head coach Rick Pitino ahead of Iona's first-round game against the Alabama Crimson Tide
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Rick Pitino and the Iona Gaels are a trendy pick to upset the Alabama Crimson Tide this afternoon, and it’s easy to understand why.
Despite the off-court controversies, Pitino is still one of the best coaches in the business.
Iona’s tournament hopes were dire entering the beginning of the MAAC Tournament.
Yet the nine-seed Gaels went on a run, as we’ve seen plenty of Pitino-coached teams do in the past, before punching their ticket to the Big Dance by beating Fairfield 60-51 to win the conference tournament.
Pitino’s Gaels will take on No.
2 Alabama on Saturday in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
Some believe Iona is capable of pulling off the upset, mostly because of its head coach and the impact he makes.
Charles Barkley thinks otherwise.
The former NBA great gives Pitino and the Gaels no chance of upsetting the Crimson Tide today.
Does Rick Pitino and Iona have any chance to upset Alabama?
Charles Barkley says ZERO CHANCE pic.twitter.com/iCV68avCxs
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) March 20, 2021
Charles Barkley gives Rick Pitino and the Iona Gaels no chance of upsetting Alabama, but crazier things have happened.
We’ve already seen a two-seed fall to a 15-seed in this tournament.
15 Oral Roberts stunned the two-seed Ohio State Buckeyes in overtime on Friday.
If Oral Roberts can do it, so can the Iona Gaels.
It won’t be easy, though.
Alabama is led by senior Herbert Jones, a lengthy wing capable of making an impact on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
If Iona can’t find a way to slow down Jones today, it’s going to be a long afternoon for the Gaels.
Rick Pitino 15-seed Iona takes on two-seed Alabama at 4 p.m.
ET on TBS.[CBS Sports]
Alek is a Writer at The Spun.
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– March 21, 2021
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