Thursday, December 23, 2010

Former National Team Coach Objects To Pitino Hiring

Carlos Morales, who previously coached the Puerto Rico National Team has been extremely vocal about the hiring of the Louisville Coach Rick Pitino, he doesn't like it. Morales believes that the rules and style of play in the international game are very different from both the NCAA and NBA thus Pitino is not equipped to prepare the team for the Olympic qualifying event in Argentina next summer. Morales is not alone in his view that the Federation should have hired a coach with more " FIBA experience".

IPRB spoke to several foreign coaches who have spent time coaching in Puerto Rico and think that while Morales is accurate in pointing out some of the differences in the rules, there is a general dislike of "foreign coaches" in Puerto Rico.

A foreign coach who spent several years coaching in Puerto Rico and wished to remain anonymous said, "You would have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to recognize the animosity towards "foreigners" in Puerto Rico. It's a generational thing with some of the "old school" coach's feeling like hiring a non Puerto Rican coach is like sleeping with the enemy. Guys like Morales and Melendez who both are fantastic coaches really did a great job when they were coaching of promoting the "us versus the world mentality" and during that time it resonated with players and the country at large. Because so many of the players today are going to school, camps and playing events in the USA it's less of an issue from the player perspective but I think the coaching fraternity still feels very strongly about that."

The game of basketball is colorless and a player or coach's ethnicity/nationality should have nothing to do with whether he can coach or play. Morales is a fantastic coach, a great person and loves Puerto Rico but he is clearly dead wrong on the issue. Team USA proved this summer that the whole concept of the European style of play being a superior brand of basketball is simply untrue. Team USA won the World Champion with defense, not three point shooting or spacing. Defense wins championships not scoring or shooting. Anyone who watched Puerto Rico play last summer saw how miserably we defended the pick and roll. This was not the coaches fault rather a total lack of commitment by the players to get stops and play team defense.

If Pitino does one thing really, really well it's prepare his teams on the defensive end. He will have the guys prepared and truth be told if Morales were not so "anti foreigner" he would have been the perfect assistant coach given his wealth of knowledge and love for his country but sometimes emotions prevent even the great ones from seeing clearly.