With former Massachusetts basketball player Rick Pitino ('74) being enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this past weekend, here is an article from Mike Moran of the Daily Hampshire Gazette. He played for legendary UMass head coach Jack Leaman before going into a coaching career himself. He credits Leaman, a Boston University alum, for allowing him to get his first head coaching post at BU.
Pitino joins Julius Erving as UMass players in the Hall of Fame. Erving is one of only six players in NCAA history to average 20 points and 20 rebounds per game. He was inducted in 1993.
A portion of the article is below...
Prior to Saturday's event, Pitino reconnected with Leaman's wife, Rita, and daughter, Laurie, for the first time in a long time.
"It meant an awful lot to me," Pitino said of the meeting. "Jack was a tough, hard-nosed coach and it was interesting because I wouldn't be here today, probably, if he didn't make a phone call. He's the reason I got the Boston University job. He was a great player at BU, he recommended me, they took his advice and I was hired when I probably shouldn't have been hired."
Pitino was 24 when he took the job in Boston. He had spent a few seasons in Hawaii then one in Syracuse under Jim Boeheim.