Thursday, March 22, 2001

Huggins: Pitino raises conference profile

By Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ANAHEIM, Calif. — Bob Huggins and Rick Pitino have opposed each other just once: when Pitino's Kentucky team defeated Cincinnati 75-71 at Shoemaker Center on Nov.28, 1990.

        Now they're going to meet twice a year.

        UC and Louisville, where Pitino accepted the coaching job Wednesday, are both in Conference USA's American Division and play home-and-home each season.

        “It just brings more competitiveness to Conference USA,” UC's Steve Logan said.

        C-USA now boasts three very high-profile coaches in Huggins, Pitino and Memphis' John Calipari.

        “I think it's a great thing for the league,” Huggins said of the Pitino hiring. “It needs a shot in the arm. It ought to make the league, I think, more nationally (known). It does nothing but help us.”

        Huggins said his relationship with Pitino is “all right,” then complimented Pitino's coaching ability.

        “I think he's terrific,” Huggins said. “I think he does a great job of figuring out guys' strengths and playing to their strengths.”

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