St. John’s basketball: Lou Carnesecca calls Rick Pitino a ‘Top-5 coach’

St. John's basketball legendary head coach Rick Pitino (Photo by Porter BInks )
St. John's basketball legendary head coach Rick Pitino (Photo by Porter BInks ) /

St. John’s basketball legendary head coach Lou Carnesecca showered praise on Rick Pitino. 

It has been a while since a legend of his profession has patrolled the sideline for the St. John’s basketball program.

You’d have to go all the way back to 1992 when Lou Carnesecca finished his second stint as the Red Storm head coach to realize that is the last time when the Johnnies had a distinct coaching advantage over its opponent.

Seven coaches have tried to lead St. John’s back to the heights that Looie once had the program and none have succeeded.

Enter Rick Pitino.

St. John’s made the decision to hire the Hall of Famer in March after dismissing Mike Anderson and the program has been on a steady upward trajectory ever since, much to the pleasure of Carnesecca.

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“I think [Rick] Pitino is one of the great five coaches of all time,” the 98-year old Carnesecca said on SportsCenter last week.

“That’s quite a statement, and that’s my opinion. I’ve coached against him and watched him operate. I know he’s going to get us back on the road. I know he will.”

Pitino, the winner of two National Championships, has taken three different programs to the Final Four and knows that St. John’s will not only be back to prominence in the Big East very quickly, but also on the national stage.

“To be perfectly honest, if we don’t win a National Championship I’m jumping in the East River and ending my career,” Pitino joked during an interview in St. John’s mini-docuseries, Rising Storm.

St. John’s basketball preparedness will be heightened

But Carnesecca knows that St. John’s will be ready for any situation that is thrown its way as long as Pitino is at the controls.

“His tremendous love for the game. His intensity. He’s almost consumed by basketball…he’s been through it all.”

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“It’s like [Arturo] Toscanini conducting the symphony,” Carnesecca explained of a Pitino practice.

“Very orchestrated, to the point, repetitious. He’s got the whole book.”

The first act of the St. John’s symphony, directed by Rick Pitino, takes place on Tuesday, November 7 against Stony Brook (7:00p.m. ET, FS1).

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