May 10, 1997
There was a continuous North End street party Thursday. Rick Pitino
was in the neighborhood, and the nation's camera operators wanted to
televise the Celtics' celebration of their new coach and president's
Everyone knew then that it would not be a week-long festival. Soon enough, the cameras would have to disappear and Pitino
would have to start a job that does not qualify as good TV: piecing
together a team out of the shrapnel left by the 15-67 Celtics.
At about 9 a.m., Pitino
began that yesterday. He went to the office, where only one camera crew
awaited. He toured the practice facility at Brandeis University ("It's
not Orlando's Wellness Center or other, similar places, but it's the
best we have right now"). He met team doctor Arnold Scheller. He held a
staff meeting. He looked at the team's uniforms. He began planning
summer league possibilities.
"I did about everything you can imagine," he said.
He has plenty to resolve before the June 25 draft and November opener. Among them:
- Finding a general manager/player personnel type.
of Pittsburgh coach Ralph Willard was a possibility to fill the spot
vacated when general manager Jan Volk resigned. But Willard released a
statement yesterday saying that he was excited about Pitt's future and
planned to be the university's coach "for some time."
did not say whom he will select as GM, but he outlined the job
description. The person will have to be able to negotiate contracts,
have a rapport with the league's other GMs, and have strong player
- Preparing for the draft.
It was mentioned to Pitino
that it must be difficult to prepare for a draft when your scouting
staff is not in place. Head scout Rick Weitzman, director of basketball
development Jon Jennings, and the staff that worked with them were fired
"Why is that difficult?" Pitino
said. "I've watched about 40 films on Keith Van Horn and 20 on Tim
Duncan. I had to watch them while at Kentucky to figure out defenses to
stop them. We think we have a pretty good handle on that."
are assistant coaches Jim O'Brien and Winston Bennett and advance scout
Leo Papile. The Celtics will find out May 18 if they land the top
selection in the draft lottery. They will know by tomorrow if they have
to watch extra tape of Kansas forward Raef LaFrentz. Last month, the
Jayhawks junior said he was returning to school. But his decision to
declare or not becomes official tomorrow.
- Meeting the players.
has scheduled interviews with each Celtic in the next couple of weeks.
This task shouldn't be taxing since Frank Brickowski and Alton Lister
are expected to retire, while free agent Todd Day will probably be
made it clear that there will be changes on the team, so it will be
interesting to see how he handles these meetings. He also has to make a
decision on free agents Rick Fox and David Wesley.
- Putting together a training/strength program for the players.
glaring Celtic problem last season was injuries. All Celtics had a
specific program to follow in the offseason, but all of them didn't
follow it. The most prominent illustration of Too Much Kitchen Time was
Eric Williams coming into training camp 37 pounds overweight.
"Heaven help us if that happens this season," Pitino
said. "I would hate to be the player coming into camp with that much
weight. We're going to be with them all summer, so if that happens, it
would mean a player went on an eating binge behind our backs."
Pitino is asked if he ever saw a rotund Eddie Murphy in "The Nutty Professor."
"Yes, yes. It would have to be a situation like that for a player to come into camp in that kind of shape."
- Finding a new training camp location.
Last season the team trained in Greensboro, N.C.
"We will not be going back to Greensboro," Pitino said. "We have a number of possibilities."
Does that mean the team will train out of town?
"We could, but not necessarily," he said.
- Moving in and moving out.
coach will be in Lexington, Ky., this weekend. His office has to be
cleaned out by Monday (he will most likely be replaced by his former
assistant coach, Tubby Smith). When he returns to Boston, he will
continue to search for a place to live.