Rick Pitino Says 'Si' to Puerto Rico's National Basketball Team
Pitino was introduced as the team's new coach Monday.
Puerto Rico last qualified for the Olympics in 2004, beating the United States on its way to a sixth-place finish. Its best Olympic performance was fourth, in 1964 in Tokyo. Potential players next summer include Dallas Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea, Miami Heat guard Carlos Arroyo and Denver Nuggets forward Renaldo Balkman.
Puerto Rico must make a deep run in next summer's qualifying tournament in Argentina to appear in the 2012 games.
Pitino, of course, won't be the only college coach in the 2012 Olympics, should Puerto Rico qualify and Pitino retain the job the following year. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, who coached Team USA to a gold medal in the 2008 Olympics and 2010 World Champsionship, will return for the Americans, along with assistant Jim Boeheim (Syracuse).
American coaches leading national teams other than the United States is not a rare occurrence, either. Bob Donewald Jr. is currently the coach of the Chinese men's basketball team, a position previously held by ex-Lakers coach Del Harris, while David Blatt, born in Louisville, coaches the Russian national team. Former Wheaton coach Bill Harris coaches the Indian national team.
Compiled from staff and wire reports. Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.