Rick Pitino says he doesn’t know what the future of coaching will look like

ALBANY, N.Y. — After the final game of his third season at Iona, Rick Pitino said he didn’t know if he would return for a fourth game or coach elsewhere.

Will he stay in Iona or will he go?

“Honestly, I don’t have an answer for that,” Pitino said. “I don’t know if it’s there or not, because I put everything into this game.”

Pitino, 70, who reached his second NCAA Tournament with Iona after Hall of Fame careers at Boston University, Providence, Kentucky, Louisville and the NBA, remains St. John’s No. 1 target, sources said. ESPN’s Jeff Borzello on Friday.

The two sides have held discussions and no deal has been struck, the sources said, but the search has focused on Pitino and no other serious candidates have emerged.

On the court, Pitino’s 13th-ranked Gaels hung tough before falling to No. 4 UConn 87-63 on Friday.

For a half-time, it looked like Pitino would get his first coaching win as a double-digit seed. Iona leads UConn 39-37 after Pitino calls it the best half his team has played all season.

But it would not last long. Connecticut doubled up on Iona in the second half, sending Pitino into the coaching questions he frequently asked the day before the Gaels’ first-round NCAA game.

Pitino walked the aisles of MVP Arena before taking the podium for his postgame press conference. He wished the Drake player luck — Drake and Miami played the next game — then stopped briefly to chat with former Seton Hall coach and current ESPN radio analyst PJ Carlesimo. Flanked by an armed police officer, Pitino walked past the Iona crowd before running into Connecticut coach Dan Hurley.

He and Hurley hugged and Pitino told Hurley, “Win it all. Win it all. You’ve got a team.”

It’s something he reiterated minutes later on the roof, saying he believes the Huskies have the attributes to win a national championship.

Asked about his future, Pitino said he doesn’t get emotional at the podium. He later spoke about his acquittal in the Louisville basketball scandal and how his career was years away. He talked about his past – both his successes and his mistakes – and where he is now. Pitino said Thursday that he would consider coaching for another decade.

Pitino had a 293-140 record at Louisville, three Final Fours and a national championship (two of those Final Fours, the 2013 national title and 123 other wins were vacated due to scandal); Kentucky’s 219-50 record with three Final Fours and a national title; 42-23 record in Final Four at Providence; and a 91-51 record at Boston University after six games at Hawaii. He also coached in the NBA with the Knicks and Celtics and for two seasons in Greece with Panathinaikos.

It all led to his final three seasons at Iona, where he went 64-22 with two NCAA Tournament appearances and could be on the move again.

“That’s where we’re at right now and it’s frustrating for my guys because they’re a great group of kids,” Pitino said. “And the future, I don’t know what the future holds because I’m looking at the big scheme of winning, and winning is very important because we all work hard, every coach works hard.

“And we played a great game, the best half of the season.”

When asked if he had time to stay in Iona or go to St. John’s or somewhere else, he again did not answer.

“I really haven’t thought about it at all. I hear you ask, and I think when you start thinking ahead, you’re always going to fail,” Pitino said. “We put a lot of effort into this game, I don’t know. Whether it’s right for me is another job. I don’t know.”

Pitino acknowledged the talk surrounding St. John’s position before saying he had never seen St. John’s. Perhaps he meant it in its current form, as Pitino began a coaching conversation in 1987 against legendary St. John’s coach Lou Carnesecca.

After telling the story — Pitino always has a story to tell — he went back to something that made his point.

“You can’t buy a house without looking at the garage and the upstairs and the kitchen and everything,” Pitino said. “You don’t just buy a house.”

After about 20 minutes, his press conference ended and Pitino left — a security guard at his side, media trailing behind him — stopping to speak briefly with a few members of the media before heading into Iona’s locker room, as his sports information director said. would not do any more interviews.

Was it the last time he walked into the Iona locker room after a game as the team’s head coach? Pitino said he didn’t know. He has no schedule for this.

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