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Rick Pitino prepares for Hall of Fame induction

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Rick Pitino is once again studying video of Michael Jordan and John Stockton to learn from them.

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The Louisville coach wants to be sure he knows what to say and not say when he is inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame on Sunday.

Pitino is among a seven-member class to be enshrined on Sunday in Springfield, Mass, that includes former college coaches Jerry Tarkanian and Guy Lewis, former NBA players Bernard King and Gary Payton, Virginia graduate and current South Carolina women's coach Dawn Staley and North Carolina's Sylvia Hatchell.

Former coaches-turned-TV analysts Dick Vitale and Hubie Brown will introduce Pitino, who's preparing to stay within the five-minute acceptance speech time and promised Monday to be ``more thankful'' than Jordan, who was criticized for taking shots at others during his induction speech.

``One speech was 27 minutes and the other was 13 minutes and I'm not in their league,'' Pitino joked about the speeches by Jordan and Stockton, then conceded that he hasn't worked much on his.

Pitino's Hall of Fame selection in April was part of the most personally satisfying week of his career, which includes winning NCAA championships at Louisville and another at Kentucky in 1996.

During that week his son Richard, then Florida International's coach and a former Cardinals assistant, was hired by Minnesota. The thoroughbred horse Pitino co-owns, Goldencents, qualified for the Kentucky Derby with a Santa Anita Derby victory just before Louisville rallied past Wichita State in the national semifinal in Atlanta.

Pitino was notified about his Hall selection hours before he guided the Cardinals to an 82-76 victory over Michigan for the national championship, the school's third.

``The way it happened was what made it extra special,'' said Pitino, 664-239 in 28 years. ``Winning a championship has made it extra special, so the timing is great.''

Pitino said he expects to be nostalgic about players and teams he has coached, some of whom will be in Springfield this weekend, and people he has met. But as the Cardinals coach reflects on his career, he also stresses that there's still more to accomplish with a team expected to make a deep run at repeating as champions.

Especially since the coach says, ``I'm enjoying it as much as any period in my life.''

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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