He was so fond of them that he even named a pair of horses after his players.
According to the Louisville Courer-Journal, thoroughbred trainer Randy Bradshaw asked Pitino to help name two of the coach's horses that are currently being prepared for training.
The names he came up with? "Gorgui" and "Siva." Both suggestions were proposed to and approved by The Jockey Club.
"The Bellamy Road colt was a spectacular, big, big colt," he said of the horse named after junior-to-be center Gorgui Dieng. "He was lanky, had great potential and goes the distance. I said I got the perfect name for him. I said 'Gorgui.'"
The second colt, Pitino said, is "very, very quick — has a great first step, so to speak."
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So, too, does senior-to-be point guard Peyton Siva, who was the driving force for the Cardinals during their incredible run to close out the season — One which saw them win eight straight postseason games and a Big East tournament title before falling to eventual national champ Kentucky in New Orleans.
"They're two of my favorite ballplayers and young men," Pitino said. "I told both guys. They're super excited."
Both will play major roles next season, too, as Louisville is likely to enter the 2012-13 campaign as a trendy pick to make it back to the Final Four. The small-but-speedy Siva did a little bit of everything for the Cardinals, especially late in the season, averaging 11.4 points, 6.4 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game during the aforementioned eight-game winning streak. Dieng set a single-season program record for blocked shots, averaging 3.2 per game to go along with 9.1 points and 9.1 rebounds a contest. Plus, after looking shaky early on against Kentucky's Anthony Davis in the national semifinals, Dieng grew more comfortable and confident as Louisville made it a game late, giving another extended glimpse into his vast potential as an anchor in the middle.
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The "Bellamy Road" that Pitino referred to finished seventh in the 2005 Kentucky Derby, and Gorgui will have the same trainer in Nick Zito. Both horses, according to Pitino, should begin racing this summer, and from the sound of it, of the two, Gorgui's pedigree projects it out to be the more successful of the two on the track.
And if either Siva or Gorgui hit it big, it appears that Pitino has his post-coaching career plans set.
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