You know the story already: Since John Calipari arrived in Lexington, Ky. last spring, things have started to be a little less fun for the Louisville Cardinals. Calipari has been soaking up talent at a rate rarely seen in college hoops. It especially hurts that some of that talent previously looked set to attend Louisville, most notably Indianapolis native and No. 3 overall player in the class of 2011, point guard Marquis Teague.
There's a competition here, and through one year of the Pitino-Calipari UK-Louisville feud, Calipari is pretty much dominating.
Pitino has to do something to even out the recruiting balance. As the Louisville Courier-Journal's Rick Bozich informs us, that something was adding former Nike employee Tim Fuller to his coaching staff. En garde!
Building relationships sounds like the job description of the work Fuller performed for Nike the last three years. His assignment included taking care of Nike clients playing in the NBA. Paul Pierce of the Celtics was one of Fuller's guys. So was Louisville native Rajon Rondo, another Celtic. Fuller found a gymnasium for Rondo to launch extra shots on the night before Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
[...] "I know we have a great school down the street, but they're not going to beat us on guys," Fuller said. "I'm going to give it my full-time devotion and attention to make sure that Louisville has premier talent."
Pitino and his staff have realized that they need something new. As Bozich writes, most of Pitino's assistant coach selections have been easy to figure out -- a family member there, a friend here, a friend of a highly touted recruit sprinkled in for good measure. Pitino's staff lacked a Fuller, a guy whose sole devotion is to making sure Louisville is in the running for the best players in the country, regardless of the competition from Kentucky.
There's plenty of talent to go around. There's no reason why Kentucky and Louisville can't both recruit the best players in the country at the same time. But regional competition is also at stake. When you've got the recruiting machine that is John Calipari no more than 100 miles from you, you have to change it up. Pitino has.
Next up? Actually signing the best players in the country. No sweat, right?
Update: I forgot to include this in the original post, but maybe it's start: Memphis transfer Roburt Sallie has landed at Louisville. Sallie is a big-time sharpshooter; you may remember him for almost singlehandedly keeping the 2008-09 Tigers alive in the NCAA tournament with a brilliant shooting performance against Cal-State Northridge. Sallie is a 43.8 percent three-point shooter, a record at Memphis. It's not exactly a five-star commitment, but hey, it's something.