Pitino's Branch Reaches Far From Limelight

Walter Cornett/

The team huddles are broken the same way here as they were 20 years ago:

“One-two-three, hard work!”

Back then, the setting was Rupp Arena, a basketball cathedral filled with 24,000 fans. Today, the setting is the Harrison HPER Complex, a 4,500-seat gym bereft of banners in the rafters, signs on the walls or character of any kind.

The squat, brick building is on the campus of Mississippi Valley State, a tiny school struggling to survive amid the cotton fields along U.S. Highway 82. The coach of the Delta Devils is the man who took the “hard work” huddle slogan – and accompanying program ethos – from the elite level of college basketball to the Southwestern Athletic Conference, the ...

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