McCarty, a ten-year NBA veteran, starred for Pitino at Kentucky from 1993-96 and helped lead the Wildcats to the 1996 NCAA Championship before heading off for a successful stint in the National Basketball Association with the Boston Celtics.
Menzies, who joined Louisville's staff two years ago, will be introduced as New Mexico State's head coach at a 3:00 p.m. press conference Friday afternoon in Las Cruces. He replaces Reggie Theus, now the head coach of the Sacramento Kings. Ironically, it was Menzies who replaced Theus at Louisville when the former NBA star left Pitino's program to take over the struggling Aggies program.
"I really didn't think of anybody but Walt," Pitino said Friday morning. "I think he'll make a great coach because he's organized and enthusiastic and he knows our system. It's a natural fit and I have immense confidence in him.
"Walt was the consummate team player. He's always been about winning and his enthusiasm is infectious. We spent four great years together and won a championship. This is not about the University of Kentucky. It's more about family and everybody that has played for me is a part of that family."
McCarty got to know the current Louisville players last season. He attended several U of L games, including the Big East Tournament. That background should make for a smooth transition.
"I was around last season and got to know a lot of the guys," McCarty said. "I'm excited about this job because it's a great opportunity. This is something I couldn't turn down."
morning as U of L's new assistant coach.
Pitino believes that his current roster has as many as six future pros. He's hoping McCarty's NBA experience can help guys like David Padget, Derrick Caracter and Earl Clark, among others, realize their professional aspirations.
"We have six guys on our team that have pro potential and we have guys coming in that have pro potential," Pitino said. "I wanted someone that could relate to them about what the next level is all about. He's been through it all and he's a great role-model for the guys."
McCarty, 33, joins former Kentucky teammate Steve Masiello and Richard Pitino on the Louisville bench. It's a young Louisville staff as both Masiello and Pitino are under 30.
"I think the key to any staff is to have the right mix and I think we do," Pitino said.
LAS VEGAS INVITATIONAL
Louisville will face a difficult early season schedule to start the 2007-08 season. Besides non-conference games against New Mexico State, Purdue, Kentucky, Dayton and UNLV, the Cardinals could also potentially play Brigham Young and North Carolina in the Las Vegas Invitational Thanksgiving week.
"We're going to play a very difficult schedule early on," Pitino said. "Traditionally, every team I've ever coached has started slow. So we'll have to be more ready than we ever have been. We've got a very competitive early season schedule, but we're looking forward to it."
Despite the tough schedule, Pitino believes he's got a team that will be up for the challenge.
"I have very high expectations for this team," Pitino said. "This is a legit basketball team. This team has outstanding talent. We have six guys with (NBA) potential. They have a great deal of size and talent and they also have a great work ethic."
PITINO LIKES NEW ARENA
Apparently the new arena plans are finalized and Pitino recently got a look at the new $350 million facility that will be constructed downtown.
"I just saw the plans for the new arena for the first time and the inside is completely done," Pitino said. "It's the finest basketball arena ever built. That's a pride thing for the city and the University of Louisville to have a 22,000 seat arena that's the finest major building ever built."
Pitino also said that his program should be able to use the new YUM! Practice Facility by August 7.