Minnesota Hires Pitino to Coach Men's Basketball!

By Jason Priestas on April 4, 2013 at 3:19a
Richard Pitino takes over for Tubby Smith as coach of Minnesota's men's basketball team.

After striking out with Memphis' Josh Pastner, VCU's Shaka Smart and perhaps others, Minnesota has settled on Richard Pitino to replace Tubby Smith, fired last week after six seasons in Minneapolis.

Pitino, of course, is the son of legendary Louisville coach Rick Pitino and leaves Florida International after just one season at the school, leading the Panthers to an 18-14 record, their first winning season in 13 years.

Prior to FIU, Pitino served as an assistant at Louisville, Florida, Duquesne and Northeastern. 

At 30, Pitino is by far the youngest coach in the Big Ten – Purdue's Matt Painter, the next youngest coach in the league is 42 – but young coaches have worked out well for Gopher AD Norwood Teague in the past. Smart was all of 31 when Teague, then the athletic director at VCU, tabbed him to take over as the Rams head coach.


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Buckeye Chuck's picture

Weird: He's replacing Tubby Smith, the same person who replaced his dad at Kentucky.
We'll see how this goes. I have a bias against people whose path in life has been smoothed by having the right last name, but occasionally it works out. This may be the weakest resume for any new Big Ten head coach since Randy Ayers.

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Posterchild's picture

Being an alum of FIU i have followed the basketball team pretty closely. He did a tremendous job bringing FIU within 3 points of the big dance, especially considering what he walked into after the Isiah Thomas debacle. It will be interesting to see what he can do at Minny. 

btalbert25's picture

I'm not sure it's necessarily that he's been handed everything because his name is Pitino.  I mean, look at Rick's coaching tree, both directly and indirectly.  Guys like Thad and Sean Miller have come from coaches who are part of Pitino's tree.  Richard has been an assistant under his dad and Billy Donnovan, another one of Pitino's tree.  There's no telling how great or not he'll be, but if you look at guys who played for Rick (essentially growing up with him) and have gone into coaching they've been quite successful.  Travis Ford, Bill Donnovan, Steve Masiello is quickly rising through the ranks of college basketball too.  Richard could be a guy who actually has studied and learned from his dad and will go on to be a great coach, not just a guy who is the son of a legend that was handed something.

MN Buckeye's picture

Minnesota likes these father/son connections for bball coaches.  After all, Tubby had his son on staff, so why not hire the son of another top coach and hope for the best.  They have not made a great coaching hire (except for women's hockey) in a long, long time.

BuckeyeRick's picture

Going 18-14 with 1 year of Head Coaching experience at Florida International is enough to get you the job at Minnesota? ....that plus the last name being Pitino.
I can't help but to think Minnesota really thought they had Shaka Smart in the bag when they fired Tubby. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

NoVA Buckeye's picture

In his defense, FIU never had a winning season before this year.

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

Earle's picture

Joey Meyer, Pat Knight and John Thompson III think this is a great hire.

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popeurban's picture

I like the hire.  He gives their AD a win in the press conference from name recognition alone.  He has recruiting connections in the AAU circuit and he will attract good assistants that can recruit from his fathers connections.  

Jonnferrell's picture

Joey Meyer should not be dragged through the mud that is Pat Knight and John Thompson III

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btalbert25's picture

Doesn't John Thompson III have a final four to his credit? Not that he's a great coach, but he's exceeded what Pat Knight was ever able to do. 

popeurban's picture

JT III is not a bust in my mind.  Does he do well during the regular season, absolutely, does he often get bounced too early in the tourney, yes.  That being said, he has resurrected the Georgetown program.

btalbert25's picture

That's kind of what I was thinking.  I mean isn't he the only G'Town coach to take them to the final four other than his dad?

MN Buckeye's picture

The reaction here in MN has been generally positive.  The fans are hopeful that a young, energetic coach like young Pitino can bring energy and vision to the program, similar to how Smart energized VCU.  People are realistic enough to know that they are not going to draw a coach with a national reputation, they are just hoping that the new guy "puts his big boy pants on when Tom Izzo comes over and pats him on the head for the first time", according to one radio commentator.

danbrown7665's picture

They were never getting Shaka Smart. They were never getting Brad Stevens. I dont think much of this hire, but i dont think its that bad.

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