Richard Pitino, son of future Hall of Famer, Rick, was introduced as the new head coach at Minnesota on Friday, taking over for Tubby Smith.
Norwood Teague is rolling the dice, hiring a 30-year-old with one season of head coaching experience. Though, Pitino has studied under his father as well as Florida’s Billy Donovan and took Florida International to a 18-14 record and was within one win of earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Pitino in his press conference held on Friday mentioned that landing the Big Ten coaching job was a dream come true and he has one promise for the Golden Gopher faithful.
“It’s going to be a style that the kids love to play,” Pitino told reporters.
Pitino, who’s press conference aired on the Big Ten Network, used the right choice of words, especially in this year of Minnesota high school hoops. The North Star State has a talented group of players in the Class of 2014, including point guard Tyus Jones (Apple Valley High/Apple Valley, Minn.), shooting guard Rashad Vaughn (Cooper High/New Hope, Minn.) and small forward Reid Travis (De La Salle/Minneapolis Minn.) ranked by Rivals as No. 3, 6, and 41 overall, respectively.
All of them have been offered by Minnesota and the new coach of the Golden Gophers had talked to each of them by Thursday, according to TwinCities.com.
“He seems like a good guy. He was really friendly,” Vaughn told Marcus R. Fuller of the Pioneer Press. I don’t know much about him yet, but I do like the brand of basketball that I’ve heard.”
Jones narrowed his list to seven back in early March which included Minnesota. The 6-foot-7 Reid has more than a dozen high major offers including Michigan State, Arizona and Notre Dame. Vaughn, the 6-foot-5 shooting guard, also has a wide-open recruitment which includes offers from Florida, Georgetown, Kansas, Syracuse and Pitino’s father’s team, Louisville.
Richard Pitino takes over a Minnesota team that finished 21-13 (8-10 Big Ten), eighth in the conference.