MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Minnesota coach Richard Pitino is defending his embattled father, Rick Pitino, as allegations swirl around the Louisville program that a former staffer paid escorts to have sex with former recruits and players.
Richard Pitino spoke at Minnesota’s media day Wednesday. He says he had no knowledge of the allegations while he was an assistant at Louisville and also says he knows his father had no knowledge, either.
Katina Powell wrote a book that alleges former staffer Andre McGee paid her and several other women to party with recruits and players from 2010-2014.
Richard Pitino was on the staff at Louisville in 2010. He says the allegations were “very surprising.”
Rick Pitino has denied knowledge of the activities that Powell alleges in her book.
Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino is experimenting with a potentially big starting lineup this season. In a report from Marcus R. Fuller of the Pioneer Press, Pitino believes that since the Big Ten has a lot of naturally big lineups that he might need to adjust.
Pitino said that a starting lineup could include Nate Mason, Carlos Morris, Charles Buggs, Joey King and Bakary Konate. While Mason and Morris present good natural size in the backcourt, the 6-foot-9 Buggs playing at small forward could be a major change.
“In my ideal world, that’s a big lineup, pretty talented,” Pitino said to reporters on Friday. “The one thing you learn is that you make a plan and you know it’s going to change. But I like the size of that lineup. I like the speed. I like the athleticism.
“But again, if guys aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do, you have to be willing to change.”
Seeing Pitino looking towards this lineup is intriguing since he has some talented and athletic freshman wings and guards in the mix. If Buggs and the big lineup is used, it means the Golden Gophers could be deep on the perimeter, bringing talented freshmen like Kevin Dorsey, Dupree McBrayer and Jordan Murphy off the bench.
Obviously, injuries and the way certain players respond to these lineups could change a lot before the beginning of the season, but for now, this will be something to monitor in the preseason.
Jarvis Johnson, an incoming freshman point guard, was not cleared to play at Minnesota in June, but the university will honor his scholarship. If Johnson, the Minneapolis native, were to seek a playing career elsewhere, Minnesota would grant him a release.
“He knows that and the family knows that,” Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino told Amelia Rayno of the Star Tribune on Tuesday evening.
Johnson committed to Minnesota in September 2014 over offers from Baylor, UNLV, Wichita State and Wisconsin. It was revealed on June 15 that Johnson was not cleared to play for the Golden Gophers because of a internal defibrillator implanted in his chest in 2010. As an eighth grader, Johnson was diagnosed with hydropathic cardiomyopathy (HCM) after he collapsed during a practice. His heart stopped beating for roughly 10 minutes.
Johnson said last month that he hopes to play college ball at some point in his career despite the diagnosis.
A member of a five-man recruiting class, the 6-foot-1 Johnson was rated as a three-star recruit by Rivals.