In a time of upheaval for Minnesota basketball, fans would love to know that new coach Richard Pitino has a plan. The 30-year-old son of national title-winner Rick Pitino has only been on the job in the Twin Cities for a few days, but some early hints of order have appeared already.
Replacing center Trevor Mbakwe and his 10 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks is a top priority for the young head coach, who inherits a middle-of-the-road team in the nation’s toughest conference. The St. Paul Pioneer Press has an idea of where Pitino might turn for his big man in the middle, according to the Gophers Now blog, Memphis transfer Tarik Black tops the Minnesota wish list:
He actually outplayed Mbakwe when Minnesota upset Memphis behind Andre Hollins’ 41 points in the Bahamas in November. Black had 13 points and four rebounds in just 16 minutes. Mbakwe had five points and eight rebounds in 20 minutes.
The Gophers want Black but they need to get in line. He has received interest from 20 schools, according to CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman. Among the programs interested are Duke and Kansas. Looks like Pitino’s first big recruiting test might not be “the Big Three.”
If the true blue bloods are ready to give Black a roster spot, Minnesota has quite a selling job to do. Odds are, the Gophers are looking at a less headline-worthy solution in the middle, and a little bit more of a rebuilding job.