Deepak is a writer for the Big Ten microsite of RTC. Follow him on Twitter for more about B1G hoops at @dee_b1g.
Minnesota has agreed to a deal with Richard Pitino, a former assistant to his father Rick at Louisville and a one-year head coach at Florida International, on Wednesday night. Gophers’ athletic director Norwood Teague sent a clear message by firing Tubby Smith in that he wants a “fresh set of eyes” on the program. Fresh doesn’t even begin to describe Pitino, who is 30 years young and has only one year of head coaching experience. They were turned down by VCU’s Shaka Smart and former Minnesota Timberwolves’ head coach Flip Saunders so this move will certainly raise some eyebrows, but it hits a home run in terms of the “thud” factor. The following are a few quick thoughts about what this means to the Minnesota program:
- Expectations, expectations, expectations. Don’t expect Pitino to outcoach other experienced guys in a conference that features some of the best coaches in the country. Eventually he may grow into a very good in-game coach but the expectations need to be realistically set when evaluating his performance over the next couple of seasons. Fielding a competitive team, especially at home, against some of the top Big Ten schools such as Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State is a reasonable expectation, but competing for the conference title immediately is out of the realm of possibility. Comparison to Smith is impractical as well because Pitino should be expected to bring more “energy” to the program immediately. A hungry 30-year old coach who wants to prove himself in the big leagues will bring something more positive to the table than an established coach such as Smith who would continue to grind it out in the later years of his career. Read the rest of this entry »