Richard Pitino at a glance
ALL IN THE FAMILY: Pitino, 30, is the son of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino.
THE QUOTE: “People always look at me like I’m Rick Pitino’s son, and I certainly am — he has molded and shaped me into the person I’ve become — but Billy Donovan was just as influential.” — Richard Pitino to the Palm Beach Post last month.
HIGH SCHOOL: Pitino attended St. Sebastian’s School in Needham, Mass.
COLLEGE: In 2005, Pitino graduated from Providence College, the same school his father had taken to the Final Four in 1987. At Providence, the younger Pitino worked as a men’s basketball manager under coach Tim Welsh and started building his own resume. He was an assistant coach for Saint Andrew’s School in Barrington, Rhode Island. He spent the 2004-05 season as an administrative assistant under Tom Herrion at the College of Charleston.
PAYING HIS DUES: After watching Richard Pitino’s rise, Donovan told the Palm Beach Post: “His dad made him start from the ground floor and work his way up. He wasn’t a guy that was just given a silver spoon and went right out of college into a high-major coaching position.”
ASSISTANT COACHING CAREER: Pitino spent one year as an assistant coach at Northeastern University under Ron Everhart, then followed Everhart to Duquesne University for the 2006-07 season. He spent the next three years as an assistant coach under his father at Louisville, reaching the Elite Eight twice. In 2009, he went to work under Donovan at Florida. After helping lead the Gators to the Elite Eight in 2011, Pitino was a candidate for the head coaching job at Florida Gulf Coast University in 2011 — a job that went to Andy Enfield. Pitino returned to Louisville as an associate head coach.
FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY: The school located just outside Miami has an enrollment of 50,000. It tried making a splash in 2009 when it hired Isiah Thomas as head basketball coach, but the Panthers went 26-65 in Thomas’ three seasons. Last April, FIU fired Thomas and replaced him with Richard Pitino, who had just helped his father take Louisville back to the Final Four.
AT THE TIME RICK PITINO SAID: “You know I’m delighted, but I’m going miss [him] terribly. I think one of the great things in 35 years of coaching was spending three years with him. Watch him grow as a basketball coach, and you sort of don’t want it to end. ... It’s his opportunity. It was his decision, not that I was against it. But I would have loved to have been with him a few more years.”
FATHER’S FOOTSTEPS: Rick Pitino was 25 when he got his first head coaching job in 1978 at Boston University. Richard Pitino was 29 when he became head coach at FIU.
PANTHERS TURNAROUND: FIU had 12 consecutive losing seasons and an 8-21 record the year before Pitino arrived, so they were picked to finish near the bottom of the Sun Belt Conference this past year. The Panthers went 18-14 and just missed earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, losing the Sun Belt championship game to Western Kentucky 65-63.
PROUD YOUNG COACH: “I saw the potential here with the amount of students,” Pitino told FIUSports.com in January. “I told [the team] you have to do it through hard work. You got to do it through energy and enthusiasm. You can’t do it trying to look cool. Our goal was in every home game, whether it’s diving on a loose ball or taking a charge, that may get you five or six more people in the stands.”
STYLE OF PLAY: After being hired at FIU, Pitino told the student paper, “Basketball-wise, we’re going to bring a new brand; we’re going to play up and down and press a lot. We’re really going to try and push the pace up offensively as well as defensively.” FIU averaged 69.1 points per game and ranked eighth nationally with 9.3 steals per game.
COACHING INFLUENCES: Pitino has worked under two coaches known for their tireless work ethic — Donovan and Rick Pitino. “The great thing about Billy and my dad, they’re always willing to give me advice,’’ Pitino told the Associated Press. “They understand where I’m at. I call Billy every single day, almost like I call my dad, and I’m so appreciative that they give the time to try to teach me. It’s so exciting. For me, I can’t try to be Billy Donovan, I can’t try to be Rick Pitino. I’ve got to be my own man and play my own style, and it’s been fun trying to figure it out.’’
HIS PEERS SAY: “He’s not your typical 30-year-old,” Manhattan coach Steve Masiello, another former Louisville assistant, told the Palm Beach Post. “He says he has to work twice as hard. He doesn’t want to disappoint his dad or his peers.”
GOPHERS CONNECTIONS: Shaka Smart and Anthony Grant were both assistant coaches at Florida, under Donovan, when they were hired to be Virginia Commonwealth’s head coach under then-AD Norwood Teague, who has since moved to Minnesota.
HIS FAMILY: Pitino and his wife, Jill, have one daughter, Ava Catherine.