LAHAINA, HAWAII – Louisville coach Rick Pitino — Gophers coach Richard Pitino’s father — told WDRB Sports on Tuesday that Louisville and Minnesota are planning to open the 2014-15 season with a father vs. son game taking place on a military base somewhere.
“We’re working on that now, but it could be [in] Puerto Rico if it all works,” Rick Pitino told WDRB. “We haven’t signed contracts. It’s a long way from done. But it could be on a military base opening the season next year.”
Richard Pitino responded via text that the two programs were “working on it.”
Hot start, cold finish
Guard Malik Smith, like the rest of the Gophers, couldn’t seem to buy a basket in the second half. But in the first half, the Florida International transfer showed noticeable improvement and aggressiveness for the second consecutive game. Smith finished with 15 points — 13 of them in the first half, when he hit two big three-pointers and slashed to the basket to score on a couple of drives.
“Malik brings great energy,” guard Andre Hollins said. “We always have that extra weapon.”
When Tom Corneil heard the Gophers would be in Hawaii for the Maui Invitational, following along on vacation was a no-brainer.
“Twist my arm a little harder, why don’t you?” the Willmar native said.
So Corneil, along with his wife, Karen, and several of their friends — many met along the Minnesota traveling trail — did what they always do when the Gophers travel somewhere that seems fun: They hop on a plane.
The Corneils, along with about 90 others, traveled through Creative Charter, a company that helps organize travel for Gophers fans. Founder Steve Erban said that Creative Charter traveled about the same number of fans to Maui as they did to the Bahamas a year ago, 60 percent of those fans being repeat journeyers.
Warm weather aside, Arkansas freshman forward Bobby Portis was reminded of the summer because of the Razorbacks-Gophers game. There aren’t many regular-season games, after all, that are played at 9 a.m. local time.
“In AAU basketball, you get up early and play two or three games in one day,” Portis said. “I just feel like it’s all mental, it’s all in your brain.”
• Pitino said guard Maverick Ahanmisi, who was averaging 9.2 minutes per game and had played in every contest coming into Maui, was healthy and available, despite not logging any minutes in either of the Gophers’ first two Maui Invitational matchups.