Richard Pitino has some family members coming to Des Moines for Thursday’s NCAA tournament game between the Gophers and Louisville. His brother. His cousin. His dad won’t be there, though.
Former Cardinals coach and Hall of Famer Rick Pitino is coaching his Greek League team Panathinaikos on Wednesday, which would make a trip back difficult.
“He’s kind of busy,” Pitino said. “He’s in Greece. It’s not like he’s in North Carolina. He’s got games.”
Not that trying to be around a school he is suing for what he claims was an unjust firing two years ago amid the FBI probe into college hoops recruiting is something the elder Pitino would want as a distraction.
Pitino, who was an assistant under his father at Louisville from 2007 to ’09 and again in 2011-12, said there were some good and tough memories with the Cardinals.
“Being an assistant coach there, being a coach of a son there were some great [memories],” Pitino said. “Obviously, it didn’t end well, which is very unfortunate.”
Rick Pitino had a successful return to coaching when he led Panathinaikos to the Greek Cup Championship in February.
“As a son, when you see your father happy that’s what it’s all about,” Pitino said. “The last couple years were hard on him. He loves coaching.”
Asked whether he thinks his dad will coach in college again, Richard Pitino said he hopes so.
“He’s one of the greatest coaches to ever coach,” he said. “Obviously, some bad things happened. He was the head coach. He was held responsible. He’s been out of coaching for two years. He’s in Greece right now.
“So people act as if he didn’t pay a price. To me, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. He has paid a price. How much more of a price does he have to pay? To me, he belongs in college coaching … It would be great to see him back on a college sideline at some point.”
Stockman not cleared
Pitino had hoped the Gophers would get to play their NCAA opener Friday, because it would have given senior center Matz Stockman another day to recover from a concussion he suffered in the Big Ten tournament.
Stockman, a 7-foot transfer from Louisville, was not cleared for contact in practice Monday. He was the top frontcourt player off the bench in recent weeks after sophomore Eric Curry had season-ending foot surgery.
“We need him,” Pitino said. “We don’t have a lot of depth in the frontcourt without him.”