This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

  Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno

Some final thoughts on Gophers' new head coach Richard Pitino

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches Updated: April 6, 2013 - 5:15 PM

I just finished my Sunday story (which will be online later tonight) -- and so it officially marks the end of the coaching search for me.

Quite the experience. Now I have a few leftover thoughts from the whirlwind.

Many of you have been asking what I think of the new coach, Richard Pitino. As of now, I have a lot of the same information you have: I’ve watched and heard him at the press conference, but I haven’t met him one-on-one yet. I’ve spoken to a lot of people that are close with him, and shared a lot of their thoughts with you as well. I’ve looked deeper into his past, read about his accomplishments, considered his age and experience; all the things that most of you probably did as soon as his name came up.

Of course, the real judgment – from everyone – will come next season, when we start to see how he executes the transition from FIU and the Sun Belt to the Gophers and the Big Ten.

But for now, my thought is this:

This is exactly what Minnesota needs right now. The Gophers are not only getting a fresh set of eyes on a program that has had trouble breaking out of the sticky trend of early success and late flops recently, they are getting someone who has the reputation of being full of energy -- a tireless worker, a relentless recruiter and someone who admittedly “live[s], breathe[s], eat[s], sleep[s] basketball.”

He has a good pedigree. He seems to have good instincts. He knows how to make an impression.

I can’t tell you whether Pitino will actually succeed in bringing the Gophers to the next level, whether he’ll be able to turn them into a perennial competitor in the Big Ten. I can’t guarantee you that he’ll win 20 games every season, as Tubby Smith did in five of his six years at Minnesota. I can’t promise he won’t disappoint, or that he’ll be the guy that Norwood Teague hopes he’ll be and that the fans are breathlessly awaiting for him to be.

But I do belive this: If Pitino ultimately fails – and I’m not talking about immediately because next year could be tough no matter what – it won’t be because he didn’t give it his all.

That Pitino will give it his all -- that is what I don't doubt.

As the University of Minnesota, then, how do you not go that direction? Fans of every program want to believe that their school is such that every great coach would love to come and be a part of it. It doesn't always work that way. Minnesota doesn’t have the same tradition and history as some schools do. It certainly doesn’t have the facilities and the perks. The recruiting ground, while improving, stil doesn't have the reputation for an overflow of talent. And yet still, even in arguably the toughest league in America, there is incredible pressure -- and a quick trigger if you don’t produce.

Guys like Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens, as I’ve been saying all along, were pipe dreams. Coming to Minnesota doesn't make any sense.

But a guy like Pitino – someone whose stock is still low, but ceiling is high – is the best kind of hire Minnesota could hope to make, in my opinion. There are plenty of characteristics with him (his work ethic, his immediate background, his experience, his mentors, his obvious maturity, his intellect) that make it likely that he will do well.

If it doesn’t pan out, well, the concept was still smart. The buyout (and salary) is smaller than it would have been with any coach that has been sitting in a head job for longer. If it does work out, the Gophers look like geniuses.

In the end, it was a risky move. But it was the kind of risk a smart businessman should take, every time.


We had a great package in today’s paper. Here’s all of our work:

*My story on Pitino being introduced to Minnesota.
*Video with myself and Jason Gonzalez, breaking down the press conference and what was said.
*Notes from yesterday.
*Joe Christensen: Players welcome the up-tempo style Pitino brings.
*Michael Rand: more details about Pitino’s salary.
*Chip Scoggins: Recruiting is key for Pitino.
*Sid Hartman: After days of complaints, suddenly he likes Pitino. How about that?
*Gonzalez: “Big Three” are on Pitino’s radar.
*Reaction to Pitino in Minnesota.


Some leftover quotes:

From former NBA veteran Walter McCarty, who played for Rick Pitino in Kentucky and with the Celtics, and then was an assistant coach with Richard Pitino (under Rick) at Louisville:

On seeing the “coach” in Pitino early: “When you’re around basketball so much – I can’t say that we knew that he was going to be a special coach or that we knew he was going to do this, but you could tell Richard was the one out of all the boys who really took to basketball. His brothers were big sports fans and loved the game, but not in the manner that Richard loves it. You could with Richard -- he knows the and he wants to be a coach. Follow in his dad’s footsteps.”

On Pitino’s work ethic: “He prepared like his father. Richard outworked anyone in the office. He was there before everybody. He left after everybody. He was on the phone. He was just always working and I think that’s one of the biggest [characteristics] he took from his father. He just outworked everybody and he was very prepared. And I think that’s what makes him stand out.”

On Richard growing up in his father’s shadow: “If Richard was going to be a coach, he was going to have to be either really good or really bad because he was going to always be compared to his father. And I think Richard understood that if he was going to be good – he was going to be great.

“He had to go out and show everybody – this is not because my dad. I’m not this good because of my dad … I’ve taken a lot from my dad, but I’m here because I deserve to be here and I’ve earned it.”

On Pitino’s maturity: “He’s not your average 30-year-old. He’s always been mature for his age as far as just seeing him progress out of college … He’s going to be able to get it done. He takes his job very seriously, he takes his craft very seriously. Those kids at the university – that program – will be the top priority.”

Leftover player quotes:

Andre Hollins:

“I was really impressed with the meeting he had with us today before the press conference and during the press conference. … It’s definitely exciting – getting up and down, I mean, I think that’s when I play my best basketball, pressuring people. Just being aggressive – that aggressive style. I really like that. He brings the presence of Billy Donovan and his father, so he’s learned from the best.”

“I’ve always played for coaches that have been significantly older than I am. I think he’s going to be able to relate to us a little bit more because he knows, he’s just 10 years older than me. So it will be cool.”

Rodney Williams:

“For those guys to have trust in him right away – I think that will be the toughest thing. But with his background and who he’s been under, I know those guys will buy in right away. He obviously knows his stuff and even though he’s only been head coach for a year, the guys he’s been under, I know he’s learned a lot.”

Austin Hollins:

“He really wants that hard-nosed defense, up the court. And then on offense, we’re just going to run and gun. And a lot of pick and rolls, getting up and down and getting a lot of shots up.”

“I think the sky is the limit. Our goals don’t change – we want to make the NCAA tournament again, of course, we want to go farther than we did. We want to win the Big Ten championship.”


Philadelphia 3:30 PM
San Diego 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Utah 101 FINAL
Orlando 94
Charlotte 109 FINAL
Philadelphia 91
Brooklyn 91 FINAL
Cleveland 95
Washington 105 FINAL
Miami 103
Minnesota 98 FINAL
Boston 114
Toronto 110 FINAL
Detroit 100
Chicago 103 FINAL
Memphis 97
Portland 129 FINAL
San Antonio 119
LA Clippers 106 FINAL
Denver 109
Oklahoma City 104 FINAL
LA Lakers 103
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 3
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Ottawa 6
NY Islanders 2 FINAL
Detroit 1
Boston 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Dallas 2 FINAL
Calgary 1
Wilberforce 71 FINAL
Youngstown St 92
Jackson State 49 FINAL
Tulane 56
Siena 66 FINAL
Radford 76
Stillman 49 FINAL
Alabama 69
Case Western Reserve 65 FINAL
Bucknell 88
Niagara 62 FINAL
Buffalo 88
SD Christian 46 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 69
Concordia (MI) 60 FINAL
Central Mich 97
Northern Ill 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 58
North Florida 83 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Hiwassee 71 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 91
Tennessee St 54 FINAL
Hampton 66
Kent State 71
Central Penn College 65 FINAL
Liberty 94
Eastern Ky 72 FINAL
Miami-Florida 44
Northern Ky 83 FINAL
Morehead State 60
Northern Ariz 62 FINAL
Norfolk State 81
MD-Eastern Shore 43 FINAL
Old Dominion 60
St Marys-CA 47 FINAL
St Johns 53
Clemson 45 FINAL
South Carolina 68
Tenn Tech 58 FINAL
Tennessee 61
Washington-MD 46 FINAL
William & Mary 86
Bethune-Cookman 46 FINAL
Mercer 67
Furman 78 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 83
South Dakota St 53 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 49
Milligan 53 FINAL
Lamar 80
LSU-Alexandria 71 FINAL
ULM 76
Southern Utah 57 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 73
Chattanooga 58 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 68
Seattle 57 FINAL
Minnesota 92
Lipscomb 55 FINAL
Princeton 77
Winthrop 71 FINAL
SE Louisiana 81
Dickinson State 48 FINAL
North Dakota 78
New Orleans 56 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
TX-Pan American 60 FINAL
Creighton 75
Colorado State 85 FINAL
Denver 84
Alabama A&M 49 FINAL
Marquette 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 51 FINAL
Texas Tech 72
Eastern Wash 67 FINAL
California 78
Idaho State 56 FINAL
Utah State 69
Arizona 60 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 55
Hawaii 94 FINAL
Chaminade 63
Nevada 10:00 AM
Utah State 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 44 FINAL
Purdue 69
Campbell 63 FINAL
Stetson 76
Jacksonville St 70 FINAL
Charleston Southern 43
Louisiana 64 FINAL
Alcorn State 57
Denver 63 FINAL
Wright State 72
Blue Mountain 30 FINAL
Central Arkansas 71
Texas State 51 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 40
Albany 62 FINAL
Pepperdine 36
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Houston 56
Yale 66 FINAL
Bucknell 73
Northern Colorado 56 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 69
Belmont 86 FINAL
Mercer 83
Massachusetts 66 FINAL
Georgia State 71
George Mason 69 FINAL
Winthrop 57
Portland State 33 FINAL
Princeton 104
Samford 52
Mobile 30 FINAL
Alabama State 66
Nicholls 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 76
Toledo 65 FINAL
Nevada 56
UMass Lowell 48 FINAL
(13) Duke 95
St Marys-CA 49 FINAL
Virginia 62
McNeese State 55 FINAL
Rice 57
McMurry 49 FINAL
Houston Baptist 69
Seton Hall 74
(6) North Carolina 65 FINAL
Maine 36
Lafayette 58 FINAL
Stony Brook 60
Siena 62 FINAL
Binghamton 53
Longwood 56 FINAL
Clemson 72
Savannah State 51 FINAL
Florida State 97
(19) Syracuse 72 FINAL
(9) Baylor 74
Buffalo 68 FINAL
Manhattan 58
Canisius 43 FINAL
Michigan 79
Davidson 66 FINAL
NC State 82
Northern Ky 63 FINAL
Delaware 58
Saint Louis 81 FINAL
Austin Peay 86
(25) DePaul 64 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 98
Ohio U 74 FINAL
La Salle 63
Florida Atlantic 60 FINAL
Long Beach St 85
Miami-Florida 65 FINAL
Tulane 70
Miss Valley St 39 FINAL
Memphis 62
Ark-Pine Bluff 56 FINAL
UAB 65
Bowling Green 58 FINAL
Illinois State 54
Arkansas State 78 FINAL
Missouri State 62
Wichita State 57
(16) Oregon State 71 FINAL
Southern Ill 55
Pacific 67 FINAL
New Mexico St 62
No Dakota State 79 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 86
Utah State 92 FINAL
Sacramento St 102
Bethesda (CA) 61 FINAL
Fresno State 83
Utah Valley U 44 FINAL
Montana 68
UC Santa Barbara 45


question of the day

Poll: Will Christian Ponder ever be a full-time starter in the NFL?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters