Hartman: Former boss sings Pitino's praises

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 6, 2013 - 11:55 PM
hide

Richard Pitino, the 17th head coach of the Gophers basketball team.

Photo: Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

If Norwood Teague was searching for a good recommendation when he was considering hiring Richard Pitino to coach the Gophers men’s basketball team, he had to be delighted when he talked to Pete Garcia.

“He put us on the map,” said Garcia, the athletic director at Florida International and Pitino’s former boss.

Teague, athletic director at the University of Minnesota, introduced Pitino as the Gophers coach Friday at Williams Arena after hiring the 30-year-old away from Florida International, where he won 18 games and came a basket away from making the NCAA tournament.

Garcia no doubt hated to lose Pitino, but he thinks the Gophers are getting a real star.

“What he did with this basketball team and these players, making them believe in something, I’ve never seen a job like that,” Garcia said. “Minnesota has just landed a great basketball coach. He is a complete package as far as a coach and a leader of men.

“He leaves us in a lot better shape than he found us. I also want to thank [Pitino’s father, Louisville coach] Rick Pitino and all the support that he showed this program and continues to show this program. He communicated to me last night that [Louisville and Florida International] still got a game next year and I said, ‘You bet, we got a game.’ ”

Garcia added that there was a lot of interest in his school’s basketball job a year ago before Richard Pitino was hired to replace Isiah Thomas, and that because of the great job Pitino did in building the program, Garcia can safely say that interest in the suddenly open job has tripled now.

Florida International had issues with a low Academic Progress Rate, but Garcia said: “Richard inherited an APR issue and he had a solid year, not just the 18 wins on the court but [improvement] in the classroom. Any issues that we have with APR when the NCAA releases that in the summer is not on Richard. He has helped improve that drastically.”

Garcia was asked if anything could have been done to keep Pitino at Florida International.

“After the season we talked and we had agreed to a modest pay raise, but if the figures of $9 million [over six years] from Minnesota are any indication, then FIU can’t go there at this time,” Garcia said.

“I was very intrigued by the type of basketball that we played this year. Not only did he win, but that high-pressing style that he played I think fits us to a T.”

Had Pitino remained at Florida International he might have operated under NCAA sanctions for violations that occurred when Thomas was the team’s coach from 2009-12.Thomas was 26-65 at FIU and left the program in a mess that Pitino cleaned up.

Learned to recruit from the best

One of the big challenges for Pitino will be to try to sell the three top recruits in the state — current juniors Tyus Jones of Apple Valley, Rashad Vaughn of Cooper and Reid Travis of DeLaSalle — on his exciting style of play.

I think Pitino has a chance to land Vaughn and Travis. Jones, one of the top recruits in the country, seems likely to land at Duke or Michigan State.

Pitino said he learned about recruiting by coaching under his father at Louisville and Billy Donovan at Florida.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to learn under two of the best coaches to coach the game,” he said. “And I’ve taken a lot of what they do and it has worked very well over many, many years and it has put guys in position to play for many, many years. I think that is what the selling point is going to be.”

And how did Pitino sell himself to Teague?

  • related content

  • This was the scene a year ago when Pete Garcia, Florida International’s athletic director, introduced Richard Pitino as the school’s new basketball coach. Pitino replaced Isiah Thomas at FIU, and replaced Tubby Smith with the Gophers on Friday.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - LP: J. Peavy 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: K. Herrera 7
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 90 FINAL
Orlando 89
Brooklyn 86 FINAL
Boston 100
Washington 100 FINAL
New York 103
Cleveland 92 FINAL
Memphis 96
Minnesota 110 FINAL
Milwaukee 91
Atlanta 117 FINAL
San Antonio 107
Portland 86 FINAL
LA Lakers 94
Phoenix 84 4th Qtr 7:43
LA Clippers 85
Toronto 0 Postponed
Ottawa 0
Philadelphia 5 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
Washington 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Buffalo 0 3rd Prd 8:17
Anaheim 2
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 2
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who should get the Twins' managing job?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close