Despite youth, Pitino looks to buck trend and make his mark

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 7, 2013 - 8:13 AM

Young coaches sometimes struggle to win consistently.

hide

Minnesota Athletic Director Norwood Teague introduces Richard Pitino

Photo: Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Walter McCarty doesn’t have to try very hard to recall Richard Pitino moments from their time working together. From the time both Pitino and McCarty arrived at Louisville, working as assistants under head coach Rick Pitino, the father’s son was everywhere.

“Richard outworked everyone in the office,” said McCarty, a 10-year NBA veteran who played for Rick Pitino in college at Kentucky. “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.”

Those traits help form a fuller picture of the new Gophers men’s basketball coach, one that suggests the 30-year-old — who was just 25 when he first worked with McCarty — could be a special case, like some successful “kid” coaches who have set a trend toward younger hires.

But hiring young still is risky.

For every budding sensation who prospers, there is one that doesn’t, many of them falling so quickly off the map that they’re hastily forgotten. Jeff Capel and Tommy Amaker in college basketball and Josh McDaniels in the NFL, all offer examples of coaches who jumped into high-profile positions and then swiftly stumbled.

Even Rick Pitino — who got his head coaching start even younger than his son — implied that most fathers’ gut reactions would be to encourage patience, rather than big leaps.

“You don’t want your son in that situation, you want him to take his time,” the elder Pitino told media on Thursday at the Final Four. Still, he thinks Richard is different.

“He is more than ready. I drove him harder than I drove Billy,” Pitino said, referring to Billy Donovan, the coach at Florida and one of Pitino’s protégés. “He is more than ready.”

Cautionary tales

Not every young coach finds success.

McDaniels is the example that perhaps comes to mind most often. He was the youngest coach in the NFL at age 32 when he was hired by the Denver Broncos in 2009, and was soon out of a job. Amaker (Seton Hall and Michigan) and Capel (Oklahoma) had some early success as young coaches but ultimately left top jobs with expectations unmet.

The Gophers are hoping their own young coach finds his footing faster than some, something that those close to Pitino say comes naturally.

The age question has been an obvious theme early as Pitino makes the transition to the Gophers, but it’s not one he shies away from, telling the media on Friday, “I embrace the fact that I’m young.”

“He’s not your average 30-year-old,” McCarty said. “He’s going to be able to get it done. He takes his job very seriously. He takes his craft very seriously. The kids at the university — that program — will be top priority.”

Success stories

There have, of course, been plenty of examples of young coaches who have panned out — and enough who have been exceedingly successful to make it worth the risk.

VCU’s Shaka Smart, who Gophers fans originally coveted, is still only 35. Brad Stevens, who has taken Butler to the national title game twice, is 36. Donovan — the other coach that Richard Pitino credits with his style and upbringing — took over the Gators in 1996 when he was 30.

The profile of the New Age coach — who is younger, full of energy, and pays attention to advanced statistics — has become attractive for both athletic directors, who hope to find their own version of a burgeoning basketball brain, and fans, who get excited about the upside.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 12:05 PM
St. Louis
Washington 12:05 PM
Atlanta
Miami 12:05 PM
Boston
Minnesota 12:05 PM
Tampa Bay
NY Yankees 12:05 PM
Philadelphia
Baltimore 12:07 PM
Toronto
Detroit 12:10 PM
NY Mets
Cincinnati 2:05 PM
Chicago Cubs
Los Angeles 2:05 PM
Milwaukee
San Francisco 2:05 PM
Texas
Chicago WSox 2:05 PM
San Diego
Kansas City 2:05 PM
Cleveland
Seattle 2:05 PM
Los Angeles
Colorado 2:10 PM
LA Angels
Oakland 2:10 PM
Arizona
Pittsburgh 6:05 PM
NY Yankees
Chicago 6:00 PM
Indiana
Sacramento 6:00 PM
Orlando
Utah 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Miami 6:00 PM
Washington
Toronto 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Cleveland 6:30 PM
Atlanta
Boston 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Detroit 7:00 PM
Houston
LA Lakers 7:00 PM
Memphis
Phoenix 7:00 PM
Brooklyn
Denver 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Dallas 9:30 PM
Golden State
Columbus 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Minnesota 6:00 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 6:30 PM
Detroit
Edmonton 7:30 PM
Chicago
Pittsburgh 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Longwood 29 2nd Half
Char Southern 20
Ark-Pine Bluff 41 2nd Half
Miss Valley St 33
Southern Ill 12:05 PM
Wichita State
Winthrop 1:00 PM
Radford
Evansville 2:35 PM
Illinois State
Towson 5:00 PM
Elon
Gardner-Webb 5:00 PM
High Point
Samford 5:00 PM
UNC Greensboro
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Ball State
Bowling Green 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Brown 6:00 PM
Dartmouth
Toledo 6:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Akron 6:00 PM
Kent State
Ill-Chicago 6:00 PM
Oakland
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Ohio
Columbia 6:00 PM
Penn
Cornell 6:00 PM
Princeton
Central Mich 6:00 PM
Western Mich
Bradley 6:05 PM
Northern Iowa
Morehead State 6:30 PM
Murray State
UNC-Asheville 7:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Yale 7:00 PM
Harvard
Furman 7:30 PM
Citadel
Coll of Charleston 7:30 PM
Drexel
Texas Tech 8:00 PM
Baylor
Pacific 8:00 PM
San Francisco
Detroit 8:30 PM
Cleveland State
Belmont 8:30 PM
Eastern Ky
Loyola-Chicago 8:35 PM
Indiana State
Loyola Marymount 10:30 PM
Santa Clara
Chicago 9:00 PM
Los Angeles
Furman 55 FINAL
(17) Chattanooga 68
Saint Louis 59 2nd Half 3:05
(21) George Washington 68
Wake Forest 48 2nd Half 6:00
(16) Duke 62
Monmouth 16 1st Half 5:09
Quinnipiac 39
Michigan State 2 1st Half 15:20
(4) Maryland 7
Belmont 12:00 PM
UT Martin
Arkansas 12:00 PM
(3) South Carolina
Mercer 12:30 PM
East Tenn St
Richmond 1:00 PM
Fordham
Miami-Florida 1:00 PM
(2) Notre Dame
Siena 1:30 PM
Iona
Washington St 1:30 PM
(9) Arizona State
Ark-Pine Bluff 1:30 PM
Miss Valley St
(23) Rutgers 1:55 PM
(24) Northwestern
Tennessee St 2:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville
Loyola Marymount 2:00 PM
Gonzaga
(18) Texas A&M 2:25 PM
LSU
Cincinnati 3:00 PM
UCF
Saint Josephs 3:30 PM
Dayton
UCLA 4:00 PM
(19) Stanford
Santa Clara 4:30 PM
San Diego
Virginia Tech 5:00 PM
(7) Florida State
SMU 5:00 PM
Memphis
Lehigh 5:05 PM
Holy Cross
Rhode Island 6:00 PM
Duquesne
North Florida 6:00 PM
(20) Fla Gulf Coast
Kennesaw St 6:00 PM
Jacksonville
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Lipscomb 6:00 PM
Stetson
Nebraska 6:00 PM
(14) Iowa
Saint Peters 6:00 PM
Marist
Navy 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Lafayette 6:00 PM
American Univ
Colgate 6:00 PM
Army
Georgia 6:00 PM
(5) Tennessee
Dartmouth 6:00 PM
Brown
Penn 6:00 PM
Columbia
(13) Princeton 6:00 PM
Cornell
Kansas 6:00 PM
Kansas State
Harvard 6:00 PM
Yale
(15) North Carolina 7:00 PM
(10) Louisville
San Jose St 7:00 PM
UNLV
Houston 7:00 PM
Tulane
Utah State 8:00 PM
Colorado State
Colorado 8:00 PM
(8) Oregon State
New Mexico 8:00 PM
Wyoming
Minnesota 8:25 PM
Ohio State
(12) Kentucky 8:25 PM
(11) Miss State
San Diego State 8:30 PM
Nevada
Niagara 8:30 PM
Fairfield
Texas Tech 8:30 PM
West Virginia
Boise State 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Washington 10:30 PM
California

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question

Countdown to great deals

Bid March 15-23

    ADVERTISEMENT

    ADVERTISEMENT

    ADVERTISEMENT

    ADVERTISEMENT

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

    ADVERTISEMENT

     
    Close