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Continued: Ready? New Gophers coach was born with a whistle

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 5, 2013 - 9:58 AM

“The first week, I run into him — he’s on campus doing class checks himself,” Garcia said. “He goes out and does more than he promised. So in one year’s time, he has turned around a program.”

It was one of the first moments Pitino was put on a stage by himself — tested at the helm of his first ship. But young or not, the new Gophers coach has fostered a reputation that has given those who surround him complete confidence as he heads into the next stage of his journey, even if some in Minnesota might be wary of his age.

Take, for example, his father — who got his first head-coaching job at an even younger age — who knows his son is well prepared for his next challenge.

“He is more than ready,” the elder Pitino said in a news conference at the Final Four on Thursday. “What he did at Florida International I never thought anybody could do. He took walk-ons, eight new players, he turned around a bad academic situation and won 18 games and was a bucket away from going to the NCAA [tournament] in his first year. So he is ready to coach. I feel bad that I drove him that hard — now I’m happy I did.”

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  • Richard Pitino on the Friday morning news conference at Williams Arena.

  • New Gophers coach Richard Pitino, right, learned much from his famous father, Louisville coach Rick Pitino, left.

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