Ready? New Gophers coach was born with a whistle

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

Don't let his age fool you. At 30, Richard Pitino has soaked up -- and espoused -- the basketball wisdom of his mentors.

When Larry Shyatt heard the news of Richard Pitino’s hiring at Minnesota, he picked up the phone and called his old friend.

But Shyatt, the 61-year-old men’s basketball coach at Wyoming, wasn’t calling to offer words of wisdom to the 30-year-old embarking on his second year of head coaching experience, this time at a Big Ten school.

He was calling to listen.

“Usually, when you speak to Richard, you listen,” said Shyatt, who was an assistant coach with Pitino at Florida from 2009-2011. “In my case, where I come from, I like to listen to him. I learn more from listening.”

At first glance, it seems like a strange thing to say about the new hire who already has been dubbed “the kid coach.”

But throughout Pitino’s past and present, that sentiment is echoed — in fact, everyone who talked about him Thursday described Pitino as mature beyond his years.

Young, certainly. Raw? No, say those who know him.

“For anybody jealous of his age,” Shyatt said, “I’ll tell you what, he’s way beyond — in terms of maturity and intellect — any young coach that I’ve been around except perhaps Shaka [Smart at VCU].”

It’s quite a compliment, especially considering how much Gophers fans coveted Smart — whom Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague originally hired when he was at VCU — to be their next head coach. And it’s tough to not have doubts considering Pitino — son of Louisville coach Rick Pitino — has only a single season of head coaching experience in the rear-view mirror after taking the lead job at Florida International before last season.

Look a little deeper into his résumé, however, and the greenness starts to fade a bit.

Pitino has been around basketball — good basketball — all of his life. Growing up, he hung around his dad’s New York Knicks and then a Kentucky team that went to the Final Four in 1993 and then won the national title in 1996.

Pitino has seven years of experience as an assistant, going from Northeastern to Duquesne before spending a combined five years working for his father at Louisville and Billy Donovan — the other figure he publicly has credited with his early success and coaching style — at Florida before he landed at FIU. He took over that program on the cusp of 13 losing seasons and churned out an 18-14 record.

Along the way, he gained an impressive reputation among those in the industry as a basketball savant with a tireless work ethic, natural relationship skills and a knack for solving sticky problems — skills that were tested and developed in a new way when he first started at Louisville in 2007.

“When you work for [Rick] Pitino, it’s a different world you live in,” said Steve Masiello, coach at Manhattan College and a former assistant at Louisville with Richard Pitino and longtime friend of the family, who started out as a Knicks ball boy for Rick in sixth grade. “Rick Pitino would come into a staff meeting when you’re playing UConn on Big Monday, and you’re in charge of the game plan — you’re telling him what to do,” Masiello said. “I think that’s why Pitino’s guys have so much success after Rick is because he prepared us so well for that next step.”

By the time FIU athletic director Pete Garcia decided to look for a new coach last year, the search quickly narrowed.

“The more people I talked to, the more people that kept pointing back to him,” Garcia said. “They said this guy, even though he’s 29, will be the best up-and-coming coach in America.”

He didn’t disappoint Garcia, who knew after the first interview that Pitino was his guy. The young coach came in with an impressive and detailed plan to turn the program around both on the basketball court and with his players in the classroom. He brought in eight new players, started two walk-ons, and still nearly managed to make the NCAA tournament.

The Panthers adopted a pressuring defense and an up-tempo style of play reminiscent of his father and Dovovan. At the same time, the program, which had some academic issues heading into the season, turned around in that regard, too.

  • related content

  • Pitino's FIU boss knew coach would move on

    Friday April 5, 2013

    It was January when Florida International athletic director Pete Garcia started to worry.His coach was successful — as in he’s-going-to-be-leaving-too-soon...

  • Hartman: Pitino faces uphill battle with recruits

    Thursday April 4, 2013

    Tubby Smith’s firing came at a bad time, with so much Minnesota basketball talent in the Class of 2013.

  • 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.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Milwaukee 115 FINAL
Orlando 100
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 103
Denver 69 FINAL
Memphis 99
Chicago 118 FINAL
LA Lakers 123
Montreal 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 0
Winnipeg 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Boston 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Arizona 3 FINAL
Toronto 1
Dallas 6 FINAL
Ottawa 3
Detroit 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 5
Columbus 2 FINAL
Florida 3
Nashville 4 FINAL(SO)
St. Louis 5
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Calgary 0
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Anaheim 3 FINAL
San Jose 6
DePaul 72 FINAL
Providence 83
Michigan State 71 FINAL
Rutgers 51
Boston Univ 67 FINAL
Army 71
Fla Atlantic 61 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Youngstown St 87 FINAL
Detroit 93
East Tenn St 55 FINAL
Furman 59
Saint Louis 60 FINAL
George Mason 68
USC Upstate 78 FINAL
Jacksonville 65
High Point 72 FINAL
Liberty 53
Central Conn St 55 FINAL
Long Island 67
Western Ky 56 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 69
Dayton 64 FINAL
Massachusetts 66
Chattanooga 72 FINAL
Mercer 75
Wofford 58 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 42
Maryland 56 FINAL
Ohio State 80
FIU 56 FINAL
Old Dominion 71
Fair-Dickinson 65 FINAL
Robert Morris 87
Mount St Marys 67 FINAL
St Francis-NY 73
Bryant 68 FINAL
St Francis-PA 75
Northern Ky 75 FINAL
Stetson 85
Coll of Charleston 70 FINAL
Towson 74
Western Carolina 85 FINAL
Va Military 70
Sacred Heart 64 FINAL
Wagner 75
Lipscomb 62 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 78
Kennesaw St 67 FINAL
North Florida 86
Appalachian St 46 FINAL
Ga Southern 83
Holy Cross 54 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 64
Eastern Ill 51 FINAL
UT Martin 81
Jacksonville St 82 FINAL
Belmont 103
Connecticut 58 FINAL
Cincinnati 70
Rider 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 49
SIU Edwardsville 75 FINAL
SE Missouri St 61
Marshall 69 FINAL
Southern Miss 54
Tenn Tech 56 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Middle Tennessee 58 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 69
Ill-Chicago 65 FINAL
Milwaukee 71
Weber State 67 FINAL
North Dakota 60
Denver 54 FINAL
North Dakota St 61
IUPU-Ft Wayne 66 FINAL
South Dakota 55
Louisiana 85 FINAL
South Alabama 89
Ark-Little Rock 75 FINAL
Arkansas State 65
Georgia State 88 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 74
ULM 58 FINAL
Troy 55
Portland 46 FINAL
Gonzaga 64
Kentucky 69 FINAL
Missouri 53
Eastern Ky 78 FINAL
Murray State 85
UAB 69 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 71
Idaho State 76 FINAL
Northern Colorado 79
UMKC 57 FINAL
Grand Canyon 78
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Utah Valley U 78
Colorado 98 FINAL
USC 94
Cal Poly 57 FINAL
UC Irvine 67
Hawaii 84 FINAL
CS-Northridge 73
Pepperdine 50 FINAL
Pacific 43
Santa Clara 64 FINAL
San Diego 69
Utah 59 FINAL
UCLA 69
UC Santa Barbara 64 FINAL
UC Davis 70
Montana 73 FINAL
Portland State 54
Montana State 59 FINAL
Sacramento St 75
Long Beach State 91 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 85
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
St Marys-CA 68
San Francisco 74 FINAL
BYU 78
California 76 FINAL
Washington St 67
Louisiana 47 FINAL
South Alabama 57
Saint Josephs 51 FINAL
Saint Louis 52
Appalachian St 77 FINAL
Georgia Southern 74
Niagara 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 65
Old Dominion 80 FINAL
FIU 67
Southern Miss 65 FINAL
Marshall 67
Georgia State 45 FINAL
TX-Arlington 57
Ark-Little Rock 69 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
ULM 51 FINAL
Troy 90
Pittsburgh 45 FINAL
(17) Duke 62
(6) Tennessee 73 FINAL
(10) Kentucky 72
(24) Oklahoma 81 FINAL
(14) Texas 84
Nebraska Omaha 59 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 70
UC-Riverside 68 FINAL
CS-Northridge 56
Army 65 FINAL
Boston U 40
New Orleans 40 FINAL
Nicholls 56
Charlotte 68 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 71
Towson 54 FINAL
Delaware 72
Hofstra 66 FINAL
Northeastern 45
New Hampshire 56 FINAL
Maine 87
Albany 89 FINAL
Vermont 48
Hartford 60 FINAL
Stony Brook 58
UNC-Wilmington 62 FINAL
William & Mary 67
Clemson 62 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Alabama 54 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 85
(23) Syracuse 58 FINAL
(8) Louisville 78
Missouri 68 FINAL
Florida 52
Iona 66 FINAL
Fairfield 77
Manhattan 38 FINAL
Marist 77
NC State 63 FINAL
Virginia 71
(4) Notre Dame 74 FINAL
Virginia Tech 50
(22) Rutgers 58 FINAL
Purdue 49
(5) Maryland 91 FINAL
Michigan 65
Milwaukee 58 FINAL
Cleveland State 67
Wright State 108 FINAL
Oakland 89
Jacksonville 64 FINAL
USC Upstate 66
North Florida 40 FINAL
Kennesaw St 46
Stetson 62 FINAL
Northern Ky 68
Loyola-Maryland 57 FINAL
Holy Cross 51
Lamar 87 FINAL
Sam Houston St 68
Fla Gulf Coast 71 FINAL
Lipscomb 49
Vanderbilt 44 FINAL
(18) Miss State 69
IUPUI 62 FINAL
Western Ill 73
Abilene Christian 53 FINAL
Houston Baptist 50
Incarnate Word 54 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 63
McNeese State 78 FINAL
SE Louisiana 57
Oral Roberts 46 FINAL
South Dakota St 71
Louisiana Tech 66 FINAL
Western Ky 82
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 73
Texas-El Paso 52 FINAL
UAB 67
Auburn 47 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Grand Canyon 65 FINAL
UMKC 59
Illinois 57 FINAL
(15) Nebraska 59
(20) Iowa 102 FINAL
Northwestern 99
Utah Valley U 55 FINAL
Chicago State 60
Green Bay 67 FINAL
Valparaiso 52
Ole Miss 41 FINAL
LSU 70
Portland State 31 FINAL
Montana 72
Sacramento St 64 FINAL
Montana State 91
North Dakota 55 FINAL
Weber State 48
Ohio State 85 FINAL
Wisconsin 73
Northern Colorado 61 FINAL
Idaho State 70
BYU 68 FINAL
San Francisco 63
St Marys-CA 56 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 49
Pacific 63 FINAL
Pepperdine 59
Cal-Irvine 61 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 58
San Diego 64 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
UC Davis 64 FINAL
Cal Poly 72
Long Beach St 64 FINAL
Hawaii 72
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which of these teams is the most frustrating to watch right now?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close