Scoggins: Pitino shows Minnesota his lighter side

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 17, 2013 - 7:24 AM

Yes, the new Gophers coach does have a sense of humor.

hide

Richard Pitino during his introductory press conference.

Photo: Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

– Richard Pitino walked into a community center banquet room and a group of fans immediately surrounded him in search of autographs, pictures and a few words with the new Gophers men’s basketball coach.

“I’ve had about 20 people come up to me and say, ‘No pressure, just a Final Four is all we’re asking for,’ ” he joked.

This is a side of the young Pitino we haven’t seen in the six weeks since he replaced Tubby Smith. Between recruiting, hiring a coaching staff, evaluating players and settling into a new job, Pitino has been too preoccupied to offer a sneak peek into his personality.

In interviews, he’s come across as an ultra-serious basketball prodigy who learned the game from the cradle with a Hall of Fame coach as his father. On Thursday, Pitino showed he has a sense of humor and some charisma, too.

Pitino joined athletic director Norwood Teague, football coach Jerry Kill and a few other coaches on the first leg of a 16-stop road trip around the state to promote Gophers athletics (and presumably boost fundraising). A crowd of 400 people attended a luncheon in this small town about two hours southwest of the Twin Cities.

Pitino spoke last and delivered a few zingers that made a favorable impression with the masses in his first public event outside of the Twin Cities. A few of his quips:

• On his frenetic style of play: “I feel like we need to be like the Harlem Globetrotters the way you guys are anticipating the way we’re going to play.”

• On whether he will schedule Louisville, his father’s team: “Not yet. I’m trying to get a D-II school out of Louisville to come in here.”

• On center Elliott Eliason: “He won’t be able to play until he beats me in a pushup competition.”

• On center Mo Walker: “He’s lost 20 pounds, which is great. That’s a deck chair off the Titanic, as they say. He’s got to lose about 40 more.”

• On forward Oto Osenieks: “I said, ‘Oto, do you have the nickname Oto-matic?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ Then I looked at his stats and he made two threes [all season].”

For the record, Pitino followed each joke with plenty of praise while noting that he likes what he sees from the returning players based off individual workouts and private conversations. And he promised to schedule Louisville in the future. And he definitely loves his style of play and thinks it can be successful at Minnesota.

“It’s going to be exciting,” he said. “It’s going to be up-and-down basketball. We’re going to shoot a lot of threes.”

Pitino Ball will look foreign to Gophers fans. Whether it works remains to be seen, but Pitino’s entire focus revolves around full-court pressure defense and run-and-gun offense. He’s quick to note that Florida International ranked in the top 10 nationally in steals last season.

“That’s an indication of how aggressively we play defense,” he said.

Pitino needs depth and guards to play that style and he’s added three newcomers to the roster in the past few weeks. He also wants to sign one more post player, but his team looks like it will rely on small ball in the short term.

“I like to play with two or three ballhandlers at a time,” he said. “I like speed. I think that’s the way that we need to play. If you look at Louisville’s team this year, they played basically with two point guards in Russ Smith and Peyton Siva. That’s kind of the model.”

Now if he can only recruit players with that kind of talent. Joe Coleman doesn’t rise to that level, but contrary to rumors, Pitino didn’t encourage the junior guard to transfer this week.

  • related content

  • Rayno: Q&A with new Gopher Malik Smith

    Thursday May 16, 2013

    What drew Smith to Pitino in the first place and what will practices be like now?

  • Pitino on Coleman: I wanted him to stay

    Thursday May 16, 2013

    Coach Richard Pitino said he met with Joe Coleman a few days ago and indicated that Coleman, a former Hopkins star, had been considering transferring for a few weeks.

  • Richard Pitino at Williams Arena last month.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Oakland - J. Lester 7:07 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
NY Islanders 6:00 PM
Boston
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Ottawa 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Carolina 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Tampa Bay 7:30 PM
Dallas
Colorado 8:00 PM
Calgary
Los Angeles 9:30 PM
San Jose
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers do against Michigan?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close