Pitino likes recruits
New Gophers men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino describing the three recruits he recently signed: “The thing I love about [Florida International transfer] Malik [Smith] is he’s as fearless a shooter as there is in the country. He had games where he hit eight threes one time in the conference tournament. He believes every shot is going in, that’s what I love about him.
“Daquein McNeil is a kid that we signed who has great potential. He had a very good high school career and prep career at Vermont Academy. A great kid, and his best basketball is ahead of him. He’s the type of guy who can play multiple positions.
“The last guy is Dre Mathieu, we really don’t have a guy like him on our team. He’s fast, he can get up the court as quick as anyone in the country, very good passer, rocket athlete. I think he brings a different dimension as well.”
Asked if these players will be able to step in right away, Pitino said: “It’s hard to say right now just because when you watch a kid in high school and junior college it’s a different environment. Malik is the one guy where I know what I’m getting with him and I anticipate he’d play right away.”
Meanwhile, Steve Goodson, who had been appointed director of basketball operations for Pitino, has put in his two weeks’ notice. Goodson could wind up back with Tubby Smith as the director of basketball operations at Texas Tech because Joe Esposito, who held that position for Smith here, is going to be a Red Raiders assistant coach.
• Seattle receiver Percy Harvin went on the “Jim Rome Show” this week and denied a Yahoo! Sports report that said his relationship with Christian Ponder had anything to do with his wanting out of the Vikings organization. “That was false,” Harvin said. “Me and Christian had a great time together. I respect him a whole heck of a lot. I never had a problem with him.”
• Former Gophers standout Eric Decker recently talked about what it’s like to be going through workouts with Wes Welker, the Broncos’ newest addition at wide receiver. “I think he knows defensive schemes better than any receiver I’ve been around,” Decker said. “It’s fun to learn those little tips and keys from a guy that’s played so long and had a lot of success.”
• Chris Wipson, the Wayzata High School linebacker who signed with the Gophers, graduated in the top 10 percent of his class.
• Denard Span and Ben Revere, the two center fielders the Twins dealt in the offseason, are among the major league leaders in plate appearances without a home run this season. Span, who entered Saturday batting .275 for Washington with 23 runs scored and five triples, had no homers in 224 plate appearances. Revere, who is hitting .251 in Philadelphia, has no homers in 185 plate appearances, making it 1,248 career plate appearances without a home run.
• Former Twins player and coach Al Newman is managing the Alexandria Blue Anchors in the Northwoods League.
• NBA Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard was in Italy doing promotional work when he said Ricky Rubio is one of the players he looks up to most in the league. Lillard called the Timberwolves point guard “a great passer who can always find the open man.” Rubio was 10th in the NBA in assists this season at 7.3 per game, while Portland’s Lillard was 16th at 6.5.