After coaching his team to its first win in more than two months in dramatic fashion, Richard Pitino beamed as he talked about watching his players — and the Gophers’ most faithful — finally taste success.
Personally, the third-year coach was most excited about two things after the Gophers stopped a 14-game losing streak with a 68-63 victory over No. 6 Maryland: getting his coffee at the counter and waking up a 4-year-old girl.
“It’s great for me,” he said, grinning ear-to-ear. “I can start going inside at Starbucks instead of going through the drivethrough.”
Thursday night’s victory set off the first court rush of the Pitino era, and led to a buoyant locker room and plenty of smiles. But following the worst start to league play in program history, the toll the pile of losses has taken was evident, too. Tears poured out of senior Joey King’s eyes as he was interviewed by the Big Ten Network.
Pitino, besides joking about not wanting to show his face in public, also described the frustration of having to tell his 4-year-old daughter, Ava, the team had lost — again — each night when she asked upon his arrival home.
When the team returned from Iowa in the wee hours of Sunday morning, Ava woke him up with a tap.
“Did you win?” she asked.
“And I just looked at her and I said, ‘Please go away,’ ” Pitino said. “I swore if my daughter asked me one more time, ‘Did you win tonight?’ I was going to lose my mind.
“Tonight, I’m going to wake her up.”