Richard Pitino did not receive nearly the ridicule that he had earned for using his third season to offer the worst team in 120 years of Gophers basketball.
Ratings Percentage Index is an objective measure used to evaluate all Division I teams. There were 351 of those in 2015-16.
Tubby Smith was fired after a 2012-13 season in which the Gophers defeated UCLA in the NCAA tournament and finished No. 34 in RPI. Pitino’s Gophers wound up his third season with a 33-point loss to Illinois in the Big Ten tournament and finished No. 264 in RPI.
As the only such program in Minnesota, you have given our state the 264th best Division I men’s basketball team in the country. Thanks, Rich. We couldn’t have gotten there without your Gophers setting these marks:
They won the fewest games (8) since going 7-17 in 1967-68. They lost the most games (23) in school history. They had the worst conference start in history (0-12). They did not play a non-conference game in another team’s arena and were winless in true road games (0-9).
Pitino made the grandstand move of throwing off a senior captain, Carlos Morris, late in the season, after they had a loud dispute in which Morris was deemed to be defiant.
This didn’t work out so well for Pitino, when shortly after Morris’ dismissal the sex video appeared briefly on Kevin Dorsey’s social media accounts. First, Pitino suspended Dorsey, Nate Mason and Dupree McBrayer for a game at Illinois. Then, it turned into a suspension that also covered the three final games of the season.
Anybody who thinks Pitino was responsible for second suspension – and wasn’t told to do so on orders coming down from U of M president Eric Kaler’s office – is a dimwit.
I had been expressing the opinion for weeks, since well before his sex tape idiocy, that Dorsey would not be back next season.
Years ago, Jim Dutcher had a talented player who decided to transfer because he wanted to go somewhere that he could “freak out.’’ That’s Dorsey. You watch him play and see a guard who wants to be somewhere where he can freak out, to be the show.
It was announced on March 30 that Dorsey, Mason and McBrayer had been reinstated to the team. Six days later, on Monday, it was announced that Dorsey would be looking for another place to play.
We’ll see if he’s the last “transfer.’’
Apparently, Pitino thinks that’s the case, because he authored one of his periodic blogs this week in which he expressed confidence in the future – and detailed the assets of all the current holdovers, plus a pair of transfers and three incoming freshmen.
And then he did what young Richard has done best in his three years on the job (April 3 was the anniversary):
Set himself and the Gophers up for derision – this time with the blog that included this as the lead portion of the final paragraph:
“I know it seems like we are going through difficult times.’’
(Richard, going 2-16 in the Big Ten, losing more games than any team in 120 years of Gophers basketball and continuing with a sizable pattern of attrition … that isn’t a ‘seems like;’ it is definitely ‘difficult times’).
“We are lot closer than people think.’’
(Actually, Richard, many Gophers zealots have the idea you are a lot closer than you are. They await Reggie Lynch, a 9-point a game transfer from Illinois State, as if he’s Zelmo Beaty*, and Amir Coffey as if he’s Andrew Wiggins).
“We will break through very soon.’’
(Does that mean there’s hope the Gophers will improve on 0-2 against teams from South Dakota?)
“We have to stay positive and stick together.’’
(You know what people in my hometown used to say – ‘We? What, do you got a frog in your pocket?').
AND THEN, ladies and gents, here came the kicker from Richard the author:
“It was just a few years ago that Villanova endured a tough season and look at them now.’’
Yup. Richard Pitino’s Gophers program after the 8-23 season of 2015-16 and Jay Wright’s Villanova program after the 13-19 season of 2011-12 …
Somebody contact Jay Bilas. The similarities are too clear to miss.
Pitino had that 11-9 record in the Sun Belt Conference in one year at FIU to brag about, and the NIT title with the Gophers in 2014, and then the 11th place finish in the Big Ten in 2015 … he had all that on his prior resume to comfort Gophers fans during this “tough season.’’
And what did Jay Wright have prior to his tough season at Villanova?
Well, there were those seven consecutive NCAA appearances from 2005 to 2011, and the 28-5 record and Big East championship in 2006, and the Final Four appearance in 2009, and an average of 27.4 wins over those seven seasons prior to 2011-12 …
But, sure Richard, I can see how you would deem it feasible for the Williams Arena faithful to look at what you’re building at Minnesota and see a vision of the Villanova team that beat North Carolina in an all-time NCAA title game on Monday night.
I mean, most of the Barn occupants have been around long enough to still have LSD flashbacks from their youth, so why not?
*Zelmo Beaty, a late, great center from Prairie View A&M, the St. Louis Hawks and the Utah Stars, was just announced for a new class of Basketball Hall of Famers. Big Z was one of my favorites.