Smith was a great coach and he did great things at Minnesota. However, it is time for Richard Pitino to make his mark for this program.
The Golden Gophers were expected to compete for a conference title last season, but that was not the case as they finished six games back in the conference standings.
Minnesota is losing a bunch of talent, but the best player will be back in Andre Hollins and he will help make up a solid backcourt. Pitino got lucky by getting some of Smith’s leftover players.
Hollins is much more than a leftover player, though, and he could actually be one of the best players in the Big Ten. He averaged 14.6 points per game last season.
The team will have enough talent to make some noise in the upcoming season and it really needs to. It is never a good thing when a program fires its head coach and then is a lot worse the very next season. Sure, it may take time for a head coach to make an impact at a new school, but try to tell John Calipari that.
Who knows if the Golden Gophers will ever be a threat to win the Big 10 on a yearly basis, but they were pretty solid under Smith. Since the program decided to go in another direction, fans will have higher expectations and I am sure the higher ups will as well. As a result, Minnesota has to have a good season. It doesn’t necessarily have to make the Big Dance, but that would be a huge plus.
Upsetting some teams and having a pretty good record is not out of the question, though. Coaches are getting shorter and shorter leashes at the college level and Pitino needs to have success in his first year as a result.