Everyone remembers the joke that Florida International University became when Isiah Thomas was their head coach. The fact that players did not want to play for him, that the school was not backing his decisions and that they all walked out on him at a dinner at season’s end. That was the end of the Isiah Thomas story.
In comes Richard Pitino — yes son of University of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino. In one year, with his own entourage of assistants (most of whom worked with dad at Louisville), Rich was able to get his team one win from the dance. That’s a pretty incredible feat for a team that was a laughing joke to many the season prior. Rich has an amazing work ethic (much like his father) along with a drive to be great. He has a team that he has surrounded himself with that have the same vision, and along with his dad’s help he has become one of the hottest coaches in college basketball.
After his one year turn around with FIU, Pitino was offered the University of Minnesota basketball job. Some may say that after the firing of Tubby Smith this job had big shoes to fill. Recruiting against the likes of Tom Izzo, Thad Motta and John Belein, Pitino does have his work cut out for him.
When looking at his roster and the coaching staff that he has brought on, it’s safe to say that Minnesota made the smartest move in bringing Rich on board. He has the drive of his father and the youth a successful coach will need in order to compete in the Big Ten. This year will be a big first step on what will be a rebuilding process for the Golden Gophers. Then again, if Pitino can turn around FIU in one season, imagine what can be done with a Big Ten school.
Time will tell.
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