Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 5/22/13
The first-year Gophers men's basketball coach has already made an impression on campus before coaching a single game at Williams Arena. The 30-year-old Pitino took over the University of Minnesota program after Tubby Smith was ousted following a six-year tenure with the Gophers. In stepped Pitino after just one year of head coaching experience at the helm at Florida International. He now takes over a program that made the NCAA Tournament and even won its first-round game. It's been nearly two months since Pitino's hiring and the Gophers' roster has already undergone quite the overhaul. Guard Joe Coleman has left the program, as did Minnesota's two original incoming recruits, Alex Foster and Alvin Ellis. Foster wound up following Smith to Teas Tech just last week, while Ellis signed with Michigan State. After those two de-committed, Pitino was left with zero incoming recruits. To fill the void of the empty freshman class, Pitino inked three guards who will all be eligible for the 2013-14 season. Daquan McNeil (a former FIU recruit) was the first, followed by junior college transfer Dre Mathieu earlier this month and Malik Smith (who played for Pitino at FIU) on Monday. That means Minnesota's roster for the 2013-14 season will have eight guards, three forwards and one center. Having a plethora of guards may seem odd, but it fits Pitino's style. He often plays three guards at a time and runs an up-tempo offense. Because of that fast-paced style, Pitino is already trying to get the players he inherited in shape for the upcoming season. Last week while on a caravan throughout the state, Pitino reportedly said that he wants forwardcenter Mo Walker to lose weight. Walker weighed around 300 pounds last season and was relatively ineffective. Pitino, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, wants to see Walker closer to 250 pounds. Walker has already lost 20 pounds but still has work to do. On the flip side, Pitino noted that redshirt freshman Charles Buggs needs to add weight. He's currently listed at 198 pounds skinny for a 6-foot-8 forward. To play in the rough and tumble Big Ten, adding bulk will be key for Buggs, and Pitino has emphasized during his first two months on the job. Coleman leaves the program despite playing in all 34 games as a sophomore last year. He averaged 8.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per game this past season. In some ways, though, Coleman may not have fit Pitino's style of play. Pitino looks for guards who can shoot the ball, which has never been Coleman's strength he shot 48.4 percent from the floor but just 29.6 percent from 3-point range. And most of Coleman's points came around the rim; he was not known as a jump shooter. With the loss of Coleman, the Gophers now have zero Minnesotans on their roster. Fans may have mixed feelings about the significance of that; some believe that it doesn't matter as long as the team wins. But with perhaps the best recruiting class in the state's history set to graduate high school next year, Gophers fans would likely be upset if Pitino didn't land at least one of the "Big Three of Tyus Jones, Rashad Vaughn and Reid Travis. The upcoming season could certainly play into whether or not Pitino can convince any of the three Minnesotans to stay home and play for the Gophers. On the previously mentioned caravan stop, Pitino emphasized his desire to keep those players in the state. "It's extremely important that we add Minnesota kids to this roster," Pitino said, according to the Pioneer Press. "We're going to try very hard to do that because certainly there's very good players in our area. There's no excuse to let them out of this state." From the get-go, Pitino has tempered expectations for the upcoming season and probably for good reason. With the losses of senior forwards Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams, the Gophers may well finish near the bottom of the Big Ten next year. Still, Pitino is doing everything he can to leave his fingerprints on this program to set himself up for success in the future. Minnesotans may have to be patient with Pitino through this transition period. But the 30-year-old coach has shown his ambition to do things his way. Time will tell if that's the right way. Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

NFL signs $500 million deal with Verizon to stream games

Top takeaways from Sunday's Week 14 action

Jack Morris, Alan Trammell voted into Baseball Hall Of Fame

Dirk Koetter responds to report that he has not supported Jameis Winston

Derek Carr takes full blame for weak Raiders performance

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

DeMarcus Lawrence blasts referees after Cowboys win

Cardinals, Luke Gregerson reportedly agreed to two-year deal

LeSean McCoy wins game with dash through snow in OT

Seahawks' Malik McDowell arrested for disorderly conduct

LaVar Ball draws massive crowd at BBB pop-up shop in NYC

Cubs reportedly agree to two-year deal with Brandon Morrow

Sports & Politics Intersect: When Olympic gold corrupts

The 'And the winner is...' quiz

NHL Weekender: Caps gain ground, Kings ready to rule?

The naughty and nice athletes list for 2017

Dissecting the road to the NFL postseason

The 'What's old is new again (but also still old)' quiz

The NFC playoffs will be loaded from top to bottom

NFL Week 14 predictions

Is this when Zach Werenski and the Blue Jackets really get their season going?

Joel Embiid and displacing fundamental truths

Eight NFL teams in desperation mode heading into Week 14

The 'More power to you (for the right price)' quiz

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

NFL Week 14 injury report

Sports & Politics Intersect: When Olympic gold corrupts

The best games of 2017

The naughty and nice athletes list for 2017

The 'And the winner is...' quiz

NHL Weekender: Caps gain ground, Kings ready to rule?

Dissecting the road to the NFL postseason

The 'What's old is new again (but also still old)' quiz

The NFC playoffs will be loaded from top to bottom

NFL Week 14 predictions

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker