Found April 16, 2013 on Fox Sports North:
MINNEAPOLIS Richard Pitino is still getting settled into his office on the University of Minnesota campus. The new Gophers basketball coach has plenty of items that haven't been taken out of boxes yet, and his desk looks a bit sparse. Who could blame the 30-year-old Pitino for not having time to fully adjust to his new surroundings? Minnesota announced April 3 that Pitino would replace Tubby Smith, and two days later he was introduced at a Williams Arena press conference. Later that day, Pitino flew to Atlanta to watch his dad, Rick, lead Louisville to the national championship with Saturday and Monday wins that capped a whirlwind week for the Pitino family. Rick Pitino was also named to the Basketball Hall of Fame just hours before the title game. Because of all that's gone on in the last two weeks, Pitino who coached one season at Florida International before taking the Minnesota job has barely had time to meet with his new players. Since his arrival, the Gophers have held just three workouts, all of which have focused on the offensive side of the ball. So while Pitino insists it's too early to tell what type of team he has, he's also hoping to temper expectations about next season. Meeting with a small group of reporters Tuesday in his campus office, Pitino clarified a comment he made to the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Monday. In that interview, he was asked whether a return to the NCAA tournament should be expected for the Gophers next year, and he said that such expectations would "pretty unrealistic." "My point was not about the NCAA tournament," Pitino said Tuesday. "I don't think about that. My point is we're losing two starters in the frontcourt, two very good players in (Trevor) Mbakwe and Rodney Williams. We don't have the depth necessary just yet. So that's my point. I didn't say NCAA tournament. I don't even think about the NCAA tournament. My point is expectations, when you've got two seniors who are very, very good players (who) are gone, it would probably be silly to expect that right now. We'll see how the younger guys do and we'll see who we bring in." Mbakwe and Williams were key contributors to the Gophers' tournament bid last season. Mbakwe led the Big Ten in rebounding twice with the Gophers, and Williams possessed as much athleticism as any player in the conference. Junior center Mo Walker, who checks in at nearly 300 pounds, and redshirt freshman forward Charles Buggs are two options for the Gophers' frontcourt next season, but Pitino hasn't yet had much of a chance to see of either of them. Buggs has been sick with mononucleosis and has not practiced, and Walker suffered a minor injury but has still taken part in two of three workouts. With Mbakwe and Williams gone, Pitino knows the frontcourt may be the biggest question mark on the roster heading into next season. "I know they're great kids," Pitino said. "I know they work hard. I don't know just yet how they're going to be in my offense, how they're going to be in the press. It's just too early to tell that right now. My expectations are to get these guys to buy into what we're doing not that the old way was wrong, but buy into my system, buy into my style, because it's going to be totally different." Minnesota currently has an empty 2013 recruiting class. After Smith was fired, Alex Foster and Alvin Ellis both decommitted, leaving the Gophers with no incoming freshmen. Pitino can't talk specifically about recruits, including those who decommitted from the Gophers' program, but there are several in-state products he's no doubt courting. That list of Minnesota kids includes the talented class of 2014 point guard Tyus Jones of Apple Valley, shooting guard Rashad Vaughn of Robbinsdale Cooper and forward Reid Travis of De La Salle. "I just value the right fit in recruiting," Pitino said. "Certainly if we can get guys to stay home, I think it's great for the state. You've got a state that loves the University of Minnesota. You've got the pride in this state. I've never seen anything like it. Certainly, if it's the right fit and we can get some guys, if they're the right fit recruiting-wise to stay home, that's always important." By that same token, Pitino knows much is made about recruiting and many will be wondering whether he will be able to land any of the big-name Minnesota recruits. At just 30 years old, Pitino believes his age can serve as a positive when trying to connect with recruits. "I embrace the fact that I'm young. Hopefully I can relate to them in a different way," said Pitino, who has been an assistant under Florida's Billy Donovan, another coach who got his start at a young age. "It doesn't mean it's better, but I embrace it." Like his roster, Pitino's staff is still up in the air. He has hired Kimani Young, who was Pitino's assistant at FIU, to join him as an assistant at Minnesota. Mike Balado was hired to be the Gophers' director of basketball operations, but Balado is in talks with FIU to become the top assistant under new head coach Anthony Evans. Former Gopher Ben Johnson has also reportedly been added to Pitino's staff, but the deal has not been made official just yet. "I want great chemistry," Pitino said. "I need to have guys who complement each other. I need to have guys that make me better. I don't want all the same guy. I think when you're building a staff, you need to have guys who complement each other." Pitino is stepping into a job in which the previous coach was fired after making the NCAA Tournament and winning a game in first round. Now that fans have gotten a taste of the tournament for the first time in several years, they may be expecting to return in 2013. But Pitino is consistent in not overselling his program before he even has been fully acquainted with it. "Certainly if everybody was back from last year's team, that would be different," Pitino said. "But like I said, it would be unrealistic to expect after losing (two) starters that we're going to be the same team. Not that we can't make the tournament, not that we can't win games. I fully expect to compete hopefully at a very high level." Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Here’s The Tattoo Louisville Coach Rick Pitino Will Be Getting

Louisville coach Rick Pitino made a promise to his team during the regular season that if the Cardinals won the NCAA title, he’d get himself a tattoo. Since Pitino is a man of his word, he’s holding up his end of the deal. Pitino told CBS, “It will be a cardinal and it will say 2013 champions.” As WDRB sports writer Eric Crawford just tweeted out, it will be this cardinal...

Rick Pitino’s Thoroughbred Gets Some New Swag

Fresh off a national championship run, Rick Pitino can now look forward to the 2013 Kentucky Derby. Pitino is co-owner of three-year-old thoroughbred Goldencents, who earned a victory in the Santa Anita Derby in California by one-and-a-quarter lengths a couple of weeks ago. Pitino has been in the horse racing business for over a decade, but this will be the first time he’s had...

Norfolk's Evans taking over at FIU

Anthony Evans was a finalist for the Florida International job a year ago, before the school decided to give Richard Pitino his first opportunity to be a head coach. Apparently, the Panthers kept Evans' resume on file. Evans got the job this time around, arriving in Miami on Monday night to replace Pitino. He takes over a program that is coming off its first winning season...

Kevin Ware’s Road To Recovery Starts Today

Just fifteen days after suffering a gruesome compound fracture to his right leg, Louisville guard Kevin Ware has already started his rehabilitation process. Ware shared this photo on his Instragram account earlier this afternoon. Every injury is unique in its own way, but the folks at Louisville are very optimistic about Ware’s recovery time. Some say he could be back on the court...

Louisville Cardinals baseball shows support for Boston Marathon victims with uniforms

The Louisville Cardinals are showing their support for the Boston Marathon victims and our great country by wearing these uniforms on Tuesday night against hated-rival Kentucky.

Louisville couldn't find a scheduling dance partner

(photo courtesy USAToday Sports) Scheduling in the world of the current BCS system is a bit of a catch 22, if you aren't in one of the big four conferences, and perhaps no other team heading into 2013 better represents that catch 22 than the Louisville Cardinals. On Monday night ESPN's Brett McMurphy reported that Louisville, coming off of an Allstate Sugar Bowl victory...

Charlie Strong Picks Up Another Commitment From The 2014 Class

Charlie Strong has picked up his third commitment in the last five days. Detric Dukes, a 6-foot-2 200-pound linebacker from Tucker, GA., verbally committed to Louisville on Monday afternoon. He is one of the many class of 2014 prospects that took unofficial visits to Louisville over the weekend. Dukes chose Louisville over Vanderbilt and Auburn, but also had scholarship offers from...

The Commitments Keep Rolling In For Charlie Strong

The verbal commitments continue to roll in for Charlie Strong and the Louisville football program. Marques Gayot, a 6-foot-1 205-pound safety from Lake Worth, FL., is the second recruit that has given Louisville a verbal commitment today. Gayot is rated as a 3-star prospect and has scholarship offers from California, South Florida and Florida Atlantic. Louisville assistant coach...

Teddy Ballgame vs. Johnny Football. It Almost Happened…

There was a lot of chatter going on in early January about Louisville looking to add a marquee non-conference game to the 2013 schedule. The rumors were flying that Louisville and Alabama were in talks to open the season at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, but as time went on, that rumor disappeared. It turns out Louisville was in fact looking to add a big time non-conference opponent...

Florida Offensive Lineman Commits To Louisville

For the fourth time in six days, the Louisville football program has picked up commitment from the 2014 class. Kavaris Harkless, a 6-foot-5 275-pound offensive lineman from Jacksonville, FL., verbally committed to Charlie Strong earlier this morning. Harkless is rated as a 3-star prospect and has scholarship offers from Duke, Central Florida, Iowa State, Minnesota and Maryland. Vanderbilt...

U of L football recruits 'jump on the train'

University of Louisville football coach Charlie Strong and his staff have been on a recruiting roll in recent days. The Cardinals have added five new commitments, bringing the total number of commitments in the Class of 2014 to seven. Cardinal Authority talked more in-depth with the two latest commitments:

Louisville football keeps racking up commitments

OL Kavaris Harkless Charlie Strong is having to beat away the recruits with a stick. Not really, but he has a lot of guys wanting to hop on the train right now. After adding two commitments over the weekend, Strong has landed two more commits today. The first came from offensive lineman Kavaris Harkless. The 6-5, 275-lb Harkless is from Jacksonville, Florida and a three-star recruit...

Video: Charlie Strong speaks to College Football Live

ESPN’s College Gameday bus stopped in Louisville today and met with Charlie Strong. Here’s the video.

Georgia LBer Dukes commits to U of L

University of Louisville football coach Charlie Strong has landed a second commitment out of the group of visitors at the Spring Game. Tucker, Ga., linebacker Detric Dukes gave Strong a commitment on Monday.
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!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.