User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto
Horses
Soccer
Boxing/MMA
More
Betting Tools

 
Pitino promises fun, fast game at Minnesota

New Sportsbook.ag customers: Make your 1st bet, get your 2nd bet free, 100%, winnings paid in cash.
Join Now

Already have an account? Click here to view new Exclusive Rewards!

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Richard Pitino might not have been the first choice by Minnesota to replace Tubby Smith, and questions about favoritism could follow him the rest of his career.

Advertisement
But neither the Gophers nor Pitino are about to apologize for who he is, or temper their confidence about what he can do at a program looking for a lift despite his limited prior experience.

``People ask me all the time, `Was it tough being Rick Pitino's son?' And it's not. I'm extremely proud to be his son. I'm extremely fortunate to be his son. I embrace it every single day. I would be silly to hide from it. He's a legend in this game,'' said the 30-year-old Pitino at his introductory news conference Friday.

Smith was fired after six seasons, a 46-62 record in Big Ten play and one NCAA tournament victory. Pitino, who signed a six-year contract worth at least $1.2 million annually, a little more than half of Smith's yearly compensation, has been a head coach for one season.

He guided a Florida International team gutted by transfers and academic ineligibility to an 18-14 record that was the school's first winning mark in 13 years. He spent three seasons as an assistant at Louisville under his father, coach Rick Pitino, and two more at Florida under coach Billy Donovan.

``I think his dad forced Richard to work his way up the ranks instead of just automatically giving him the job,'' Donovan said. ``He had to work for it.''

When Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague sought advice from Donovan during the search, Pitino's name popped up immediately. Donovan described to Teague the ``relentless'' and ``merciful'' pressure that Rick Pitino once put on both his son and Donovan when they worked separately on the elder Pitino's staffs.

``I certainly embrace the fact that I'm young. I don't try to hide from it,'' Pitino said. ``I've had great relationships with my players at FIU. I have still great relationships with the players at Louisville and Florida. So we go about it in a different way.''

Teague declined to comment when asked about other candidates who might've been ahead of Pitino in the queue. Shaka Smart, Fred Hoiberg, Brad Stevens, Flip Saunders, Andy Enfield and Mick Cronin were all mentioned in various news reports as being considered.

``We were very pleased with the search. It unfolded just like we wanted,'' he said.

Pitino's short resume didn't deter Minnesota, but it did reveal one conflict, at least according to information still available Friday afternoon on team websites for Florida International, Louisville and Florida. The profiles credited Pitino with working at the College of Charleston during the 2004-05 season, and Louisville's bio for him specified CC's 18-10 record that year.

Pitino was only at the South Carolina school for three months the summer after the 2004-05 season, shortly after he graduated from Providence, Gophers spokesman Matt Slieter said. Pitino said, through Slieter, that this was an oversight that will be corrected.

Smith's firing brought him a $2.5 million buyout, even with his hire a week later at Texas Tech.

In Pitino's contract, if he's dismissed without just cause but gets a comparable job elsewhere, Minnesota is no longer on the hook for a buyout. Pitino's buyout would be half of his $500,000 base salary and all of his $700,000 annual supplemental compensation for the remaining life of the deal.

Also of note in Pitino's contract:

- He has pair of $400,000 bonuses for simply fulfilling the deal, one due on April 30, 2016 (if he stays three seasons and starts a fourth) and the other due on April 30, 2019 (if he stays through the current length of the contract).

- Among various industry standard perks is a $50,000 annual private jet allowance for university business more than 200 miles from campus. Smith did not have that.

- If Pitino leaves for another job before April 30, 2016, he would owe Minnesota $1.5 million. After that, if he were to skip out before his deal expires, he'd have to pay $500,000. Said Pitino: ``Me and my wife talked about it last night, just how excited we were that we can finally be at a place that we hope to be for the rest of our lives and build something special.''

- The incentives in Pitino's deal are considerably lower than Smith's, though for finishing 10-8 in the conference or better, a feat Smith never pulled off, Pitino would receive $50,000. Pitino would get $250,000 for winning a national championship; Smith would've received $1.5 million. Pitino would get $25,000 for winning the Big Ten tournament; Smith would've received $250,000. And for a team grade-point average of 3.5 or better, Pitino would get $75,000; Smith would've received $150,000 for 3.25 and up.

Smith was promised a practice facility that almost every major program in the country has but is still in the planning stages at Minnesota. Pitino said he had ``zero doubt'' it would be built.

``The practice facility will come and when it does, it'll be great. But there's so much here we can use to our advantage and sell,'' Pitino said.

So what happens when father and son are pursuing the same high school player?

``It's game on. That's the way I'm looking at it,'' Pitino said, smiling. ``Hopefully he fights fair, but I'm excited about it.''

The news conference on the raised Williams Arena floor had a pep-rally feel, with a full rotation of music by the band and clapping and cheering by the few hundred fans who watched from the seats. The entire Gophers team, wearing matching white golf shirts adorned with the school logo, watched from the floor while Pitino spoke.

Leading scorer Andre Hollins, a junior to be, said he believes every player will be back and spoke excitedly about the fast-and-fun style Pitino promised to employ, with full-court pressure defense and run-the-break offense.

``We've been kind of in limbo, just kind of waiting, just trying to see,'' Hollins said. ``There've been a lot of calls, a lot of people contacting us, trying to see what we're going to do. But we just wanted to wait and see what Norwood had in store for us, and I think he made the right choice.''

---

AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski contributed to this report.

---

Follow Dave Campbell on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DaveCampbellAP

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2016
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
HEADLINES
Canisius hires Witherspoon as coach
Clemson signs another transfer, Skara
UNC's Williams recovering from surgery
Utah to play rival BYU again in 2017
Maryland guard Melo Trimble to return
Louisville's Onuaku will remain in draft
Forward White to return to Huskers
Brey looks to former Irish players
'Nova, Oregon boosted by returnees
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NCAA BK College Basketball Handicapper Sports Picks Records
Live Odds
2015 CBK SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
John Fisher + 3618
Chip Chirimbes + 2069
Joe Nelson + 1709
Last 7 Day Leaders
Handicapper Money
No Games Last 7 Days  
   
   
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Stephen Nover 58 %
John Fisher 57 %
Joe Nelson 56 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Jimmy Boyd + 1808
Antony Dinero + 1369
Jim Feist + 1323
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
James Manos + 1061
Stephen Nover + 565
Joe Williams + 560
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 2572
Doc's Sports + 1365
Chip Chirimbes + 1114
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership