Monday, March 17, 2014

Great First Year for Richard Pitino

When they called the names for the big dance, the Big Ten came up a team short.  Thus, it is off to the NIT for Minnesota, where they'll be a #1 seed there and will hopefully rock the barn a few more times this season. 

While the Gophers did not make it to the NCAA Tournament, nobody can call Richard Pitino's first year as head coach anything but a success.  Consider the following:

  • In his first year the team lost no momentum.  The Gophers finished the season with a 20-13 record, and is poised for a deep run in the NIT
  • In fact, the transition at coach did not result in a step back from a performance standpoint.  That can be seen in the record, and in how the team changed its method of play - hustling, moving without the ball, and playing aggressive defense.
  • Even the players that stayed within the program changed.  Mo Williams lost a massive amount of weight, and became a true athlete under the boards.  His position-mate Elliott Eliason put on some muscle, and became a shot blocking presence.  Clearly Pitino and his staff asked these players to change, and they stepped up and did it.
There is still a long way to go for Minnesota to regain basketball prominence it once enjoyed.  However, with Coach Pitino at the helm, they appear pointed in the right direction.

Here's wishing them the best of luck in the NIT.  

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