Pitino elevated current assistant Steve Masiello to replace Willard, who served as Pitino's top assistant the past several seasons. The Louisville coach also announced that Eric Scott, the older brother of junior Will Scott, will replace Devon Smith as Director of Basketball Operations and that Matt Morris will replace Dan McHale, who went to Iona with Willard, as the Director of Video Operations.
The big news, though, was the hiring of Richard Pitino, a decision that excited both father and son. Obviously, Pitino has a strong grasp of his father's system, as do both Scott, a former graduate assistant and Morris, who served as a program assistant last season. That was a big factor in Pitino's decision making process.
"I didn't want a lot of change because I think we have a team that has a chance to be outstanding," Pitino said. "I didn't want to teach guys our system and I didn't want to coach the coaches anymore at this stage with this type of team coming back. I had to coach Marvin Menzies; I didn't have to coach Steve.
"I couldn't afford that right now. I had to have people that really knew what was going on. I don't have time right now to teach (assistants) the full court press and teach him how to scout. He's done that at Duquesne and he did it exactly how we do it. We can concentrate on the most important thing – teaching the players how to play and winning basketball games."
The younger Pitino, 24, served as an assistant at Duquesne University last season. Prior to that, Pitino worked with Ron Everhart one year at Northeastern and served as an administrative assistant at College of Charleston the in 2004-05. Pitino served as a graduate assistant at Providence under Tim Welch.
"I'm excited about learning from him," Richard Pitino said of serving as an assistant to his father. "Hopefully I'll learn a lot everyday and getting here and working. I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to working hard and helping any way I can."
Asked if the decision to hire his son were a difficult one to make, Pitino said it was not.
"It was an easy decision because of what I needed right now," Pitino said. "Father/son combinations are doing real well right now as far as coaching. From Dick Bennett to his son to Eddie Sutton and Sean, Bobby Knight and Pat Knight. I think it's successful because they realize they have to do a great job for the university and they're working for their father. It's been successful and I hope Richard has the same success as those other young men."
Pitino, who said he doesn't hire assistant coaches, rather future head coaches, said his son shares some of his hard-working traits and love for the game of basketball.
"In his drive and his passion for the game he's a lot like me," Pitino said. "I know how hard he works. He was recruiting the best player in the state this year (Stephon Pettigrew) and was very close to having him go to Duquesne and he may still go there. I watched him work when he was coming in from a recruiting standpoint. I think I know how good he is."
Huffman Granted Release
Pitino said he has granted 6-11 sophomore forward Jonathan Huffman his release. While Pitno didn't rule out Huffman's return next season, he did hint that the forward might follow Willard to Iona.
"I told him unless he wanted to redshirt I do not blame him for transferring because he's not going to play a whole lot next year," Pitino said. "If he wanted to redshirt it's something that we would consider because we lose David Padgett and Terrance Farley next year.
"He's very happy here. He likes the coaches and the players, but he should look at it though. If he does decide to leave I hope he goes with Kevin Willard (because) Kevin knows him the best."