Nate Pomeday left the staff to take a job with the AAC last month leaving Coach Pitini with Ben Johnson and Kimani Young as assistants. Much like Dan Monson did with Jim Molinari ten years ago, Pitino is looking for a veteran assistant to add to his young staff.
The first name that was brought up after the Pomeday leave was Ralph Willard, a 70 year old retired coach who was with Richard’s father Rick Pitino for many years at Louisville, Kentucky, and with the New York Knicks.
Willard has also been the head coach at Pitt, Western Kentucky, and Holy Cross. That was the first rumor that came up but we’ve learned that Willard likely would not be an option as he is having some upcoming surgery. Willard is a veteran though who has not only coached for several years but he’s also a cancer survivor respected by many so he would be a good addition.
Who else? There are a couple more veterans that we’ve learned about and both are available.
The most common name we’ve been hearing as a potential Gopher assistant is Ed Conroy who was relieved of his position at Tulane last March after a 12-22 season. Conroy was the head coach at Tulane for six seasons highlighted by his 20-15 year in 2012-13.
Conroy is 49 years old and from Davenport, Iowa. He played at The Citadel and was an assistant coach at North Carolina State, VMI, Furman, Tulsa, Tennessee, and Coast Carolina. Those jobs were before he was named the head coach The Citadel where he remained for four years before taking the Tulane job.
Balado was of course at Florida International with Pitino and is currently at Louisville with Rick Pitino. He’s been on the Cardinal staff for three years. Balado has also been at High Point, Miami (Fl), and Florida Atlantic among other places.
Balado is from Miami, speaks fluent Spanish, and is in his early 40s. Balado was thought to be coming to Minnesota with Richard Pitino originally as an assistant but then joined Rick Pitino at Louisville instead.
Another favorite for the position we are hearing is 56 year old Jim Whitseel who has been head coach at Elmhurst, Loyola-Illinois, and Lewis but also an assistant at Saint Louis, St. John’s (NY), and Buffalo. Whitesell was a head coach from 1987 to 2011.
He has local ties to the region as he is from Iowa Falls, Iowa, has coached as an assistant at Minnesota State-Mankato, North Dakota, and Ellsworth CC. Whiteseel has most recently been the associate head coach at Buffalo.