This year we heard a tad bit of talk about Richard Pitino being connected to jobs but it wasn’t much. Georgetown, NC State, and LSU were a few places where his name was thrown out but that talk was quickly put away. Instead, Minnesota signed Coach Pitino to a contract extension keeping him in the Twin Cities through 2022.
The University provided a statement of their extension this week:
The University of Minnesota today announced that Head Men’s Basketball Coach Richard Pitino has agreed to a contract extension that adds one year to his existing agreement, placing him under contract with the University through the 2021-22 season. The extension will become official pending approval from the Board of Regents at its May meetings.
“Since I came back to Minnesota as the AD last May, I have been impressed with Coach Pitino and his management of our men's basketball program,” said Athletics Director Mark Coyle. “I've seen accountability, commitment and focus from every student-athlete and member of the men's basketball staff, led by Coach Pitino. The team's success on the court this year generated a lot of excitement on campus and around the state. I'm looking forward to much more of that with Coach Pitino leading our program.”
“I am extremely grateful to be the head coach at such a prestigious university. My family and I love living in the Twin Cities and look forward to continuing to build a strong men's basketball program on and off the court,” said Pitino. “I have loved getting to know and working with Mark Coyle this past year. Mark and President Kaler's commitment to athletics is second to none. The future of Gopher basketball is very bright and I am excited to be a part of it.”
This contract extension comes after Pitino oversaw the greatest single-season turnaround of any Division I men’s basketball program last season, improving the Gophers’ win total by 16 and marking a return to the NCAA Tournament.
The Big Ten Coach of the Year as voted by the conference head coaches and media, Pitino led the Gophers to program records and achievements that had not been reached in decades. Under Pitino’s guidance, Minnesota set a new program record with 23 regular season victories. That total was driven, in part, by a 12-1 finish in non-conference play and eight straight Big Ten wins, the team’s longest conference winning streak since 1973.
New York! (Again)
You are all aware of the Big Ten Tournament being in New York City next year, and that Minnesota will be playing a hockey/basketball double header with Ohio State in late January.
This weekend Jon Rothstein of CBS reported that Minnesota will be in the eight team Barclay’s Classic (believe to be eight teams) will include Minnesota along with BYU, Alabama, and UMass.
There are now several opportunities for Minnesota fans to go to New York City for a vacation doubling up as a chance to watch their favorite team. It’s also a chance for Richard Pitino’s team to get in front of New York area recruits three separate times (as well as a chance for guys like Isaiah Washington, Jamir Harris, and Dupree McBrayer to play in front of their hometown fans).
Washington Live Online Saturday Night
Ever the showman, Gopher four star recruit Isaiah Washington will be competing in the 2017 Ball is Life All American Game. It’s one more chance for Washington to dazzle fans with his ball skills and crafty finger roll finishes. It’s also another chance for Washington to go at Trevon Duval. The two had a memorable dual at the end of the summer in the Under Amour event playing in the park outside by the Brooklyn Bridge.
The game will be line online tomorrow at five o’clock central time. It’s on Facebook.com and Ballislife.com.
· At the Golden Goldys this week the Gophers won Male Team of the Year, Richard Pitino won make coach of the year, and Amir Coffey was named freshman of the year.
· The final beam was raised at the brand new athletic facility and a ceremony was held for donors, supporters, and the construction crew. Jordan Murphy was one of the speakers.
· Minnesota is now off the live event recruiting trail until July. They have extended several offers to 2018 talents and will now focus on who they can bring in for summer visits.