catches up with Jim Molinari

Jim Molinari was recently named as a Gopher assistant coach. For the past two seasons, Molinari has been a scout for Toronto and Miami in the NBA. Molinari enjoyed a 24-year career as a collegiate head and assistant coach. He was the Bradely head coach for 11 years and led his team to five NIT appearances and the 1996 NCAA Tournament. Molinari was the Northern Illinois head coach from 1989-91, posting a 42-17 mark. recently caught up with Molinari.

What was it that was appealing to you about the Minnesota job that made you want to get back into coaching?


"First of all, I love the cities. Minneapolis. I love the Big Ten. I had a great feel for Coach Monson and his staff and a lot of this comes down to having a feel and trusting your instincts. All those things factored into it. It is a great opportunity."


The Gophers had a disappointing season after being really close the previous two seasons to making the NCAA Tournament. Did you have much of chance to see the team or get a feel for them?


"Dan Monson is an outstanding coach. I think that he has done a great job here. I think that everything goes in cycles, so if last year was a blip on the screen, he had great success at Gonzaga. I watched the team last year, but I mostly watched Kris (Humphries), so I don't have a great feel now for how it all fits together. But I think all the things are here. I'm excited about it, but I really don't have a great feel for the players now."


There is a lot of talk that the Gophers need to make the tournament this season. Does that make it tough coming into this kind of situation when you don't know how long the future is?


"I've always felt that the greatest anxiety in life is caused by trying to control what you have no control over. I would not have come here if I did not have great confidence in Dan. I think that they have a great AD. I have a sense that everyone here likes what is going on. That is just part of the business, but I don't have any concern about that. I'm just worried about working with Dan, Bill, Vic and James and these players and helping them to reach their goals and putting the best team out there possible. I think if you do those things, things take care of themselves."


Has anyone impressed you since taking the job?


"I got here after the informal workouts, so I really have no feel for the talent or their abilities. But I think that they are really working hard on their conditioning and with the strength coach. I think that all the right things are going on. These times are exciting and I'm looking forward to being a part of it."


You did scouting work for Miami and Toronto. What were your impressions of Kris Humphries?


"I only got to see him once. I think that he is like most players in the draft now. I think that the draft is all about potential. But, I think that people look at him and say ‘he is strong and can rebounds and is athletic.' I think that Kris is probably on a lot of people's radar screens. I do believe that for all of them during my advance scouting, the whole question people ask is about the intangibles, the toughness level and all those things. That is the difference. They are all pretty athletic, but the difference between the guys that really make an impact and guys that don't is the intangibles. I'm sure that Kris will have a great opportunity."     


You were away from the college game for the last two years. Do you think that doing the advance scouting and college scouting and the stuff that you learned will help you?


I saw a lot of college practices. It is almost like a professor taking a sabbatical. I think that what you see is that even as a head coach I felt that there were things that I did really well and others things that I thought I could do better. I think that (time away) really helps you. I think being a head coach, you understand the whole thing. Coach Monson has obviously had some great success. I think that all the assistants want him to have the confidence and know that he has the support. I think sometimes situations get so negative, that it is more to focus on the main thing. I think that is what I see in a way. Put it this way, there is no college coach, other than Coach K or Coach Olsen and some of these Hall of Fame coaches, that doesn't live on the edge and that is what it is about. That is probably what I saw no matter where I went. The fine line of having a good season or a bad season."


Head coaching. Is that something you think about?


"I really don't think about it at all. I'm really tremendously excited about being a part of Minnesota basketball. I'm really getting excited about the potential and opportunity for us. I really mean that sincerely. This is a tremendous league with tremendous challenges and I think that is what really excites me. I'm kind of like a player. I've always felt that players were more worried about their futures than what they are doing today. I'm a process person. We always control the process, not the end. I only think about what I have to do at Minnesota."

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