Richard Pitino: “I’ve always said, if you play the games, they’re going to want you to win. And if you don’t win enough, you’re going to get fired."

BleedGopher

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per a lengthy profile in The Athletic:

So what was it like being fired?

Richard Pitino fields the question with his customary ease. He’s sitting in his office as the newly installed coach at New Mexico, where he has been trying to make his dismissal from Minnesota five months ago a distant memory. Pitino doesn’t wince at the question, doesn’t sigh deeply or indulge in gallows humor. He simply shrugs and serves up a platter of perspective, seasoned with a surprising dash of good cheer. “Not as bad as I thought,” he says. “I’ve always said, if you play the games, they’re going to want you to win. And if you don’t win enough, you’re going to get fired. As much as it sucks, I can sit here after eight years in the Big Ten, hold my head high and say, I represented myself well, I didn’t embarrass myself, I didn’t embarrass my family. Plus, I got this job less than 24 hours later, so I didn’t have to sit around and wallow in it.”

When Pitino says “less than 24 hours later,” he really means “about 15 minutes later.” That’s how much time passed from the moment Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle informed Pitino the school was going to announce his firing the next day, and when New Mexico AD Eddie Nuñez texted Pitino to let him know he’d be calling in the morning to offer him a new job. If it seems like those two messages must have been coordinated, that’s because to a large degree they were. The timing was the result of unusually open communication between all the principals, lubricated by a maturity shown by Pitino that belied his age. Not for nothing does Coyle call this 38-year-old veteran head coach “a wise, old soul.”

Pitino may be a millennial, but he has the wizened outlook of someone who was basically born into the profession. He has watched his father, Rick, a two-time national championship coach enshrined in the Hall of Fame, experience every high and low imaginable. When Richard was a student at Providence, he was a manager for the basketball team and an assistant coach at a local high school. After graduating in 2005, Richard worked as an assistant for nine years at five different colleges, became a Division I head coach at Florida International at age 29, and a Big Ten head coach at 30. Pitino had a few highs of his own at Minnesota — he won the NIT championship his first season and was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in his third — but in the end there were too many lows. That led Coyle to cut Pitino loose, which was difficult because the two had become so close. They still talk weekly.

When Nuñez called Coyle to ask his opinion on the coach he was in the process of firing, Coyle gave an unabashed endorsement. Before taking over at Minnesota, Coyle had been the AD at Boise State for four years, so he understands what it takes to win in the Mountain West Conference. “I had zero hesitation about recommending him,” Coyle says. “Richard is the definition of low ego, high output. I told Eddie what a great person he is, that he does things the right way and has great humility, and he would be a great ambassador for New Mexico basketball. I just thought he would be a terrific fit.”


Go Gophers!!
 

fan of Ray Williams

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Pitino will always be a little bit of a riddle to me. He seemed bright and of course he was personable, but then he would make some decisions with playing time that I just did not understand. That being said, hope he does well there and he probably will. The talking to Coyle weekly says what kind of person he is. Appears as if he holds no resentment.
 



bga1

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Pitino will always be a little bit of a riddle to me. He seemed bright and of course he was personable, but then he would make some decisions with playing time that I just did not understand. That being said, hope he does well there and he probably will. The talking to Coyle weekly says what kind of person he is. Appears as if he holds no resentment.
Two things that killed Pitino IMO:

1. He got off to a bad start recruiting. He shot for the moon and missed and then reached on kids late in the process, compromising on character or skills in return for potential.
2. He never developed a bench- which may have stemmed from recruiting too little depth or it may have been the result of him "coaching scared" - always feeling he had to win now.

Both problems were a lack of patience to build for the long term.
 



fan of Ray Williams

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Two things that killed Pitino IMO:

1. He got off to a bad start recruiting. He shot for the moon and missed and then reached on kids late in the process, compromising on character or skills in return for potential.
2. He never developed a bench- which may have stemmed from recruiting too little depth or it may have been the result of him "coaching scared" - always feeling he had to win now.

Both problems were a lack of patience to build for the long term.
Thought 8 years was more than enough time to straighten the recruiting out. The developing of the bench certainly was an issue. Oh well, hopefully Ben keeps this recruiting going, gets some shooters, plays defense etc. and we can all be happy.
 

UpAndUnder43

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I like Pitino as a person. Would be fun to hang out with. Dry, quick humor. Didn’t work for him here which is too bad. But I have no ill will towards him. He didn’t do anything illegal or morally compromising while here (that we know of), he seemed engaged with the fan base and it seems like he really liked it here.
 

JimmyJamesMD

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Two things that killed Pitino IMO:

1. He got off to a bad start recruiting. He shot for the moon and missed and then reached on kids late in the process, compromising on character or skills in return for potential.
2. He never developed a bench- which may have stemmed from recruiting too little depth or it may have been the result of him "coaching scared" - always feeling he had to win now.

Both problems were a lack of patience to build for the long term.
I remember being very excited with all of the offers that went out when Coach Pitino got here.

He hit on nobody big. Then it was panic mode after that
 



Holy Man

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I remember being very excited with all of the offers that went out when Coach Pitino got here.

He hit on nobody big. Then it was panic mode after that
I was nervous about his inexperience when hired, but also thought the name would help recruiting. It really never did. Some of the back fence critique of him was that people perceived that he thought he should get an audience because of his name.

We never really formed an identity as a team or program while he was here. Hopefully, he has enough experience to understand the importance of that.

We'll never know what might have happened if he hit on a few of those borderline five stars in that first year, but in a real way that strategy left him behind in forming a foundation. Other things did him in, but that early failure kept him chasing his whole time here.
 


Spaulding!No!

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Spaulding!No! said:
This guys list says he is likely not coming to the u. If he does select the u I will not post in the bball thread til 2022.

But, he doesn’t seem to b
Spaulding!No! said:
This guys list says he is likely not coming to the u. If he does select the u I will not post in the bball thread til 2022.

But, he doesn’t seem to be a liar….
Do my leg work - post the recruit I said this about.
 

bga1

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Thought 8 years was more than enough time to straighten the recruiting out. The developing of the bench certainly was an issue. Oh well, hopefully Ben keeps this recruiting going, gets some shooters, plays defense etc. and we can all be happy.
This is why it is so crucial that Ben is getting his first class right. This appears to be a much better class forming than what Pitino collected in his first full class. If you don't get a good first class, then you are asking people to be patient and wait for year 4 for any success at all. Pitino was probably half dead in the water after the first signing group where everyone but Mason washed out. He almost had it put back together...but then Lynch, that ended up being his year where he could have saved it and it all fell apart.
 



short ornery norwegian

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well, stating the obvious - you can be a good guy and at the same time, not be a good coach.

I think Richard would have been better served to spend more time as a top assistant at a P5 program - NOT connected with his dad or any cronies - and really learn how to coach - how to make adjustments, etc.

In that sense, Richard is somewhat in the same situation as Tim Brewster - a personable guy with a lot of connections, but lacking development in some of the real "skills" of coaching, who ultimately became a head coach before they were ready. Richard had the Pitino name - Brewster had the rep as a hot recruiter, and that allowed them to skip a few steps in the process. but those steps are necessary in other to build the base of coaching knowledge you need to succeed.
 

Gopherfan84

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well, stating the obvious - you can be a good guy and at the same time, not be a good coach.

I think Richard would have been better served to spend more time as a top assistant at a P5 program - NOT connected with his dad or any cronies - and really learn how to coach - how to make adjustments, etc.

In that sense, Richard is somewhat in the same situation as Tim Brewster - a personable guy with a lot of connections, but lacking development in some of the real "skills" of coaching, who ultimately became a head coach before they were ready. Richard had the Pitino name - Brewster had the rep as a hot recruiter, and that allowed them to skip a few steps in the process. but those steps are necessary in other to build the base of coaching knowledge you need to succeed.

I'd argue Richard was plenty good on the x's and o's and adjustments. I feel his issues were more on getting guys to do them (especially defensively) and I think he was a little lazy recruiting them more I hear. We both agree on the being an assistant for a longer time being helpful. I think he never stuck to an identity as well which being an assistant longer would've allowed him to create/figure out who he was.
 

alchemy2u

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I liked Pitino and thought he had the makings of a good coach, but he just had too many disappoints. There were times where his teams were really well prepared and others were it looked like they just walked into a surprise game with no clue of what to do. He was able to develop some players, but then seemed to totally ignore others. He had a nice candor about him and never seemed to duck the questions. I really do think that he knew what to do and how to do it right, but just lacked the proper understanding of the balance that is needed to get it done. I wish him luck, it was time for a change.
 

noamfromm

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This is why it is so crucial that Ben is getting his first class right. This appears to be a much better class forming than what Pitino collected in his first full class. If you don't get a good first class, then you are asking people to be patient and wait for year 4 for any success at all. Pitino was probably half dead in the water after the first signing group where everyone but Mason washed out. He almost had it put back together...but then Lynch, that ended up being his year where he could have saved it and it all fell apart.
I think its more that he just doesn't get it wrong. If Pitino merely would have eaten the scholarships and gone with walkons over Bakary, Gaston, Josh Martin and McNeil -- then used them on players further along we would have been in a better position.
 

bleedsmaroonandgold

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It was a good response, and a perspective you need to have if you have his job. At the end of the day, he made millions of dollars from the U to do a job that large numbers of people would love to do for free, so no one is going to want to hear self-pity if he gets fired. Especially when virtually any observer should be able to look at his overall and conference record over the 8 years and conclude that he was not successful here. I liked the person, but thought we hung on for way too long with ample evidence in the form of on-court results that he wasn't performing as well as we should hope for.
 

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He’ll be successful the rest of his career. He learned at a tough place to win early in his life. We could have Izzo or Beilein and they would put up similar numbers. I’ll definitely be following New Mexico more closely, like the Alford years.
 

dlnavra

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He’ll be successful the rest of his career. He learned at a tough place to win early in his life. We could have Izzo or Beilein and they would put up similar numbers. I’ll definitely be following New Mexico more closely, like the Alford years.
He was real close until injuries hit and exposed lack of depth, which has been discussed plenty, along with in game tactics including dependency on Carr unnecessarily so. I believe this contributed to shaking other teammates confidence in their own games. I'm in your camp that he'll have a good career. MWC is a good conference, and it'll be made more interesting with him at UNM. He'll pull some talent in there, and they'll be competitive. Transfer portal is leveraged by all now days, so there's no real room for criticizing a coach for using it.
 

Gopherfan84

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He was real close until injuries hit and exposed lack of depth, which has been discussed plenty, along with in game tactics including dependency on Carr unnecessarily so. I believe this contributed to shaking other teammates confidence in their own games. I'm in your camp that he'll have a good career. MWC is a good conference, and it'll be made more interesting with him at UNM. He'll pull some talent in there, and they'll be competitive. Transfer portal is leveraged by all now days, so there's no real room for criticizing a coach for using it.
He will still need his teams to defend better to do well. MWC has good coaches who will beat him unless he buys into that being important
 

builtbadgers

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Never thought he was close. Came in with a flawed plan, cut corners on character,his teams played mediocre defense, practices were a clown fiesta compared to others. Many potential recruits and parents found him less than impressive. I do think he will do better at a school where academics are a non factor. He could hardly do worse.
 

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He was real close until injuries hit and exposed lack of depth, which has been discussed plenty, along with in game tactics including dependency on Carr unnecessarily so. I believe this contributed to shaking other teammates confidence in their own games. I'm in your camp that he'll have a good career. MWC is a good conference, and it'll be made more interesting with him at UNM. He'll pull some talent in there, and they'll be competitive. Transfer portal is leveraged by all now days, so there's no real room for criticizing a coach for using it.
Carr is going to lead the nation in dribbling again at Texas.
 


60's Guy

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Carr is going to lead the nation in dribbling again at Texas.
I’d be willing to bet Carr never dribbles more than twice past the hash marks all season. 😊
Carr has much more talent to play with at Texas and a coach who is going demand things his way in Beard. The bench will be a significant motivator for Carr to listen well.
Texas is picked by several to be a Final Four team.
 

Gopher Teeth

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I’d be willing to bet Carr never dribbles more than twice past the hash marks all season. 😊
Carr has much more talent to play with at Texas and a coach who is going demand things his way in Beard. The bench will be a significant motivator for Carr to listen well.
Texas is picked by several to be a Final Four team.
He will do well at Texas. His over the top dribbling was due to a number of factors 1) Pitino's offense 2) Players didn't listen to Pitino 3) Not many go-to type players on the team, so it was necessary for him to put the team on his back too much. He will be in a new environment where those factors won't exist and he will change accordingly. He was never an arrogant or me me type of player, he will have a big year.
 


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Thanks for posting. I like Richard a lot. He gives some of the best interviews in all of sports and he seems like a good guy. I generally believed in Pitino and Tubby while they were here and thought the firing timing of both was appropriate
 


Gopher_In_NYC

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well, stating the obvious - you can be a good guy and at the same time, not be a good coach.

I think Richard would have been better served to spend more time as a top assistant at a P5 program - NOT connected with his dad or any cronies - and really learn how to coach - how to make adjustments, etc.

In that sense, Richard is somewhat in the same situation as Tim Brewster - a personable guy with a lot of connections, but lacking development in some of the real "skills" of coaching, who ultimately became a head coach before they were ready. Richard had the Pitino name - Brewster had the rep as a hot recruiter, and that allowed them to skip a few steps in the process. but those steps are necessary in other to build the base of coaching knowledge you need to succeed.
How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

practice, practice, practice
 




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