Skip to main content

ESPN says Richard Pitino 'has to do the most to keep his job'

Pitino was the 2017 Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Last season was supposed to bring potential for a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, but the Gophers didn't live up to preseason hype that had them ranked among the top 15 teams in the country only to to finish near the bottom of the Big Ten. 

Minnesota started the season by winning 14 of 17 games before losing 14 of 15 to finish tied with Iowa and Illinois for the second worst record in the Big Ten. 

Everything seemed to unravel when star defensive center Reggie Lynch was suspended due to accusations of sexual assault. Lynch chose not to appeal the university's decision to suspend him, effectively ending his career as a Gopher. 

It's also noteworthy that the Gophers were 14-3 with Amir Coffey in the starting lineup before he was lost for the majority of the season with injuries, including a shoulder problem that required surgery and has kept him out of action the entire summer. 

It's hard to blame head coach Richard Pitino for player's off-court issues and injuries, but ESPN's Dan Murphy still believes Pitino is under more pressure to win this season than any other coach in the Big Ten

"The Gophers started last season as a top-25 team with a handful of promising players. By the time February arrived, the wheels had completely fallen off for the Gophers. Two assistants have departed this offseason and some of the talent is gone as well. Senior forward Jordan Murphy remains one of the league's better players -- and Pitino's team should be fun to watch -- but it will take a Herculean effort to get things back on track. Pitino enters the season as the Big Ten coach who has to do the most to keep his job for another season."

Another challenge Pitino will have to overcome is playing with a new starting point guard. Nate Mason (16.7 points, 4.2 assists) graduated, opening the door for Isaiah Washington, the highly touted recruit out of New York City, to step into the starting lineup as a true sophomore. 

Dupree McBrayer will give Pitino a nice option at shooting guard, Coffey at small forward and Murphy at power forward. Who starts at center is anyone's guess, although Eric Curry, who saw a lot of playing time a true freshman in 2016-17, will be available after missing all of last season with a knee injury. 

The 2018-19 season is also exciting because three true freshman from Minnesota could get plenty of playing time. Daniel Oturu is a 6-foot-10 center who led Cretin-Derham Hall to a state championship, although he's been rehabbing from a shoulder injury this summer; Gabe Kalscheur is a 6-foot-4 guard from DeLaSalle who can shoot; and Jarvis Omersa is a 6-foot-6 small forward with freaky athletic ability from Orono.  

Pitino, by the way, is under contract with the Gophers through 2022. 

Next Up

Doug Wardlow

Doug Wardlow reneges on promise, will challenge GOP's AG candidate in primary

Wardlow's announcement sparked swift criticism from the MN GOP and the party-endorsed candidate, Jim Schultz.

Flickr - welcome to minnesota sign - Tony Webster

US News '150 Best Places to Live' features 1 from MN, 3 from WI

The latest US News list is for the most populous metro areas only, so no small towns.

tornado

7 tornadoes touched down last week in western MN, ND

Two of the seven were EF-2 level tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service.

covid

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, May 17

72 hours of case data reported over the weekend is included in Tuesday updates.

Stallings surveillance footage - screengrab - crop

City of Minneapolis, Jaleel Stallings reach $1.5M settlement

Although a settlement was made, the city will not admit fault or take any responsibility for the incident as part of the agreement with Stallings.

Kayak

2 rescued after kayaks capsize on Sauk River

Recent heavy rainfall produced a strong currents on the water.

covid 19 test

How to order 8 free at-home COVID-19 tests

A third round of free tests is now available from the U.S. government.

4303450641_ec7536c6ea_k

Three new Grandstand shows added for Minnesota State Fair 2022

The Beach Boys and Portugal. The Man are among several acts booked.

St. Louis County

St. Louis County set to declare state of emergency ahead of peak flood levels

Volunteers are urgently needed for sandbagging efforts in a small community near Voyageurs National Park.

Screen Shot 2022-05-16 at 5.03.30 PM

Brothers Bar & Grill closes in downtown Minneapolis

The Midwest chain closed its St. Cloud location in 2018.

Related

Richard Pitino

Gophers silence rumors with contract extension for Pitino

Pitino is now under contract through the end of the 2023-24 season.

Could the Gophers be better than last year's NCAA tourney team?

An in-depth look at what the 2019-20 Gophers bring to the Big Ten.

Richard Pitino

Goldstein: Richard Pitino was not a failure with Gophers

It was time to go, but Pitino wasn't lucky in his 8 years at Minnesota.

Pitino emotional after inspiring Gophers win over Nebraska

The Gophers played with Dupree McBrayer, whose mother died on Monday.

Richard Pitino

Report: Gophers to 'part ways' with basketball coach Richard Pitino

Pitino's eight seasons in Minnesota featured just two NCAA tournament appearances.

Pitino aims to snap 8-game losing streak against Wisconsin

The Gophers are 0-8 against the Badgers under Richard Pitino.