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

Pitino was the 2017 Big Ten Coach of the Year.
Author:
Publish date:

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

police tape, crime scene

Man found dead outside home near Cass Lake

The man was reportedly shot outside the property.

Minnesota_Welcome_Sign_-_Minnesota_Welcomes_You_-_Taylors_Falls_(28269804891)

Gov. Walz announces $1M in grants to boost Minnesota tourism

The money will be used for marketing efforts to attract people to Minnesota's hard-hit tourist spots.

coronavirus, ICU

Nov. 25 COVID-19 update: 72 deaths ties Minnesota's single-day high

A COVID-19 update will not be provided on Thanksgiving Day.

Texa-Tonka

Revival to open its fourth Twin Cities location

The fried chicken and smoked meat maestros are moving to St. Louis Park.

Duluth and Case Recreation Center

St. Paul to open two extra temporary shelters for homeless people

Mayor Melvin Carter announced the new shelters will be opened in the event of excess demand.

vote, election

Minnesota once again had the highest election turnout in the country

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a record percentage of voters also sent in absentee ballots.

court gavel

Minneapolis man sentenced to 30 years for death in robbery gone wrong

James Moore was sentenced in the death of Malik Smith.

Em1jOWyWEAwspXK (1)

St. Paul homicide suspect arrested by FBI in Chicago

A 34-year-old Minneapolis man was killed in the Nov. 14 shooting.

Sanford Health

Sanford Health 'parts ways' with CEO after his face mask comments

Kelby Krabbenhoft had been with the company since 1996.

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.

Pitino emotional after inspiring Gophers win over Nebraska

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

Richard Pitino signs contract extension with Gophers

Richard Pitino was recently named the Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Richard Pitino signs contract extension with Gophers

Richard Pitino was recently named the Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Pitino aims to snap 8-game losing streak against Wisconsin

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