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Report: Tennessee targets Gophers' Pitino

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The University of Tennessee is reportedly interested in Gophers men's basketball coach Richard Pitino.

ESPN's Jeff Goodman reports that Pitino is on the shortlist of top candidates at Tennessee to replace Cuonzo Martin, who abruptly left on Tuesday for the same job at the University of California.

Pitino has been at Minnesota for just one season and led the Gophers to the NIT Championship and a school record 25-wins, after they failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. That has instantly made Pitino one of the hottest commodities on the market, according to Fansided.

While Tennessee is interested in Pitino, it appears that at least a couple of reports seem to indicate that Pitino is not as interested in the Volunteers, according to 1500 ESPN contributor Darren Wolfson.

Marcus Fuller of the Pioneer Press isn't surprised to see Pitino's name in the rumor mill considering he guided the Gophers to the National Invitation Tournament championship in his first year at the University of Minnesota.

He's also developing a strong name in recruiting circles. Gaston Diedhiou, a 6-foot-9 under-the-radar big man from the Canary Islanders in Spain committed to Minnesota on Friday, and according to the Star Tribune, Bakary Konate, a 6-foot-11 center from Mali could commit to the Gophers as soon as today.

On Monday, Pitino wrote a season recap blog, saying he can't wait to coach the Gophers again next season.

"I personally had a blast coaching this year," he wrote. "My favorite moment is walking up those stairs at the beginning of the game at the Barn to take the court. It gives me goosebumps every time. I can't wait to do it again in a few months!"

Minnesota won a school-record 25 games this season (excluding forfeited 1996-97 Final Four season) and they could be even better next season with the bulk of the roster coming back.

"It's not gonna maybe be as easy, and the expectations will be higher," Pitino said last week during his season-ending press conference, according to Fox Sports North. "We're gonna be a little more of the hunted a little bit, and we've got to understand that."

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