New coach Richard Pitino has one promise for Minnesota fans - KMSP-TV

New Gophers coach Richard Pitino's promise for Minnesota fans

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photo by Doug Erlien / FOX 9 News photo by Doug Erlien / FOX 9 News
MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

The University of Minnesota introduced Richard Pitino as the new head coach of the Gophers basketball program Friday morning.

The hiring of Pitino was confirmed Wednesday, but Friday's press conference was the first chance for fans and the media to hear from the 30-year-old coach.

Pitino wouldn't talk about his chances of keeping blue chip recruits Tyus Jones, Rashad Vaughn and Reid Travis in Minnesota, but he did have one promise for Gopher fans.

"Our style of play is going to be fun for you to watch," Pitino said. "It will be a lot of press -- we're going to press on every possession, we're going to try to create offense from our defense. It's going to be a great brand of basketball."

Pitino met with the current Gophers team for about 15 minutes Friday morning to share his vision. He said the players seemed excited and invested in the future of the program.

Pitino's contract is worth at least $1.2 million annually. You can see a breakdown of bonuses and other contract details at http://bit.ly/14Kl81b

DREAM JOB

Pitino said he and his wife see Minnesota as a destination job, not a stepping stone. The coach said they talked Tuesday night about how excited they were to set their roots in Minneapolis.

"The fact that I'm sitting here is a dream come true and it's something I'm really going to relish," Pitino said. "When this job opened I was hoping something would present itself because this is one of the greatest jobs in basketball."

Pitino has not yet begun to assemble a coaching staff.

NORWOOD TEAGUE'S FIRST HIRE

Many Minnesota fans expected athletics director Norwood Teague to make a big splash in hiring a new basketball coach, following his success with Anthony Grant and Shaka Smart at Virginia Commonwealth.

Names like Smart, Butler's Brad Stevens and former Minnesota Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders were mainstays on the rumor mill. But Teague said the search unfolded as expected, and the only surprises were some of the media reports he saw.

"I made a lot of offers to a lot of candidates I didn't know I met with," Teague said. "We were very pleased with our search. It unfolded just like we planned."

Teague said, from the beginning, the search for a new coach would focus on three things:

- Relentless recruiting

- Developing student-athletes, on and off the court

- Managing and building the Gophers program to the highest level

"Coach Pitino fits all of those," Teague said. "He is the perfect fit for the University of Minnesota."

COACH PITINO'S YEAR AT FIU

Pitino has only one season of head coaching experience, but it was a winning season at Florida International. The Golden Panthers finished the 2012-13 season with an 18-14 record – the school's first winning season in 13 years.

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