Gophers hope they 'get what they need' in Pitino - KMSP-TV

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Gophers hope they 'get what they need' in Pitino

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For the first time, new Gophers basketball coach Richard Pitino climbed the Williams Arena stairs leading from the locker room. Playing in the background was the Rolling Stones classic "You can't always get what you want". It was a quick climb, just like his rapid ascension from an assistant coach under his father in Louisville and the same position under Billy Donovan at Florida, to being a 30 year old coach with the keys to a big time college basketball program.

"I'm extremely excited about this opportunity. Minnesota basketball's got one of the best traditions in all of college basketball. It certainly has one of the best home courts, a very passionate fan base, a great university and a great conference."

Pitino talked to the team prior to taking the stage and shared with them his vision for the program as they transition from the pace of Tubby Smith's game to one that will feature a more up tempo style.

"Our style of play is going to be fun for you to watch. I think you guys are going to enjoy it," said Pitino to a round of applause. "It'll be a lot of pressing, we're going to try to create offense from our defense. It's going to be a style that the kids love to play. It's going to be a great style of basketball and I can't wait to get started."

Certainly the cupboard isn't bare as guards Austin and Andre Hollins will both return as will fellow starter Joe Coleman. With a few scholarships in his back pocket, Pitino knows the challenges of recruiting.

"I think every job is challenging, I've worked at some great places and am fortunate to be here now. There's no easy job," said Pitino. "I'm very confident that I can walk into these homes and sell a lot of great things."

With the eyes of Minnesota and college programs across the country on the class of 2014, prized local recruits Tyus Jones, Reid Travis and Rashad Vaughn on the radars of seemingly every college coach across the country. Including his famed father at Louisville.

"I'm extremely excited to go head-to-head with my dad," said a grinning Pitino. "It's ‘game on' the way I look at it. Hopefully he fights fair, but I'm excited."

There are scholarships available, but there is no rush to fill them, just like he feels he is the right fit for this program, Pitino feels the same way about building his team with players that fit what he is looking for.

"We're not just going to go fill scholarships. I don't think that is the right way to do things," said Pitino. "We'll watch a lot of film over the next couple of days and see what the needs are. Then we'll go out recruiting and see if we can meet some of those needs."

As current and former Gophers watched as the program started in its new direction, senior guard Austin Hollins talked about the unknown of Pitino and the not knowing what the search process would result in.

"I was really nervous because there are a lot of coaches out there," said Hollins. "After playing under coach Smith for three years and having to make a transition, you want to make sure that you get a guy in there that you like."

Although the team and their new coach only had about 15 minutes to get to know each other, Hollins said there was excitement with Pitino and his fresh attitude and approach.

Although never confirmed where Pitino was on the Athletics Director Norwood Teague's list, Teague did confirm that his hire was at least on the list during the search.

"We had a search process that talked to a variety of candidates and Richard was always on my list," said Teague. "We went through a search that we wanted to go through. We had it planned out and we executed."

While Pitino stopped short of talking specifics about recruiting, he did talk about the importance of bringing in a staff that would work tirelessly to help the program climb the ladder in the Big Ten. Teague confirmed that there would be no restrictions on who Pitino would add to his staff, nor any input from him on the staff hiring process.

Through the process Teague came under fire for the lack of perceived progress in finding a new head coach. Although asked who was on his short list and who was offered the job and who turned down the position, Teague didn't bite, only saying.

"I know there were a lot of people mentioned in the media or on message boards and whatnot, and I made a lot of offers I didn't know I made to a lot of candidates I didn't know I met with, but it's a search."

For some, the song played as Pitino entered Williams Arena was perfect. What remains to be seen for this program is the last part of the chorus of the Stones song.

‘You get what you need'.

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