By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - Surrounded by a Goldy the Gopher, women's basketball coach Pam Borton, the entire men's basketball team and the full ensemble of the University's pep-band, Minnesota Athletic Director Norwood Teague officially introduced Richard Pitino as the new head coach of the men's basketball team.
"We ran the search that we wanted to run," Teague said Friday. "It went very well, we were very pleased with the search and it unfolded just like we wanted."
Teague claimed that Pitino was always present on his list and when the time that his name rose to the top, the search committee was convinced that Richard was the right guy for the job.
"We expect to see progress under coach Pitino," Teague said. "We know that it cannot happen overnight. We need to give him the resources to win and we need to give him the time to build his program here. He is the right fit for this job and I could not be more happy."
The terms of the deal pin Pitino to Minnesota for the next six years, offering him an annual salary of $1.2M with the opportunity for bonuses including a $50,000 bonus for a winning record in conference regular season and a $100,000 bonus for winning the NCAA Tournament.
"I'm extremely excited about this opportunity," Pitino told the Minneapolis media Friday morning. "Minnesota basketball has got one of the best traditions in all of college basketball. It certainly has one of the best home courts as well in Williams Arena, very passionate fan base, a great university and a great conference...I truly believe the sky is the limit here."
First thing on the docket for Pitino is a promise to bring a new up tempo pace of play to the Gophers for this upcoming season, similar to that which his father employs with the Louisville Cardinals.
"Our style of play is going to be one that is fun to watch," Pitino explained. "I think you guys will really enjoy it. It'll be a lot of pressing certainly. We're going to press on every make, 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 something where we put a lot of stock into conditioning, being physically in shape as well as mentally in shape. It's going to be a great brand of basketball."
Pitino comes from the coaching tree of two of college basketball's most successful coaching staffs. Obviously his father Rick Pitino is a legend in the game, but Richard also spent time under the tutelage of Billy Donovan with the Florida Gators.
"When you work under two guys like Billy Donovan and Rick Pitino, you've got to make some decisions," Richard explained. "Those are two legends who do it a little differently. So I had to figure out what worked for me and that was really the biggest obstacle."
After the press conference concluded, Sophomore point guard Andre Hollins joined KFAN and the Paul Allen Show where he shared that Pitino met with the team early Friday morning and claimed that the style he'll be bringing will be specifically be themed after the Louisville defense with a Florida feel on the offensive side of the ball.
"I think kids like to play this style," Pitino said.
Next up for Pitino will be hiring the staff that will accompany him on his journey to rebuild the basketball program. For the most part, that goal starts and stops with recruiting.
While NCAA sanctions do not allow him to discuss specific recruits, Pitino alluded to the talented 2014 class of athletes that are still available for the Gophers (and anybody else) to swoop in and wrap up.
"It's very important when you have a state university like Minnesota to constantly develop relationships within the state the right way," Coach Pitino explained. "We will certainly do our best to recruit all the best players in the country because we've got a lot to be proud of here."
"I am very familiar with the quality of high school basketball, AAU basketball in this state. I know that these guys are going to be well coached and prepared at the college level..."
Looking at next year's of recruits coming out of Minnesota (Tyus Jones, Reid Travis and Rashard Vaughn), Richard may even find himself squaring off head to head with his father and the Louisville Cardinals.
"I am extremely excited to go head to head with my dad [in recruiting]," Richard said. "It's game on the way I look at it! Hopefully he fights fair, but I'm excited. He's one of the best. If I'm not going against him, I sure hope he's helping us as much as possible as well."
Pitino's ties to his father may even yield way for the future of a Minnesota vs. Louisville matchup during non conference play.
Aj Mansour covers the Twins, Vikings, & Gopher Football for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions on this post or others in the designated