College Basketball Nation: Richard Pitino

3-point shot: Next Michigan star

April, 21, 2014
Apr 21

Andy Katz discusses three Big Ten topics: How Michigan's Caris LeVert can be the program's next star, how Minnesota can build from its NIT title and Nebraska's 2014-15 schedule.

MINNEAPOLIS -- It’s eerie, really.

He stalks the sideline like him. When he pauses and folds his arms to survey the action on the floor, he stands just like him.

He enters the postgame press conference following 40 minutes of scrappy play against a nationally ranked opponent and his hair is still slick and neat. His father’s hair also stays flawless throughout the night.

If you close your eyes as he begins to speak, you don’t hear him.

He even sounds like Rick Pitino.

And he coaches through drama like him, too.

As Andre Hollins, his best player, limped to the locker room following a nasty ankle injury he’d suffered on his team’s first possession, Richard Pitino gathered his players and issued a charge.

“He said, ‘Our best player went down, but somebody needs to step up because we’re a team,” Minnesota forward Oto Osenieks said after his squad’s 81-68 victory over No. 9 Wisconsin on Wednesday night. “Players did.”

From that moment, the Gophers outplayed a Wisconsin squad that has now lost three in a row. But the Badgers’ woes -- beginning with another subpar defensive effort inside (Minnesota scored 48 points in the paint) -- were the sidebar.

Pitino dismissed his team’s chief rival at the Barn in his first season, a week after knocking off Ohio State in the same building.

That’s the story.

Minnesota is now an unlikely 4-3 Big Ten team with victories over Ohio State and Wisconsin. Entering the season, an NIT bid seemed reasonable for a squad that had lost all-conference big man Trevor Mbakwe and two other starters. Now, the Gophers are positioned for an NCAA tourney invite and a surprising finish in league play.

[+] EnlargeRichard Pitino
AP Photo/Jim MoneRichard Pitino has quickly turned Minnesota around.
After Wednesday’s win, it’s clear that Pitino is not just rebuilding. He’s hosting a season-long episode of “Pimp My Program.”

Maurice Walker came off the bench and dropped 18 points and nine rebounds. Malik Smith finished with 14. Dre Mathieu added 18 points. And Austin Hollins recorded a second-half dunk that rocked Twitter, the highlight of his 11-point, four-steal effort.

The Gophers shot 59 percent from the field against the typically stingy Badgers. They didn’t miss a free throw (11-for-11). Wisconsin never led.

Andre Hollins witnessed most of the action from the training room. When he rejoined his team on the bench after halftime, he had a boot on his right foot as a result of an injury that won’t be completely diagnosed until a Thursday morning MRI.

Once their top scorer left the court, the Gophers could have crumbled. Probably should have.

Instead, they -- pick the cliché -- pulled together. They regrouped. They overcame the odds.

There’s nothing typical, however, about this program’s rise in Pitino’s first year.

Two years ago, Mathieu, a 5-foot-9 point guard, was a walk-on at Morehead State who ultimately ended up playing for Central Arizona junior college when MSU wouldn’t offer him a scholarship. Smith wasn’t an all-conference player in the Sun Belt last year but he’s a solid presence for Pitino. Walker lost 65 pounds after Pitino told the big man that he’d have a hard time excelling in his up-and-down, pressing system.

There are many overachieving underdogs on this roster.

That’s why there’s a certain swagger that these Gophers boast now. They’ve taken on their coach’s mentality.

“Coach tells us we [have to] be confident,” Mathieu said. “Don’t have an ego but be confident and know that we can play with anybody in this conference if we play hard.”

When he arrived last spring, some wondered if the 31-year-old Pitino could vie in a league with Bo Ryan, Tom Izzo, Thad Matta and other tenured coaches who’ve been in the profession for as long as he’s been alive.

Pitino smiled and talked about how much he respects the coaches in the league when he faced questions about his youth and inexperience -- his one-year stint at Florida International last year was his first head coaching gig -- and whether they could be hindrances.

If he’s anything like his father, then he viewed those doubts as challenges.

Think I’m too young for this? Just wait.

The Gophers can feel that quiet fearlessness. They thrive on it.

If there’s anything that Ohio State and Wisconsin and other programs around the country have proven in recent weeks, however, it’s that winning streaks can be replaced with successive losses. Quickly.

Seasons can turn on one bad week, especially for a squad that could lose its best player for an undetermined stretch.

Pitino is certainly ahead of schedule, though.

“I didn’t have any type of expectations at the beginning of the year just because I really didn’t know what I was getting into at the beginning of the year,” Pitino said. “I do think that we’ve got very good chemistry when things are clicking.”

This start, by all accounts, has superseded what the program’s limits appeared to be when Pitino began this venture last spring.

Maybe he’s building something.

The wins and losses in the coming weeks -- and years -- will ultimately determine that.

But an odd thing happened after Wednesday’s win.

The Gophers hadn’t just defeated any Big Ten team. They’d upset Wisconsin without one of their top players.

The Gophers and Badgers hate one another. Proof?

“I tell people how much I respect [Wisconsin’s] program and Ryan and they look at me like they want to knock me out,” Pitino said.

Given the circumstances, those fans had every right to storm the court. Forget the unofficial rules about what’s proper in those situations.

Their new coach had just completed the best win of his first season, a victory that came against the team that those fans love to beat more than any team in the world. They could have turned the Barn into their afterparty.

But they stood there and cheered. They never left their seats.

Perhaps they didn’t move because Wednesday night’s outcome is slowly becoming the new expectation in Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS -- If he builds it, will players come?

Richard Pitino’s field of dreams is housed in a place that was built more than a decade before World War II. The Barn, completed in the 1920s, is the nostalgic home of Minnesota men’s basketball, a program Pitino agreed to lead last spring.

It’s also a team with a past that is scarred by scandal. The academic mess in the 1990s that erased a Final Four appearance and a Big Ten title from the record books. A rape investigation in the 1980s. Dozens of NCAA violations in the 1970s.

Minnesota won its first NCAA tournament game in more than a decade in March 2013. It hasn’t won a Big Ten championship -- an official conference title, at least -- since 1982.

There’s smeared ink on the Book of Minnesota. Missing chapters, too.

And the only way for Pitino -- and every coach trying to rebuild a Division I program -- to change things is by luring better players to Minneapolis. It’s that easy and that complicated.

Minnesota's 63-60 loss to Michigan on Thursday could have been a positive step for Pitino and his program.

The Gophers outplayed an incomplete Michigan squad for a chunk of the night. Preseason All-American Mitch McGary didn’t play. And sophomore NBA prospect Glenn Robinson III missed most of the second half with an ankle injury.

But that’s when John Beilein turned to Nik Stauskas (14 points, seven assists), Zak Irvin (15 points, 5-for-8 from the 3-point line) and Jon Horford (14 points, nine rebounds). That resilience was a sign of Michigan’s depth and overall quality.

It wasn’t always this way, though.

So Beilein understands Pitino’s position.

Before he had a national title contender and a Wooden Award winner named Trey Burke, he had a team that hadn’t reached the NCAA tournament since 1998. In 2007, Beilein left West Virginia and accepted the charge of reinvigorating a program that had consistently failed to equal the success attained by the Fab Five. Much like Minnesota, Beilein had an old arena and no practice facility. And his chief rival Tom Izzo -- the equivalent of Bo Ryan to Minnesota -- had the edge on local talent.

In his sixth season, however, Beilein guided Michigan to the national championship game with an elite crew. And he boosted his team’s recruiting pipeline, ensuring a bright outlook for the squad.

[+] EnlargeRichard Pitino
AP Photo/Jim MoneMinnesota coach Richard Pitino gestures during the loss to Michigan.
Pitino’s roster lacks the NBA-level athletes and top recruits who anchor Beilein’s roster. That gap was evident in Thursday’s matchup.

When his two NBA prospects, McGary and Robinson, were unavailable against the Gophers, a pair of former top-100 recruits helped the Wolverines thrive.

Although he struggled from the field (1-of-4), freshman Derrick Walton Jr. (30th in the 2013 class, per RecruitingNation) was out there, too.

Only a healthy program can win a Big Ten road game with its two best players sidelined by injuries.

“You don’t think about what you don’t have,” Beilein said.

It helps when the next guy in line is a former McDonald’s All-American nominee (Irvin).

Beilein has two four-star recruits, Kameron Chatman and Ricky Doyle, in his 2014 class, which should allow Beilein to sustain this level of success.

That’s what Pitino wants.

“I think it’s all about patience, to be honest,” Pitino said. “And I know that’s a bad word in sports. I understand that. I think it’s all about recruiting and each class has got to get better than the next. And every player that you bring in, you’ve gotta bring in with great potential. You’ve just gotta stay positive. … We understand that it’s all about recruiting. It really is. All about building that culture.”

Added Beilein: “I think he’s well on his way.”

That’s what separates the best from the rest in this game. Everything starts with talent. It’s natural to talk schemes and coaching and experience when assessing teams and their potential. But it’s more relevant to discuss the role that personnel plays in building a program.

If Pitino doesn’t sign young stars, he won’t transform Minnesota into a Big Ten title contender.

The end.

Beilein faced the same predicament and external hopes when he arrived.

But he had some assistance. Michigan has completed both a renovation of Crisler Arena and the construction of a new practice facility in recent years.

“We recruited pretty good players with pictures,” Beilein said. “It’s the efficiency with which we can operate. We can have guys shoot-around at all times. We’re not juggling with the women’s team. We’re not juggling with other sports. It’s huge that we can just be efficient with our practice times and really get the most of it. … Obviously, it helps in recruiting. It certainly would hurt in recruiting if you don’t have it because everybody else in this league has it. So that’s a big thing.”

Facilities alone don’t guarantee an influx of talent. But they certainly matter.

“You know they’re committed to you,” Stauskas said. “You know with the practice facility they built, it just shows they’re willing to do whatever it takes to help us win. And last year with us going all the way to the national title game, it obviously shows that their investment is starting to pay off.”

There are no shovels in the ground on the Minnesota campus. No bulldozers moving dirt.

The practice facility is only a pipe dream that lacks the funding to become anything more than a fantasy.

The Barn should be torn down and replaced or renovated into a modern facility that is appealing to a new era of recruits that appreciate shiny things. Many supporters, however, view that as a blasphemous idea.

So the Gophers are, in many ways, stuck.

No new facilities. No sizable investment in basketball. Yet, miraculous results will be expected from the team’s backers in the coming years, even if things don’t change for Pitino the way they did for Beilein.

But Pitino doesn’t complain about his circumstances. He doesn’t have to.

Thursday’s Big Ten opener for Michigan and Minnesota told the story of two programs in separate realms.

One team is obviously equipped for the present and prepared for the future.

The other might need some more help just to get off the ground.

The state of the Big Ten

November, 5, 2013

In recent years, the Big Ten has boasted an assembly of athletes who have boosted the league to the top of college basketball’s conference rankings.

Players who could’ve turned pro returned and granted the league a lineup of experienced players who carried their respective squads for multiple seasons. Evan Turner, Trey Burke, Cody Zeller, Draymond Green, Deshaun Thomas, Jared Sullinger, JaJuan Johnson, Tim Hardaway Jr. and others had opportunities to sign NBA contracts a year or two earlier than they did. Instead, they stayed and strengthened their teams and subsequently, the entire conference.

Prior to changes at Minnesota and Northwestern this past offseason, only four of the 12 Big Ten schools (Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Penn State) had changed head coaches in the previous five seasons. That continuity has fueled immense success for a league that has earned 20 total bids in the last three NCAA tournaments.

There are, however, more questions now.

Other than Michigan State, the Big Ten’s membership enters the season possessing promise but also dealing with a rare uncertainty. Michigan and Ohio State return elite talent, but you can’t ignore what both lost from last season. Indiana could blossom behind some youngsters, but how many teams improve after a pair of top-five picks turn pro? A fleet of seniors have left Madison. Iowa is still a “maybe” to many.

Illinois and Purdue? They’ll either surprise or spend the year at the bottom of the league.

Even with four teams cracking the Associated Press’ Top 25 preseason poll, the Big Ten is somewhat of a mystery as this weekend’s tipoff to the 2013-14 season approaches. Still, there’s plenty of hope for many squads in this league.

There’s just a lot we don’t know (yet) about the Big Ten.

The Contenders

[+] EnlargeTom Izzo
AP Photo/Andy ManisTom Izzo has a Michigan State team with enough talent to return to the Final Four.
Michigan State: Tom Izzo has another capable crew in East Lansing this season. Adreian Payne and Keith Appling anchor the Big Ten favorite and national title contender. Gary Harris is a future lottery pick who could campaign for All-American honors. Whenever Izzo has this much talent and experience, his teams usually reach the Final Four.

Michigan: The answer is no. No, the Wolverines won’t replace Wooden Award winner Burke no matter how productive Derrick Walton Jr. is in his freshman season. But John Beilein’s pillars -- Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary -- and his stellar recruits should give Michigan a serious shot at the Big Ten crown.

Ohio State: Somehow, Aaron Craft is still eligible and available to squash the dreams of perimeter players throughout the country. Without Deshaun Thomas, the Buckeyes will probably spread the ball around more than they did last season. But LaQuinton Ross -- assuming we see the same player who lit up the Big Dance a few months ago -- might be the star Thad Matta needs to make a postseason run and snatch another Big Ten crown.

The (Possible) Contenders

Indiana: If exhibitions are to be believed, then Yogi Ferrell has become a more dangerous threat from the field since registering a 45.4 effective field goal percentage last season. That matters, but not as much as the maturation of the rest of the roster does (will). How much production will Noah Vonleh and a bunch of inexperienced youngsters give Tom Crean? We’ll find out soon.

Wisconsin: Say it with me three times: “I will not doubt Wisconsin, I will not doubt Wisconsin, I will not doubt Wisconsin.” Once again, however, there are a few reasons to doubt the Badgers, simply because they’re entering the season without a trio of seniors (Mike Bruesewitz, Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren) who made a major difference last season, and they’re depending on a point guard who's returning from a serious knee injury (Josh Gasser). Sam Dekker and Co. will probably maintain Bo Ryan’s streak of 20-win seasons (10 in a row) and top-four finishes in the Big Ten.

Iowa: The rebuilding phase is over, folks. The Hawkeyes return every meaningful player from a team that won 25 games and finished 9-9 in conference play during the 2012-13 season. It’s time for Iowa to finally make some noise in the Big Ten race and get back to the NCAA tourney. Fran McCaffery has the pieces to achieve both.

The Questionable

Purdue: The last thing Matt Painter needed was a bout of early drama involving young star A.J. Hammons. But that’s exactly what he’s facing after Hammons was recently suspended for three games after violating team rules. If Hammons gets his act together -- it’s always if with him -- the Boilermakers could sneak into the at-large mix.

Illinois: Same for John Groce’s squad. Groce adds eight new faces to the program. This is a much different team compared to the one that reached the NCAA tournament last year. But if Groce can help transfer Rayvonte Rice become the star he was at Drake two seasons ago, Illinois might make a case for another berth.

The Bottom

Minnesota: Richard Pitino has his father’s last name and hair, but nothing resembling the players Rick Pitino used to win the national title with Louisville in April.

Northwestern: Chris Collins is already making strides in recruiting, but he doesn’t have the beef inside to compete in the Big Ten yet.

Nebraska: The Cornhuskers have a new arena, but Tim Miles’ squad has the same problems.

Penn State: Tim Frazier will have to carry a very heavy load. Again.
Transfers seem straightforward. A player leaves one school and attends another, and has to sit out one year before he can play for his new team. Simple, right? Wrong: Even that seemingly structured rule is beset by a score of academic timeline requirements and bureaucratic processes.

A player must receive a written permission-to-contact letter from his current coach. He must have spent a full year in "academic residence" -- i.e., attending classes as a full-time, 12-credit-hours-or-insert-your-school's-equivalency student -- before he is eligible to get back on the court at his new school. There are "4-4" transfers and "2-4" transfers and different rules therein; there are issues involving full, partial, or non-qualifying academic status; and there are waivers and appeals you can make based on specific circumstances that can change the preexisting requirements, just like that.

How dizzying is this stuff? Here's the NCAA's brochure [PDF] for student-athletes interested in learning more about the transfer process. Ostensibly, this document was created to make the rules easy to understand and apply. It is filled with handy little case studies; it even has a glossary of important terms. And if you can read past the third page without help from prescription ADHD medication, well, I'd love to shake your hand. This stuff is brutal.

Which brings us to today's latest transfer news, reported by's Jeff Goodman:

Former Louisville forward Rakeem Buckles, who sat out last season at Florida International, will not be allowed to follow Richard Pitino to Minnesota, multiple sources told ESPN.

Buckles spent three seasons at Louisville and suffered two major knee injuries. He left the Cardinals and sat out last season at FIU, but decided to transfer to Minnesota and apply for a waiver to play immediately because Florida International was hit with a postseason ban by the NCAA for academic issues dating to the Isiah Thomas regime.

As Jeff writes, the surprise here stems from the fact that a player wouldn't be allowed to transfer away from a school that is currently not barred from the NCAA tournament for Academic Progress Rate violations. We've seen a handful of recent players in similar situations move to new schools and be eligible right away (see: Huskies, UConn). One of them is already working out in Minneapolis: Current Gophers guard Malik Smith, also formerly of FIU, transferred to Minnesota and was granted a waiver by the NCAA this summer. He'll play this season, but Buckles won't. Huh?

That's hardly the only confusing recent transfer news. Last week, Kerwin Okoro, a player transferring from Iowa State to Rutgers, was denied a hardship waiver by the NCAA. Okoro appealed to play immediately, as many players in recent seasons have, under the medical or family hardship "legislative relief" exemption (see what I mean?) after losing his New York City-based father and brother in the matter of two months last winter. But Okoro's appeal was denied, which raised red flags out in Rutgers, where the Star-Ledger has tried to divine why so many former Scarlet Knights were granted post-Mike Rice appeals this spring while Okoro, who is entering the program recovering from family tragedy, was not. The key quote from an NCAA spokesman:

"It’s not a formula. It’s not a math problem," NCAA spokesman Christopher Radford said. "The guidelines evolve and we see different circumstances and scenarios, and the guidelines evolve with that to make the process better and more efficient."

This comes amid the Star-Ledger's attempt to explain the transfer hardship/relief/whatever appeals process, and the various NCAA subcommittees each case passes through on each various appeal attempt. It all ends at the desk of the Legislative Council Subcommittee, which "may not even be burdened by the guidelines it has set for the NCAA staff."

"The subcommittee essentially can make whatever decision they think is the appropriate decision as a representative of the membership," Brooks said.

It would seem that Okoro is a textbook case, a player who left New York to play in the Midwest but felt compelled to return when his family suffered not one but two deaths in a brutally short period of time. We've seen plenty of relief appeals granted for far less in recent seasons, and while that may still happen in Okoro's case, it begs the question: What is the difference here? Where are the guidelines? How big is the box? Is it even a box in the first place?

The same goes for Buckles. This is not his first transfer, which changes things, because the NCAA has been concern-trolling about the purportedly destructive nature of player nomadism for years now. By attempting to transfer a second time after just one year at his previous school, Buckles faces a higher burden of academic proof. But even so, the circumstances of the case seem like a no-brainer: A player is leaving a school that is banned from the NCAA tournament and that now no longer even has a scholarship available for him to return to play one last year for his former coach at that coach's new school. And not only was his hope to play right away at Minnesota dashed, he was told he couldn't transfer at all. Maybe that aligns with the NCAA's rules on academic status for transfers. It's hard to know, because the player's privacy is worth protecting. But even if we're talking rules and not "guidelines" … why? Because that would be bad for Buckles? Even though he clearly disagrees? I know, I know, the NCAA is our last societal bastion of early-20th century class patriarchy. But really?

Simplify the transfer rules. Simplify the appeals guidelines. Simplify the rules. This was among NCAA president Mark Emmert's primary goals when he took on the job of representing the NCAA membership, and he has managed to streamline other areas of the rulebook. There are now more straightforward (and strict) punishments for violations, less confusion about texting recruits, no penalties for eating cream cheese, etc. etc. But the transfer rules remain.

There is some movement on this front: Last November, the Division I Legislative Council’s Subcommittee for Legislative Relief (no joke, that's what it's actually called)* changed the guidelines for hardship waiver requests in an effort to make application thereof more consistent. Clearly, that hasn't worked out too well, but it's something -- and indicative of a larger effort to make transfers less of a thorny mess.

In a perfect world, players would have as much personal agency as the men paid handsomely for marshaling their talents. In a perfect world, the NCAA wouldn't need to create 20-page pamphlets to educate students on transfer rules, because those rules would be so simple as to be intuitive. In a perfect world, the NCAA wouldn't feel the need to tell 22-year-old men and women it knows what's better for their academic futures than they do.

We do not live in a perfect world, unfortunately, and some of the above will never happen, at least not as long as the NCAA is still kicking. But the current system is at best poorly misunderstood and at worst irreconcilably broken. Either way, it's time to start over.

*Oh, and while we're at it, can you guys stop naming things the Division I Legislative Council’s Subcommittee for Legislative Relief? Call it the Appeals Group. Rebrand. Football Group. Basketball Group. Rules Group. Investigations Group. Enforcement Group. Whatever.

Rebrand, guys. Communicate simply, clearly, declaratively. It really doesn't have to be this hard.

The words kept coming out of Rick Pitino’s mouth, but it had gotten to the point that they were indiscernible to Mike Balado.

Louisville’s head coach was recalling a story back in the day when he was Boston University’s head coach and was passed over for the Penn State job.

It was an attempt to put what Balado had endured over the previous couple of weeks in perspective, to make the now-unemployed assistant coach feel at peace with his current situation.

“I had no idea where he was going with it,” Balado said. “It was a great story, but I had no idea how it related.”

Balado was all set to go to Minnesota with Richard Pitino after spending last season on his staff at Florida International. Balado wasn’t certain of his role, but the 37-year-old had a standing offer to join the Gophers in some capacity -- most likely as the director of basketball operations. Balado even went to Minnesota for nearly a week, but he was still being pursued by FIU athletic director Pete Garcia to remain in the program with new coach Anthony Evans.

Then came a late-night meeting with Evans the night before his introductory news conference. Balado was under the impression that he had a job offer to remain at FIU as a full-time assistant, and he even informed Pitino that he would be returning to FIU and the Miami area, where he’d spent the majority of his life, and therefore wouldn’t need to uproot his family.

However, after failing to hear anything from Evans for a couple of days, he became concerned and called the younger Pitino in hopes he could still have the director of basketball operations spot. The only issue was that Pitino had moved quickly and already filled the opening with Steve Goodson, a holdover from the Tubby Smith regime.

That’s when Balado had to tell his wife, Alicia, that he was in limbo without a D-I job.

“I was kicking myself for not staying at Minnesota,” Balado said.

“A coach's life is a roller-coaster ride,” Alicia Balado said. “You know what you sign up for, and it’s not always fun. It’s crazy, but I believe in Mike and knew that whatever happened, we’d be fine.”

Balado and his wife have 4-year-old twins. He’s been in the business for about 15 years, with stops at Nova Southeastern, Miami Dade Junior College, Florida Atlantic, High Point and, most recently, FIU.

However, now he was on the verge of taking an assistant job at Division II Barry University in Miami for $18,000 a year and also having to supplement his income as a personal trainer at the local YMCA.

[+] EnlargePitinos
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesRick Pitino (left) came through for a friend of his son Richard, who's now head coach at Minnesota.
Rick Pitino was aware of Balado's situation after hearing of the turn of events from his son. He had heard all about Balado's work ethic, high character and, most of all, unwavering loyalty.

“I was distraught,” Richard said. “It was the most difficult thing I’ve gone through since I’ve gotten into the business.”

So Rick Pitino called Balado and asked him to make the drive to Pitino's Miami home early one April morning.

“I knew what was going to happen,” Richard said. “I just know my dad.”

But Balado and his wife had no clue.

That’s when Pitino began reciting the story, the one in which former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno wooed a young Pitino way back in the early 1980s -- only to be disappointed when he didn’t get the job.

Finally, Pitino got to the point, telling Balado how it all worked out, and how shortly after being spurned by Penn State, Pitino was brought into the NBA by Hubie Brown as an assistant with the New York Knicks.

“Some things happen for a reason,” Pitino told Balado. “Good things sometimes come from misfortune.”

Then he pulled out a trio of $100 bills from his wallet and handed them to Balado, insisting he take his wife out for a nice dinner after the brutal few weeks the couple had recently endured.

Balado politely declined, having too much pride to take charity.

“You can afford it now,” Pitino said. “You’re an assistant coach at Louisville.”

Balado still couldn’t process what Pitino was saying. Here he was on the verge of having to struggle to make ends meet -- and now he was being hired as a full-time assistant with the defending national champions, earning a salary in excess of $200,000.

Balado broke down in tears before calling his wife, a high school teacher.

“I don’t think he thought it was real,” Alicia Balado said.

“He was crying like a baby,” Richard Pitino recalled. “He went from Barry University to Louisville.”

“It was great to be able to do it for someone,” Rick Pitino said. “But I did it because he was the type of person I wanted to hire. I like Mike a lot and know he’s going to be a very good coach at Louisville.”

So instead of spending the July recruiting period trying to identify and persuade Division II players to sign, Balado went on the road to watch high school stars who could help keep Louisville in national title contention.

“I feel like the luckiest guy in the world,” he said. “I’m not naive. I know a lot of people are a lot more qualified than me.

“But I’m going to prove to Coach Pitino every single day that he made the right choice to hire me."
Minnesota center Mo Walker's chuckle exudes pain.

It’s his natural response to questions about the foods he’s ditched to achieve a 50-pound weight loss since the end of the Gophers’ season.

The Lasagna? Gone.

The vanilla ice cream and milkshakes? No more.

The pizza? Well ….

“I’ll have a slice of pizza every now and then,” said Walker, who weighs 260 pounds now after playing at 310 pounds throughout last season. “But it’s usually in the middle of the week when I know I have a few workouts coming up and I can burn off the calories I just ate.”

Walker isn’t perfect but his new body is a testament to his offseason commitment and response to Richard Pitino’s plea.

The new Minnesota coach recently tweeted stunning before and after images of the junior:

Walker credits extra weightlifting sessions, training and a revamped diet.

“I’m going to be able to contribute a lot more,” he said. “I’m going to be able to play more minutes. I’m going to be able to give a lot more effort out there on the court.”

Shortly after Pitino arrived in early April, he told the center that he had to lose weight to play in his system, which emphasizes full court pressure and quick buckets in transition.

With Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams gone, Pitino knew he needed more size. But he also recognized that his small recruiting window would probably result in a roster with limited interior depth. The Gophers only have two true big men, Elliott Eliason and Walker.

And Walker, Pitino believed, couldn’t thrive in his fast-paced style. Not at that size.

“A lot of people were saying ‘He can’t play in your system at that weight,’” Pitino said. “Well, he can’t play in anyone’s system at that weight. He was just too heavy.”

That’s no longer the case.

Walker has lost nearly 100 pounds throughout his career. And now he’s a more mobile and usable forward for a program that needs size more than anything.

He’s certain he can keep the weight off, too.

“A lot of people fall off and cheat every now and then, but I’ve been pretty good with my dieting and watching my carbs and my calories and just working out,” he said.

But weight has been a perennial challenge for Walker.

An scouting report described him as a “mountain disguised as a man” when he was a 270-pound high school senior in 2010.

By the time he reached Minnesota’s campus, he’d hit 326 pounds. He peaked at 346 before a knee injury ended his freshman season, but Walker actually lost weight following surgery.

Then, he went back to Toronto for the summer and it all returned.

“That home cooking,” he said.

Walker decided to stay in Minneapolis this offseason and work with the team’s strength coach on his diet and workouts.

It’s not easy to stay fit on any college campus, where young men usually subscribe to an “eat everything in sight” philosophy.

When Walker’s teammates make fast food runs, he usually stays home. When he joins them, he tries to make healthy choices.

“If I were to go to [a Mexican restaurant], I’d just have to order salad instead of a burrito,” he said. “It’s just picking my spots.”

But that’s only the first phase of the change.

Pitino is excited about the weight loss, but he wants the weight loss to be accompanied by a better player, a stronger player.

That’s the next step, he said.

“I told him just because you lost weight does not mean you’re a great player,” Pitino said.

He is more confident, though. And that’s a good start.

Yet it’s difficult to project a level of growth for a player who averaged just 6.6 minutes per game last year.

The weight, however, will no longer be an obstacle. And he’s proven that he can avoid the temptation that has thrown off his progress in the past.

It’s not exactly a piece of cake for him, though.

“Vanilla ice cream is my favorite thing, milkshakes,” he said. “I love the milkshakes. Pizza is just pizza. I don’t really like it that much. But ice cream’s probably the main [challenge].”
1. Tyus Jones was consistent in his plan of going to school with friend and fellow top-3 ESPN 100 player Jahlil Okafor when I talked to him after our ESPNU coverage of an AAU event Wednesday night at the HP Fieldhouse at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The 6-1 Jones (ranked No. 3) is from Apple Valley High in Minnesota and has a list of Duke, Baylor, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State. Okafor, a 6-10 center from Whitney Young High in Chicago who is rated No. 1 on the ESPN list, has a list of Arizona, Duke, Michigan State, Ohio State, Kansas, Kentucky, Baylor and Illinois. If this happens where both go to the same school it shouldn't be a total shock. This is a new era where the turnover is high at schools, allowing for multiple spots to be open for high-profile players. Kentucky has been able to pull off players who know each other coming together because it has produced multiple early-entrants. And the era of a school not having a scholarship available are over, too. If both of these players wanted to go to a school then that school would make sure there were two spots. Still, for two players, from two different states, to lock in and coordinate recruiting to go together would be quite a coup for the players and the school that can pull this off.

2. UCLA coach Steve Alford is one of many coaches fatigued and irritated by the July recruiting calendar. The three four-plus days on the road and the location of the tournaments have caused coaches -- and players, as well as their families -- to traverse the country multiple times, especially for those located on the West Coast. Alford's schedule in Week 1 was Indianapolis, North Augusta, S.C., and then Los Angeles. His second weekend was back to the East Coast to Washington D.C., then Milwaukee, Dallas and back to Los Angeles. He started this week in Orlando on Wednesday and will end in Las Vegas and then Los Angeles. Alford said he'd like to see two seven-day periods with one break in the middle. He is not alone.

3. Minnesota got FIU's Malik Smith to transfer and play for Richard Pitino. Smith was cleared to play immediately. But the case of FIU's Rakeem Buckles isn't as simple. Buckles is headed to Minnesota and with the FIU APR ban he shouldn't have an issue playing immediately. Buckles still has to get eligible. He's currently finishing classes at FIU and can't get a waiver to play immediately until he leaves FIU in good academic standing. Pitino needs as many experienced bodies as possible. Buckles transferred to FIU from Louisville where Richard Pitino was an assistant to his father, Rick.

Bracket reveal: Maui Invitational

July, 17, 2013
Editor's note: Over two days, we're releasing the brackets/matchups for 11 of the top early-season events. A thread of previews and info for all 11 tourneys can be found here.

Tournament bracket for the EA Sports Maui Invitational

When and where: Nov. 25-27 at the Lahaina Civic Center in Maui, Hawaii

Initial thoughts: The 2012 EA Sports Maui Invitational will be tough to top.

Chaminade’s stunning annihilation of Texas ... Rotnei Clarke’s buzzer-beater to lift Butler past Marquette ... North Carolina’s uncharacteristic display of mediocrity ... Illinois players hoisting the championship trophy after winning three games by an average of 23.3 points. Each game brought a new storyline.

This year’s event could provide similar drama. Although there is only one preseason top-10 team (Syracuse) in the bracket, the 2013 field is far from weak. Gonzaga spent time as the nation’s No. 1 team last season, Cal and Minnesota made the NCAA tournament, and Baylor won the NIT championship.

Each of those teams (with Baylor being the possible exception) should take a small step back this season, but all of them will still be solid and contend for NCAA tournament berths. In other words, there’s not a dud in this bunch, which leads me to believe that almost every game in this year’s event will be entertaining and competitive.

[+] EnlargeAndre Hollins
Kevin Jairaj/US PresswireMinnesota will be counting on Andre Hollins to provide a scoring punch again this season.
Matchup I can’t wait to see: Minnesota vs. Syracuse. Event organizers couldn’t ask for anything better than a first-round game pitting two of the biggest names in coaching: Pitino and Boeheim. Ha-ha. Gotcha. This isn’t Hall of Famer Rick Pitino we’re talking about. Instead it’ll be his son, Richard, coaching for Minnesota against Jim Boeheim’s Orange. Richard is in his first season with the Gophers after being plucked from Florida International to replace Tubby Smith. Minnesota lost two of its best players (forwards Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams) to graduation, but guards Austin Hollins and Andre Hollins return in the backcourt and may be able to make this game competitive, especially since Syracuse is replacing a few key parts as well.

Potential matchup I’d like to see: Baylor vs. Gonzaga. Baylor shouldn’t have any problems beating Chaminade in the opening round and advancing to the semifinals against either Gonzaga or Dayton. The Flyers are always pesky, but I still think Gonzaga wins that game. Baylor and Gonzaga have faced off in two of the past three seasons, with Gonzaga winning both times by single digits. But I’d pick the Bears in this one. The Zags lost their top two post players (Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris), and Baylor’s strength is in the paint with Cory Jefferson, Isaiah Austin, Ricardo Gathers, Taurean Prince and Royce O’Neale. Gonzaga boasts one of the country’s top point guards in Kevin Pangos while Baylor is searching for a replacement at that position following the graduation of Big 12 scoring leader Pierre Jackson. Still, Baylor’s overall depth in the backcourt is strong with experienced players such as Brady Heslip and Gary Franklin there to guide newcomers like Ishmail Wainright, Kenny Chery and Allerik Freeman.

Five players to watch

Justin Cobbs, Cal: Transfers are hit and miss, but things couldn’t have worked out any better when Cobbs left Minnesota for Cal a few years ago. The athletic guard averaged 15.1 points and 4.8 assists a game as a junior last season. He’ll be asked to do even more following the departure of leading scorer Allen Crabbe to the NBA.

Tyler Ennis, Syracuse: Returning standouts C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant are more recognizable names, but no player in the Maui Invitational will be under as much scrutiny as Ennis, the freshman point guard who has been tabbed to replace NBA lottery pick Michael Carter-Williams. How Syracuse fares in the ACC and, ultimately, the postseason will depend heavily on how Ennis performs in his first season of college basketball.

Andre Hollins, Minnesota: Hollins led the Gophers in scoring last season with 14.6 points per game. His 41-point effort in a victory over Memphis in the Battle 4 Atlantis was one of the top performances in college basketball all season. He should combine with Austin Hollins (no relation) to give Minnesota one of the more formidable backcourts in the Maui field. The biggest issue for the Gophers will be finding scoring down low.

Cory Jefferson, Baylor: The Bears power forward is fresh off a breakthrough season in which he averaged 13.3 points and eight rebounds a game. Jefferson was particularly effective in the postseason, when he averaged 21.2 points over a five-game stretch to lead Baylor to the NIT championship. The freakishly athletic Jefferson will combine with the 7-foot Austin and a bruiser in Gathers to give Baylor one of the nation’s top frontcourts.

Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga: A point guard, Pangos ranked third on the Zags in scoring last season with 11.9 points per game and averaged a team-high 3.3 assists. He shot just 42 percent from the field, a number that will need to increase this season. The loss of leading scorers Olynyk and Harris (who combined to average 32.4 PPG) means that Pangos will likely be asked to score at a higher rate.

Title game prediction: Syracuse over Baylor

Baylor has the size, depth, talent and experience to hang with Syracuse, and winning the championship of such an elite tournament would be a huge momentum boost for a squad loaded with potential. Syracuse, though, is an incredibly difficult team to prepare for on short notice because of its unorthodox style. Even though they lost Carter-Williams, James Southerland and Brandon Triche, the Orange aren’t short on experience, depth or talent either. Fair averaged a team-high 14.5 points and seven rebounds a game for a team that reached the Final Four last spring. Grant showed flashes of brilliance when his minutes increased during Southerland’s suspension, and DaJuan Coleman, Rakeem Christmas and Baye Keita are poised for breakthrough seasons. They’ve proved they can excel at the highest level. Look for Syracuse to win an entertaining championship game.

Who others are picking:

Eamonn Brennan: Baylor over Syracuse
Jeff Goodman: Gonzaga over Syracuse
Andy Katz: Syracuse over Gonzaga
Myron Medcalf: Syracuse over Baylor
Dana O'Neil: Syracuse over Baylor
Weight has been a challenge for Minnesota center Maurice Walker throughout his career.

The 6-foot-10 big man weighed 340 pounds when he reached the Minneapolis campus in 2010. But he was a fluid post presence despite his size. He had some unique tools for a freshman center.

But the weight was clearly an issue. Still, he became a semi-reliable contributor for Tubby Smith’s squad as the pounds began to fall off his frame midway through his debut season.

Everything changed when he tore his posterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in a December nonconference matchup against South Dakota State. Walker missed the rest of that season and all of 2011-12 as he recovered.

That’s when the weight came back. Walker averaged just 6.6 minutes per game in 2012-13.

Once Richard Pitino was hired as coach in April, Walker’s role in a system that thrives on speed and stamina was questioned due to the new coach’s emphasis on creating offense through full court pressure.

[+] EnlargeMaurice Walker
AP Photo/Jim MoneMinnesota center Maurice Walker, seen here in March, has reportedly lost 40 pounds this offseason.
Walker, however, viewed the change as a challenge.

Per Star Tribune columnist Chip Scoggins, the Canadian center has already lost more than 40 pounds in the offseason:
Not long after the Gophers introduced Richard Pitino as their new men’s basketball coach, rumors began to circulate that an unnamed player intended to seek his scholarship release and transfer to another program.

My gut reaction was, “Wonder where Maurice Walker will end up?”

It didn’t require much deductive reasoning to determine that Big Mo appeared ill-fitted for Pitino’s breakneck brand of basketball. At 310 pounds, Walker looked out of shape manning the low post in Tubby Smith’s plodding offense. How in the world would he ever survive in Pitino’s run-and-gun system? That’s like asking a pontoon to keep pace with speed boats. A change in scenery seemed inevitable.

In a touch of irony, the player who transferred -- Joe Coleman -- might have been the team’s best athlete. As for Walker, he decided to stick it out and make some life changes.

“Once I heard Pitino, I was really excited,” he said.

And then they met for the first time. Pitino has made Walker’s weight a standard quip in his public speeches, and he didn’t mince words in offering a blunt critique of his 6-10 junior center.

“[He said] it’s going to take a lot of work to get into shape and that I’m a long ways from where I need to be,” Walker said.

He’s still not there yet, but Walker has lost nearly 40 pounds through diet and fitness training. Noticeably slimmer, he hopes to lose an additional 15 to 20 pounds and enter next season around 255.

As someone who showed up on campus as a freshman weighing 340 pounds, Walker believes his career will follow a different arc with these changes to his body.

“Looking back at it now, I should have done this a long time ago,” he said.

A coaching change provided the necessary push, but Walker’s new outlook likely stems from a recognition that he was wasting an opportunity. He was either injured or too overweight to be considered anything but an intriguing unknown his first three years, including a redshirt season. His size became nothing more than a tease because he lacked the quickness and stamina to maintain anything.

Pitino needs Walker, and anyone else he can find, to boost his interior depth.

Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams are gone.

Elliott Eliason is the only player on Minnesota's roster who is 6-10 or taller.

It appears, however, that Walker recognizes the contribution he could make on this season's squad. He has lost 70 pounds since 2010. And he’s determined to lose even more so he can help a Gophers team missing multiple pieces.
1. New American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco relished the moment Monday night as one of his teams -- for this season and, yes, for next -- won a national title. He was guaranteed of another heading into the women's final Tuesday night, which featured American-bound current Big East teams Louisville and Connecticut. It is true that Louisville is heading to the ACC in the fall of 2014. But that won't keep the league from celebrating the titles this fall. The old Big East guard is trying to brand the new league as the American rather than as the AAC. Aresco doesn't want the acronym used if possible.

2. Memphis coach Josh Pastner said he gave Tarik Black a Tuesday deadline to decide if he wanted to stay with the Tigers. He did not, even though he was graduating. "I want guys to be here with enthusiasm to be here,'' said Pastner. Black will transfer and try to play immediately next season. The Tigers also lost Adonis Thomas, who is declaring for the NBA draft. But the American-bound Tigers have one of the top recruiting classes in the country. "(Black) is a good guy and I wish him the very best. He graduated," Pastner said. "But we'll be fine. We're still really talented. We've got the main corps and we've got the No. 2 recruiting class.''

3. I had new Minnesota coach Richard Pitino on "Katz Korner" on Tuesday and I was struck by his confidence. Pitino is just like his father in that regard. Pitino had no hesitation in taking the Minnesota job once offered. Now, one would assume that no one coaching at Florida International would turn that down. But Pitino definitely has the confidence that he will win. Pitino's hire was overshadowed by the events of last week; now he's got to get into the grind of the new job. He was on the Georgia Dome floor Monday night after the NCAA title game, spent the post-game hours with his dad -- Rick, head coach of the champion Louisville Cardinals -- and said they didn't get to bed until 5 a.m. before Richard was up at 7 a.m. Richard Pitino now must spend his time wisely, re-recruiting the local players and trying to make inroads with a stellar underclassman crew in the state of Minnesota.

Andy Katz with Louisville's Rick Pitino

April, 4, 2013

Louisville coach Rick Pitino discusses his team's road to the Final Four and son Richard's hiring at Minnesota.

1. The NCAA's random date of April 16 to declare for the NBA draft isn't pressuring a number of players into making quick decisions. Coaches are now savvy to the date as being meaningless. That's why Gonzaga's Kelly Olynyk may wait to decide until the NBA's own early-entry deadline of April 28. Olynyk is probably going to be the same player in the NBA whether he declares next season or this. He is a Wooden All-America and, if he were to return, would be one of the contenders for player of the year. Missouri's Phil Pressey is also weighing a similar decision over the next few weeks. A number of players haven't outlined their intentions but have plenty of time, like Miami's Shane Larkin, Kansas' Ben McLemore, Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart, Georgetown's Otto Porter, Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas, Syracuse's C.J. Fair and Michael Carter-Williams, Louisville's Russ Smith as well as Indiana's Cody Zeller. Cal's Allen Crabbe joined the list of draftees earlier Wednesday. I fully expect Indiana's Victor Oladipo, Louisville's Gorgui Dieng, UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad and Michigan's Trey Burke to declare soon. No official word out of Connecticut, but the staff is anticipating -- at this point -- that guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright will return (smart move if it happens, since they don't have an NBA home to go to next season).

2. The Big Ten suddenly got incredibly younger with this week's two coaching hires -- Northwestern announcing Chris Collins and Minnesota tabbing Richard Pitino. The under-40 club will give the league a new look. The two take over programs that are striving for consistency, but both desperately need an upgrade in facilities to hang with the big boys. Collins and Pitino will need to use their youthful enthusiasm to build momentum since the dollars aren't in place for facilities they were used to -- Collins was at Duke and Pitino at Louisville and Florida before his stop at Florida International. Northwestern had been looking at Collins for quite some time. But Pitino was clearly a new name for Minnesota in the past week as athletic director Norwood Teague looked for an off-the-grid-type hire like he made at Virginia Commonwealth. Pitino got off to an impressive start in his coaching career at FIU with the upset of Middle Tennessee in the Sun Belt tournament and a chance to earn the league's automatic NCAA tournament berth. Now he'll face his toughest challenge of his career. He has a brand name in basketball, which carries weight, but will need to put together a strong staff to quickly earn the trust of his players this spring and summer. This can work at both places. Memphis, for example, has been a soaring success under Josh Pastner. Pastner led the Tigers to conference titles and NCAA tournament appearances as a young, vibrant assistant-turned-head-coach of a major program. Collins was a fit at Northwestern so there's no issue there. But give Pitino a chance to see if this could work.

3. Old Dominion looked like it was set to go to former Western Kentucky and Georgia coach Dennis Felton before the Monarchs and athletic director Wood Selig tabbed American's Jeff Jones. This hire came out of left field, but might end up being one of the better fits. Jones played and coached at Virginia and should be able to recruit well in the fertile Tidewater area. Jones had made American a consistent Patriot League contender, which isn't easy to do in a conference where Bucknell and Lehigh are the anchors. ODU knows who it is and wanted to gravitate toward a coach that made sense. This hire does.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Hello, Richard Pitino (the folks around here will obviously call you Coach Pitino now).

I’d like to welcome you to Minnesota.

I’ve been in this state for more than a decade. And I covered the first four years of the Tubby Smith Era at the Star Tribune prior to my current tenure as a national college basketball writer with

I think the Gophers made a good decision when they hired you on Wednesday. Honestly.

They clearly swung for the fences in the first few days of the search, but I always figured that they’d ultimately land an up-and-coming mid-major coach or assistant. A “Shaka Smart move.” And why not go with a guy who learned the game from the only coach in Division I history to lead three different programs to the Final Four?

Yes, you have a last name and a father that local recruits will recognize. But you’re more established than most probably realize, too. You’re young (30), but you come to Minneapolis with an impressive set of accomplishments for a guy who won’t turn 31 until the fall.

You were a high school assistant for St. Andrew’s School (Barrington, R.I.) when you were a team manager at Providence. You’ve been an assistant under your father and Billy Donovan. And Rick Pitino’s coaching tree has produced other young coaching stars over the years: Smart, Donovan, Anthony Grant and more. You could be next in line.

[+] EnlargeRichard Pitino
AP Photo/Timothy D. EasleyRichard Pitino will try to turn Minnesota into a serious Big Ten title contender for the first time since the late 1990s.
Last month, you led Florida International to a win over favored Middle Tennessee State in the Sun Belt tournament before suffering a loss to Western Kentucky in the title game. So you nearly took the Golden Panthers (18-14) to the NCAA tournament a year after they finished 8-21? That’s a solid debut for any head coach.

You have the individual tools to win at Minnesota. You have the energy to overhaul a program that hasn’t been a Big Ten threat since the late ’90s. And those years … well, I’ll let someone else explain the Gophers basketball chapter that’s no longer acknowledged by the NCAA.

But there’s talent in these parts. Tyus Jones and Rashad Vaughn, a pair of Twin Cities residents, are both ranked in the top 10 of’s rankings for the class of 2014.

That’s the good. Now … the truth.

You’ll struggle to win at Minnesota unless you get more support from the university.

This is a school that currently plays in a building that was built in the 1920s. Seriously.

That practice facility that administrators are probably promising you right now? Well, athletic director Norwood Teague's predecessors told Tubby Smith they’d build one for him, too. That was 2007.

Your Big Ten peers have the ability to make multiple recruiting stops around the country and still get home in time for dinner. You might be at the airport with the rest of us. Smith took a chunk of his recruiting trips on commercial flights.

Yes, they’re just extras. Some coaches go without them. But Tom Izzo, Thad Matta and Tom Crean do not. And those are the men that you’ll have to out-coach, out-recruit (regionally, at least) and outwork to push Minnesota toward the top of the league in the future.

To do that you’ll need the University of Minnesota to invest in your program. I’m talking millions.

The practice facility would be a great start. It would help the squad lure recruits locally and nationally. How? Kids like nice things. Shiny things. It’s simple, really.

I’m sure fans here will sell you on the Barn’s “nostalgia.” But the young players you will covet here and around the country listen to 2 Chainz and watch movies on their smartphones. The only history they know is recent history, which says Minnesota hasn’t been a true threat in the Big Ten or nationally in a long time.

And I don’t think X’s and O’s alone will change that, regardless of your talent and knowledge. You’ll need Teague and alumni in the area to put more money into college basketball so you can attract the brand of talented prospects who’ve elevated your father’s programs in the past.

I’m not saying it will happen today. But it’s necessary moving forward.

Being in the Big Ten is one thing. Being in the Big Ten as the guy who’s waiting for a 5 p.m. flight, while Izzo and Matta are zipping around the country on private jets, is another.

The good news is people like to invest in sports in the Twin Cities. There’s a beautiful hockey arena (Xcel Energy Center) in St. Paul. Target Field, home of the Twins, is one of the most intimate venues in Major League Baseball. And across the street from your new home, there’s the $300 million TCF Bank Stadium for Gophers football. Maybe the people who wrote the checks for the latter venue will find a few million to build a practice facility for the Gophers.

It might save you some embarrassment. I remember the day when the participants of an all-state gymnastics meet poured into Williams Arena during a pregame media gathering with Smith and his team. The leader of the meet blasted the music and refused to turn it down even after Smith asked for a few more minutes. Nope. We all had to move, coaches included. The young gymnasts stayed.

That’s the kind of stuff you deal with when you don’t have a practice facility.

Perhaps Teague has a plan to change the circumstances.

Without a plan -- a plan that involves a multimillion dollar boost for college basketball at the University of Minnesota -- you might wish you were back at Florida International in a few years.

You can’t do this alone. Trust me.

Video: Louisville 79, Florida Int. 55

December, 19, 2012

Rick Pitino gets a win against his son, Richard, as Louisville tops Florida International.