Commentary

Richard Pitino is good choice for FIU

Updated: April 16, 2012, 11:00 AM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

I hate to see any coach lose his job. Down at Florida International, I don't think they gave Isiah Thomas enough time to build the program. He was there for three years and was about to turn the corner with good talent returning and a class of newcomers coming in. He got the ziggy from athletic director Pete Garcia.

That said, when a change is made, somebody has to take over. I think that FIU made a good decision in hiring its new coach, Richard Pitino. I have known this young man for a while and I feel he is ready for the opportunity. He is the son of Rick Pitino and has worked hard at basketball camps and clinics, preparing for this chance.

He has been around basketball since he was in diapers. Richard Pitino is ready for a head coaching position at age 29. Remember, his dad first served as a head coach at age 26 at Boston University. He eventually led the Terriers to the NCAA tournament.

Richard understands basketball and the mentality of current players. He has worked under the tutelage of pretty big names: his dad, Rick, at Louisville, as well as Billy Donovan at Florida. Those are two good guys to learn from. He also gained experience as an assistant at Duquesne.

This past season, he was working with a team that made the Final Four as Louisville won the Big East tournament and made a strong run at the big dance.

Isiah Thomas built the foundation with a good class coming in. There was some potential last year with a win over George Mason and a close loss to Maryland. Now Pitino hopes to take FIU to a higher level. The school is capable of making some noise in the Sun Belt. The program can do fairly well within the conference. Don't be surprised if he gets this program going and taking advantage of this opportunity.

I know one thing. He is prepared for this chance as he has been around the game in a number of capacities. He is ready to be his own boss and run his own program.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.