STrib: Richard Pitino and the Gophers. What went wrong? The short answer: Missteps in recruiting and a lack of player development.

BleedGopher

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per STrib:

Fresh off of reporting that Gophers players took Richard Pitino's postgame comments after a loss Saturday to Nebraska as a sign that his coaching tenure is about to end, Marcus Fuller joins Michael Rand for a breakdown of what has gone wrong during Pitino's eight seasons.

The short answer: Missteps in recruiting and a lack of player development left the Gophers without much depth, a story that played out again this season down the stretch.


Go Gophers!!
 

Otis

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Whoever posted his track record with incoming Freshmen nailed it! Just not enough production there. It seems like you can list three bad signings for every good signing with Pitino.
 

Some guy

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Whoever posted his track record with incoming Freshmen nailed it! Just not enough production there. It seems like you can list three bad signings for every good signing with Pitino.
I know the world of college basketball is changing...

but I have to believe 4 year guys have to be the basis for a consistent program. Even Kentucky is having a bad year without good 4 year guys running through the ranks.

Murphy, Mason, Gabe K, who else?

coffey and oturu leaving early through no fault of pitino’s and credit to him.

But freshmen recruiting simply had to be deeper.
If you can count on two hands the number of good freshman recruits who panned out over an 8 year period....dang
 

Otis

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I know the world of college basketball is changing...

but I have to believe 4 year guys have to be the basis for a consistent program. Even Kentucky is having a bad year without good 4 year guys running through the ranks.

Murphy, Mason, Gabe K, who else?

coffey and oturu leaving early through no fault of pitino’s and credit to him.

But freshmen recruiting simply had to be deeper.
If you can count on two hands the number of good freshman recruits who panned out over an 8 year period....dang
Macbrayer

But then you have:
Dorsey
Washington - 2 years
Martin
McNeil
Gaston - 4 years
Bakary - 4 years
Fitzgerald - 3 years
Johnson - Not anyone's fault though.
Hurt - 4 years
Omersa - 3 years
Mutaf

I'm not listing any current players.

That's a lot of scholarship years for very little production.
 

cjbfbp

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I know the world of college basketball is changing...

but I have to believe 4 year guys have to be the basis for a consistent program. Even Kentucky is having a bad year without good 4 year guys running through the ranks.

Kentucky is not a good example of your theory. Calipari has a .786 winning percentage in his 12 years there. He's had one losing season (this year) and another where the team did not make the NCAA tournament but still finished 21-12 and 12-6 in the SEC. They've been to the tournament 10 times in 12 years and he has 4 final fours and one national championship to show for those trips. If that's an example of an unsustainable program, then my guess is that 98% of the fan bases would be pleased with that level of instability.
 

cjbfbp

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As I have said:

He doesn't recruit well enough to overcome his coaching. And he doesn't coach well enough to overcome his recruiting.

I love that line, of course, but I tend to lean a little more heavily on the coaching flaws (said another way: What does he do with players once he gets them?). Bad Gopher once said that he thought Pitino recruited a little better than one might expect given his lack of accomplishments. After 8 years, I tend to agree. Sure, he's not a great recruiter and has had multiple busts but I think he could have gotten a hell of a lot more over the years from some of the players he recruited.
 

cjbfbp

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Macbrayer

But then you have:
Dorsey
Washington - 2 years
Martin
McNeil
Gaston - 4 years
Bakary - 4 years
Fitzgerald - 3 years
Johnson - Not anyone's fault though.
Hurt - 4 years
Omersa - 3 years
Mutaf

I'm not listing any current players.

That's a lot of scholarship years for very little production.

Good list but I can think of a few omissions: Ahmad Gilbert (2 years), Jamir Harris (one year), and Bryan Greenlee (1 year). Gilbert still wasn't very good even after he stepped down a level (he eventually finished his career at an NAIA school) but the other two have performed well at their transfer schools. Pitino talked about how good of a shooter Harris was when he recruited him. Harris has been a .399 and .450 three point point shooter in his two years at American. He wasn't bad during his freshman year here (.346 - good for 4th on the team among rotation players). We definitely could have used a good three point shooter this year.
 

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Maybe in the NBA you don't need to play defense and you can just try to score more points than the other team, since everyone is a great shooter. But apparently, in college basketball, defense is what builds programs. (that's a basketball lay person just throwing that against the wall, maybe part of it sticks, maybe not).

Pitino I guess just did not want to do that.
 

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I know the world of college basketball is changing...

but I have to believe 4 year guys have to be the basis for a consistent program. Even Kentucky is having a bad year without good 4 year guys running through the ranks.

Murphy, Mason, Gabe K, who else?

coffey and oturu leaving early through no fault of pitino’s and credit to him.

But freshmen recruiting simply had to be deeper.
If you can count on two hands the number of good freshman recruits who panned out over an 8 year period....dang
Yup.

That is why I like guys like Freeman, Tre, Ihnen. ALWAYS a spot for that type of player, imo.
 

Otis

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Good list but I can think of a few omissions: Ahmad Gilbert (2 years), Jamir Harris (one year), and Bryan Greenlee (1 year). Gilbert still wasn't very good even after he stepped down a level (he eventually finished his career at an NAIA school) but the other two have performed well at their transfer schools. Pitino talked about how good of a shooter Harris was when he recruited him. Harris has been a .399 and .450 three point point shooter in his two years at American. He wasn't bad during his freshman year here (.346 - good for 4th on the team among rotation players). We definitely could have used a good three point shooter this year.
Nice catches
 

cjbfbp

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Maybe in the NBA you don't need to play defense and you can just try to score more points than the other team, since everyone is a great shooter. But apparently, in college basketball, defense is what builds programs. (that's a basketball lay person just throwing that against the wall, maybe part of it sticks, maybe not).

Pitino I guess just did not want to do that.

Actually, when the playoffs come around, NBA teams often play killer defense. You have to remember that they play an 82 game season (in normal years) followed by a lot of playoff games (potentially). Let's just say that they practice a little of "pacing themselves" during the regular season.
 

MplsGopher

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Actually, when the playoffs come around, NBA teams often play killer defense. You have to remember that they play an 82 game season (in normal years) followed by a lot of playoff games (potentially). Let's just say that they practice a little of "pacing themselves" during the regular season.
Why doesn't/didn't Pitino ever emphasize getting good shots on offense (which from what I've read on here means that you need to, you know, pass the ball around and run plays), and playing tough defense?

Seems like the obvious things you would want to do? Or do they just play differently in different conferences? ACC? I don't watch much college bball outside of the Gophers.

Or is that not correct?
 

Otis

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Actually, when the playoffs come around, NBA teams often play killer defense. You have to remember that they play an 82 game season (in normal years) followed by a lot of playoff games (potentially). Let's just say that they practice a little of "pacing themselves" during the regular season.
4th quarters are generally playoff level basketball as well
 

cjbfbp

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Why doesn't/didn't Pitino ever emphasize getting good shots on offense (which from what I've read on here means that you need to, you know, pass the ball around and run plays), and playing tough defense?

Seems like the obvious things you would want to do? Or do they just play differently in different conferences? ACC? I don't watch much college bball outside of the Gophers.

Or is that not correct?

I'm not an authority but my impressions when watching other top conferences (I've rarely watched the PAC 12) is that at least the ACC and even more the Big 12 feature a more wide open style of play than the Big Ten. The Big Ten clearly is a tough, defensive, half-court league. I always roll my eyes when someone suggests that a new coach is going to install a more wide open running offense in this league. No one let's you play that way in this conference and, if they did, the more talented teams likely would beat you at it anyway. This conference is ideal for Bo Ryan type teams which is why he was so successful despite usually have less recruiting talent than the other top contenders.

I think a number of Pitino teams have been pretty fair on the defensive end for at least the first half of the season (as we know, most of his teams have had a tendency to falter in the latter half of the season and crumble on both ends eventually when that happens). His bigger problems have been on the offensive end: too little ball and player movement, too much dribbling by ball dominant guards, a lot of pick and roll where the roller rarely gets the ball (unless it's a good or competent center like Oturu or Robbins), too many unreliable outside shooters, and too many players who lack offensive confidence because they haven't been well integrated into the offense. Some of these traits result in what seems to be more than our fair share of bad shots at the end of the shot clock.
 

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I'm not an authority but my impressions when watching other top conferences (I've rarely watched the PAC 12) is that at least the ACC and even more the Big 12 feature a more wide open style of play than the Big Ten. The Big Ten clearly is a tough, defensive, half-court league. I always roll my eyes when someone suggests that a new coach is going to install a more wide open running offense in this league. No one let's you play that way in this conference and, if they did, the more talented teams likely would beat you at it anyway. This conference is ideal for Bo Ryan type teams which is why he was so successful despite usually have less recruiting talent than the other top contenders.

I think a number of Pitino teams have been pretty fair on the defensive end for at least the first half of the season (as we know, most of his teams have had a tendency to falter in the latter half of the season and crumble on both ends eventually when that happens). His bigger problems have been on the offensive end: too little ball and player movement, too much dribbling by ball dominant guards, a lot of pick and roll where the roller rarely gets the ball (unless it's a good or competent center like Oturu or Robbins), too many unreliable outside shooters, and too many players who lack offensive confidence because they haven't been well integrated into the offense. Some of these traits result in what seems to be more than our fair share of bad shots at the end of the shot clock.
Michigan State has made a living by running and getting easy baskets when they have opportunities. They're smart enough to not believe the hype that you can't run the floor in this conference. You just have to pick your spots.
 

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I don't even necessarily have a huge problem with Pitino's recruits. I think if a lot of these guys played for Michigan St, Wisconsin, Illinois, Purdue, etc. they'd be fine players. Heck, a lot are fine players here.

The issue with Pitino is he either develops a very poor game plan or he has ZERO ability to change a plan when it isn't working. The team would just keep trying the same exact thing over and over again and work right into what the other coach and team were trying to make us do. This is why we not only lost so many games but got destroyed.

Our players aren't all 5* NBA recruits...I'm not saying that, but they are serviceable to good Big Ten caliber guys (at least the ones that see valuable minutes). With a very good game plan, good execution, and the ability to change what isn't working during the game this team that is currently so terrible could be a top 5 or 6 team in the Big Ten this year.
 

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Michigan State has made a living by running and getting easy baskets when they have opportunities. They're smart enough to not believe the hype that you can't run the floor in this conference. You just have to pick your spots.

Correct. And this is where the guard play here has hurt for years. We just rarely have guards that play smart. Add to that, they can't shoot and you end up in the position we are in.
 

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I don't even necessarily have a huge problem with Pitino's recruits. I think if a lot of these guys played for Michigan St, Wisconsin, Illinois, Purdue, etc. they'd be fine players. Heck, a lot are fine players here.

The issue with Pitino is he either develops a very poor game plan or he has ZERO ability to change a plan when it isn't working. The team would just keep trying the same exact thing over and over again and work right into what the other coach and team were trying to make us do. This is why we not only lost so many games but got destroyed.

Our players aren't all 5* NBA recruits...I'm not saying that, but they are serviceable to good Big Ten caliber guys (at least the ones that see valuable minutes). With a very good game plan, good execution, and the ability to change what isn't working during the game this team that is currently so terrible could be a top 5 or 6 team in the Big Ten this year.

I also think he is very poor at player development throughout his roster, one of the worst coaches I've seen on that dimension actually. He's like a teacher who can only succeed with a class full of A students.
 

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I don't even necessarily have a huge problem with Pitino's recruits. I think if a lot of these guys played for Michigan St, Wisconsin, Illinois, Purdue, etc. they'd be fine players. Heck, a lot are fine players here.

The issue with Pitino is he either develops a very poor game plan or he has ZERO ability to change a plan when it isn't working. The team would just keep trying the same exact thing over and over again and work right into what the other coach and team were trying to make us do. This is why we not only lost so many games but got destroyed.

Our players aren't all 5* NBA recruits...I'm not saying that, but they are serviceable to good Big Ten caliber guys (at least the ones that see valuable minutes). With a very good game plan, good execution, and the ability to change what isn't working during the game this team that is currently so terrible could be a top 5 or 6 team in the Big Ten this year.
There were some recruits (Gaston stands out) as HUH??? recruits but overall we have had fine recruits. My issue is Pitino has not developed ANYONE that i can remember. I watch other games and you seemingly always see the "Freshman year 2.5 ppg, Soph 6.9 JR 18.7 points!" I honestly cannot think of one player who has consistently gotten better under Pitino. My first thought was McBrayer but after 11.1 points his soph year he went back to 8 ppg his last 2 years and his shooting got consistently worse. Can anyone think of any player that over 4 years got better? Mason maybe? His scoring went up but his shooting never got better, it was more of a volume thing. Oturu took a leap his 2nd year for sure. But to me that has been the most glaring weakness of Pitino. He whines about injuries, YAH BECAUSE YOU SUCK AT DEVELOPING A BENCH! I get it, guys like Hurt, Fitzgerald, Ihnen, Greenlee arent all-americans and wont give you a ton year 1 or 2 but if they could come in to games and be productive in their 3rd and 4th years that would certainly help.
 

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There were some recruits (Gaston stands out) as HUH??? recruits but overall we have had fine recruits. My issue is Pitino has not developed ANYONE that i can remember. I watch other games and you seemingly always see the "Freshman year 2.5 ppg, Soph 6.9 JR 18.7 points!" I honestly cannot think of one player who has consistently gotten better under Pitino. My first thought was McBrayer but after 11.1 points his soph year he went back to 8 ppg his last 2 years and his shooting got consistently worse. Can anyone think of any player that over 4 years got better? Mason maybe? His scoring went up but his shooting never got better, it was more of a volume thing. Oturu took a leap his 2nd year for sure. But to me that has been the most glaring weakness of Pitino. He whines about injuries, YAH BECAUSE YOU SUCK AT DEVELOPING A BENCH! I get it, guys like Hurt, Fitzgerald, Ihnen, Greenlee arent all-americans and wont give you a ton year 1 or 2 but if they could come in to games and be productive in their 3rd and 4th years that would certainly help.

I wish I could "like" your post 10 times. The answer I think is that, for the most part, only his best players (the ones who were well above average when they arrived) improved significantly over time. There were some exceptions. Joey King took a jump in his senior year. Jarvis improved with time but he was so raw when he arrived that he could only go up. Tre Williams took a jump in his second year (like McBrayer) but that's what should happen most of the time. In contrast, we can name more than a few players who played worse over time under Pitino:

DeAndre Mathieu
Elliot Eliason
Carlos Morris
Bakary Konate
Isaiah Washington
Gabe Kalscheur
 

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Gopher athletics has some of the worst luck when it comes to hiring coaches.

The turnover in my lifetime is way too high for a solid D-1 institution, imo. No longevity with any individual HC... outside of hockey, leads to fan indifference, which leads to problems recruiting in State, and it snowballs.
 

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I wish I could "like" your post 10 times. The answer I think is that, for the most part, only his best players (the ones who were well above average when they arrived) improved significantly over time. There were some exceptions. Joey King took a jump in his senior year. Jarvis improved with time but he was so raw when he arrived that he could only go up. Tre Williams took a jump in his second year (like McBrayer) but that's what should happen most of the time. In contrast, we can name more than a few players who played worse over time under Pitino:

DeAndre Mathieu
Elliot Eliason
Carlos Morris
Bakary Konate
Isaiah Washington
Gabe Kalscheur

Honestly, without looking I thought the same thing. The more I look, i don't think this was the case either! A few examples:
Coffey Fr year 13p 4r 3a per game shot 50% from 2 33% from 3
Coffey So year 14-4-3 per game shot 52% from 2 and 37% from 3 ok small improvments here!
Coffey Jr year 17-4-3 per game shot 49% from 2 and 30% from 3. So in three years the only thing that "improved" was his scoring but thats more volume, he was a worse shooter after 3 years!

Murphy
FR 12-8-1b-1s per game
SO 11-9-1b-.7s per game
JR 17-11-1b-1.2s per game shot 52% that year ok here we go BIG senior year coming!
SR 14-11-.6b-.5s per game shot 48%. WUT??? He regressed???? I wanted Murph to be that 20-13 guy who shot 55% and like 33% from 3. Never happened

Mason
FR 10p 3a 3r 2s per game shot 41% overall 39% from 3 ok we got something here!
SO 14 4.5a 3r 1s per game shot 39% overall 30% from 3. Ok little more offensive burden sure rates go down but scoring up, should be ok!
JR 15 5a 4r 1s per game shot 38% overall and 36% from 3. The same player, no improvement?
SR 17p 4a 4r 1s shot 39% overall and 39% from 3. So after 4 years he shot worse as a SR?

So look at this and I see no huge WOW LOOK AT THAT development. That to me is two things 1. Development, RP didnt get these guys better. 2. TERRIBLE offense, I dont doubt Mason or Coffey were better shooters their last year than their freshman years, but as RP has 0 idea how to get agood shot, he forces his best players into taking awful shots 5-10 times a game. It should say something when your best players see their rates drop every year.
 

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Honestly, without looking I thought the same thing. The more I look, i don't think this was the case either! A few examples:
Coffey Fr year 13p 4r 3a per game shot 50% from 2 33% from 3
Coffey So year 14-4-3 per game shot 52% from 2 and 37% from 3 ok small improvments here!
Coffey Jr year 17-4-3 per game shot 49% from 2 and 30% from 3. So in three years the only thing that "improved" was his scoring but thats more volume, he was a worse shooter after 3 years!

Murphy
FR 12-8-1b-1s per game
SO 11-9-1b-.7s per game
JR 17-11-1b-1.2s per game shot 52% that year ok here we go BIG senior year coming!
SR 14-11-.6b-.5s per game shot 48%. WUT??? He regressed???? I wanted Murph to be that 20-13 guy who shot 55% and like 33% from 3. Never happened

Mason
FR 10p 3a 3r 2s per game shot 41% overall 39% from 3 ok we got something here!
SO 14 4.5a 3r 1s per game shot 39% overall 30% from 3. Ok little more offensive burden sure rates go down but scoring up, should be ok!
JR 15 5a 4r 1s per game shot 38% overall and 36% from 3. The same player, no improvement?
SR 17p 4a 4r 1s shot 39% overall and 39% from 3. So after 4 years he shot worse as a SR?

So look at this and I see no huge WOW LOOK AT THAT development. That to me is two things 1. Development, RP didnt get these guys better. 2. TERRIBLE offense, I dont doubt Mason or Coffey were better shooters their last year than their freshman years, but as RP has 0 idea how to get agood shot, he forces his best players into taking awful shots 5-10 times a game. It should say something when your best players see their rates drop every year.

Great illustrations! I love this line: "he forces his best players into taking awful shots 5-10 times a game."

I don't suppose it ever occurred to Richard to use that as a recruiting pitch: "If you come here, you'll get lots of shots, including many bad ones!"
 
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