Coach Pitino must know that the days following the national title game are the worst for blogs whose favorite collegiate basketball team had a terrible season. The fun look ahead posts to the next season aren't all that fun yet and you're certainly not reflecting on any sort of a tournament run. Two of the things you can pontificate about (intelligently or otherwise)? Player transfers/development and upcoming schedules. What does today's Pitino blog include? Discussion of player development and future opponents. Time to read what Coach has written and add in a little commentary.
On this past season:
Last season is certainly one that we would like to learn from and move past. We took a step backwards and that can't happen again.
Understatement. He knows his seat is toasty.
I felt like we would end the season strong after the Maryland game. We were starting to play well and finally broke through. Unfortunately, we had to make some tough program decisions and it was just too challenging to compete with a limited roster. All of our guys will learn from this and get better from it. They made mistakes and paid the price. It's time to move forward. Our culture is the most important thing we have in this program!
Obliquely addresses the video controversy. Don't really expect any coach to get more in the details than this frankly.
The first statement I bet gets blown out of proportion:
My guess is there is some gnashing of teeth in some corners of the Gopher internet or local media over the statement below that I've bolded.
On the court a lot of our young guys got valuable minutes in pressure situations that most freshman and sophomores don't get early in their careers. Much like the Timberwolves, I think our guys will take a major step forward next season.
The Wolves won about a third of their games and missed the playoffs. I don't think Pitino thinks a similar level of improvement in W/L saves his job, so it's pretty easy to infer that what he's actually suggesting is that he expects some young talent to help bolster the current roster and result in a much more competitive team.
A better non-conference schedule:
We are currently working on completing our nonconference schedule for next year. We believe we will be on the road for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and playing in the Gavitt Games against a Big East team. We have a verbal agreement from another Power 5 team to start a series at our place. We will announce that very soon when it's official.
Two immediate thoughts:
1) I like the idea of seeing Minnesota play three Power 5 teams.
2) If you're a season ticket holder your home non-conference schedule probably didn't get a lot better though. Unless the home & home he's referring to is against a marquee opponent of course.
Regardless, this is good news from a scheduling perspective. Please note that I'm preemptively rolling my eyes at anyone who thinks "WE GOTTA BEAT SOUTH DAKOTA FIRST" is a witty retort to this section of the post.
Next year's team:
I'm not going to quote all of the specific player breakdowns. If you'd like to see them in full make sure to read the blog post (in fact, if you haven't done so already please take a second and come right back). Instead, here are a few select quotes and some quick thoughts.
On Michael Hurt...
Had a very good senior year. Was a finalist for Mr. Basketball. He is extremely skilled and has a versatile skill set. Knows how to play and creates matchup problems. He could separate himself as one of the better perimeter shooters on the team. Would love to see him put on 10 pounds this summer. I have zero doubt about his work ethic. Very excited about what he can bring and become.
The bold is the thing that stood out to me. The bar on this is rather low so try to avoid anointing Hurt as a savior in the regard. Still, some help outside the arc would be nice.
On Charles Buggs...
Has been out of post season workouts with an injury to his arm. We don't believe it's anything serious. Big offseason for Charles. Has to live in the gym and learn to love the game. Can become a very good leader.
If Pitino is talking about Buggs you'd have to think it probably means he's coming back to the Gophers next year. Will expand on this below.
On Reggie Lynch...
Is out of the sling after shoulder surgery. He has been doing some workouts on the court with Ben Felz with his left hand. I expect him to be a difference maker. Was first team all-conference in a very good league his sophomore year. Only playing 21 minutes per game at Illinois State concerns me. We have to make sure we address his conditioning and foul trouble early so that he can be on the court. He has great hands and can block shots. If he wants to play at the next level he has to get double digit rebounds. Reggie is in the right conference to prove he can do it!
Nothing earth shattering here, but it seems clear based on the "difference maker" comment and the overall level of detail that Pitino has big plans for Reggie in this upcoming season.
On Davonte Fitzgerald...
The biggest gym rat on the team. Comes in every night and gets shots up. Was on his way to a very promising sophomore season at Texas A&M but unfortunately his injury slowed him down a bit. He's healthy and looks great. Davonte is the ultimate wild card on our team in my opinion. He does a lot of things that can wow you. He has to work on his shot selection and passing. He can play both the 3 and the 4 for us next season. Tremendous kid! Can also be a great leader.
Translating the bold: This kid is a bit of a chucker on offense.
On Gaston Diedhiou...
Hard worker! Just needs more consistent reps on the court. Has to improve his left hand around the basket.
That's...I mean, he wrote words. Just not a lot of them. More on what I think that means in a second.
On Dupree McBrayer...
If there is one guy on our team that I feel is extremely serious about taking a huge next step his sophomore year it's Dupree. He has that look in his eye. Has put on ten pounds and has been living in the gym. I have always felt Dupree has great potential. He has to become a knockdown shooter. He weighs 181, needs to get to 190.
Well, if he's got that look in his eye...
/sighs that some people will read that coach speak and think it means something
On a more serious note, I take this to mean that Coach doesn't Dupree going anywhere. Not sure that anyone was overly worried that he'd transfer but I don't see this writeup happening if Pitino had any indication that he was thinking about it.
The other statement folks might overreact to:
I know it seems like we are going through difficult times. We are a lot closer than people think. We will break through very soon. We have to stay positive and stick together. It was just a few years ago Villanova endured a tough season and look at them now. People will doubt us and say we can't win. They will be extremely critical of me. It's quite alright. I deserve it. It's my responsibility to turn this around. Nobody else. The only way to get to where we are going is to do it together. It takes everyone being on board to win the way we all want to win. The support of everyone in this state is what drives us. We want to make our fans proud. Our players and coaching staff want this bad. We will get there!
The entire final paragraph is coach speak and platitudes, but the Nova comment will elicit its share of reactions I'm sure.
GN, UStreet, and I kicked around what this blog post meant for additional transfers. GN and UStreet think it means that we won't see any additional transfers. After all, Pitino doesn't have a schedule for these posts and there aren't any pressing Minnesota Basketball related dates/timelines in the near future that would make posting it right now an imperative. If he wanted to wait and see he could.
I agree, but I also don't think what he wrote for Buggs/Gaston (especially for Gaston) means that they are for sure staying. Like I note above, Gaston's entry is very thin. That doesn't have to mean much, though to me it suggests Pitino doesn't have big plans for Gaston if he stays at Minnesota.
Biggest news in the post is the announcement of a new P5 home and home. You don't usually hint at the possibility this hard unless the deal is almost done. Now we just have to wait and see how attractive the opponent is. The implication that Minnesota is probably planning on the road in the Gavitt is also notable to me because A) it will be their first time participating in the new arrangement and B) I can always hope they end up playing Butler. I mean, they won't because IIRC the Gavitt lineup is partially parity based. But I can dream.