It has been a while since we’ve been given a blog entry from Coach Pitino. But today, being the final home game of the season and Senior Day, he decided to take the time to thank the seniors on this team on his blog.
Tonight is Senior Night where the Gophers will recognize the two seniors on the team; Akeem Spring and Darin Haugh. It is a bit of a unique Senior Night in that one player is a walk-on who earned a scholarship and the other was here for just one year. But here are some of the highlights from Pitino’s blog entry today...
This was a guy whom I was skeptical of coming in for his senior year. We needed a shooter, that we knew he could do, but I wasn’t sure he’d be much of a contributor on defense. But turns out Akeem was a great contributor as a shooter, on defense and as a leader for this young-ish team.
From Coach Pitino’s blog...
At Maryland last week Akeem was playing great after battling some first half foul trouble. The only problem was Dupree was also playing terrifically so I decided to roll with "the baby faced assassin" McBrayer. Who was Dupree's biggest cheerleader on the bench and in the locker room after? Of course it was Akeem. It is hard for a fifth-year senior to come in and acclimate himself as well as Akeem has done. He has hit some huge shots, defended the opponent's best player and been our emotional leader. He is another terrific kid and has been a blast to coach.
A walk-on who earned a scholarship. These kind of kids are 100% unknown to Gopher fans but are also the kind of guys who can make a significant impact on the team behind the scenes.
Haugh was a Gopher for a few years and due to finances felt he needed to quit the team for his senior year so he could work to finish up school. Pitino:
Although he doesn't play a lot his contributions have been invaluable since day one. "D Rock", as our players call him, is a terrific person and a phenomenal teammate. I called Darin back into my office a few days after we initially met. He stormed in and said thank you and that he had to quit. I could tell he had talked himself into being firm with me because he knew I didn't want him to leave. I then proposed to him my plan of him going on scholarship for his final year. A few tears later he was out of my office and back on the team. That was a special moment. I'm proud Darin was able to stick it out. That was one of the highlights of my coaching career.
Kids like Haugh work their butts off every day and rarely (if ever) get to step foot on the floor in a game situation.
Hats off to Haugh and Springs. Let’s send them off the Williams Arena floor with one last home victory.