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Minnesota Basketball: Richard Pitino stepped up his Twitter game this offseason

If he can translate his mastery of Twitter into success on the court, watch out

NCAA Basketball: Drake at Minnesota Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Will the Minnesota Golden Gophers’ men’s basketball team take a step forward this year after a disastrous finish a season ago? I’m the wrong person to ask.

But off the court, head coach Richard Pitino is stepping up his game.

Specifically on Twitter.

Allow me to explain.

Twitter accounts for head coaches at the college level are almost a necessity at this point, considering most, if not all, of their players and recruits have an account. The difference is in how these accounts are managed. For some head coaches, their account simply exists to push out the occasional obligatory Tweet. For others, like Gopher football head coach P.J. Fleck, the account helps promote their program, with inoffensive Tweets that extol their values.

Then there is Richard Pitino.

Just yesterday, he poked fun at the fact that he was the first to arrive at the office in the morning, delivering a playful jab at his coaching staff.

And this morning, like a true master of his craft, delivered the payoff.

Pitino is entering what most would consider a make-or-break season in his up-and-down tenure so far at Minnesota. He has to be feeling the pressure, but his Twitter output feels like a coach who couldn’t feel more comfortable in his own skin. There is a self-awareness inherent in his Tweets that you don’t see often from a Power 5 head coach.

Pitino is also well aware that the Gophers were a huge disappointment last season, climbing as high as No. 12 in the national rankings before losing 14 of their last 16 games to end the year. Whereas other coaches might shy away from addressing the elephant in the room, Pitino has opted to instead give it a bear hug, refusing to sugarcoat his failures.

This, to me, is a very refreshing approach, and one that I think will help endear him to fans. When trying to rebound from a disappointing season, coaches can employ a number of different tactics to keep fans from abandoning ship. There is something to be said for a self-deprecating approach that acknowledges fans’ disappointment and frustration. Finding the humor in the most dour of circumstances can help keep a person sane.

I mean, Pitino isn’t even afraid to open up his boss to a flood of emails.

His assimilation into the Minnesota culture is a work in progress, though.

Now this is where I open the floor for comments about how Pitino should spend less time Tweeting and more time worrying about coaching the basketball team.