Rick Pitino’s Fresh Start

By Kellan King

We all know about Rick Pitino. We all know how he left Louisville disgraced after the recruiting scandal that implicated him. But where has he been since then, and where is he now?

Well, for the past few years he has been coaching for the Greek EuroLeague team Panathinaikos, and the team had a 10-9 record under his tenure there. This was his first step back into the coaching arena, and it was certainly an interesting one. He coached former star Jimmer Freddette, and had to deal with the team’s raucous fans who smoked in the arena.

Then, on March 14th, it was announced that Pitino would be the next head coach of the Iona Gaels. This is the first time that Pitino will be coaching at a mid major since 1983, when he was the head coach at Boston University. Although they are a mid major, it won’t be a complete overhaul. Iona has made the NCAA Tournament each of the past 4 years, and has had 10 winning seasons in a row. There is still some work to do though, as they have not made it past the first round, and Pitino hasn’t wasted any time in improving the team.

Since hiring Pitino as head coach, the Gaels have picked up 6 commitments, including one from 3 star Ryan Myers, who is the second highest recruit in Iona history. This class should help the Gaels reload, as they lost their top scorer and 2 other rotation players. Although they did qualify the NCAA Tournament last year, they did so by the skin of their teeth, as they finished 6th in the MAAC during the regular season, before winning the conference tournament. They will have to improve on last year’s season if they want to compete in the MAAC.

Presumably this is just the first step in Pitino’s quest to return to the pinnacle of college basketball. Iona is a great first step, and he should be able to help them improve, bringing in talented recruits and helping the program take their next step to become a threat in the tournament. If he can do that, he should be in line to get a job at a Power 5 school. 

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