Richard Pitino Blog: Workouts Begin, Student-Athlete Distractions

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Good afternoon Gopher fans! I hope everyone had a great summer!
Go Gophers! Trevor
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Check out Coach Pitino's blog periodically this year on
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I am currently en route to Springfield, Mass. for my father's induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. It has been an amazing ride and I am sure we will reminisce this weekend about so many great memories. My favorite memory has got to be cutting the nets down in Phoenix to go to the Final Four in 2012. Being able to sit one seat from my father and a Hall of Famer for three years is something I will always cherish. His ability to focus under pressure is something I marveled at. He taught me to block out all distractions and focus on what it is important.

It our first team meeting this week, I spoke about a couple of simple rules along with giving them their schedule for the week. I spent roughly 20 minutes about learning to deal with all of the distractions that come with being a Division I student-athlete. On a daily basis, these guys have a lot thrown at them. The most important thing for them is to be able to focus on their academics along with getting stronger in the weight room and better on the court.

The number one distraction in all their lives is their CELL PHONE. Being a student-athlete is a full time job and they need to treat it as such. I read them several studies about how much time the average person spends on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media outlets. All too often, I walk into our locker room and see our players staring at their cell phones. Reading social media or texting on a consistent basis isn't going to help them get their degree or help us win a Big Ten Championship. Our staff will continue to do our best to get the most out these guys each day. There is too much at stake for them. We will be innovative with ways to sharpen their focus in the classroom as well as on the court. I will also do several things to put myself in a bubble and only focus on what's important.

I learned so much from Billy Donovan when it came to this topic. He would rarely turn on a computer, watch TV or be on his phone when school started. Certainly, he would handle his recruiting duties with his phone but other than that it was all business. I thought it was odd at first but quickly realized he was focusing on only what is important in his world, his family, friends and his basketball program. Nothing else.
Go Gophers! Trevor
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Coach Pitino and current Minnesota Timberwolves player (and former Louisville Cardinal) Gorgui Dieng.
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Workouts in the first week were up and down. The first workout is always a great indicator of who takes this game seriously. If you come in out of shape it shows that you went home and did nothing for three weeks. It was very obvious who went home and didn't take time off. Some disappointed us but we still have plenty of time to get them in the shape we need. DeAndre Mathieu made his Gopher debut and I came away very impressed by his speed and attitude. He will be a valuable addition for our basketball team.

September is a very busy month for all coaches. We normally recruit during the week and work with our team on the weekend. Home football games are always a great opportunity to bring recruits on campus and show them a great environment on campus. Congrats to Coach Kill and his staff on a great first victory of the season! We will certainly be pulling for him this Saturday vs. New Mexico State.

Thanks to Gorgui Dieng for stopping by our office and tour campus! He agreed with me that the University of Minnesota is a sleeping giant!

Go Gophers!
Richard Pitino

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