Richard Pitino Blog: Early Season Review

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Richmond - When I got the job, I looked at this game on the schedule and was very concerned.  Richmond is a well-coached team with an established winning culture. It is also a tough environment and difficult style to prepare for. Holding them without a point for over seven minutes and ending on a 19-0 run was impressive.

Richard Pitino and Syracuse's Jim Boeheim shake hands after their match-up in Maui

Syracuse - I don't believe in moral victories but I am very proud of the effort we gave. To be even on the glass without Mo Walker was great. Costly turnovers at the end of the game were just too hard to overcome. Malik Smith showed that he loves to take the big shot but I am the most proud of how much better his defense and leadership has become.

Arkansas - We came out in the first half and played potentially our best half of the year. Shot 65% from the field and played very unselfish basketball. The second half was a different story. Give Arkansas credit for playing a great overall game. I was also disappointed with our defensive intensity towards the end. Turnovers and rebounding were also a problem.

Chaminade - I know it sounds funny but this was easily the hardest game of the tournament. Our guy's bodies were finally adjusted to Maui time and it truly felt like a 9:30 a.m. start. They were tired and disappointed to be in this position. Chaminade has won that "Game 7" several times in the past and had been playing great offensively. The true character of this team came out in the second half. They had nothing to lose and we could have folded. Nothing was going right for us but our guys refused to accept losing. I was very proud of the way we finished this game.

Overall assessment of Maui - Our team was so grateful of our fan turnout for the trip. Not only did our great fans show up but they were arguably the loudest group in the tourney. We really appreciate their support and referenced the fans several times during timeouts. Overall, we played four-out-of-six great halves of basketball.  The second half of Arkansas and the first half of Chaminade were major learning experiences for us. It was an awesome tournament and we hope to be invited back again in the future. We took the red-eye back Wednesday night in hopes of getting our players bodies adjusted back to Central Time for tomorrow's game.

Coach Pitino and the Gophers went 1-2 in Maui last week.

Florida State - We will have our toughest test of the season tomorrow night at the Barn. Florida State has been battle tested early. They were up double digits on Michigan in the second half and ended up losing in overtime by two. The game before that, they blew a very good VCU team out in a game where they were up by 30. They won by double digits at Central Florida and they just lost a tough rivalry game at Florida by one point as well. They are well coached as always and physically very imposing. We must rebound the ball, keep them out of transition and not turn the ball over. Their two losses could have gone either way and they could easily be ranked top 15 if they had won those games. We need a great environment tomorrow night at 8:30 p.m. Hope to see everyone there!

Scheduling - There has been some speculation about a game between us and Louisville next year. We are currently working on scheduling a game with ESPN against Louisville in Puerto Rico in a military hangar on Nov. 14.  We are 99% sure it will happen but we are just ironing out some details. We are also confirmed to play in the Preseason NIT next year around Thanksgiving time in Madison Square Garden. These are two great opportunities for our fans to travel to great locations and hopefully see some exciting basketball. We will release details on both events when everything is finalized.

See everybody tomorrow night!

Go Gophers!

Richard Pitino

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