Billy Heywood finally has made it to Minnesota. He’s traded in his manager’s uniform for a basketball coach’s whistle, but there isn’t much difference between the fictional Billy and the real-life version brought to town under the name Richie Pitino.
There isn't? Tell me more. Also, going with "Richie" over "Richard" or "Rich" is probably the biggest dickhead move you could make. Good work, "professional writer."
Billy was the 12-year-old hero of “Little Big League.’’ He inherits the Twins from his grandfather, fires a manager deemed too hard on the players, takes over and leads the team to a Game 163 showdown.
Oh, ok. So other than the sport, their ages, Pro vs. Amateur, Pitino not firing anybody, and essentially everything else about the two they're the same? I suppose they both are set in Minnesota so I guess there's that. Also, using this absolutely tortured analogy sets up Reusse to refer to Pitino as "Richie" through the article, which is a classy move.
Richie is the 30-year-old hero of “Norwood’s Amusing Quest.’’ He inherits a basketball reputation from his father, beats Louisiana-Monroe twice, waits for a half-dozen people to turn down a chance to coach at Minnesota, and gets Gopher Nation dreaming of future showdowns with Northwestern.
He's been an assistant at two of the most successful programs in the country and took a crappy program to within one basket of the NCAA Tournament last season, but yes, they did beat Louisiana-Monroe twice. Why you'd point that out rather than how, at the end of the year in the Sun Belt Tournament when you're supposed to have your team peaking (Tubby hi!) they beat Middle Tennessee, a juggernaut who had run through the Sun Belt all season, is beyond me. Also why would anybody dream of a showdown with Northwestern when the Gophers are already guaranteed to play them 1-3 times per year? There's no way Reusse didn't slap this together in under 12 minutes.
I don’t want to be too negative on this.
No, clearly not.
Clearly, once the search gets to a point where the replacement for Tubby Smith comes down to Richie Pitino or Pam Borton, it’s easy to embrace athletic director Norwood Teague’s decision.
It's actually now getting physically difficult to comment on this. What an asshole thing to say. I can't even decide who this is most insulting to, but I'll go with the literate.
We all have been assured that Teague and associate AD Mike Ellis are as well connected as any people in college basketball through the Villa 7 weekend seminars for assistant coaches that were conducted at Virginia Commonwealth.
And, after this whiz-bang search by Teague and Ellis, it’s obvious that the name Villa 7 carries at least as much magic in college basketball as does a Tom Petters hedge fund in the financial world.
This may very well be the stupidest thing in this article and trust me, it's pretty difficult to narrow it down. Because Teague and Ellis hired someone who Reusse doesn't like invalidates all the success of Villa 7 over the years? The guy Reusse would be slobbering over (Smart) was a Villa 7 guy and I'm guessing if the Gophers had hired Buzz Williams (another one) Reusse would have been slobbering over him too. You know who recommended Pitino to Teague? Billy Donovan. You know who recommended Shaka Smart to Teague at VCU? Billy Donovan. You think you're going to find that factoid in here? Nope, too busy shaking his fist at the kids on his lawn and lamenting about how things used to be, when you just hired retread coach after retread coach because "they were good ole boys" and "we dinn't need no 'lectric typewriters." I'm actually somewhat shocked this wasn't written by Sid.
The Teague-Ellis tandem was so proud to be the first basketball brainiacs to fire Tubby Smith that it appears the information was leaked to buddies in the national media before it was leaked to the guy being fired.
This sentence doesn't really fit the flow (as it is) of this article but it isn't hard to figure out it was put in here as another shot at Teague-Ellis for not coming to Reusse and company first with their "leaks" about the news.
There were two reasons for the local sporting public and media to embrace Smith’s departure: One, Tubby’s mediocre performance over six seasons at Minnesota; and two, the belief that Teague’s background at VCU and Ellis’ with Villa 7 would put them in position to make a blockbuster hire.
I can't argue with this. I would, however, argue that a blockbuster hire doesn't necessarily mean it's someone who knocks you on your ass when you hear the name. The Gophers already tried that with Tubby Smith and, well, here we are. Is there some law against giving someone time to prove themselves? Oh wait, yeah. The law of time since Reusse's fat ass will probably choke to death on a cheeseburger in a year or two.
“You always have a short list,’’ Teague said on the day he fired Smith. “You always have people that you have in mind. Some are realistic, some are unrealistic, but I have a list in mind. We’ll work that and we’ll get a terrific coach.’’
It was easy to accept VCU’s Shaka Smart and Butler’s Brad Stevens, the two hottest young coaches in the country, as unrealistic for the Gophers. That was especially true when they turned out to be unrealistic for UCLA.
And, any interest expressed by Fred Hoiberg’s agent was easy to detect as a play for a new deal at Iowa State. “The Mayor’’ of Ames wound up getting 10 years out that rumor being floated, so hooray for him.
Wow that's like, two paragraphs in a row I kind of agree with. But wait, what's all this talk about a big-time hire then if Reusse can agree that Smart, Stevens, and Hoiberg were pretty much unrealistic?
Later, we started hearing Mick Cronin at Cincinnati, which would have allowed him to get out of the mess that remains of the former Big East … soon to be a league with the Bearcats, UConn and Memphis as the only schools of basketball prestige.
Teague-Ellis couldn’t even a land a guy whose conference is leaving him to take this job in what today stands as the best basketball league in the country.
Cronin couldn't possibly be a considered a big-time hire, could he? Plus, I never heard of him being a serious candidate, just that his name had hit the rumor mill. Although I should probably trust that Reusse knows what he's talking about, considering he has inside sour.......wait, no. That's right, he doesn't and that's half of the reason he wrote this column because he's pissed off he couldn't get any inside info from Teague's office. So basically he's just throwing shit against the wall in order to try to get another slam in at Teague and co. What a grown up he is. I wonder what his motivation could be to act like a spoiled child who wants another cookie?
All this while, Flip Saunders — maroon-and-gold through and through, a longtime NBA coach, immensely popular with boosters — was available to be hired.
And there it is.
We loved to bad-mouth Joel Maturi, Teague’s predecessor, for his coaching searches. And it’s doubtful that Maturi would have mustered the audacity to fire Smith, the big-name coach who had landed in his lap in April 2007.
But we know this for sure:
Maturi wouldn’t have messed around with Saunders. The man we loved to ridicule would’ve had Flip hired within 48 hours of a Smith departure.
You know, I was in favor of Flip. I was. I thought he was the biggest home run they could have hit, but I was also aware of all the possible things that could have gone wrong, particularly considering he's never run a college program before. If Teague wanted more control over his assistants and Flip didn't want to budge, well, agree to disagree and move on. I fail to see how this is some colossal mistake on Teague's part. And do we really want to insult him by saying he's not enough like Joel Maturi? Really? Is this fucking bizarro-world?
Tell me a week ago that the choice was Flip Saunders, a passionate ex-Gopher with an outstanding résumé, or a 30-year-old former student manager with little more than a famous surname to validate his candidacy, and I would have been standing in front of Williams Arena, acting as goofy as Larry Spooner at a Vikings stadium hearing, holding a sign and shouting, “Flip, Flip, Flip.’’
I don't know who Larry Spooner is because I'm not some stupid provincial idiot, but I can only assume he's someone well grounded who cares about sports not too much at all. And seriously, referring to Pitino as a "former student manager"? Yeah, it's true but guess what? GOD DAMNED NEAR EVERY SINGLE COACH SPENDS TIME AS A STUDENT MANAGER. You know who was never a student manager? Flip Saunders. Because he's NEVER BEEN A GOD DAMN COLLEGE COACH (at least not at anywhere that counted). You know who has more experience as a D-I college coach? Pitino. You know who has run a program at the collegiate level? Pitino. You know who's a "name" who "old people" in this "town" love because he's "connected" to the "program" and is a good ole boy? Flip. I like Flip, but writing this entire meandering article (which both bashes and praises Villa 7 at times) to bash a new coach, who you don't know dick about, because the new guys in town didn't hire your friend? Seriously it baffles me that people actually pay Reusse to write this crap.
Teague and Ellis started this search as the two smartest guys in any basketball room. They return with a coach much more suspect than what poor old Northwestern managed in Chris Collins, an assistant but fully trained,
Can anyone tell me what the hell "fully trained" means? Collins was an assistant coach for 15 years at Seton Hall and Duke. Pitino was an assistant for seven years, then an associate head coach, and then, oh yeah, AN ACTUAL FUCKING HEAD COACH. I can see arguing the merits of the two with someone because I can actually see either side of the debate on who is more qualified to run a Big 10 program, but to call Pitino "much more suspect" than Collins is clearly yet another reach in order to throw another shot at Teague and Ellis simply because your buddy didn't get the job. Not to mention there isn't a chance in hell Reusse knows what the duties of either were as an assistant because that could make a world of difference. I don't either, but at least I'll admit it. By the way, you know how many years Rick Pitino was an assistant before he got a head job? Four. He seems to be doing ok.
rather than the nonfiction version of Billy Heywood.
Jesus, what a twat.