Donovon Hires Familiar Name
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Florida coach Billy Donovan turned to
his mentor to help stabilize his coaching staff.
Donovan hired Louisville coach Rick Pitino's son, Richard, as an
assistant Monday. Richard Pitino spent the last two years working
in a similar position under his father after stints at Duquesne
(2006-07), Northeastern (2005-06) and College of Charleston
He replaces Shaka Smart, who left Florida to take the head
coaching job at Virginia Commonwealth. Smart became the fourth
assistant to leave Donovan's staff in the last three years,
following Anthony Grant, Donnie Jones and Lewis Preston. Donovan
said last week the coaching turnover was more troubling than all
the players deciding to leave the program.
"Players come and go. That happens all the time in every
program around the country," he said. "People move and change all
the time. That's kind of the way it is. But what's probably been
more difficult for me than anything is the amount of coaching
turnover the last four years. Someone constantly coming in new and
trying to balance the recruiting and who you want to go after. That
has been really challenging."
Donovan hopes Pitino will stick around.
Moving out of his father's shadow, the 26-year-old Pitino will
try to help the Gators return to the NCAA tournament after two
years in the NIT and after plenty of roster turnover. The Gators
have lost seven players - four transferred, two jumped to the NBA
and one recruit asked for his release - in the last year.
"I've known Richard his whole life," Donovan said. "I feel
like we're getting a terrific recruiter, basketball coach and
person. We're also getting somebody that understands our program
and system because of the similarities between what we do and what
Louisville went 58-15 during Pitino's two years on staff,
including a 30-6 record in the Big East and a conference
championship this past season.
"Richard and I have been talking this possibility over for the
last two weeks," Rick Pitino said. "Billy is like a son to me and
there's no other person in the country that I would rather have
Richard work with than him. We both agree that this a unique
opportunity for Richard to develop his own identity while helping
Billy build his program back to national prominence."
Richard Pitino graduated from Providence College in 2005. He
spent two of his years there working as a manager for the
basketball team. He also served as an assistant coach at St.
Andrew's School in Barrington, R.I. for two seasons.
He said he was excited to help Donovan try to turn things around
"I've known him my whole life and feel like he's a part of our
family," Pitino said. "Moving on will give me an opportunity to
be a part of another one of the nation's top programs, and I'm
thrilled to work with one of the best coaches in the nation as
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