Richard Pitino admits dubious “achievement” of NIT “Championship”



There wasn’t a whole lot said during the podium portion of Big Ten Basketball Media Day. Yes, lots of words were spoken, but in terms of anything memorable or interesting….well, that’s what always happens during the on dais sessions at all conference media days. And Thursday gave us very little that was worth getting up early to see and hear. (Why Big Ten Media Day still starts so early, and why they kept kicking the media out of their workrooms, seriously, the hotel displaces journalists from like three or four workrooms, is beyond me. I don’t have an answer.)

Also, without answer is the concept of how you should think and feel about winning the NIT. Richard Pitino admitted as such.


His Minnesota Golden Gophers are the reigning NIT “champions.” Yes, that is oxymoronic. Pitino the Younger knows how much grey area surrounds his “achievement” of winning the “Not Important Tournament.” It’s not just grey, it’s charcoal.

Here’s Pitino at the podium yesterday:

“The NIT, winning the NIT, it’s just a weird?? nobody knows how to handle it.  Do you brag about it?  Do you talk about it?  You know, he didn’t even put it in the notes, the Big Ten guy.  I noticed that.  That’s okay, though.  But, certainly, your goal is to get into the NCAA Tournament every year.  We know that.  But when you get in the NIT, it’s really difficult, and you’re playing some really good teams with great competition.  So our guys are very proud, especially of those last two games.  You play Florida State. 

“Again, it was a very good team.  You beat a very good SMU team.  They were certainly very proud of it.  But that’s not the goal to be in the NIT, and I think everybody in the locker room knows that.  And it’s good in the sense of we know what kept us out of the NCAA Tournament, and we know what won us the NIT.”

richard pitino minnesota

Other than a couple good-liners from Tim Miles, what Richard Pitino said above was pretty much the only thing that anyone will remember from the 14 eight-minute sessions.

Paul M. Banks owns, operates and very often writes The Sports ,which is partners with Fox Sports. Read his features stories in the Chicago Tribune RedEye edition. Listen to him on 1620 The Zone. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks). His work has been featured in hundreds of media outlets including The Washington Post and ESPN 2

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