Coach Iona Rick Pitino was mentioned as a dark horse name in Maryland’s search for its next men’s basketball coach, and there’s more buzz around him. Eric Bickel and Jason Bishop of 106.7 FM sports junkies provided no later than Wednesday morning.
“We’re not saying Rick is the guy [yet]”Bishop said. “We’re just saying Maryland really loves Pitino. He’s their best dog.”
“He’s their number one choice,” Bickel added. “They’re going hard on him right now and there are a few donors leading the charge.”
Jeff Ermann of 247Sports Maryland affiliate InsideMDSports also provided the latest scoop on what he’s hearing regarding the Maryland vs. Pitino rumors. For more information, VIP subscribers can CLICK HERE.
Pitino, 69, is in his second season at Iona. The Gaels are an impressive 24-5 and 16-2 in MAAC play this season. Pitinio went 12-6, 6-3 in MAAC play in his first season at the helm and won the league tournament. The Gaels reached the NCAA Tournament and fought Alabama, but ultimately lost. However, Iona was able to get revenge for this loss in November of this season.
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Ermann mentioned several names for research last week when appearing on sports junkies and made sure to mention Pitino.
“We’re getting closer to the home stretch, we’ll probably get them hired shortly after March Madness,” Ermann said. “They’ve done a really good job of keeping quiet if they have a favourite. You keep hearing the same handful of names circulating quite often, including Andy Enfield, Ed Cooley and Kevin Willard. …Obviously you have the joker Rick Pitino that many people would like to see. He’s probably the most polarizing in terms of fans, whether they like it or not. There are plenty of other names as well, but no one has really become a known favourite.”
It was reported last month by Adam Zagoria that Iona and Pitino were working on a lifetime contract.
“I told the team I’m happy to get 800 (career wins) here, but I said I want to get 200 more here,” Pinito said. “And God willing, I won’t be getting a seven anytime soon, maybe it will.” It’s a great job, we can make something really, really special out of it… Great place, I’m really happy, I hope I can have 1,000 here. God willing, I hope I can live long enough to see this.
In a January interview with Zach Brazillier of New York Posthowever, Pitino has not ruled out another coaching stoppage in his career.
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“My goal is to finish my career at Iona,” Pitino said. “That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be willing to coach the NBA again. I can’t say (I won’t coach at another university) because then you’ll look like a liar if you ever do. do. My total motivation is to stay here. I’m a New Yorker. I want to finish my career in New York. I live in a place where I want to live. But you never know. As long as they have the same goals as me, I have no reason to leave.(They want) to make it better and better and better.
Isaac Trotter contributed to this report.