Dorm Report: Like father, like son
By Gregg Xenakes, Associate College Basketball Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Coaching men's college basketball is a job that is tough enough, yet some individuals have the added burden of trying to follow in their father's footsteps in their chosen vocation.
In honor of Father's Day (either a day late or really, really early for 2014), I thought I would take a look at some of the familial coaching combinations that currently exist, have significant histories, or are just tipping off. When talking about Division I programs, there are only a couple of situations where a father is at one institution and a son is involved with another. At this point, the most obvious one has to be the reigning NCAA Champion Louisville Cardinals leader, Rick Pitino, and offspring Richard Pitino who recently assumed the head position at Minnesota.
The patriarch has done it all in the college game, but at the same time would probably rather forget about his forays at the NBA level where he took his lumps with the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks. In the college ranks, the senior Pitino not only won the national title with the Cardinals a few months ago, for which he celebrated by placing a tattoo on his back shoulder, but he also took Kentucky to the promised land in 1996, earning him the best of both worlds in the Bluegrass State.
Rick also owns the distinction of being the only college coach to lead three different programs to the Final Four, the other being Providence. John Calipari should be on that short list, but the NCAA has vacated two of his appearances.
Rick is at the pinnacle of college coaching, while Richard is only now getting his feet wet at a major program with the Golden Gophers. The younger Pitino had been an assistant coach at several schools, one of them being Louisville with his father, before heading to FIU for the 2012-13 campaign. Richard put together a decent showing for that one season, logging an 18-14 mark overall, with an 11-9 record in Sun Belt play, the latter proving to be the top effort in conference action ever for FIU.
More than anything else, Richard's pedigree also opened the door for him to take over at Minnesota beginning this season, after Tubby Smith was let go following a 21-13 ledger and an appearance in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. Making the jump to the Big Ten from the Sun Belt will be quite the challenge for young Pitino, but you can believe he'll still have his father as a silent mentor along the way (as long as they're not both vying for the same recruits).
Speaking of the Gophers and Smith, who is directly linked to both of the Pitinos as he took over for the elder at Kentucky and won the national title with the Wildcats in 1998, he now finds himself as the head man at Texas Tech.
Tubby has a stellar career record of 511-226, and along the way has been named the Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year (1994 and 1995 with Tulsa) and the SEC Coach of the Year (1998, 2003 and 2005 with Kentucky). Even though he led the Golden Gophers to a winning record in all six of his years and into the postseason five times, his lackluster conference record of 46-62 just wasn't good enough and now he is out to conquer a new locale in the Big 12.
While Tubby accepts the challenge with the Red Raiders, his son G.G. was announced as the 20th head coach in Loyola-Maryland history in April. An assistant under former Loyola head man Jimmy Patsos for six seasons, G.G. has clearly paid his dues in order to move up in the coaching ranks. "G.G. was a huge part of our success," Patsos says. "G.G. is not only a tremendous coach, but he is a better person. His knowledge of the game is outstanding, and I believe that he will be a great leader of the program going forward."
Yet another link between Tubby Smith and notable coaching father/son duos is the one that he now shares with former Tech head coaches, Bob Knight and Pat Knight. While the two aforementioned pairings are still in their infancy, "The General" has already moved on to greener pastures as a TV analyst and Pat has come and gone in Lubbock.
After winning three national championships with the Indiana Hoosiers (1976, 1981 and 1987) Bob Knight, a winner of one NIT title (1979) and 11 Big Ten Conference championships as well, landed at Texas Tech in 2001 and stuck around until 2008 when he allowed Pat to take over near the end of the season.
One of the all-time winningest coaches in the game, Bob Knight had his flaws for sure, but he also had plenty of wisdom and knowledge to impart to son Pat, although it doesn't appear as though the Knight legacy will continue with as much attention with the relative youngster.
Pat, who started out as an assistant with his father at the tail-end of his tenure with the Hoosiers, held the same position for a couple of seasons at Tech before being elevated to associate head coach and eventually the man in charge. Not only did Pat flounder with an overall mark of 50-61 in three-plus seasons with the Red Raiders, his record of 16-42 in conference was laughable. Bounced out of town, Pat moved to Beaumont where he is now heading into his third season with Lamar. In his first campaign in 2011-12, Knight took the Cardinals to the postseason, but after that 23-win campaign he came up lame the following year with a woeful 3-28 slate that saw the team win just once in 18 tries against Southland Conference foes.
Clearly, carrying the torch for a family of college coaches is never an easy task, just ask Georgetown's John Thompson III who continues to live in the shadow of his father. John Thompson, Jr. guided the Hoyas for almost three full decades, amassing a record of 596-239, a mark that included 34 wins during the 1983-84 campaign when Georgetown won the national championship against Houston.
J.T. III began his career at Princeton and then accepted the challenge of following his father, and while the Hoyas have made it to the postseason in each of his nine seasons, the team has made it to the Final Four only once (2007). The III has only been with GU for about one-third the time of his father, which means he still has a chance to equal and/or exceed some very lofty expectations, but that's assuming fickle fans and administrators are in for the long haul.
In addition to notable father/son combinations, there are also a handful of bothers who are involved at the D-I level right now, making their fathers quite proud.
Among them are the Herrion boys, Bill with the New Hampshire Wildcats and Tom who is rustling up the Marshall Thundering Herd these days. Don Verlin is in charge of the Idaho Vandals, while Ron Verlin is now the top man at Pacific, and now Bobby Hurley (Buffalo) will be competing with brother Dan (Rhode Island) for bragging rights at family gatherings, although father Bob is still the top dog in that household with more than 1,000 victories and 27 state championships over the course of four decades at St. Anthony High School in New Jersey.
Giving the Hurley clan a run for their money are Bryce, Scott and Homer Drew. The former continues to show up on NCAA Tournament highlight reels thanks to his miraculous buzzer-beater in the 1998 tourney that led 13th-seeded Valparaiso to a stunning win against fourth-seeded Ole Miss, 70-69. Bryce intends to add yet another chapter to Crusaders lore now that he's the head coach of Valpo, taking over for father Homer who finished his coaching career with more than 600 victories.
Meanwhile, Scott Drew has resurrected a Baylor team that was in shambles a decade ago and is now three wins shy of 200 for his career, thanks in part to the Bears capturing the 2012-13 Postseason NIT.
Sons, go out and make your fathers proud.
06/17 11:30:04 ET