U of M's Pitino pushing players hard at practice - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

U of M's Pitino pushing players hard at practice


MINNEAPOLIS, Minn (AP) -- After an hour-long practice Tuesday that consisted of a makeshift scrimmage, members of the University of Minnesota men's basketball team were dripping sweat. Many were short of breath.

It's a byproduct of the up-tempo system installed by new coach Richard Pitino, who takes over for Tubby Smith this season. Under Smith, the Gophers employed a slower, half-court offense. The 30-year-old Pitino, on the other hand, likes his team to run the floor from the opening tip to the final whistle.

This new style is something that the Gophers' holdovers from the Smith regime are still getting used to. With each practice, though, Pitino's style is catching on.

"I know I'm going to be in the best shape of my life," point guard Andre Hollins said after Tuesday's practice. "I'm like 194, 195 (pounds) now. Normally in the summertime, I get up to like 200 from a lot of weight lifting. But we've been doing a lot of running and conditioning lately, so I'm in really good shape this summer."

Minnesota has had just a handful of practices this summer under Pitino, who took the job in April after spending one year as the head coach at Florida International. Before that, he had stints as an assistant for his father Rick's team at Louisville as well as the University of Florida under Billy Donovan.

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