Inside look at Rick Pitino’s two-month St. John’s overhaul
Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino has been appointed as the new head coach of the St. John’s men’s basketball team. The announcement was made in a media conference at Madison Square Garden, just five days after his former team Iona’s NCAA tournament loss to Connecticut. Pitino, who has promised to bring the dormant St. John’s program back to its winning ways, held his first staff meeting at Wolfgang’s Steakhouse near the Garden the same afternoon. He emphasized the need for high-character, athleticism, versatility and most importantly, shooting ability in the new recruits. Pitino then set on a mission to rebuild the St. John’s roster from the ground up, which he accomplished in just 56 days.
He built an 11-man recruiting class and a 10-man transfer class, who are believed to be a strong NCAA tournament team, on paper. The 10-man transfer class, ranked fourth nationally by 247Sports.com, consists of talented players like Ivy League Player of the Year and the nation’s second-highest scorer Jordan Dingle (Penn), three-year Virginia Tech starter Nahiem Alleyene, Iona point guard Daniss Jenkins, and Oregon State and Massachusetts wings Glenn Taylor Jr. and RJ Luis, respectively. The rebuilding process was stressful yet exciting for Pitino and his staff. It involved non-stop phone calls, visits, and up to five conferences calls with the staff each day.
Pitino’s successful recruiting mission was a result of his tireless efforts. He would start at 5 a.m. with a workout and not go to bed until 1 a.m. There were even meetings at Club Macanudo, a cigar bar near Pitino’s apartment, as late as midnight after visits. The Pitino-led team pursued numerous players, some of whom didn’t make the cut, such as Florida-bound Walter Clayton Jr., and Notre Dame transfer Cormac Ryan, who chose North Carolina. There were also key returns, like standout center Joel Soriano.
The momentum shifted when St. John’s hosted five of seven recruits for visits, including top-150 high school recruit and one-time Notre Dame signee, Brady Dunlap. Pitino impressed Dunlap by showing him exactly how he would be used, followed by an intense workout that he has never experienced before. The California native was sold on St. John’s after the visit. Pitino continued to impress recruits with his guidance and took them to trendy restaurants where he told them to order anything on the menu. Pitino’s tactics proved successful, and the additions of Dunlap, Luis, Taylor, and Ayo bolstered the team’s roster.
Who is Rick Pitino?
Rick Pitino is a Hall of Fame basketball coach. He has won two NCAA championships as a head coach and has taken his teams to the NCAA tournament 22 times. He has coached at Providence, Kentucky, Louisville, Iona, and most recently, St. John’s.
What did Pitino promise when he was named the new head coach of the St. John’s men’s basketball team?
Pitino promised to restore winning to the dormant St. John’s program.
How long did Pitino take to rebuild the St. John’s roster?
Pitino rebuilt the St. John’s roster almost from scratch in just 56 days.
What were the qualities Pitino was looking for in the new recruits?
Pitino was looking for high-character, athleticism, versatility, and most importantly, shooting ability in the new recruits.
What is the transfer class that Pitino built, and how is it ranked?
The transfer class consists of 10 talented players like Jordan Dingle (Penn), Nahiem Alleyene, Daniss Jenkins, Glenn Taylor Jr., and RJ Luis, among others, and it is ranked fourth nationally by 247Sports.com.
What was Pitino’s approach to impressing recruits?
Pitino impressed recruits with his guidance and took them to trendy restaurants where he told them to order anything on the menu. He also showcased his intense workouts, unlike any others these recruits had experienced before.
A Preview inside Rick Pitino’s Revamp of St. John’s in Two Months
Rick Pitino wasted no time getting to work when he was appointed as St. John’s new head coach just five days after Iona’s NCAA Tournament loss to Connecticut. At a press conference, Pitino made it clear that he planned to restore winning to the program and set about building a new roster almost from scratch with a group of high-character, versatile athletes who could shoot. In just 56 days, Pitino signed an 11-man recruiting class and a 10-man transfer class, including Ivy League Player of the Year and the nation’s No. 2 scorer Jordan Dingle of Penn, Oregon State’s Glenn Taylor Jr. and Massachusetts’ RJ Luis. Despite the pressure and chaos of the process, assistant coach Van Macon said the experience was both stressful and exciting, and the result is a team that rivals and coaches believe is capable of being a competitive NCAA Tournament team.