No team had a bigger turnaround last season than Minnesota.
Richard Pitino got the Golden Gophers to a No. 5 seed in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, this feat one season removed from an 8-23 ending and one of the worst seasons in program history. Then, in 2016-17, one of the best seasons in program history. The Gophers went 24-10, including an 11-7 Big Ten record. It was a turn of events almost nobody saw coming.
Pitino was on the so-called '' before the season began, but no longer needs to be worried.
In wake of this 16-win year-over-year improvement, the school announced Wednesday that the 34-year-old Pitino, who will embark on his fifth season as Gophers coach in the fall, has been rewarded with a restructured and extended contract. The new deal goes through the 2021-22 season, effectively giving him a one-year extension.
"Since I came back to Minnesota as the AD last May, I have been impressed with Coach Pitino and his management of our men's basketball program," Minnesota AD Mark Coyle said. "I've seen accountability, commitment and focus from every student-athlete and member of the men's basketball staff, led by Coach Pitino. The team's success on the court this year generated a lot of excitement on campus and around the state. I'm looking forward to much more of that with Coach Pitino leading our program."
Pitino won Big Ten Coach of the Year and the team's eight-game winning streak in league play from Feb. 4-March 2 was the school's longest Big Ten winning streak since 1973. Minnesota's 11 wins in the conference were the most by the Gophers since the 1989-90 season.
Pitino is 75-61 through four seasons, and should find a lot of success next year as well. Given how much of the roster returns,). Pitino's in a great spot, as Minnesota is nationally relevant again, while his stock as a coach continues to increase.