New York • Richard Pitino held his 3-year-old daughter in his arms as his Minnesota team cut down the net at Madison Square Garden.
"Richard, get up there!" yelled his famous father, Rick, the Hall of Fame coach at Louisville. First, the kid had others in mind.
"The assistants!" he shouted back.
Spoken like a coach who listened closely at the dinner table and ate up every last lesson.
Austin Hollins hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 46.1 seconds left and Minnesota won the NIT championship Thursday night, beating SMU 65-63 to give the Pitino family its latest postseason tournament title.
Hollins scored 19 points and Andre Hollins had 14 for the Golden Gophers (25-13), who took home the trophy for the third time. They also won the National Invitation Tournament in 1993 and ’98, though the second one was vacated because of an NCAA rules violation involving player eligibility.
"We made some big-time plays," Richard Pitino said. "Austin made a big-time 3. We gutted it out. That is a very good team. They’re a really good team. They deserve to be in the NCAA Tournament. I’m really proud of our guys."
With Rick Pitino sitting near his son’s bench at Madison Square Garden, Minnesota made up for a blowout loss to Stanford in the NIT final two years ago and finished with a flourish in its first season under the 31-year-old Pitino.
"I think it’s one of the highlights of my life," Rick Pitino said on the court afterward. "He’s a brilliant young man."
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