clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Hoddle of Coffee: Tottenham Hotspur news and links for Wednesday, March 22

The head coach announcement I didn’t want

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Dear Readers,

Please bear with me through this hoddle. Yes, I know it’s American sports. Yes, I know it’s about a collegiate basketball team that probably only one person here (me) cares about.

But do bear with me. Maybe it all adds up.

St John’s, a university that once boasted a top-tier basketball programme decades ago, on Monday hired Rick Pitino as their next head coach. Pitino, they hope, will be the man to bring the Johnnies back onto the main stage. Back to “national prominence”.

It’s possible Tottenham have ruined me, but consider me dubious of this hire.

St John’s have spent the last 20-plus years lurching from manager to manager with scant success to show for it. They’ve gone for the big names - Hollywood’s own Steve Lavin and former Dream Teamer Chris Mullin - and they’ve gone for other seasoned coaches like Mike Anderson.

None of those have worked. St John’s have gone years being constantly beaten by their top rivals in the BIG EAST, floundering in conference play only to miss the NCAA tournament almost every year.

And for all this talk about being “New York’s team”, it’s a bad look when Duke or Syracuse outperform the Johnnies at Madison Square Garden.

So here we are with Rick Pitino’s hire. Pitino is a two-time NCAA champion (though one was vacated) with Kentucky and Louisville, and went to the Final Four with three universities.

Louisville in 2017 cut ties with Pitino over an alleged ‘pay for play’ at the university. From there he spent the next few years in legal wranglings and also coaching in Puerto Rico in Greece.

He made his return to the NCAA as head coach of Iona, whom he led to the NCAA tournament twice in three years. Not a bad showing.

New here he is, in Queens, New York, with the goal of returning the storied St John’s basketball programme to where it belongs.

St John’s president Rev Brian J Shanley said: “I am excited that this seasoned coaching veteran—who has won at the highest levels and is as passionate as ever— is committed to leading our student-athletes and our program to national prominence. Rick knows BIG EAST basketball and is determined to take and keep the Red Storm program where we know it belongs.”

And here is the university Director of Athletics Mike Cragg on the hire: “Coach Pitino is one of the most brilliant minds in the history of the game and has won at the highest levels everywhere he has coached.”

I’ve heard this nonsense before. But not from Queens, New York. From the goonies up in North London.

Hire a big-name coach for some quick fix to a structural programme that requires much more than a flashy billboard sign to repair the deep disfunction within.

Little makes me optimistic about Pitino’s hire, but if I were to be optimistic I’d pin it to his New York roots, if only for the recruiting. Still, even with some of the supposed talent we’ve had over the years, we have scant to show for it.

I won’t let myself be fooled by this hire. Tottenham have fooled me too many times. I won’t let my alma mater do the same.

Haven’t I lived through enough pain already?

Fitzie’s track of the day: Take the Long Way Home, by Supertramp

And now for your links:

Former Spurs player Matt Doherty backs Antonio Conte to remain in charge

Emmanuel Adebayor announces retirement from football

Alasdair Gold with a long read on the decision Daniel Levy has to make

Wolves’ owners reportedly in talks over buying stake in Belgian club K.V. Oostende