Maryland Terrapins

Once under fire, Pitino, Gophers surging toward NCAA Tourney

This time a year ago, Richard Pitino was at the center of a storm in Minnesota. The Golden Gophers were a disaster on the court and a distraction off of it, on their way to a two-win Big Ten season in his third year on the job.

Now the 34-year-old coach walks around campus at the head of a 20-win team that is steamrolling toward an NCAA Tournament berth, and he admits with a tongue-in-cheek sheepishness that the sudden change in the way he is received has taken some getting used to.

"It's weird. I'm used to everybody hating us and hating me and not talking to me," Pitino said Tuesday with a chuckle. "It's been uncomfortable, people coming up and saying nice...