Godfather of URI Basketball Says Program Never Better, Unveils that Pitino Effort was Not the First

Sunday, April 08, 2018


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Rick Pitino considered URI in 2001, according to Terino.

Bob Terino, dubbed the Godfather of URI basketball and one of the most influential forces in the program over the past four decades, says the program has never been in better shape and unveiled for the first time publicly that the recent conversations with Rick Pitino were not the first time Pitino was a potential coach of the Rams.

According to Terino, not only did discussions take place with Pitino during this coaching search, but that there were preliminary discussions with Pitino after he quit the Celtics and the Rams were moving on from two failed years of Jerry DeGregorio as head coach -- previously he had been Jim Harrick’s top recruiter.

“Pitino loved Rhode Island, and more importantly his wife loved Rhode Island,” said Terino in a 90-minute interview with GoLocal. “Ultimately, Pitino never moved forward (with URI) and ended up at Louisville.”

Hurley and Pitino

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Bob Terino, the Godfather of URI basketball

Terino said the mistake URI made this year with Hurley and previously with both Tom Penders and Jim Harrick was not signing them to extensions before the NCAA tournament began. Penders was hired away by Texas and Harrick went to Georgia.

“If you wait to negotiate after the tournament, it gets too complicated,” said Terino.

With regard to Pitino, Terino said, “I think a deal could have been done. URI is an attractive place and the Pitinos would love to be here."

Terino, who was instrumental in bringing Jim Harrick and Lamar Odom to URI in the 1990s, said the Pitino deal was a no-brainer. Odom was the 4th pick in 1999 in the NBA draft and went on to win two NBA Championships.

The Providence Journal’s Bill Reynolds wrote in 2001 about Terino after the “Jerry D” debacle, "Terino never has been bashful. Nor is he simply your generic fanatical alumnus. He has had URI coaches live in his house when they first arrived here. Athletic director Ron Petro also lived in Terino's house for a time. Terino has done innumerable favors for coaches through the years. He has been the one the coaches call when they need something. Terino also was the man who orchestrated Jim Harrick's coming to Kingston four years ago. Terino has seen three URI presidents come and go, four athletic directors and seven head coaches. Through all of their terms and all the years, he's been the ultimate URI basketball insider, someone who former coach Tom Penders once said is "a doer, one of the people who make that program go."

Now in 2018, Terino said Pitino would have taken the team to a new level.

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Odom, who Terino once said, "He’s an aristocrat from the ghetto.″

“With Pitino, URI becomes one of the top ten programs in America,” said Terino in during interview which took place at the cafe in Venda Ravioli on Federal Hill on Friday morning.

“As a businessman, I would buy Rick Pitino stock all day long.”

The Future and Coach Cox

For Terino, who may be one of the most quotable college basketball boosters in America, the future of URI basketball is bright. He thinks newly named head coach David Cox will be successful.

“He will be very successful bringing in kids from D.C. and Baltimore,” said Terino.

“I like him a lot," said Terino, shrugging off the criticism that some URI assistants haven’t been successful. “He will do well. Recruiting makes a lot of coaches look good.”

The State of College Basketball

Terino says college basketball is dirty. He said he has seen it at every school and under every coach, but did point out that he never saw it under Hurley.

“He did not socialize with the alums. He kept to himself,” said Terino. “He was clean.”

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New URI Head Coach David Cox

He says college basketball may not be as bad as the 1980s but it is not clean today. “It's like the NCAA has a 25 mph speed limit, everyone ignores it. Some way more than others,” said Terino.

He said he opposes the idea of paying student-athletes and believes that it would have unintended consequences.

He also warned recruits that if they are coming to play for a specific coach over a specific school, that they will be disappointed. "There are few allegiances,” said Terino.

Finally, regarding the difference between URI’s location and UConn’s Storrs, Terino didn't mince words.

“The State of Connecticut could use an enema and the place to insert it is in Storrs. It is not exactly a place you can see the ocean from,” said Terino.

Terino is always quotable.


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