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Richard Pitino returns to Louisville staff

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Rick Pitino didn't look far to revamp his coaching staff.

The Louisville coach rehired son Richard Pitino on Tuesday, two years after Richard left to join Billy Donovan's staff at Florida.

"It's great to have Richard back; it takes pressure off us preparation wise," Pitino said.

Richard Pitino will be joined on the staff by Wyking Jones, who comes to Louisville after spending two seasons at New Mexico working for Steve Alford.

The younger Pitino's homecoming restores some order to a coaching roster wracked by departures this spring.

Longtime assistant Steve Masiello moved on to become the head coach at Manhattan while Tim Fuller left the program after just one season to join Frank Haith at Missouri. Ralph Willard, who served as director of basketball operations last season, will also be on the move this summer.

Pitino will move assistant Mark Lieberman into Willard's role, leaving one more assistant position open. The coach said he's considering five people for the last available spot but isn't sure when he'll make a decision.

Richard Pitino's official title is "associate coach" though the elder Pitino shot down any speculation that the moniker means his son is also the head coach in waiting.

"The one thing I told Richard as well as Wyking, I said, 'Look, I'm not interested in you guys becoming head coaches,' " Pitino said. "It's obvious, I've said it many times that we hire future head coaches not assistant head coaches, that's true. But I don't even want to hear you guys talking about head coaching. All I want to hear you talking about is how to bring Louisville to where we want to go."

Both assistants will sign two-year contracts. They will be part of a staff that will divvy up responsibilities more evenly next year. Last season Masiello did all of the scouting while Fuller focused on recruiting. Pitino says all the coaches will have a say in recruiting and putting a gameplan together.

Pitino said his son's two years with Donovan gave him valuable experience on how another big-time program operates.

"He got an opportunity to look at things in a different way," Pitino said. "I want guys to bring in new things constantly."

The transition will also bring Richard Pitino closer to his family. He and wife, Jill, welcomed their first child, a daughter, on Monday.

The goal of the new staff will be to build on the recruiting foundation set by Fuller and Masiello. The Cardinals will welcome one of their best incoming classes in years next fall, led by Wayne Blackshear and Chane Behanan.

Their job will be to blend in with an experienced group of players that led the Cardinals to a 25-10 record and a third-place finish in the Big East.

One player who Pitino says won't be around next year is junior forward Terrence Jennings. The 6-foot-9 Jennings has declared for the NBA draft but has not signed with an agent, leaving him eligible to return.

"In my mind, he's not coming back," Pitino said.

Pitino has planned an international trip this summer to help his players learn how to play together. The original plan called for the Cardinals to play the Puerto Rico national team, which Pitino agreed to coach during this summer in hopes of getting the team into the 2012 Summer Olympics.

That deal, however, could be off. The NCAA doesn't consider games against Puerto Rico an international trip because it is considered a U.S. territory.

Louisville is awaiting an appeal, though it might not matter. The addition of a second tournament Puerto Rico may have to play in would make it nearly impossible for Pitino to coach the team. The tournament coincides with the start of the 2011 fall semester at Louisville, and Pitino says it's important for him to be on campus when classes start to help his players get acclimated.

"It's a big mess," Pitino said, though he added he's hopeful for a resolution shortly.