Former Gophers player named Pitino’s third assistant

Ben Johnson was a two-time captain of the Gophers in the mid-2000s.

by Andrew Krammer

Gophers basketball coach Richard Pitino added some Big Ten experience to his staff Tuesday.

Ben Johnson, a former Gophers player and Nebraska assistant, was named Pitino’s third assistant, according to a release.

“I have been impressed with what I have personally seen and heard from a variety of knowledgeable people when they talk about Ben Johnson,” Pitino said in a release. “In addition to being a proud Minnesota alum, he brings the work ethic I am looking for and a knowledge of the University, the Midwest and the Big Ten conference.”

The Minneapolis native spent one season under Tim Miles at Nebraska. Before that, he was a part of Northern Iowa’s basketball staff for four seasons.

Johnson, 32, won two state championships at DeLaSalle High School and was a two-time captain as a basketball player with the Gophers.

“I want great chemistry,” Pitino told the Minnesota Daily on Tuesday. “I need guys that complement each other and guys that make me better. I don’t want all the same guy.”

Johnson will join Kimani Young and Mike Balado on Pitino’s staff. Pitino said Tuesday that Balado, who has been hired by Minnesota, is being allowed to talk with Florida International University about taking the top assistant job with its basketball program.