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College basketball notebook: Pitt hires Rohrssen as assistant coach

| Friday, May 3, 2013, 7:36 p.m.

Barry Rohrssen, the savvy recruiter with strong New York ties who spent seven seasons as a Pitt basketball assistant coach, was hired to join Jamie Dixon's staff.

Rohrssen was an assistant coach at Pitt from 1999-2006, moving up from director of basketball operations to assistant coach to associate head coach under Dixon from 2004-06. During Rohrssen's tenure, the Panthers won four Big East titles — including three regular-season titles — appeared in five consecutive NCAA Tournaments and made three trips to the Sweet 16.

“We are extremely excited to bring Barry back to Pitt,” Dixon said in a statement. “From the start, Barry played an integral role in the success and building of our program. He has a great coaching background, is a good recruiter and has an exceptional understanding of how we operate our program.”

A Brooklyn, N.Y., native, Rohrssen was responsible for creating a pipeline from New York to Pitt. He was instrumental in recruiting players such as Chris Taft, Carl Krauser and Levance Fields.

Rohrssen left Pitt to become head coach at Manhattan, where he spent five seasons. He worked for the Portland TrailBlazers this past season.

Rohrssen is expected to replace Patrick Sandle on the Pitt coaching staff.

“It's extremely exciting to be returning to Pitt,” Rohrssen said. “We obviously want to continue and build upon the great tradition established at Pitt. The program's success speaks for itself. It's been an honor, and I'm proud of my association with the University of Pittsburgh. I love the city of Pittsburgh and feel that it's home. It's a great place to be.”

Robert Morris coach Toole excited for future

When Robert Morris upset Kentucky in the opening round of the NIT, men's basketball coach Andy Toole didn't automatically get a new three-year contract extension.

It helped, along with Toole's three-year record of 68-36, trips to the NEC Tournament finals in 2011 and '12, and an NEC regular-season title this past season and postseason tournaments bids to the CIT and NIT.

Toole, 32, has kept the Robert Morris program in the spotlight, starting six years ago when he was an assistant with Mike Rice.

So it was important that the Robert Morris administration attempted to keep him from leaving. Toole was a finalist for the Siena job that Loyola (Md.) coach Jimmy Patsos got in early April.

“Andy still has a lot of things he wants to accomplish here,” Robert Morris president Gregory Dell'Omo said. “Andy is just a wonderful all-around coach. He can identify talent, he knows the kind of kids that come into his program that will be successful and the type of kids that will be successful in the classroom, as well.

“He has balance, with still the focus on winning but not at the expense of other things. He's also a wonderful ambassador for the university. He's well spoken and a bright young man.”

In Dell'Omo's opening comments at Friday's news conference, he jokingly said he expected the Colonials to go to Kentucky and come back with a win. Robert Morris and Kentucky play Nov. 17 in the Keightly Classic at Rupp Arena.

“It's more than just wins or losses,” Robert Morris athletic director Craig Coleman said. “Andy is a class act, is extremely smart, and has great judgment and great poise.”

While his team was eliminated by Mount St. Mary's in the 2013 NEC semifinals, the Colonials participated in the NIT, pulling off the biggest upset victory in school history by beating 2012 NCAA champion Kentucky, 59-57, at Sewall Center.

Toole must replace point guard Velton Jones and forward Russell Johnson — both seniors — and shooting guard Coron Williams, who transferred to Wake Forest for his final season.

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