Ex-Pitt player, assistant Antigua introduced as South Florida's coach
TAMPA, Fla. — Orlando Antigua, making a pit stop during his road to the Final Four, reached a career pinnacle Tuesday when he was introduced as basketball coach at South Florida.
He mentioned the characteristics that made it possible: Hard work. Determination. Focus. Vision. An unrelenting thirst for excellence.
They were qualities he learned at Pitt, where he played from 1991-95, then later served under Jamie Dixon for five seasons (2003-07) as he learned the coaching profession.
Antigua, 40, was born in the Dominican Republic. He grew up in the Bronx section of New York. He's most associated with Kentucky, where he has helped John Calipari's Wildcats assemble five consecutive No. 1-ranked recruiting classes, where he finishes his UK run this weekend during the Final Four in Arlington, Texas.
But make no mistake, Antigua considers himself a Pittsburgh guy.
“It's the foundation of who I am,” said Antigua, who was presented with a five-year USF contract and an annual salary of $900,000, which will escalate by $25,000 each season. “I'm a Pitt man. I'm so grateful for everything I learned there.
“Just the blue-collar mentality, the tenacity, everything that town stands for. It's still who I am.”
There's hard work ahead at USF. The Bulls, two years after making their first NCAA Tournament in 20 years, fired coach Stan Heath following a 12-20 season and a 3-15 mark in the American Athletic Conference. It's often a hard sell at USF, located in a professional sports-driven market, situated in a state with Florida, Florida State and Miami, college programs that dominate the landscape.
“You've got to win,” said Antigua, a member of the Big East's All-Rookie Team with Pittsburgh in 1992. “You've got to sell it and be exciting and recruit some players. But bottom line: You've got to win. Then you make it the happening thing to do and you go from there.
“You can have a successful college program in a pro town. It's very, very similar to what was built at Pittsburgh, and that program has done all right, hasn't it?”
Antigua was the first Hispanic to play for the Harlem Globetrotters, and he was on the verge of becoming that organization's vice president and director of sales in Latin America when Dixon called with an opportunity at Pitt. It changed the direction of Antigua's career, eventually sending him to Memphis with Calipari, then to Kentucky, where he could win a national championship Monday night.
Antigua said he strictly will be a UK assistant until the Wildcats run ends, then he will dive back into the USF job.
On March 24, USF athletic director Mark Harlan offered the job to Manhattan College coach Steve Masiello, who accepted and signed a five-year contract. But before the ink was dry, a search firm employed by USF determined Masiello had lied on his resume because he never received his bachelor's degree from Kentucky.
USF rejected Masiello, sending the school back into the pool for a coach. The search ended with Antigua — technically USF's second choice.
“I'm OK with that,” Antigua said. “I think I was my wife's second choice, too, and we've been together for 20 years.
“I think faith led me to this point, where I'm the guy sitting here talking to you, the guy with the job. No matter how it happened, I'm just grateful that it did.”
Joey Johnston is a freelance writer.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New coach Narduzzi committed to building Pitt into national power
- New Pitt football coach will help select athletic director
- Pitt football coaching buzz all about Michigan State’s Narduzzi
- Pitt recruit Whitehead remains committed
- Pitt’s Wignot makes switch with ease
- Pitt set to hire Michigan State’s Narduzzi as coach
- Pitt’s acting athletic director is deft facilitator
- Dixon says starters playing too much for Pitt basketball team
- Pitt football fights to overcome steppingstone status
- Pitt’s defense holds Holy Cross to 39 points in easy win
- Rossi: It’s OK if Pitt coaches don’t stay