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April 22, 2017

I Need a Miracle Everyday

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 3:51 pm

Is Pitt basketball coach Kevin Stallings trying to test the conventional wisdom of colleges coaches being reasonably expected to get three years, or is he just that bad that no one could fault Pitt for pulling the plug after two years — crap, still 11 months to go?

That someone who has been (at least by the fringe) called a Stallings apologist — for not demanding his firing within 12 months of his hiring —  needs to think aloud if all conventional wisdom and logic needs to be tossed out the window. That Pitt just needs to make the break in the midst of the late signing period and while grad transfers are considering their futures. That’s just not a good sign.

In case you missed the late news on Friday, the best incoming freshman guard in Pitt’s class was released from his National Letter of Intent (NLI) to Pitt.

Now, that list of past Panthers includes his very first recruit.

Guard Aaron Thompson, regarded as one of the top players in Pitt’s 2017 recruiting class, was granted a release from his national letter of intent, the school announced Friday. Thompson committed to the Panthers in May 2016, about five weeks after Stallings was introduced as the program’s new coach.

Rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals, Thompson (6 feet 2) averaged 10.9 points per game for a talented squad at Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, Va. His performance earned him a spot on The Washington Post’s All-Met first team.

Thompson had had a great senior season and had been elevated in recruiting rankings to a 4-star and in some instances a top-150 national recruit.

He was also a high school teammate of Cory Manigault– formerly a freshman at Pitt and now a kid in search of a new school. How much that had an impact is unknown.

On my list of things to do since March is a post on where Pitt basketball stands, overall. Keep having to trash posts because the basic tentpoles of the team keep leaving.

In addition, Pitt just lost out on Longwood University graduate transfer Khris Lane to VCU. This is where you wonder. I mean, wonder with concern and a touch of panic even if you are the guy talking poeple off the ledge.

Jeremy Ballard, who had been a VCU assistant before moving to Illinois St for a year, and then hired at Pitt. But after only one season, jumped (down/back?) to VCU at the same position as he was at Pitt. Now, Pitt loses Thompson from the DC area and a grad transfer Pitt pursued with the ardor of a hop head for an Alchemist Heady Topper… well, there are concerns issues fuck it, panic.

April 20, 2017

Opening Vote of Confidence

Filed under: Basketball,Coaches — Chas @ 7:43 am

These numbers are bad no matter how you massage them.

Since the end of Stallings’ first season – and the first losing season at Pitt (16-17, 4-14 ACC) since 2000 — four players have announced plans to transfer, including sophomore Cam Johnson, who would have been Pitt’s top returning scorer. A fifth player — point guard Justice Kithcart — was dismissed by Stallings near the end of the season.

That’s in addition to the loss of four seniors, all of whom were starters.

Nine players out, and six coming in (at the moment). It stands to reason that sooner or later, new AD Heather Lyke would get asked about basketball coach Kevin Stallings and Pitt basketball.

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April 18, 2017

Quick Links, 4/18

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 7:42 am

Sorry. Just a little rushed today in the offline world. A few links and topics.

Pitt offensive lineman and defending Piesman Trophy winner, Brian O’Neill is apparently hurt and will be spending his summer vacation getting healthy. He should be ready for the start of the season, but still.

Penn State will “celebrate” their Big Ten Championship during their second home game. Hmm. Who do they play that week? Why not the first week? Since, you know, they are unrivaled? Actions speak louder then words.

Elijah Zeise just cannot stay healthy come game time. Even spring game time. He had a tremendous spring practice by all accounts and the accolades of the Ed Conway Award, but was a scratch for the spring game. Here’s hoping come September 2, he can be out on the field for more then just one game.

Qadree Ollison got more carries, but Chawntez Moss was more productive at RB  in the spring game. As the article notes, Coach Pat Narduzzi and the offensive assistants talks of spreading the wealth, but do tend to lean heavily on one back once the season starts.

April 17, 2017

Hope everyone had a good Easter weekend. My son and I went to the Spring Game on Saturday — I’ll get to that subject a bit later this week.

On late Friday evening it leaked out that Pitt was no longer the destination of guard Troy Simons. Simons was the leading scorer in all of junior college and a native of Pittsburgh. He had committed to Pitt back in March.

Simons is now looking hard at New Mexico.

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April 13, 2017

Awkward Holding Pattern

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting,Transfer — Chas @ 7:37 am

Sorry about the gap in posting. As usual, I put off doing the taxes until the final week. And naturally, that coincided with a crunch week of 12-hour work days.

There’s not much to really write about what is happening in Pitt basketball at the moment. Pitt is pursuing transfers — grad and regular — visits are on the table. Yet, it doesn’t seem like anything is happening. Even as it also feels like a period of total chaos and a desperate need for something. Anything to happen.

The team for next year will not have one returning starter. A recruiting class that is sevendeep, and it still isn’t enough. There are still rumors of at least one more possible transfer out of the program. I mean, at least it isn’t Memphis, but this is still a mess (or as Pat Forde put it as an aside in a column about this year’s coaching hire — “blooming disaster”).

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April 6, 2017

Working Through the Offense

Filed under: Football,Players,Practice — Chas @ 9:45 am

A week and a half until the Blue-Gold scrimmage, and the pretense of who will be the starting QB in September remains comfortably intact.

“It’s good that you (reporters) don’t know,” Narduzzi said when asked if there was any separation in the quarterback competition. “It means we have no leaks in the office.”

No leaks and no fake news about the play of those vying to replace Nathan Peterman: redshirt sophomore Ben DiNucci, redshirt freshman Thomas MacVittie, freshman early enrollee Kenny Pickett and senior graduate transfer Max Browne.

“We have four very functional quarterbacks,” Narduzzi said.

While Head Coach Pat Narduzzi isn’t going to tip his hand, his offensive coordinator at least hints at the top-two.

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April 3, 2017

The first two years for Pitt under Head Coach Pat Narduzzi, have been mostly positive. The defensive-minded coach, though, has had to rely on the offense to be the side doing the heavy lifting.

The lack of depth and overall talent on the defense has been glaring — especially with the type of defense Narduzzi utilizes. Bringing pressure constantly without going all-out blitz. It relies on overall speed, depth to bring fresh bodies, and individual talents. All things missing from the defense.

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April 1, 2017

Cam Johnson Latest to Leave

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting,Transfer — Chas @ 8:02 am

Well, so much for an impromptu vacation.

You know it’s bad news when a press release is e-mailed out at 5:30 on a Saturday morning:

Redshirt sophomore Cameron Johnson will graduate and transfer following the spring semester school officials announced Saturday morning. The Moon Township, Pa., native will earn his degree in three years at Pitt and have two season of eligibility remaining after receiving a medical redshirt for the 2014-15 season

Johnson averaged 11.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game a year ago as the Panthers finished 16-17 overall and 4-14 in ACC play. A two-time All-ACC Academic Team and a 2017 CoSIDA Academic All-District selection, Johnson finished fifth in the ACC in three-point percentage (.415) and eighth in three-point field goals (2.36 3pg.).

Pitt currently has a seven-player recruiting class featuring highly-touted junior college prospects Jared Wilson-Frame and Troy Simons and high school standouts Aaron Thompson, Marcus Carr, Terrell Brown, Peace Ilegomah and  Shamiel Stevenson. The Panthers have additional scholarships available and will look to reshape the 2017-18 roster with graduate transfers, traditional transfers and late signees. Johnson will become the fourth player to transfer out of the program since the close of the 2016-17 season.

Man, I hadn’t even gotten the coffee made when I saw this. Probably a good thing, when you don’t want to do a spit-take on your phone.

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March 23, 2017

Pitt Pro Day Fun

Filed under: Alumni,Draft,Football,Good — Chas @ 7:24 am

Do campus pro days make a difference? Probably not for the players who received and went through the NFL Combine last month. Guys like Nate Peterman, James Conner, Ejuan Price, etc. who had their measurables taken in that setting probably won’t do much to change things. Any changes for them in the draft board will come from private team workouts and evaluations of their game film.

For the next tier, though, it is about getting noticed. Raising an eyebrow. Getting teams to reevaluate them.

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March 22, 2017

Digging in the Offense

Filed under: Football,Players,Practice — Chas @ 7:33 am

It’s Pro Day today in the Southside. The donuts are available.

Perfect time to start catching up on spring practices from the weekend and yesterday. Let’s look at a couple of the things regarding the O-line and running backs.

I have to admit. It still feels odd to be positive about the offensive line. It has been ingrained in me for the past 15 + years to worry about the holes. Changes. Depth. Yet, this is the second straight year where the O-line has me feeling good about things.

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March 21, 2017

New(est) AD Introduced

Filed under: Athletic Department,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 12:41 pm

Yesterday was Athletic Director Heather Lyke’s introductory press conference (What? No pep band?). It was organized, direct and lacked a contentiousness that marked a press conference introducing another new athletic department employee a little less then a year ago.

People see what they want to see. I thought Lyke was fine in her unveiling. Not a revelation or makes me ready to endow a weight room or anything. Solid performance (PDF).

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March 20, 2017

Pitt Has A New AD

Filed under: Athletic Department,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 7:38 am

A few days after the P-G put out an article listing the top candidates for Pitt’s next Athletic Director, the news broke fairly late on Sunday evening of the hire.

Heather Lyke, late of Eastern Michigan, is Pitt’s new Athletic Director.

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EDITOR COMMENTARY: I hate that I feel the need to do this, but I’m going to get this out of the way before going any further. If you don’t like the hire, fine. There are legitimate reasons to think that, but be sure to explain them.

If you don’t like the hire because she is a woman, take it elsewhere.  If you don’t like the hire for valid reasons but still feel the need to express displeasure over the hire in a misogynistic or sexist way, I’m not going to waste any time with you. I’m not going to let you pollute the site. Instead, you will just be banned outright. Regardless of how long you have posted comments. Just as the old Diceman routine never held up that well, you’re not that funny. You aren’t railing against an overly sensitive, PC culture for it. You are being an asshole.

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March 19, 2017

NCAA Tournament has mostly gone according to chalk. Not been a good one for the ACC, as a whole. Down went Louisville, Virginia and Notre Dame. This is what it has felt like in the ACC for the last couple decades. Everyone flaming out and stuck hate-rooting for UNC and/or Duke to carry the banner for the rest of the conference. Sucks.

On the plus side, Villanova reverts back to form by exiting in the first weekend for the second time as a #1 seed in the last three years.

The first four days of the NCAA Tournament has been more interesting for the coaching moves, then any Cinderella stories.

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March 17, 2017

Media availability was pretty decent after the first practice. Both coordinators were put out there, along with Quarterback Max Browne and Safety Jordan Whitehead. Quadree Henderson, the team’s offensive utility knife and Defensive Tackle Jeremiah Taleni got some media time.

Max Browne had some attention for wearing uniform number 4 — which probably speaks to a lack of topics as much as anything else. It’s always been the uniform number he wore. Nate Peterman also wore it, and I had no idea that was any sort of conflict or problem. Like plenty of QBs in college now, Brett Farve was the idol to many.

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March 16, 2017

Spring practices start today. 14 practices mostly closed off to the public and media, culminating in the Blue-Gold Scrimmage on Saturday, April 15. There’s no way it will be as perfect weather as last year, but at the moment I’ll settle for it being warmer then this week in the Cleveland area.

Yesterday was the pre-spring practices press conference. (Is that really what we’re calling it? Shut up.)

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