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December 30, 2012

Sorry for the lack of posts. Trying to finish up a lot of work to end the year. Not to mention, once more abruptly searching for a car (and some wrangling with the insurance company over the value of the former car).

This was a surprise. And one that is not good for the next couple years. Malcolm Gilbert decided to transfer so he can play with his brother at Fairfield. Yes, Fairfield.

“Malcolm has asked for his release and has informed me that he wants to play with his brother,” Dixon said. “He’s a great kid, hard worker and good player. We thank Malcolm for his contribution to our program over the last year and a half and wish him much success in the future.”

Obviously, it isn’t an impact this season as Gilbert was redshirting. But he was expected to be a big part of Pitt’s frontcourt over the following seasons.

It’s interesting that Coach Dixon is downplaying the transfer as something that was always a possibility.

Dixon said he granted Gilbert a release from his scholarship so he could transfer to Fairfield, where his brother, Marcus, is a 6-6 freshman forward.

“Malcolm, before he ever got here, that was something that we talked about with his dad: Playing with his brother was something he always wanted to do. It was always in the back of their minds,” said Dixon, who planned to redshirt Gilbert this season. “I think it will work out for him. He‘ll get an opportunity to play next year.”

It almost seems that the Gilbert family anticipated/hoped/expected that Marcus would get an offer to Pitt. Unfortunately, the reality is that Marcus Gilbert was a 2-star recruit with limited offers.

It is a bit strange that Malcolm waited to the mid-point to decide to transfer. That lends credence to the idea that Gilbert was also unhappy with being redshirted. He was just a lot quieter about his discontent than John Johnson. Coach Dixon also took a rather blunt answer to that issue.

Dixon said the issue with the 2011 recruiting class wasn’t so much their performance as much as the performance of the 2012 recruiting class. Gilbert decided to move on after freshman Steven Adams earned starting duties this season. The same was true for Johnson, who saw the writing on the wall when point guard James Robinson also earned a starting job ahead of him.

“With us, the main situation is we followed up that class with a very good recruiting class,” Dixon said. “That oftentimes has more impact. You can’t have great class after great class because someone’s not going to play.

“When you have a real good class before that, a real good class after that, something has to give. There are only so many minutes. We still have 11 really good players in the program. [Johnson and Gilbert] weren’t in the top 10, let’s put it that way. The realistic person will see playing time is a factor. We don’t want a guy who is not happy not playing.”

This is the reality of upping the recruiting. Bring in talent, and there’s the chance others will be passed for every Dante Taylor who can handle being passed — even as a senior — on the depth chart; plenty of other players struggle with it.

The other reality for Coach Dixon is that he needs to find another center. And some compromising on (what I consider erroneous) his views on certain types of transfers.

Dixon believes there is a growing problem with transfers, specifically the ones who graduate from a university in four years and then are granted another year of eligibility at another school. He believes the NCAA’s generous rulings with those transfers have led to more than 400 transfers the past few years.

“When that team loses a transfer, that team is looking for a player at that same time late in the spring,” Dixon said. “It’s really a cycle that will continue. They’ve opened it up. They realize it and they’re discussing it.”

Dixon is not a fan of those types of transfers, but he said other coaches are gaining big advantages by adding older and experienced players. If the rules don’t change, Dixon said he will reconsider his stance on going after those players.

“I just don’t understand the thing about graduating a kid,” he said. “You’ve redshirted him. You spent four years on him. You developed him. You’ve done everything right as a coach, as a program, as an institution, and then, in his fifth year, he can leave you right before the season starts.

“I don’t see how that’s a good thing. It’s just not the right thing to do. But teams are making their program with kids like that. I may have to look at it. Teams are gaining great advantages because of it.”

See, my  problem is that coaches — including Dixon — acting like the players owe it to the program and coach. That because the program helped develop the player, the player owes the coach and the school. Nevermind that the coach can leave any time. Forget that the kid actually put the effort in the classroom and has earned his degree in four years. That the kid may have put the program’s interests ahead of his his own in the prior years.

That a player can be squeezed out if the coach decides he is no longer good enough, or there is better talent that could be brought in and they need the scholarship. Things Coach Dixon himself, has done.

That’s a side issue. As is the fact that Pitt is now part of the rest of college basketball dealing with transfers.

One recruiting analyst doesn‘t believe it‘s time to sound the alarms just yet, noting that 40 percent of players don‘t make it to their junior year at the school with which they signed.

“Pittsburgh wouldn‘t be the first team to have that much attrition in one class,” ESPN‘s Dave Telep said. “We‘re at the highest transfer rate in the history of college basketball right now. It‘s happening to almost everybody.”

Which is why cold reality is the only option.

“This is the thing college basketball coaches will tell you: Nobody wants to be losing this many kids.”

Pitt now has two scholarships available for the Class of 2013 but not many high-end options left.

“Wait until somebody gets fired and go after their players,” Telep said. “If I‘m Jamie Dixon, I‘m scanning the waiver wire.”

Whether they are 5th year seniors who can transfer and provide immediate help. Or a kid who leaves the program that initially signed them and have to sit a year.

The one weird thing is so much of Pitt’s attrition has come at the center position. Austin Wallace (injury), Cassin Diggs, J.J. Richardson, Khem Birch and Malcolm Gilbert.





I think the reason the transfers come from the center position is because you can play 2 guards, 2 forwards but only 1 center at a time.
We may have to go without a center in some games!

Comment by SFPitt 12.30.12 @ 11:26 pm

That is why losing Beejay Anya was so big. Now it’s HUGE. And we lost him to a conf. opponent which makes it worse. I seriously thought we had him in the bag since his HS teammate (JR) came to Pitt. I wonder how things would have played out, had Gilbert made it be known, when the plans to reshirt him became apparent, that he wanted to transfer then. How that might have effected where Anya landed.

@SF, perhaps because so many of them are PROJECTS as well and have to sit, redshirt, etc.

Look at the list of Centers Pitt has lost, other than Birch they were all big-time projects. And some obviously can’t deal with not playing or not playing much.

Unless someone falls in our lap, late, better hope Adams realizes he isn’t NBA ready. And no NBA personnel directors too !

Comment by Emel 12.31.12 @ 1:37 am

This is just the reality of present day ncaa basketball. Pitt like other teams will just have to deal with it and keep on plugging away at the recruiting game. I would rather have the player transfer than be unhappy and cause problems with team chemistry and disrupt the atmosphere around the team and in the locker room.

Comment by Coach Ditka 12.31.12 @ 8:13 am

The fact that Gilbert is transferring to Fairfield — where his brother plays, and where the team already has 2 other near 7 foot players — makes me wonder whether there is more to this move than just playing time and the redshirt.

Comment by JCE 12.31.12 @ 8:44 am

What I mean is that it sounds like the kid may have just been unhappy in general (which thus magnified the playing time issues), and wanted to be where he had an automatic support system in place — his brother.

Comment by JCE 12.31.12 @ 8:47 am

one of the few criticisms of JD over the years is how many of his players are forced to play out of position .. whether it be by transfers or just signing a lot of similar types

Comment by wbb 12.31.12 @ 9:01 am

@Emel
You make a good point. Apart from Kmer Rouge Birch, our transfers have been “long shots”.
There is only one ball and 40 minutes in game. One bone, ten dogs.

Comment by sfpitt 12.31.12 @ 9:39 am

So Gilbert has transferred. Will that have an impact on the Panthers?? The answer is ibvious—IT ALREADY HAS. Adams is a work in progress and Taylor needs another two seasons of college ball to “hone his skills”. The Bearcats were men against boys today in the 2nd half. It looks like a long season UNLESS MOORE AND ZIEGLER START TO PRODUCE. Oh well, we still have a grid squad on the upswing??? Hopefully!!! Rev. George in Columbus

Comment by Rev. George Mehaffey 12.31.12 @ 5:28 pm

Sorry to see Malcolm Gilbert go. I saw him play in person a few times last year. I thought he should have played more last year given all of Pitt’s defensive problems. He ran the floor well and moved his feet defensively every bit as well as Dante Taylor. He was the best lane presence they had. It’s been a year, but I don’t think Gilbert was any more of a project than Steven Adams is. I’ve seen Adams in person a half dozen times this year. In fact, defensively I recall Gilbert actually being better than Adams. It’s been spotty for him, in some ways through no fault of his own, but I think Adams is a more skilled offensive player than Gilbert.

I personally think JCE is on to something regarding this transfer.

Perhaps Gilbert didn’t practice well. I might suggest that Jaime Dixon should think about relaxing his practice well and therefore play rule. Some guys simply prove it when it’s for keeps. More importantly for this team, some guys falter when it’s for keeps.

Comment by Barvo 01.01.13 @ 1:24 pm

[...] bigger monkey wrench for this coming year was not Adams going pro, but Malcolm Gilbert transferring to Fairfield so he could play with his brother. That took away a lot of the depth that Pitt appeared to have [...]


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