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September 13, 2013

Some accumulated links to make it worth doing a post, before sundown and fasting begins.

On the recruiting front, Pitt is yet to officially have any commits for the 2014 class. So they make the list of teams “in trouble” with their recruiting class.

The Panthers have yet to land a commitment in the Class of 2014, and the roster next season is hardly imposing. Dixon will lose wing Lamar Patterson and big man Talib Zanna. It looks as though Pittsburgh is the favorite to land former Vanderbilt forward Sheldon Jeter, who transferred to Polk Community College. However, Dixon could also use another wing (i.e. Isaiah Whitehead) and a big man such as Josh Martin or Gary Clark.

Also on the list of “in trouble,” Michigan State, Michigan, Indiana, Gonzaga and UConn. So it isn’t really about “in trouble” so much as trying to land some very good players who aren’t deciding right away.

Pitt has only 3 scholarships available, and one is going to Sheldon Jeter. That leaves only two slots. Pitt and Jamie Dixon can’t just grab a body. The fact that they are actually in the mix for Isiah Whitehead is somewhat surprising to some, and if they land him will justify Barry Rohrssen’s return in a big way.

Isaiah Whitehead met Wednesday night with coaches from Pittsburgh and Minnesota and by all accounts, the visits went well.

“Both made him feel he was wanted with the opportunity to play right away,” Lincoln coach Tiny Morton told SNY.tv.

Asked if the 6-foot-4 Whitehead would visit the schools, Morton said, “It’s in his plans.”

Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon and assistant Barry “Slice” Rohrssen met with Whitehead, as did Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino and assistant Kimani Young.

Pitt seems to have flown under the radar with Whitehead.

Whitehead is also considering Indiana, Arizona, UCLA, Louisville, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Seton Hall, among others, and is set to take an unofficial to Seton Hall Saturday.

Pitt has not been talked about much in the Whitehead recruitment, but they shouldn’t be counted out.

Dixon has had tremendous success at Pitt over the last decade and can now pitch to recruits that the Panthers will play in the ACC against Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, etc.

Rorhrssen, who was brought back to Pitt in the offseason, has also has great success recruiting New York City kids — and that could have an impact in this case.

The thing to remember is that Coach Dixon and the Pitt coaching staff have been on Whitehead for some time. It isn’t like they were late to take note of him. Whitehead is a 5-star recruit per Scout.com, Rivals.com and 247. ESPN.com says 4-stars.

As for Josh Martin, well Minnesota and Richard Pitino are also going after him, but Pitt is right there.

I had read that you were interested in Washington at some point. Is that interest still there, or are you mainly focusing on those four schools (Minnesota, Florida State, Pittsburgh and Oklahoma State)? Mostly those four. I got a call from UCLA today. I was talking to them when I was a freshman and a sophomore, and then last year, I don’t know what happened with that relationship. I think because the guy who I talked to, Scott Garson, he left to take a head coaching job somewhere else, and then [former coach Ben] Howland left so I think they really had no way of contacting me, and yet I got a call from them today, so I think that relationship might get opened back up. I guess I started talking back with UCLA today.

OK, and I know you have visits set up for Florida State, Oklahoma and Minnesota (on Sept. 20). Do you plan to visit Pitt as well? I do plan on visiting Pitt, it’s just when I can fit it into my schedule.

Is Pitt relatively new in terms of your recruitment? Yeah, they didn’t start talking to me until about a month or a month and a half ago. It’s definitely progressed from the first time I talked to them. I have a good relationship, I think, with coach [Jamie] Dixon and [assistant] coach [Brandin] Knight.

Martin is a 6-8 power forward from Seattle Washington. In this case, ESPN.com puts him at 4-stars (and in their top-100). While Rivals.com, 247 and Scout.com all put him at 3-stars.

On the subject of schedules, I was mildly surprised that Pitt got called out for its non-con as being one of the ten worst.

The Panthers aren’t doing much to prepare themselves for their first season in the ACC, which will easily be the nation’s toughest conference. When your marquee nonconference game is against Cincinnati — and this is the only thing close to a marquee game on this schedule — then you know you’ve got problems. The only other semi-decent opponents are Penn State in early December and then Texas Tech in the Legends Classic, with a game against either Stanford or Houston the following night. Pittsburgh lost some key players to graduation (Tray Woodall) and the NBA draft (Steven Adams). And J.J. Moore transferred to Rutgers. So this may be the perfect year for a weak slate. Still, considering how good Pitt has been over the years, this could be the worst schedule in America.

On the plus side it is a bit of a compliment by saying, “you’ve been too good for too long to schedule this weak.” Still, “worst schedule in America” might be a bit of hyperbole.

It’s not a great schedule. Certainly Pitt wasn’t helped by the rest of the field in the Legends Classic — but Stanford is supposed to at least be a NCAA Tournament team. Obviously Dixon is erring on the side of caution with the number of new players who will not only be seeing significant playing time, but starting. Dixon remains uncomfortable with aggressive non-con scheduling when there is significant turnover. And of course, the uncertainty of what happens in the ACC in year one.

The one thing Pitt and Dixon should do with the non-con is set it up with WVU. My guess is there is some hesitancy to do it when there is no desire to set up the Backyard Brawl in football. But it still is a glaring gap.

Syracuse has done an exceptional job of handling its departure from the Big East as to not alienate any of the former rivals. The Orange have scheduled Villanova and St. John’s for next season and likely will get a deal done with Georgetown for either 2014 or 2015. Colorado handled its exit from the Big 12 in a similar fashion and plays former rivals Kansas, Oklahoma State and Baylor this season. It’s time for Kansas and Missouri to look at doing something similar. The same is true for Pitt and West Virginia, as well as Texas and Texas A&M. Kansas, with the best non-conference schedule in the country, doesn’t need Mizzou. But it would still create an incredible atmosphere at a neutral site, if that’s the best the two sides can do (maybe alternate between Kansas City and St. Louis). Mizzou needs the game more than Kansas, based on the weaker bottom half of the SEC for power-rating points. Pitt’s schedule is soft and could use another power-five school like West Virginia. Playing the game, even at the home of the Penguins, should be a start.

Don’t know if WVU would go for a game annually at the Con. But there is some logic to that. At the very least, Pitt should be reaching out to Villanova and Temple. Trips periodically to the Philly area would be a good thing for recruiting.





I like the idea of an annual WVU at the Con. Plenty of seats for both sides. Also would like home and home with Temple, Villanova, UConn, Georgetown, and Ohio State.

Comment by gc 09.13.13 @ 3:54 pm

Pitt has to schedule better games. They didnt get any help from the tourneys or the ACC/B1G challenge, but there is no reason they can’t play better teams. It wasn’t that long ago they were playing Texas, Ok St, Wiscy, Washington. The fans deserve better & playing a tough early road game can pay dividends later in the conference season. I doubt wvu would come to the CEC every year, but they should get some home & home series going with the occasional game at the CEC. At the very least they could play a good mid major every year.

Comment by Nick 09.13.13 @ 5:05 pm

Trading home and away games with UConn, Gtown, Nova would be a great addition to the noncon schedule. Home and home with the hoopies would be OK but I can get by if it never happens. But if the home and home series with the ears comes to pass I would never move our home game to the CEC. No home court advantage there.

Comment by dinosaur 71 09.13.13 @ 5:54 pm

I don’t believe Mostrella will be playing for Pitt this year … hope I’m wrong

Comment by wbb 09.13.13 @ 6:16 pm

Word circulating the social media sites is that local recruit Shai McKenzie went down with a knee injury during Wash High’s game at Charleroi this evening.

Comment by Mailman 09.13.13 @ 7:34 pm

Mailman, saw that also. Hope the kid is ok.

Too soon to panic on recruiting. Pitt is in the running for a few top kids. I would assume if those don’t materialize, they have back up plans. I just feel better with Rorhrssen back in the mix.

Can’t believe Pitt getting called out on the non-con this year. It’s not great but better than it has been for several years.

Comment by Iron Duke 09.13.13 @ 8:48 pm

Dixon deserves to be called out on his non-conference schedules which have sucked for a while. No one is fooled by his & Pederson’s obsession with winning twenty games. Winning twenty is not an automatic NCAA invite anymore.

Comment by TonyinHouston 09.13.13 @ 9:36 pm

What is it, they were up against Little Little Ricky Pitino all the time.

LLRP was after Joe Uchebo was well and came out with the BS stmt after they lost him.

Dixon & Slice should be able to out recruit a middling program like Minnesota and a punk like LLRP.

If they can’t something is wrong.

Williams Arena is also a 40 year old dump and in now way compares to The Pete. And the winters are dreadful in the Twin Cities.

Comment by EMel 09.14.13 @ 12:30 am

@@@@@@
One Pitino is enough for college BB. Arrogance is a family
trait in addition to being a huge hypocrite.

Comment by JR 09.14.13 @ 7:11 am

Dixon and Chryst both recruit like amateurs. Mediocrity – or in Dixon’s case mediocrity + with an early exit from the NCAA tourney – continues to be the norm.

Maybe they should learn how the champion does it:
link to nytimes.com

Comment by TonyinHouston 09.14.13 @ 8:58 am

No more Hoopies please. Thank you.

Comment by longsufferingpittfan 09.14.13 @ 9:47 am

Dixon is no fool he is not going to up his non-conference schedule that has been his ticket to the NCAA, starting conference games undefeated needing only playing 50% to get in.
He knows after miss using 5 star’s playing Taylor out of position at center causing him to put on 25 pounds taking away his strenghts, quickness and quick off the floor at 6’9″.
Handing the team over to Gibbs and not attempting to get the kid who transferred into the game who was playing behind of all people 6’5″ Robinson at the 4. The worst Adams playing behind a fat Taylor at center while Woodall, not a division I level player dominated the offense.
Dixon has proven to be a terrible judge of talent as ignores the stregnths of top level players and forces them into a system designed for 3 star players.

Comment by pittisit 09.14.13 @ 4:52 pm

gc and Nick, I would love to continue playing the hoopies but not at the Consol. Home and away is fair, fun, and entertaining. It worked well for about 50 years and saw some of the best games in both schools histories. I would rather play WVU than any team on our non/con schedule. It won’t happen though because we would have to give up a home game every 2nd year and they think that is too high a price to pay. We pay, they choose. So they choose that we pay double and get half as much. It’s a lot like government run healthcare.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 09.16.13 @ 5:42 pm

pittisit, Since Dixon missuses talent and is a terrible judge of it, how do you explain him having the best conference won/lost record for the last decade against coaches like Boeheim,
Calhoun, Patino, Huggins etc. ????? He didn’t just win in the non/con he did better than those guys in the Big East. One could argue he got more out of his talent than they did.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 09.16.13 @ 5:55 pm

The problem with the schedule is the two cupcakes between the Cincy game and the start of the ACC season.

Yes, with just 5 players left of the 12 that were on the active roster at the start of last season, you need time for these players to develop as well as come together as a team. But, there are the 2 exhibitions and then 6 cupcake games plus PSU, the Dukes, and Texas Tech, all before the Cincy game.

So, scheduling these additional 2 cupcake games there (Albany and Cal Poly) just reeks of taking the easy way out, padding your W/L record at the expense of a lower seed (like last year’s 8 seed) in the NCAA.

What they SHOULD have done… should be doing… is working out long term agreements with UConn, Georgetown, Marquette and the like.

But nooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

Dixon and Pederson are sitting on their hands with this.

Meanwhile, next year Cuse is playing StJohns at MSG, having Nova come to the Dome, and has worked out a long term agreement with Georgetown.

So, Cuse is making Dixon and Pederson look like crap…. and it is right in our faces what with Cuse entering the ACC at the same time we are.

Moreover, it makes Cuse look like a contender at the national level (which they are) while we look like a *PRETENDER* at the national level (which is what we are).

Yeah, Dixon seems to like being a ‘big fish in a small pond’ in concentrating on the ACC schedule (and the ACC like all conferences is a small pond compared to national).

Kinda sad… and no prospectus that it will change.

Comment by Zaratoughda 09.16.13 @ 7:46 pm

Z, This is all about the home court cash grab. Only these rental victims are willing to visit and not host. I really don’t think this has anything to do with a desire to soften the schedule by the coaching staff. I have 2 season tickets on the upper level and pay a little over 20 a ticket. Even if the place is half empty they still grab about a half a million in tickets and concessions. The additional concessions generated by playing a real opponent at the Pete doesn’t make up for having to give up a home paycheck in return. Dixon and Smiling Steve aren’t sitting on their “hands” they are sitting on their wallets. We don’t play road games in the non/con. We only travel to neutral sites for preseason tournaments. Last year our first true road game was at Rutgers and you saw how that worked out. This is not only a huge abuse of the season ticket holders and true fans, it puts us at a competitive disadvantage in early road games once in conference.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 09.17.13 @ 9:33 am

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