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.
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.