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April 22, 2014

Basketball Link Run Through, 4/22

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 6:21 am

Well, the Barry Rohrssen departure is finally official. It wasn’t money. It was about opportunities. As has been the case the entire time.

2. Money was not a factor. Pitt was ready to match and exceed any money Kentucky offered and Dixon met with Rohrssen last week to try and see if he could work this out but again, it wasn’t about Pitt, it wasn’t about money.

3. Rohrssen and Calipari have been very good friends for about 25 years. This is a long-time friendship they have always wanted to coach together but timing was never right. Rohrssen felt like this may be his last opportunity to jump on with Cal so he did.

I look forward to reading in the comments how this is still Steve Pederson’s fault.

Later this morning the ACC will be announcing all conference basketball matchups for the NEXT 2 YEARS. Amazing what a bit of membership stability can do. Very different from the Big East approach which maximized TV and competitive games between projected top teams. Either they expect the best teams to stay the best for a couple of years, or the ACC is looking at it more to rotate all teams in games with the unbalanced schedule.

But really, it is only three games. Every team plays once. That’s 14 games. One game is part of the protected “rivalry” game that is a home-and-home (I think for Pitt, it will be Louisville slid in there to take the place of Maryland). That leaves three other games to be chosen as home-and-homes.

I get a kick out of the fact that the ACC not only lets everyone know it is coming, but sets a placeholder on the webpage in advance. It does make it easy to bookmark and go there when it is up.

Despite Rohrssen’s departure, Pitt is going to work hard to try and keep Mustapha Heron committed to Pitt. Heron is at least willing to try.

“My relationship with Coach Rohrssen was why I picked Pitt,” Heron said. “Now, I’m trying to build a relationship with Coach Dixon.”

But his departure didn’t stop Tyrone Haughton, a 6-foot-9, 220-pound junior center from Iowa Western Community College, from signing with the Panthers.

“Ty’s a shot-blocker,” Dixon said of Haughton, who set a school record with 185 career blocked shots. “We’re not looking for a lot of scoring from him, but we need that defensive presence.”

Haughton is expected to contend with senior Derrick Randall for a spot in the starting lineup…

We will see. That will be tough if Kentucky does decide that they want Heron.

Maverick Rowan was named 2d team Sophomore All-American by Max Preps.

Hey, Tennessee. How’s that coaching search going? Really? Louisiana Tech’s coach took a look and is saying no? On to the next one, I guess.

Missouri? Frank Haith did you a favor, but good luck on the replacement. Maybe you are prepared to really pony up for Greg Marshall, but there’s nothing like that fear that he could still say no.

In that vein, read this article on coaching wish lists versus reality.

Though 28 new head coaches have been hired since the end of the regular season, only three men who could reasonably be called established coaches at top-50 programs have voluntarily left their jobs for other jobs: Buzz Williams, Cuonzo Martin and Frank Haith.

That’s it.

There are only three. And the wild thing is that three is actually a high number because in 2013 there was only one (Steve Alford), in 2012 there were only two (Frank Martin and Trent Johnson), and in 2011 there was only one (Mike Anderson), and every example of this — i.e., an example of a coach at a top-50 program voluntarily leaving — was laced with unique circumstances that made the coaches reasonably available to the programs pursuing them.

Only seven coaches of top-50 programs have voluntarily changed jobs in the past four years, and every one of them was either running from a person, from a situation, to home or to Westwood. There are no exceptions, which means ADs are almost certainly wasting their time each time they pursue a comfortable and well-compensated coach from a top-50 program unless said AD happens to work at North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Texas, Ohio State, Louisville, Florida, UCLA or a similar elite program with inherent advantages. And, it should be noted, even UK and UCLA have been turned down in recent years.

So remember that going forward, please.

Only about 10 out of 351 Division I schools can reasonably target a comfortable and well-compensated coach like Gregg Marshall or Shaka Smart, and this isn’t some new revelation. It’s been this way for a while, honestly. And there’s no reason to think it’s changing.

I think schools are wising up about this to a degree. When jobs have come open recently, the brief optimism/wishful thinking quickly gets quashed by reality and ADs seem to move a little more quickly to assistants and mid-major coaches who are within reach. The fans are a different story.

Cameron Johnson essentially acknowledges that he is going to be redshirting so he can start putting meat on the bones.

Johnson (6 feet 7) certainly could be called a late bloomer, growing 5 inches in a year. More colleges became interested as Johnson grew. Still, although Stanford, Virginia and Boston College recently showed interest, he was offered scholarships mostly by mid-major schools. He visited Marist, Bryant and Toledo in the fall. He visited Penn and Rice after this past season when Johnson was the WPIAL’s second-leading scorer at 26.8 points a game.

“We probably surprised everyone with this [signing], but to be honest he surprised us with how much he grew and we really didn’t even start recruiting him until late in his senior year,” said Dixon. “We certainly will have to get him into the weight room, get him bigger, get him physically stronger. But he is a kid that I think a lot of coaches are going to be kicking themselves and saying, ‘I wish we would have grabbed him,’ and we are lucky to be the team that got him.”

“It’s not like I feel like I have something to prove [at Pitt],” said Johnson. “But it’s like I knew all along that I could play at that level. I really don’t care what people say about not having offers from the biggest schools. I had ACC schools recruit me. Virginia was talking to me for a while and Notre Dame and Stanford, too. I feel like I can play at that level. People don’t know me as well as I know myself, and as well as coach Dixon knows me.”

Johnson’s father, Gil, is a former Pitt player, and Cameron said he has wanted to play for Pitt as long as he can remember.

“Once I put on more weight and get in the weight room more often, I feel like I can be right where I need to be,” said Johnson.

Aside from the obvious length and size of Johnson on the perimeter — in the long term — the fact that Johnson started as a point guard means he can handle the ball. Giving Pitt another ball handler on the court. Something Dixon really likes.

For the most part, JD has hired some really good assistants not named Rohrrsen — Herrion, Rice, Skerry, Antigua, etc … and also gave two promising candidates, Rasheen Davis and David Cox their start. Both of these have done well and are mentioned as candidates as is Herrion.

But JD seems to have an eye for coaching talent, so I feel confident that he will hire a very capable replacement …. AS LONG AS PEDERSEN DOESN”T BUTT IN — you happy, Chas!!(LOL)

Comment by wbb 04.22.14 @ 7:20 am

he actually grows an inch from report to report

Comment by paul shannon 04.22.14 @ 7:45 am

Sorry to butt in on a BB thread but I couldn’t help but notice the Hudl highlights for our new walk on kicker, Cory Huddleston. Could this be the answer to Blewitt’s poor kickoff performances of last season.

As you may remember, I was a BIG supporter of Chris Blewitt coming in as a Freshman and fully expected that he would blow it up in the kickoff dept. Well, I was underwhelmed actually by Chris’s performance on kickoffs, although overall I thought that his PATs and FG % were both better than adequate for a true freshman.

Well, hopefully this Huddleston kid can give Blewitt a run for his money, at least on kickoffs. Competition is always a good thing. This is another local kid from Northern Virginia, but unlike Blewitt, he was flying below my radar during his senior year in HS. I never even heard of him until reading about his walk on status a couple days ago here.

I’m sure that Chryst is pleased to have him walk onto to the team though and, in fact, he shores up an already solid special teams kicking roster.

This is going to be a very interesting season to be following Pitt Football. I can feel the momentum building, even in spite of the very low keyed PR and lack of hype surrounding the team this spring, that is so Chryst like.

Considering that lack of attention, nothing would please me more than Pitt being able to sneak up on BC and soundly beating them on their own turf in early September before the word gets out that Pitt may actually be fielding a pretty good club in 2014. As I’ve pontificated already, that early game on our schedule could be a definite turning point for the team this season. If we’re 2-0 after that game, I see the momentum picking up steam quickly going forward. Then all of a sudden the Thursday night game against VT in October becomes a national showcase for the new improved Pitt Panther football team, as they attempt to prove to the nation that they once again deserve to be considered as a top 25 team in the country.

Hail to Pitt.

Comment by Dr. Tom 04.22.14 @ 7:55 am

@Dr Tom

I am also curious about Winslow’s ability to control punts. Pin teams deep. Kick out of bounds when (and only when) we need it. Does he have technique as well as a big leg? Does anyone know?

We need special teams to shine this fall.


Comment by pmdH2P 04.22.14 @ 8:34 am

Cam Johnson’s High School coach was Mike Rodriguez,retired head of the Pittsburgh office of the FBI.

Comment by alcofan 04.22.14 @ 8:38 am

Cam Johnson’s High School coach was Mike Rodriguez,retired head of the Pittsburgh office of the FBI.

Comment by alcofan 04.22.14 @ 8:38 am

I like that we are have enough talent to be redshirting players. It would be nice to have a freshman good enough for playing time. It does seem to take some time to play defense good enough for Jamie.

It sure would be special if one of our bigs grew another two inches. If Johnson grows two more we may have to call him Magic.

On a football note, I read that there will be a battle between Dorian Johnson and Gabe Roberts for the position, is that a good or bad thing? DJ is one guy that needs to put on more beef. Could he move back to tackle if Bisno does not heal?

Sounds like they will push Clemmings for All-America, hope he lives up to the hype.

Don’t want to wish the summer away, but I can’t wait to see James and Jennings.

Dr. Tom, sure would be neat to have a guy that can routinely kick it out of the endzone.

wbb, we need a guy that can recruit and a plus would be someone that can coach the full-court press. We may have the depth to do it.

Comment by gc 04.22.14 @ 8:43 am

and maybe a shot blocker.

Comment by gc 04.22.14 @ 8:44 am

I think we are also guaranteed to play Syracuse twice a year as well as Louisville.

Comment by Greg 04.22.14 @ 9:27 am

Why are we stuck with Louisville? How about a new rivalry?

Comment by gc 04.22.14 @ 10:23 am

ACC Basketball opponents for ’15 and ’16 have been announced… link to

Comment by Mailman 04.22.14 @ 10:54 am

gc, Grimm and especially Bookser may be good enough to play this year, however, the point I believe is that we have enough depth so they wouldn’t have to .. especially since the OL (along with QB) are the hardest positions to learn.

Jennings and James will most likely get some PT next year, and possibly Ollison, Maddox Dintino and Amare also

Comment by wbb 04.22.14 @ 11:20 am

“My relationship with Coach Rohrssen was why I picked Pitt,” Heron said. “Now, I’m trying to build a relationship with Coach Dixon.” – Mustapha Heron

And Heron decommits in 3…2…1…

Comment by Iron Duke 04.22.14 @ 11:38 am

The sky is falling. Run for the hills.

Comment by 1618mt 04.22.14 @ 12:06 pm

Has there been an official announcement by Kentucky that Slice is going there? Any chance he is getting a head coaching position somewhere else – Missouri? Tennessee?

Comment by Pitt Dad 04.22.14 @ 12:51 pm

wbb, sorry I was talking about freshmen basketball players good enough to play this year.

I agree on the football guys you mention.

Comment by gc 04.22.14 @ 1:43 pm

I did mention both sports though.

Comment by gc 04.22.14 @ 1:45 pm

No. I have been distracted lately and haven’t been reading some of the messages thoroughly enough.

The 2015 and 2016 current BB commits (if they stay) will certainly be good enough to play as frosh

Comment by wbb 04.22.14 @ 1:53 pm

Don’t let your boss get you down. I know, easier said than done.

Comment by gc 04.22.14 @ 3:54 pm

Pluses & minuses with 2 games with L-ville.

Minuses are;1) L-ville is perennially a Top 10, Top 20 type team which could mean 2 additionally losses. As it seems no matter how many times we play them, we act surprised when they full court press and seem to be never quite prepared for it.
2)They always seem to have better athletes than us.
3)And having to hear some snide remarks by Ricky.

4)The Twerps were pretty much 2 guaranteed wins, those being conference wins. 5) Seems to me, a more fair replacement for Maryland would be BC, as far as replacing the 2 almost guaranteed wins.

Pluses are; 1) a chance to beat a highly ranked team. 2) Playing L-ville, win or lose will help out in the RPi ratings. 3) Playing them twice would double that effect. 4) Getting to see Ricky’s face if we beat them. 5) Pitt-L-ville games are more likely to be televised nationally than Pitt-BC, Pitt-WF, Pitt-VT, etc.

Comment by Emel 04.22.14 @ 4:10 pm

“My relationship with Coach Rohrssen was why I picked Pitt,” Heron said. “Now, I’m trying to build a relationship with Coach Dixon.” – Mustapha Heron
And Heron decommits in 3…2…1…

Comment by Iron Duke 04.22.14 @ 11:38 am

lol…… If Slice had this special place in his heart for Pitt and Pittsburgh, as he’s said. He just not recruit Heron for UK. Very simple, have a little class.

Comment by Emel 04.22.14 @ 4:14 pm

@ Pitt Dad

“Pitt announced that assistant basketball coach Barry Rohrssen is departing from the program and has accepted a job at Kentucky as an assistant coach under his long-time friend John Calipari.”

That’s per the PG.

Funny though, no official word by Kentucky as of yet.

And I see we’re already playing BC twice, so scratch BC off #5 of plus list and replace with WF.

Comment by Emel 04.22.14 @ 4:21 pm

As far as the O-line, if you have to play true freshmen, who are most likely not ready physically, and can’t redshirt them, to me that says, you don’t have depth.

DJ’s redshirt was burned for no reason imo, since he didn’t offer much more than what was available. In fact it was less than Hollins.

Comment by Emel 04.22.14 @ 4:29 pm

Emel, regarding L-ville’s perennial powerhouse status, I say “bring it on.”

We can’t on one hand, applaud ourselves for moving to an elite conference, and then hope for a cherry-picked schedule. If we want to be ranked among the better teams, we’ve got to more than occasionally play and beat those teams. We didn’t shy away from the UConns, the Orange, and the Hoyas when we were in the Big East—we shouldn’t hope to do it in the ACC.

Comment by Lou 04.22.14 @ 5:02 pm

@ Lou…like it too. Bring it on.

However say this year, we probably would have lost both games to L-Ville as they had much superior guards than us.

Two more losses in the regular season, we probably don’t make the Dance.

So I like playing them, just recruit some better players and for God sake start attacking that full court press of L-Ville’s, instead of inching the ball up court and having to beat their defense, twice.

Comment by Emel 04.22.14 @ 5:27 pm

I just think they should rotate all the home and aways so that over time you get a chance at everyone.

They are doing this so they can justify Duke vs NC every year.

It would be great if we got those home and aways every so many years.

The way they are doing it the schedule will always be skewed.

If you really want it to be the new ACC we wouldn’t have home and aways against 3 former big east teams you would spread the love.

Comment by gc 04.22.14 @ 5:29 pm

Oh well, they were nice enough to invite us to their conference.

They get UNC/Duke every year and we get Pitt/Cuse, so that’s a pretty fair situation.

The alternative was having a schedule with home & homes against Houston, Tulsa (replacing rutgers), USF, Temple (not a bad one), UCF & SMU.

Uconn & Memphis & Cincy would be alright, who’s replacing L-Ville in the AAC ?

This conference will only continue to get worse as more teams bail when invited elsewhere down the road.

Comment by Emel 04.22.14 @ 5:57 pm

Oh you could also add these 2 home & homes for bball. East Carolina & Tulane. Much excitement there, the Pete would be half empty.

More like a rebranded C-USA than anything.

We are very lucky BC nixed Uconn. Although we still might have gotten in when Maryland left. But who knows.

Comment by Emel 04.22.14 @ 6:08 pm

Emel, on the flip side, ECU and Tulane as non-con games would be a step up.

Maybe the ACC can take UConn in hoops only. They are elite and I love to hate them, so a great addition. But please not in football. I never want to see that house of Pitt horrors known as The Rent again.

Comment by Iron Duke 04.22.14 @ 6:40 pm

Maybe Smug is that evil talisman that brings bad luck.

Comment by TX Panther 04.22.14 @ 8:04 pm

Reed, Got it. I’ll spread the word but won’t do much for 2 weeks since I’ll be away and off line. If it was a silver 2006 Honda Accord It was probably me, although the Pitt magnetic decal lost its gription during the cold weather and I had to take it off. My son is usually wearing a Pitt hat on Pitt game days and a Steelers hat on Steelers game days. Best of luck to you and your son on the house.

Comment by OPFIM 04.22.14 @ 9:02 pm

There are two protected rivalries in the ACC. Syracuse and Maryland were the rivalries for Pitt. Syracuse and Louisville are now the rivalries due to Louisville essentially directly replacing Maryland in all the sports scheduling. Because of this there are two other home and away opponents that are assigned by the conference. It will be interesting to see if a pattern will develop with these assignments.

Comment by John In South Carolina 04.22.14 @ 11:36 pm

Excellent blog piece by Dokish this morning explaining Dixon’s late season roster additions:

link to

Comment by Howard 04.23.14 @ 4:52 am

Whoops. Here’s the correct link:

link to

Comment by Howard 04.23.14 @ 4:53 am

Very interesting article by Dokish. The miss with Birch and Adams leaving left us without a center.

His theory does show that it is rare to get much production from a fill in player (project).

Maybe disagree that Wright was fill in. If so his production is most impressive.

Also sounds like this year’s bunch was the result of some pretty weak recruiting according to the theory. Especially with Jeter being a transfer player. On that, most seem to think he will be a starter. Have not seen enough of him to be sure.

I think that the starters from last year, Robinson, Young and Wright and Newkirk, DJ, Artis, Jeter, when you add Haughton and Randall as role playing centers and Chris Jones as a wild card, you have ten guys capable of starting.

Knowing Jamie, defense and rebounding productivity will have an impact on playing time.

I see Newkirk as the only one having dramatically more upside than any other player. Next maybe Young, as an all-around talent. All others have glaring weaknesses.

I said before, it is conceivable that the second team could beat the first team on any given day.

The one thing we do not know is which guys will have the right chemistry. Other unknowns are who gets better in the off-season and does DJ recover, and does CJ’s surgery make a big difference.

Hopefully Young’s back is fully recovered as well.

As usual, Jamie has his work cut out for him, but he does have a lot to work with.

Comment by gc 04.23.14 @ 9:48 am

gc, I mostly agree, but I see a healthy Young as the one who will distinguish himself the most even more the Newk. Maybe because I saw him on TV in the alleged high school Final 4 and against pretty good talent, and he seemed a cut above

Comment by wbb 04.23.14 @ 12:38 pm

wbb, that would be a very positive development.

Comment by gc 04.23.14 @ 2:26 pm

Newkirk has the quicks to be a very effective player as a penetrating PG, and showed some nice 3 point shooting as well especially against NCSU with five 3’s.

I would plug him in as the starter in the non-com games immediately next year. We know what JR’s game is and is not. And that is a very limited upside.

It probably won’t happen though as JR’s DeMatha pedigree will prevail.

Comment by Emel 04.23.14 @ 4:31 pm

2015/2016 – if Heron bails – is just horrible. A bunch of projects. What is going on w/ Dixon?

Comment by John Ramella 04.29.14 @ 9:08 pm

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