That seems to be what is happening. Everyone is watching. Everyone is waiting to see what is happening over the next couple of weeks.
With a decreasing number of players expected to leave the Pitt program this year — thanks to the stability created by coach Paul Chryst and his staff — and 49 added in the past two recruiting classes, expect this year’s group to be the smallest since Chryst welcomed 16 in 2012.
Meanwhile, coaches and officials are making plans to host about 300 high school players this weekend and next at Pitt’s UPMC training facility on the South Side for the Paul Chryst Football Camps. This is, generally, where many players make up their minds, but where they also get plenty of instruction from members of the Pitt staff and other coaches.
The next two weekends are so important to the long-range growth of the program that Chryst is skipping ceremonies at Wisconsin-Platteville on June 13 where his late father George will be honored for three decades of service as coach and athletic director.
The attrition over the first two years is not uncommon. Now it is a matter of not just being more selective, but getting the kids to decide Pitt is their best choice.
In other things…
A VT blog post on attendance with ACC Exapnsion (h/t to Carolina Panther). The focus is obviously on VT, so it is amusing to see them downplaying the fact that their rise in attendance had more to do with Lane Stadium expansion than moving to the ACC. I would guess if they ran their attendance numbers based on capacity percentage, it would look a lot flatter.
Pitt benefited from a great schedule in their opening ACC season. It is cute as they try to puzzle out the 2003 spike. As much as the schedule was great — and Larry Fitzgerald — there were huge expectations for Pitt to break through that year. Just as there were expectations in 2008 that saw the attendance shoot up after bottoming out in 2007.
There is no question that every local media outlet loves their local kids. It can be any small town. It goes through the big cities. I always got a kick out of how even the NYC papers make a point of stating exactly from which borough a local kid on a college basketball team is. Pittsburght is no different. The local media love having WPIAL players on Pitt’s roster (or PSU and WVU). Now there was an article from Dejan Kovacevic on how even the pro teams should be looking more local when possible.
I think it is a bit overblown in the importance to the general public. It’s a nice story. And for much of the local media who may have covered the kid when he was in high school or college it makes it easier to be in contact with them. But economic impact of selling tickets and interest are minimal. Winning matters more than where the players are from.
And even Kovacevic had to backpedal a bit from it in an online chat when a fan tried to take it too far.
Pete: DK! Loved your column on local guys and drafting. Would you agree that we are seeing this at the amateur level here in Pittsburgh as Jamie Dixon is stockpiling his powerhouse Panthers with loads of WPIAL players after years of ignoring almost everyone from around here? Seems like Coach Dixon is ahead of the curve in recognizing local talent vs the professionals who pick talent and Pittsburgh is having a bit of a renaissance in basketball these days.
Dejan Kovacevic: Thanks regarding the column. First time I’ve really taken on that topic, but Neil Walker’s surge, Brandon Saad’s excellence, Aaron Donald’s near-miss and now having a local pitcher look like a high pick in the baseball draft Thursday all kind of added up.
Jamie’s done well locally, though I don’t know if it’s as much being ahead of the curve as it is just being the biggest dude on the block. Duquesne had scouted Ryan Luther out of Hampton as if he were a long-lost son. Jamie showed up, offered a scholarship to a far better program, and that was that.
Wrapping up great Western Pennsylvania players is no way to excel in hoops, nor is that true of hockey or baseball or even football. But there’s something to be said for knowing the territory — that’s knowing, not preferring — and reacting accordingly.
Again, it makes for a nice story. And when an Aaron Donald happens it is even better. But you can’t live off local.