Both teams are 1-6 in the ACC. Pitt is at home. They will be having a “Blackout Game.” Complete with black unis that all the cool kids love and free t-shirts for fans.
…and Pitt is the underdog.
I think I was annoyed by seeing that Pitt is a 3 point underdog for all of 10 seconds. Then a simple thought put it in perspective, “Would I bet on this Pitt team?”
And right now, it seems as if Coach Kevin Stallings doesn’t know what this team will do next.
Stallings noticed his players saving their energy for offense while playing defense. When the offense suffers, the defense already is suffering, creating a situation that is difficult to overcome.
“It’s a team that just li
ves through its jump shots. That’s my fault,” he said. “When we start missing shots, our defensive play reflects our lack of offense and then we get the big snowball going the wrong direction.”
Maturity was expected to be one of Pitt’s strengths, with four seniors in the starting lineup. But the opposite has been true.
“Things are always delicate with seniors,” Stallings said. “At one point, guys realize, ‘Wait a second. I’m not going to be a pro.’ Now, where does their investment go from there?”
Pitt’s season didn’t always appear so hopeless. The Panthers own victories against No. 12 Virginia (16-3), Big Ten co-leader and No. 22 Maryland (18-2) and Marquette (14-6), which beat No. 1 Villanova.
But there also were indicators of upcoming problems.
“We showed signs of this in nonconference wins. We had 25-point leads and would be hanging on to win games against inferior people,” he said. “This didn’t just happen.”
Players were not available for comment after the 106-51 loss to Louisville on Tuesday night and also were off limits to reporters throughout the rest of the week.
“I like them,” Stallings said. “They’re nice kids. I just hope I can do a better job with them.”
The honesty can be refreshing. It certainly makes for more interesting articles. But, man I know I would hate to be reading this stuff if I was in the kids’ place.
Stallings is talking about taking away the “offensive freedom” for the team since they don’t play defense and the offense has gone in the crapper. Again sounding like a disappointed parent punishing the kids.
“That’s kind of been something that’s being discussed,” Stallings said Tuesday of potentially taking away offensive freedom. “I’m OK with give and take. I really am. I want to give these guys freedom and I want to let them play. I’m not OK with take and take. I feel like that’s what we’ve got going right now. No give and take; just take and take. That’s been something that has been bantered about and something we’re going to take a look at. We’re going to have to take a look at everything because this just isn’t acceptable.”
What seemed like such an enticing proposal entering the season — what player, after all, doesn’t want more freedom — has devolved into something almost unrecognizable the past two weeks. In two of Pitt’s past three games, it averaged fewer than one point per possession, only the second and third time that happened this season.
Part of that is due to a relatively hampered team, with sixth man Ryan Luther out with a right foot injury and forward Michael Young still adjusting to playing with a mask protecting a fracture in his orbital bone. Many of the team’s problems, according to Stallings, can be tied more to a lack of trust between players on a short-handed team.
“They’re saying to me we have to trust each other more,” Stallings said of his players. “I know it and I know it before they say it. It’s things that they know, we all know, we all see them, we all feel them. Now, it’s just a matter of executing.”
“You know better then to do that. You’re a smart kid. I don’t want to take away your phone, but you aren’t giving me a choice.” It’s bad enough when you hear your parents’ words/voice echoing in your head when lecturing your kid. Now I’m hearing it from the basketball coach.
Judging by the way Pitt has played in ACC play, we will know within the first 10 minutes or so whether Pitt will have a chance or if they plan to roll over. If so, at least there won’t be false hope and any reason to watch the rest.