February 9, 2017

Pitt Finally Wins

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 8:45 am

Not since the Big East Tournament of 2001, when Ricardo Greer  dragged Pitt to the Big East Championship game, had Boston College beaten Pitt in basketball. That tradition continued last night as Pitt snapped its 8-game losing streak. Moving to a robust 2-9 in the ACC and out of dead last. Now at second to dead last.

“It wouldn’t have mattered if we were playing the Golden State Warriors,” Stallings said. “We needed a win.”

“When you go on a skid like we’ve been on, you just need a win,” Stallings said. “It doesn’t matter who it’s against. You don’t say to yourself, ‘Well we better get these guys because if we don’t.’ … You just play them as they come and keep trying to knock the door down.”

It was a less than promising start. Artis drove to the basket on the first possession but stepped on a BC defender’s foot and turned his ankle. He was in such obvious and severe pain, that his scream was heard over the broadcast. Granted, the Conte Arena was so empty you could hear a lot of stuff on the court, but it was still scary.

Artis did return for a few minutes in the first half and played most of the second half. He was definitely not at 100%, though.

The main story was Mike Young going off for 30 points. He was unstoppable by BC. 7-9 on shots inside the arc and fouled plenty.

The biggest surprise was seeing Justice Kithcart filling the offensive void of Artis in the first half. Kithcart has shown no confidence in his ability to shoot since the first few games of the season. Forced into action, and having no choice but to take some shots. He shot 3-3 on threes. No one saw that coming.

Hitting that first three made an impact to his overall demeanor and confidence. You could see him become more willing to direct as the point guard and a little less deferential to the seniors.

The only downside from Kithcart’s performance was his defense. It surprised me since the freshman  was supposed to excel at was defense. He looked lost in the zone and was struggling with switches and keeping his hands up to defend shots on the perimeter.

The last few games, Chris Jones seems to have decided that if no one else will attack the basket, he’ll do it. The result has been better than expected. Finishing a bit more and not just getting to the free throw line, but hitting them.

While the players continue to state optimism about making a run, it has to be taken gently. Pitt beat a fellow cellar dweller. The defense continues to be very weak — BC shot 59% on 2-point shots.

Still, after over a month without a win, enjoy what you can get.

I have always thought Jones should attack more … for better or worse. When Pitt goes thru its long dry spells, it’s because nobody is hitting their outside shots, and we don’t get many offensive rebounds this year.

Our defense is weak, no doubt, but I was really concerned by our vulnerability in the low post. Young, who is strong, just seemed overmatched by the bigger BC’s centers .. none of whom were particularly athletic.

But good to see Jeter, Jones and Kithcart come thru without Artis being 100%

Comment by wbb 02.09.17 @ 9:02 am

I was only able to listen to the first half. It seemed to me that BC was able to penetrate to the hoop nearly at will in the second half as I was watching on TV. I was wondering why they weren’t doing it all the time.

The big difference last night was clearly the FT opportunities. Pitt had more than twice as many opportunities as BC and converted. Young, Jeter and Jones were particularly successful. BTW, Chris Jones is now shooting over 50% for the season. His previous best was his freshman year at 44%. The driving is obviously helping him and the team.

I also saw Wilson with a nice take off the wing. He was somewhat caught in the air, but found somebody and got a hockey assist. IMO Wilson shows signs that more minutes would really help him develop. He’s long and he has a good first step, especially to his left.

Indeed a bit troubling that Kithcart struggled on D since his reputation was as a good defensive player. Makes me wonder why folks like Dokish and other “experts” are pumping next year’s 3* class as difference makers. Fairly rare for first year players to come in and live up to their high school reputations. In addition there will be at least six new players next season. Finally, there will be at least four new starters. That is lot of roster and lineup turnover. Next season will definitely be a challenge.

Comment by Barvo 02.09.17 @ 9:17 am

Agree wbb. I actually liked JR, but the one thing that I always faulted him on was his inability to penetrate and finish or create for others. It seemed like that is what has been missing since Patterson moved on. Patterson wasn’t a natural playmaker either because he was bigger and not particularly quick, but he was somehow capable of penetrating and creating something.

Comment by Barvo 02.09.17 @ 9:22 am

I thought Nix could have helped in the low post in the second half. What happened to Milligan?

Comment by alcofan 02.09.17 @ 9:37 am

Barvo – both Carr and Thompson are rated 4 stars, depending on the ranking service, and I think it’s been a while since we’ve had 2 guards rated that highly in the same recruiting class. Also, we have to recruits that can’t be assessed (properly) by rating services, in Wilson-Frame & Peace, so you’d need a good talent evaluator to even even take an educated guess with those guys. So I don’t have a problem with a little ‘hyping’ of the class, or even some skepticism. As they say, time will tell…

Comment by 1618mt 02.09.17 @ 9:51 am

Barvo, on defense, Kithcart never seemed to be between his man and the basket … looked like he was giving his man an angle to the hoop, and the BC player was taking full advantage of it

Comment by wbb 02.09.17 @ 9:59 am

alcofan, as of right now, Pitt has to show the door to one current scholarship player for next year … my bet is that it’s either Milligan or Chrisshawn Clark (who is injured this year)

Comment by wbb 02.09.17 @ 10:02 am

Really nice to read about a game and not have all the usual negativity!! Of course, we’recommend only 7 posts into this thread!!

Comment by Savannah Panther 02.09.17 @ 10:29 am

KS is still recruiting full speed ahead and rightly so. More doors to open.

Comment by Rayhpgh 02.09.17 @ 10:30 am

We’re only – damn autocorrect

Comment by Savannah Panther 02.09.17 @ 10:30 am

Kithcart looks like a kid thinking too much and a kid who would have benefited from redshirting. I haven’t been discouraged at all though. I remember the deer in headlights Antonio Graves, Wanamaker and Patterson’s of yesteryear. HS to the ACC is a big jump, especially if you’re not an elite kid.

I don’t think anyone is pumping up the class next year. It’s a solid group of role players. That is all. I’ve seen Aaron Thompson in person and was thoroughly impressed and would not be surprised if he’s a 4 star by the time final recruiting grades are out. I think he could be really good by the end of his Pitt career. But he’s going to have to develop. He’s not ready to just jump in and lead a team.

Pitt will have to add at least two top 50 players in 2018 and another two in 2019 to make the 2017 class work.

Next year is the first rebuild of the century. It was always going to be this way … with Dixon or Stallings or whomever else. It’s also why I think if Pitt is going to get rid of Stalling now is the time. This is the year we can afford to lose a recruiting class because next season was going to be a show anyways. Keeping Stallings locks us in for a couple of years to let him develop the roster he’s assembled.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.09.17 @ 11:47 am

link to

Instant impact recruit: Pittsburgh’s Paris Ford…

Comment by NickC 02.09.17 @ 12:43 pm

TT – Actually, Thompson is already a 4 star on scout. If rivals never changes him, I don’t really care. Of course, What we all care about is how good he actually is, of course… We certainly have a lot of experience with 3 stars that were clearly underrated, as well as plenty of examples of 4 star recruits that were clearly overrated. One thing I do appreciate about this class, especially given how late of a start Stallings had, was how he’s been able to accumulate specific needs in trying to put together a roster. Right now we’re a team made up of all forwards, and completely lacking in certain traits as well. There are certain traits you can’t coach (players will not learn), you have to recruit them to begin with.

Comment by 1618mt 02.09.17 @ 1:36 pm

1618mt – Agreed. The team needs a lot of help in a lot of place and above all that, it needs balance. Dixon was trending towards positionless basketball which has lead us to a team of 300 small forwards.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.09.17 @ 2:14 pm

I look back as recently the North Carolina and Duke games, where the Panthers played really well. I think the biggest mistake was not playing some of these guys more in the non-conference games. I think the depth issue, was the killer. I know the win the other night was against BC, but having Artis injured early and still winning was important for these guys who had just come off two tough losses.

Comment by Justinian 02.09.17 @ 6:45 pm

If you think Stallings is the future, keep him. If not, then yes, now is the time to cut ties. I just dont see KS consistently getting 20+ wins each year having to play in a much tougher ACC conference. Particularly with a much tougher non con schedule. Dixon got 15 easy wins before the real games started each year.

Comment by TX Panther 02.09.17 @ 7:38 pm

TX…here’s where I am on Stallings. Much like the BOT and Gallagher, I no longer care. Keep him…fire him. There’s no plan in place to sustain either option so what’s the point of even discussing it further.

I have many other things to do with my time and money. So do the folks who used to sit in those seats in the Pete and the many who used to comment on the blogs during each game!

Pitt has done what it does best. Fucked itself with no way out!

Comment by Dan 72 02.09.17 @ 7:49 pm

Sadly Dan72, you’re right. Last year Pitt BB received $5,000+ of my money and found me descending from the TV lot to the Pete some dozen times. This year they got stugots. And, frankly, not only don’t I miss it, I now realize what a fool I was thinking Pitt ever cared. I will always root for Pitt, of course, but they will never sell me BB tickets again. I approached Barnes at the Pitt Akron away FB game alumni reception and welcomed him to Pittsburgh. He spent 30 seconds looking over my shoulder in search of a rainmaker. That moment was the beginning of the end for me. Something just didn’t seem right. Now we know why.

Comment by wally 02.09.17 @ 9:27 pm

We really need an AD that can turn things around fast. A good AD is far more important to a program than a good coach. I’m concerned that Pitt will Phuck the AD search again. Again, I’m of the opinion to cut bait with KS and move on to a different fishing hole. It will take a year to get there but we’ll be rewarded with a good catch and much success…as long as the AD hires his man, the AD is good, and no search firms much up things.

Comment by TX Panther 02.09.17 @ 9:42 pm

muck up things that is.

Any word on the AD search?

Is Tressell at least being considered.

Pitt needs stability at the higher ranks. Leadership. Execution. Vision. AD’s create the culture for coaches to succeed or fail. Thats why I say they are more important than the coach…unless of course your coach is the de facto AD.

Comment by TX Panther 02.09.17 @ 9:47 pm

@wally We got same treatment from Barnes at a womans bb game atthe Pete. Looked right through me. He is an arrogant ass.

And this year was the last for us for Pitt Men’s BBall – besides watching an inferior product, last straw was selling ACC tickets at a discount after we season ticket holders paid full price…didn’t even notify us to see if we wanted better seats.

$2500 plus concession and apparel money gone. All thanks go to AD Barnes and HCKS…walk out on that gents.

Comment by Tommymac 02.10.17 @ 1:54 am

Tommymac, TX, Dan, Wally…spot on comments. I love Pitt but feel I’m being used. The AD hire will set the cultural tone. I don’t want to stop caring but it’s a possibility if the shit hirings
keep happening.

Comment by Lastrowofsection4 02.10.17 @ 4:37 am

Lest we not forget. A little walk back through Memory Lane thanks to Paul Zeise…

The people hanging on to those memories of the Jamie Dixon glory years are not dealing in the reality that the program from 2003-2011 was not what Stallings inherited. This season has been in the works since 2011, when Dixon recruited what appeared to be a talented class that pretty much blew up.


link to

Comment by PittofDreams 02.10.17 @ 6:01 am

Zeise claims Pitt has NOT quit on Stallings.

He would know… being personal friends with the Jeters.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.10.17 @ 6:03 am

Kithcart will be a good PG. He is quick, can drive and dish. He is struggling with the D concepts but that comes around with experience. It is the mental side he is struggling with, he has the physical ability. Now, if he didn’t have the physical tools, I would worry.

He needs to keep gaining confidence.

Comment by notrocketscience 02.10.17 @ 10:16 am

Thanks wbb. Sometimes coaches want to channel a guy, but if that wasn’t the plan (probably wasn’t given Pitt’s shot blocking ability) kind of disturbing technique for a guy with a defensive reputation.

PoD – Zeise couldn’t be more accurate with the statement regarding the 2011 class. IMO that class rendered Pitt as “marginally good” for years and killed the program momentum from the preceding years. 2010 class not much better with only Cam Wright staying in the program all four years.

Comment by Barvo 02.10.17 @ 10:36 am

Barvo – spot on. I think the 2009 class started it although it wasn’t the complete bust 2010 and 2011 were.

Other programs have dips like Syracuse but they can reload. Pitt was never a program that could reload so if we missed on a class, it set the program back. Missing on three straight classes crushed Pitt’s culture of sitting as a freshman, playing marginally as a sophomore and the consistent rise as a Jr (Look at all the most improved awards). Pitt lost that senior leadership and that edge they had. Because they missed on 2009 and 2010, when Wanamaker, Gilbert Brown and McGhee left after the 2010-11 season the roster did not have that front loaded senior leadership nor the backloaded stable of players who were sitting and waiting their turn. Once the leadership went, the program started to decay slowly and it’s lead to where we are now … A middling, marginal NCAA tourney team that is a shadow of it’s former self. It’s why next year’s class is important. Pitt’s not a program that can reload so we need a big class of kids that will be here 4 years to re-establish the culture. The question is if Stallings can install the culture we need. I doubt it.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.10.17 @ 11:16 am

… but I am a fan of the class coming in. Based on what I’ve seen, the class has an edge and chip on their shoulders that we’ve been lacking for a few years. Pitt basketball should not retort to slog ball but there’s nothing wrong with being a bully on the court either. Reclaim our identity … next year’s class has the potential to do it. Them alone won’t amount to much though. Like I said previously, they will need to add some superstars (top 50 kids) the next two classes to make this complimentary, role player, class hum.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.10.17 @ 11:21 am

Next year’s class definitely intrigues me, although of course, we read good things on just about everyone we bring in. If nothing else, there is balance … every position is represented. We also need numbers, and got that.

The class of Young and Artis has to be rated as a good class .. but overall, our recruiting has suffered lately.

John Wooden was a great coach .. just ask Walt Hazzard, Lew Alcindor, Sydney Wicks and Bill Walton.

Comment by wbb 02.10.17 @ 11:52 am

Luther is out 2 more weeks. Artis’ ankle still swollen and not practicing today.

Comment by wbb 02.10.17 @ 12:50 pm

How about HCKS – is he out yet?

Can we trade Luther coming back in 2 weeks for KS being gone in 2 weeks?

Practice, you talking bout practice? Ole Artis doesn’t practice, does he?

Comment by Erie Express 02.10.17 @ 2:15 pm

@TT regarding chip on shoulder class.
That sounds like good news, but I seriously doubt HCKS style and system can really showcase that type of play and mentality.

You need a hard nosed take no prisoners defense system, an organized smart, punishing rebounding game and an offense with a killer instinct 100% of the game.

I just don’t see that in his future teams. He is more of an supposedly offensive ‘freedom’ ‘genius’ guy – but looking at his offense this season I really don’t know what the hell that means. He has not shown me any offensive genius or touch. For just one example, his late half/game strategy and sets are nonexistent – the players run way too many one on one individual sets with no screens being set or back door cuts as examples.

He does not play a true run and gun up tempo style. This team plays halfcourt sets just as much as Dixon’s teams did.

He does switch defenses but I don’t see the intensity in the players eyes or body language.

With the exception of Jeter and Young this team could not rebound a bounced check. I see no real strategy or focus for that aspect of the game.

The 2017 class seems a sold class of 3* developmental players. But 39th is just not quite good enough to compete regularly in the ACC…SEC maybe.

On other sites I keep hearing cheerleading about this killer 2018 group that HCKS has in his back pocket; if anyone can name the 5* studs potentially coming here to play then please let me know…but in Reality I believe it is time for Stallings to go.

Comment by Tommymac 02.10.17 @ 5:48 pm

Tommymac – Under HCKS, Pitt will never play a defensive brand of basketball but that doesn’t mean kids can’t play with a chip on their shoulders. It’s an attitude not a style of play.

I wouldn’t get hung up on rankings. 39th is based on 6 3 stars. Two kids have already moved up in other rankings to 4 stars which would vault Pitt into the teens if 247 follows suit.

It’s a good foundation class for a complete rebuild but, you’re right, without top 50 kids it will all be for naught. You need at least two top 50 kids in your starting lineup to be a top 10 team.

This group of coaches were not recruiting 2017 kids hard because of the recruiting cycle at Vandy. Everything I’ve read is that they have much better connections to 2018.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.10.17 @ 8:09 pm

Stallings calls old Big East basketball “pretty boring”

link to

Comment by Jackagain 02.10.17 @ 8:18 pm

OMG! Is this guy a piece of work or what? So on top of his countless character deficiencies, he’s tone deaf too???

Come on. You come to a university that takes pride in their past achievements in the Big East and you bash it? Are you kidding me? How do expect to endear yourself to the fans when you belittle their heritage? I’m telling you, this is shotgun wedding that has NO chance of making it. ZERO

Comment by wally 02.10.17 @ 9:03 pm

Man, he is a knucklehead! Yes KS, the BB universe has always lined up to watch that exciting brand of BB played in the SEC…You want to know what the most exciting kind of basketball is KS? The kind where you win conference games.

Comment by HbgFrank 02.10.17 @ 9:19 pm

Maybe he’s trying to get fired. What an abrasive comment.

Comment by Dan 72 02.10.17 @ 9:49 pm

Say Cam at the OLSH game tonight, wished him well tomorrow and complimented his behind the back pass vs BC. He was there to watch little Brother Donavon play Sewickley. He’s a tall lanky freshmen with a sweet stroke.

Comment by alcofan 02.10.17 @ 9:56 pm

The old Big East was definitely not boring. Pitt’s brand of play (offensively) under Dixon might have been, but the conference allowed for a physical style. I miss playing UConn, Nova, and G-Town.

Comment by TX Panther 02.10.17 @ 10:27 pm

Right there with you TX Panther. It WAS the best bb conference ever. Look at all the teams that had a NC in their history! We have the ACC to thank for busting that up.

Comment by Savannah Panther 02.10.17 @ 11:01 pm

KS: Hmmm. Let me see how I can piss the fan base off even more. Hmmm. The Big East sucked. Yeah, that’ll do it.

It’s as if he’s trying to get fired. Pitt should appease him. Just go away already.

Time to hit the reset button.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.10.17 @ 11:22 pm

Does KS have foot-in-mouth disease or what? What a jagoff.

The intensity of watching a top tier Big East Game was unmatched. I can only imagine what it was like playig in one…

Comment by Tommymac 02.11.17 @ 1:09 am

Not an original comment ==>

Hey Coach Stallings “Taking a month between wins IS BORING!”

Comment by The Truth 02.11.17 @ 7:25 am

Wow – looks like Pitt is blacking the game out in Pittsburgh…only on pay channel…how low we have fallen.

This will help expand the fanbase…

Just wow.

Comment by Tommymac 02.11.17 @ 8:21 am

>Syracuse< Game

Comment by Tommymac 02.11.17 @ 8:21 am

Wife and I are going for a Sunday drive on Saturday now…hope Pitt wins but really don’t care too much now.

Comment by Tommymac 02.11.17 @ 8:23 am

Is Herman gone yet?
What a disease!

Comment by Gasman 02.11.17 @ 9:09 am

Gasman- hope he’s outta here on Valentines Day —- Now that would be a Sweetheart Deal! Better than flowers and chocolates.

Comment by Savannah Panther 02.11.17 @ 10:25 am

Most of you complained about Big East BB being boring. Everyone wanted Pitt to pick it up and play faster. When Stallings says it, he is a moron. By the way did not most of you complain that Pitt was built for winning the Big East but then could not compete to get to the Final 4 because of their style of play. The Stallings haters on this site are out of control. As I said many times give him a chance and let’s see what he can do. He may fail but his recruiting class looks better than we have had in a few years. Maybe we could have gotten Shaka Smart who just has his Texas team at the bottom of the Big 12 rankings. Be wary on what you ask for.

By the way did anyone notice that the cult school has been dominating the state for 2018 recruits. I think they have commitments from 5 or 6 of the top 25 players with most of the 4 stars already committed.

Off to the game but not expecting too much.

Comment by JP 02.11.17 @ 10:29 am

JP, you are running two issues together that are separable . It is possible to think the new coach deserves a chance and still think that his comments on the BE were boneheaded. As for his coaching: He has coached a team with some talent (not great or top level talent) to the bottom of the ACC with his exciting style of play. What’s not to love? Pitt vs Syracuse blacked out in da Burgh? Does it get any more exciting than blacked out? Too exciting for TV I guess!

Comment by HbgFrank 02.11.17 @ 10:54 am

HbgFrank – or no one is showing up at the Pete and this blackout is Pitt’s way of trying to get folks to show up for the game.

Used to be one of the hottest tickets in da Burgh. And cuse to boot!

Comment by Erie Express 02.11.17 @ 11:08 am

By the way, cuse is only giving 2 (per Vegas).

Comment by Erie Express 02.11.17 @ 11:10 am

Erie, maybe Pitt should try that with FB games at Heinz?

Comment by HbgFrank 02.11.17 @ 12:25 pm


Comment by HbgFrank 02.11.17 @ 12:26 pm

Isn’t Artis out? Sounds like a lock to me….

Comment by Jackagain 02.11.17 @ 12:51 pm

the man thought big east basketball was boring. so what??

Comment by goalie44 02.11.17 @ 12:59 pm

I don’t have a problem with it goalie44…

Comment by Jackagain 02.11.17 @ 1:42 pm

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