February 15, 2017

Wilting Once More

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 8:38 am

You know how you love your family (hopefully this is true), but you don’t always like them. That’s the way I’m feeling about Pitt basketball at the moment. I love Pitt. Love basketball. I just don’t particularly like this team.

It isn’t the losses. It isn’t the issues with talent. It is that much of the time, this is just such a dumb, unlikable team.

I’m at the point where everything there is to say about this team seems to be in analogies.

Here’s another one. If you have ever worked with your kid on a project for school or homework. Or maybe just trying to team him or her something — a sport, riding a bike, flying a kite. Whatever.

You’ve explained things. You know what the kid is supposed to do. The kid knows. Yet seems determined to do it the way he/she wants to do it. You know exactly what will happen. As a parent, you can’t do it for them. You have to let them do it their way and get it wrong. Hoping, they will finally figure it out or comprehend that they have to do it a different way.

That’s kind of how I feel watching this basketball team… only they keep going back to the way they want to do it — and failing.

Do we need a recap? When we’ve seen this before? Even Coach Kevin Stallings knows it’s the same thing.

“I can’t really explain how you go from one half to another like that, and that’s happened on several occasions this year,” Stallings said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

The setback, particularly the way it occurred, unearthed some frustrations from Stallings that he has harbored internally much of the season. His team, as he sees it, again didn’t respond to an adverse situation. Without a true point guard, it often lacks on-court direction to the point where Stallings said it has no offensive flow if he doesn’t call a play. When asked if his team’s second-half fall-off was the product of fatigue, Stallings, while letting out a small chuckle, said his players didn’t play hard enough to be tired.

Pitt shot 16-33 in the first half, including 8-11 on 3s. In the first 7:32 of the second half they were 5-9 including 1-2 on 3s. The rest of the game they went 4-18.

VT Coach Buzz Williams who is friendly with Stallings (everybody likes Stallings it seems) even was asked what he thought happened to Pitt. Williams basically went with the idea that the team has not handled the change in everything around them well.

You can watch Stallings’ post-game presser, but here are some of the other quotes.

Even though the starting five played every minute of the second half, that’s no excuse, coach Kevin Stallings said.

“They didn’t play hard enough to get tired,” said Stallings in, perhaps, the most telling indictment of his team in a season full of them.

Pitt’s first-year coach repeatedly shook his head during his postgame news conference, his frustration stopping just short of anger.

The starters played 39, 38, 37, 35 and 33 minutes, but every time Stallings asked them if they were tired, no one admitted to it.

His ultimate explanation, “A lack of energy, a lack of urgency, a lack of what it takes to win a game against a good ACC team.”

Stallings said the answers may run deeper than that.

“I can’t say everything that I think, so I can’t answer that question as honestly as I would like,” he said.

To think, Stallings is actually holding back on his thoughts.

Nothing epitomizes how Pitt self-destructed more then the 7-point sequence. A turnover that led to Ahmed Hill on a breakaway. Rather then let it go, Mike Young inexplicably made a half-hearted attempt to grab Hill at the basket. Hill still scored, Young was properly whistled for an intentional foul, Hill converted both free throws. Then on the inbounds play Justin Bibbs drained a three. All that took place with just one second of game clock.

Self-inflicted wounds and no will to come back from it. Nothing good to say.

Chas…you hit the nail on the head! That Mike Young sequence was the microcausm of Pitt’s season and their troubles.

For those of you that don’t know …the fundamental basketball rule is “unless you are even or ahead of a breakaway ball handler, never reach and try to strip him!…and never ever reach from behind when a player is shooting a layup and you trail!!!!)Young was 2 steps behind and not only stupidly/selfishly reached but he grabbed and waited until the player was shooting ! Unspeakably stupid !!! That sequence in effect cost Pitt the game. A VT 7 point play with 1 second off the clock!

Comment by Dan 72 02.15.17 @ 9:13 am

What is the opposite of “Rise to the Occasion”?

That should be this teams slogan. A team that loks like it is in total control, but all Pitt fans know about the the little switch that goes off. That self destruct switch.

What is the opposite of that go to guy who wants the ball at the end of the game? When it is time for a hero, too many guys that stand sheepishly in the corner.

Certainly not all Stalling’s fault, but he deserves his share of the blame. Not many good coaches let that one slip away.

Why at this point in his career, Jeter’s best is a fall away jumper? Shouldn’t he be able to produce a couple slams a game, how bout receive an alley oop. The lack of individual skills improvement is amazing, the lack of team chemistry, decision making and ball movement among the big four even moreso.

Big players make big plays when the game is on the line, what is the opposite of that?

Comment by gc 02.15.17 @ 9:45 am

I think your perspective is shared by most Chas. When Young committed that foul last night I was beside myself. It is real easy to go around and blame coaches but I am sorry I can’t watch this team flounder around in key situations and think that the coaches are even remotely to blame. The basketball IQ of this team is so severely lacking and leads to situation where you give up 7 points on basically one possession. They also have the mental fortitude of an infant, when things don’t go there way rather then do something about it they just shut down and pout. Additionally how many times do we have to watch the unforced turnovers like dribbling off a leg, rifling passes to a spot where a guy was 5 seconds ago or dribbling into 3 defenders and just flailing it away. After basically giving up on the season I blame myself for getting re-energized and thinking maybe they could at least play spoiler and end on a good note. Frustrating to say the least.

Comment by The Ghost of Billy Gaines 02.15.17 @ 9:50 am

I appreciate the exasperation, but Pitt did come back from the 7 point possession to regain the lead on the next possession and held it for almost 3 minutes. Pitt later had a four point lead with under 2 to play. Pitt had a two point lead with 1:40 left with possession and Jeter threw the ball away,

Anyway interesting that KS continues to criticize his players in public for acuity and effort. It’s possible he did it, but I don’t remember Dixon doing anything so explicitly or emphatically. Dixon would generally just state that some missing detail need to be addressed and that they needed to get better. He typically cited something positive that the players were doing at the same time. I suppose that’s why KS appeals to Zeise so strongly (wonder how that “KS hasn’t lost the team” piece he wrote feels to Paul now). In any event, it appears Mark Gottfried may soon be out at NC State for play similar to what the Pitt players have been accused of exhibiting:
link to

Comment by Barvo 02.15.17 @ 9:56 am

Heart. No heart.

Ron Ramon had heart, guts and more —>link to


Comment by Pitt Dad 02.15.17 @ 11:03 am

Nobody admits it but its fatigue, all good teams have depth.

Comment by alcofan 02.15.17 @ 12:39 pm

Wow Chas….I have Ben thinking the exact same thing about this team for most of the season, but just really hate to put it on the players. After last night it is hard to refute. For me, this team confuses cockiness with confidence. However, while MY did make a very poor decision with his execution of that 7 point foul, I think he thought he could get the foul on the floor and I believe we had one foul to give at the time. If so and he got the non shooting foul, that would have been a very smart play.

Comment by HbgFrank 02.15.17 @ 12:47 pm

What I saw last night was a sub par team playing in front of half empty venue , with a follicly challenged , less than mediocre coach . Everything about this is uninspiring at a time when the city is on an upswing and it should be very easy to recruit top shelf talent & put Pitt on a upward trajectory as one of ACC’s marquee locations . Sad , pitiful & long overdue for positive changes & results !!

Comment by daddylonglegs 02.15.17 @ 12:52 pm

@Hbg – you may be correct but, if so, MY should have realized that he was too late. He’s smarter than that.

What I saw was a team frustrated by a lot of hand checking (and more with no calls) from VT along with a phantom over the back on JA (how does the guy in FRONT get called for over the BACK?).

Comment by Pitt Dad 02.15.17 @ 1:25 pm

Alco, you’re right… and the failure of Artis and Young to score FORTY… which is probably related.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.15.17 @ 1:32 pm

I thought the players actually played hard last night. Maybe not smart – especially the 7-point possession – but they did not give up after they lost the lead. This loss falls in large part to Stallings. Did we sub anyone out in the 2nd half? You could clearly see this team was struggling at different points throughout the 2nd half. Where was Nix to provide a change of pace and attitude/hustle? Where was Kithcart or Damon Wilson to give Artis a little breather; physically or mentally? That team was crying out for help whether they verbally said so or not, and Stallings just watched them wither on the vine.

When you have nearly 3 players posting a double-double I find it hard to say they gave up. The final 30 seconds showed that when they were able to get 3 decent looks at a tying shot.

Comment by Westy 02.15.17 @ 2:04 pm

Lavance Fields rose to the occasion (who could forget his game winner vs. Duke at MSG). Ramone, Blair, Sam Young, Gil Brown, Patterson and Wanamaker rose to the occasion…Remember the improbable comeback vs. WVU…I recall JA missing a put back bunny his freshman year vs. UVA with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game…UVA got the rebound and hit a game winning 3….had hoped at that time he would improve and be an awesome player/leader by his senior year…has not happened for JA, MY or any other members of this class…The swag is gone…IMHO the swag began to disappear in Ashton Gibbs senior year. The Pete home court advantage is gone too! hope it comes back someday…H2P!!!(but this team is tough to watch)

Comment by Jerry S. 02.15.17 @ 2:24 pm

No leadership and poor basketball IQ from these players since they’ve been here. Not seeing any from the coach either. No subs in the second half at all??? Have to change the VT run with TO or subs or something/anything to disrupt. Artis is no point guard. Maybe JR from last year meant more than most here gave credit for. I don’t mind the missed shots at the end too much since it’s a 50/50 chance – but they should never have been in that situation. So frustrating because they have the skills to keep up with Duke and NC but not the BB IQ or leadership.

Comment by AnotherClancyrebound 02.15.17 @ 2:58 pm

I keep going back and forth on who is more to blame, and I find myself coming back to Stallings.

1) You have to give the starters some blows in the second half, period.

2) When your team goes into self destruct mode, allows 7 points in 1 second, but then gets the lead back with 2 minutes left, you call a time out to get everybody on the same page for the next few possessions (and to give them a blow for the last 2 minutes).

3) If you’ve got any time outs left, when you’re bringing it up the court with a chance to tie, you call a freaking time out and set up a play. He’s an offensive genius, right? Then set something up, genius!!

Yes, Artis and MY’s constant brain farts are sooooo frustrating. But with a couple of strategic time outs to coach up your players who, throughout the season, have had a penchant for not playing the smartest basketball down the stretch, you can overcome those things!

And, lastly, given that VT was coming into this game with a 7-man rotation and missing a big body down low, I don’t understand how this team wasn’t coached to attack the hoop relentlessly. Maybe they were and just didn’t listen. Clearly that’s happening as well.

But nevertheless, clearly Stallings hasn’t been able to reach these players. A big part of that has to be on him.

Comment by Praise the Lard 02.15.17 @ 2:58 pm

Really, waiting for this season to end is like waiting for the fourth quarter of a Steeler’s August exhibition game to end so you can finally go home.

The only palace intrigue remaining is who the new AD going to be and when will he (or she) make a move on KS. Now or in two or three years.

Is it spring camp yet?

Comment by Wally 02.15.17 @ 3:00 pm

And these guys are seniors!!!!!!!

Comment by Keith 02.15.17 @ 3:29 pm

And artis is a 24 year old man!!

Comment by Keith 02.15.17 @ 3:32 pm

I can’t see how anyone could side with the players on this one. Artis makes great plays and then turns around and has the absolute worst turnovers or attempted shots possible at the worst possible times. Jones had an awful game last night as he gave them nothing other than a few bad drives that resulted in VT getting the rebound or steal. Does anyone really think that calling a timeout and designing a play is going to make much difference? They still have to execute the dribble and pass – which they seemingly couldn’t do in crunch time last night. You can almost see the “here we go again” look on their faces…followed by the “i quit” type actions. It’s really disgusting. Stallings I’m sure thought he could have a decent year when he came in but the players are doing whatever they want. I say start Johnson, Kithcart, Wilson, Nix and Manigault. Let them play the whole first half with only subbing in Milligan. If they don’t play hard, then play the walk-ons. The season is lost. Might as well start setting the real standard for player expectation right now.

Comment by JJ 02.15.17 @ 3:55 pm

How many shots were taken on Pitt’s final possession that would have tied the Game?

Comment by PittofDreams 02.15.17 @ 3:55 pm

PoD – I counted four and three were wide open looks.

Comment by Erie Express 02.15.17 @ 4:17 pm

This team is comprised of a bunch of Vaginas.

Comment by TX Panther 02.15.17 @ 6:07 pm

when you lose your legs, shooting suffers — well known fact. As Chas wrote above … Pitt shot 16-33 in the first half, including 8-11 on 3s. In the first 7:32 of the second half they were 5-9 including 1-2 on 3s. The rest of the game they went 4-18.

Don’t believe Pitt substituted at all in 2nd half … except maybe when Jones hurt his ankle (if that was in the 2nd half – can’t remember)

Comment by wbb 02.15.17 @ 6:17 pm

… that was the first half

Comment by wbb 02.15.17 @ 6:19 pm

Hire Buster Brown at almost 60 by a Fat Head AD from the PNW and anyone expects different. Just another program ruined by another AD and Douche Coach.

Comment by Upittbaseball 02.15.17 @ 7:05 pm

Nothing will be stabilized until a new AD is hired, and when is that gonna happen?!

How did we get so lucky to get Narduzzi??, when ppl start complaining about him I’ll be done with pitt fans

Comment by Keith 02.15.17 @ 9:06 pm

Season’s over. No need to run the 5 into the ground.

Comment by panther94 02.15.17 @ 9:10 pm

Maybe having Luther back might have helped, but… the only consistent thing I will take from this season is the “inconsistency!” Are you ready for some football? I am!

Comment by Stanley Schweiger (A&S'64) 02.16.17 @ 11:15 am

Thanks,Chas. The first 100 or so words are perfect and capture my feelings exactly.

Comment by Cavalier Panther 02.16.17 @ 12:18 pm

Mark Gottfried fired today by NC State.

link to

One of NC States 3 ACC wins was over Pitt.

Comment by Emel 02.16.17 @ 6:39 pm

After all the subbing in the 1st half, I was puzzled about none in the 2nd half. It’s really a bummer losing the game down the stretch. Especially when it looked like they putting things together. With the eight game losing streak, there was not margin for error.

Comment by Justinian 02.16.17 @ 9:39 pm

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