March 5, 2017

Over Before It Began

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 11:02 am

When Pitt Men’s Basketball tweeted out the starting line-up, there was no way this game was going to end with positive feelings. Whatever slight, sliver of optimism that Pitt could repeat the stunner of UVa was done. Milligan and Luther were in the starting lineup in place of Artis and Young.

This, barely 24 hours after it was announced that Justice Kithcart was dismissed from the team. As the news trickled out during the opening minutes of the game. It went from the players (and roommates) being late for practice to them being 10 minutes late to the team breakfast that morning. Coach Kevin Stallings held them out of the game for 10 minutes.

By the time Artis and Young saw the court, Pitt was down 19-2. Yet to score a basket. The only thing left in the half was the question of whether Pitt would crack double-digits before halftime. (They did. Yay?)

I have such mixed feelings about all of this.

This has been a long time coming for Artis and Young. Artis was already suspended a game once this season. By unverified accounts, both players have been pushing things for the last few months off the court. On the court it was apparent with their unwillingness to play defense while crowing about being able to do what they want on offense.

Whether it was feeling safe in the fact that they were the best players on the team and seniors, or simply not respecting the new coach. (You’re not my real dad!) You can reasonably say, that this was a long time coming, and just the breaking point for Stallings — which he seemed to suggest in the postgame interview.

“It’s not the first time it’s happened. I have no way of knowing and don’t really care. My job is to uphold the integrity of the team and do things that are right by the team. That’s what I do. We struggled to score at the beginning of the game. It wasn’t like we closed it down once they came in. We didn’t all of a sudden threaten them because we had other players in the game. It’s just one of those unfortunate things that you deal with sometimes.” – Kevin Stallings on whether Young and Artis’ tardiness is part of an overall pattern of behavior.

On the other side, this feels so hollow and empty in the final game of the season. On a road game against a far better team that was almost certainly going to beat Pitt. That Stallings let stuff go for so long that he had no one else to blame but himself — and he just doesn’t do that.

And we are talking about being late for a team breakfast. Not even a practice. Artis and Young may be seniors, but no one has ever called them team leaders. Even now. This seems like a really small thing to be the breaking point.

Ultimately, this wasn’t a message to Young and Artis. Or even a punishment — outside of costing Mike Young the ACC Scoring title. (Luke Kennard edged Young out 20.1 ppg to 19.9 when he finished with 28 points while Young had only 14.)

Not at this point. It was a message to the remaining players, but because it came so, so late. I just don’t see how much of an impact it really leaves.

“We’re trying to establish a culture here of doing the right thing and having accountability and being responsible and committed to doing the right things for your teammates. Sometimes, even when it’s not the opportune time, you have to try to uphold that and enforce that.” – Stallings on sitting Young and Artis.

“I don’t know that I’ve got any magic that’s going to shift their way of thinking. I think when things go bad, there’s a reason they’re bad. The first thing you do is you try to fix what’s making it bad. If guys are unable or unwilling to fix those things that are bad, all the motivational speeches in the world aren’t going to do a lot of good. I’ll think about that as we get together tomorrow. Right now, as I’ve been doing and will continue to do, I’m trying to help guys get better and try to help them understand the right way and wrong way to do things and hope the message hits.” – Stallings on Pitt’s approach heading into the ACC tournament.

The loss drops Pitt into a tie with NC State for 13th place in the ACC. Because Pitt lost to NC State, Pitt will be the 14th seed in the ACC Tournament. That means facing Georgia Tech on Tuesday at 7pm in Brooklyn. The winner gets the #5 seed… Virginia.

Pitt has finished with its first losing season since the first year of Ben Howland. And a feeling that the program is in as much disarray as the last year of Ralph Willard.

Although we only beat out the UT-Chattanooga Mocs and Middle Tennessee for his services.

link to

At least we’ll score more than 40 ppg now, next year. Maybe even 50 on occasion.

Comment by Emel 03.06.17 @ 10:23 pm

Turd just offered him 3 days ago.

3/3/2017 – JUCO PG Troy Simons (6-1, -, 2?) has received an offer from Pittsburgh. – Per Link –

I guess right after Kithcart got sent packing.
Kithcart was rated a 3.3 * and this kid is a 2.

Comment by Emel 03.06.17 @ 10:27 pm

If Pitt fans were polled prior to the hire Stalling versus Knight they would have chosen Knight. Drew versus Stallings they would have chosen Drew. Stallings versus most young up and coming coach. They Young coach would have taken it every time.

Herman didn’t know the fan base. He didn’t want
to know it either.

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 03.06.17 @ 11:23 pm

Emel – You would average 18 in that shit league. Kid will be average if he ever makes the grades.

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.06.17 @ 11:27 pm

I remember being really upset when we hired Dixon. Seemed like we settled. Oh, pick the coach because the players loved him…what a terrible reason to pick a coach!!

That turned out pretty well.

Of course BBal is littered with examples of where it did NOT work out (hiring the assistant)…

So that said, Brandon might have been a great move…or not. Agreed he was a poor recruiter. Maybe a good motivator? Likely a good “tough love” teach them defense and grit kinda coach. Who knows what is X and O skills are…just tough to say from the peanut gallery.

Comment by DD 03.07.17 @ 6:26 am

this is the last straw. He just can’t resist to continue to blame the players while extolling his virtues

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Can you imagine Dixon doing something like this. He is a bigger coward than Fraud.

Comment by wbb 03.07.17 @ 7:08 am

LOL Stallings. He wants to be remembered as the guy who gave his players important lessons about…….life.


Don’t accept personal responsibility…check

When things are looking really bad and the situation you are in is out of control, run……check

Public hangings, yep that’s the money play…….check

Always remember. It is always, and I mean ALWAYS, about yourself first….check

And lastly. No matter what job you get, there will always be customers, and, um. They will always be wrong…….check

Comment by Wally 03.07.17 @ 7:26 am

Emel – dumb inference re Simons; I think you’re smarter than that.

Comment by 1618mt 03.07.17 @ 8:30 am

Hated Dixon leaving, Hated more the hiring of Stallings more.

Now he just gives and gives more reasons to dislike the guy almost daily. I can’t wait to hear about all the issues with next years players…….

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 03.07.17 @ 8:39 am

“But I’m satisfied with how I’ve tried to coach and educate and lead these guys.”

Beings being an absolute turd this putz is a narcissist as well.

Comment by Emel 03.07.17 @ 9:24 am

Just stating the facts..1618…and that is Simons had a lot worse offer sheet than Kithcart.

Now maybe he’ll be great….but the fact is no one offered him but two 2nd rate programs, one from C-USA, which is a shadow of it’s former self say 10 years ago and the other one from the Southern League.

Again maybe he’ll be great, who knows, maybe he was destined to play for Pitt since he grew up there. Maybe he’s going to play a part in Pitt not being totally embarrassed in games next year.

Let’s hope. Stallings is another matter altogether though.

Comment by Emel 03.07.17 @ 9:30 am

Here’s a look at all of Pitt’s recruits, their rankings (if they have any) and their composite ratings.

And who we’ve offered.

Highest rated player we got coming in is Aaron Thompson who is a composite 3.7

The rest are 3.0 and below.

link to

Comment by Emel 03.07.17 @ 9:40 am

Emel – the inference is wild speculation based on a very inexact ‘science’. I’d take a chance on Simons given his stats over some of the 3 & 4 star duds we have on the roster right now, any day. He may or may not be a good players for us, but this is a good pickup at this stage of the game. Any whiny negative assumptions about him at this point are premature to say the least.

Stallings, on the other hand, is making $2M+/yr, presumably, and is fair game.

Comment by 1618mt 03.07.17 @ 9:46 am

Emel, the day you step on the your college field or court, your high school rating becomes meaningless.

Comment by rayhpgh 03.07.17 @ 10:03 am

Emel @ 9:24, Takes gigantic balls for Stallings to be satisfied with his coaching. If the blame goes to the the two seniors … then why did Pitt go down 19 to 2 without them in 10 minutes? The ‘others’ neither played good offense or good defense (against one of the lowest scoring teams.)

Don’t get me wrong, I expected the team to suffer w/o them … buy 19 to 2? Remember, with Jeter, Jones, Luther and Johnson, there was still plenty of experience and talent (all 4 of them have had games when they scored 20 pts or more in their career.)

Comment by wbb 03.07.17 @ 10:33 am

WTF is this???

link to

Stallings acknowledged he made mistakes this season and he would make some minor changes, if given a second chance.

“But not that many, surprisingly for me,” he said. “I’m not satisfied with the record. I’m not satisfied with some of the dysfunction, maybe, that we’ve had.

“But I’m satisfied with how I’ve tried to coach and educate and lead these guys.”


We have the worse conference record in 40 years and he can only think of some minor changes?


Leave Stallings,

Leave now.

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 03.07.17 @ 10:34 am

He shouldn’t be able to sleep at night let alone be remotely satisfied with anything in this program at this time.

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 03.07.17 @ 10:35 am

There are no easy wins in the ACC. That is why we have 4/18. In the SEC, unless it was Kentucky or at times FL, LSU and a couple others, lots of low hanging fruit every year. Add to that a school never known to care about athletics, no wonder Stallings lasted 17 years.

I was OK with Jamie leaving, he had lost the fire, hadn’t recruited well and left on his terms and his decision. I was not happy with the Stallings pick, how it happened etc., but thought it only fair to give him a chance.

I see nothing in what he showed this year to make me think he has any chance for even marginal success.

As for Knight, there is a strong correlation between Jamie’s bad years and Knight being his top assistant. Let’s see how he does at Rutgers.

Barnes was supposed to be a basketball guy, someone who could find the young up and comer, instead he saddles us with the “Never Has Been”, and I’m comfortable saying, “Never Will Be”

Bringing in a bunch of borderline guys just won’t cut it in the ACC.

Comment by gc 03.07.17 @ 10:36 am

Emel, It is hard to recruit to Pitt, you mention Chipman, but don’t mentioned he was canned almost immediately for how he got those guys. Rohrsen and Antiqua had some success in NYC, but the few real stars that came to Pitt, Billy Knight, DeJuan Blair were local and Adams was due to Jamie’s personal relationships in New Zealand.

The vast majority of elite players go to the traditional elite schools with the elite coaches. Few schools have broken into that mix, Gonzaga, Butler etc.

Unless Pitt can get a guy on the way up, it just won’t happen. They will never pay for a real elite guy. For now we are stuck with a guy, that all the announcers and coaches say “Has Pitt in Good Hands” Really?

Comment by gc 03.07.17 @ 10:51 am

Here is that has come to be, forecast by Mike DeCourcy the day of the hire.

link to

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 03.07.17 @ 11:03 am

Stallings has certainly proven himself to be a Piece of Work.

But with the NEW Guard just added and the others prior… he and/or his STAFF have an eye for identifying TALENT to recruit.

Comment by PittofDreams 03.07.17 @ 11:13 am

Tony in Harrisburg, A copy of that article should be sent to Gallagher, Juhl and EJ, every day.
Rather than escort him out of the building, they let Barnes earn more salary, Who does That? Once again Pitt is clueless.

Comment by gc 03.07.17 @ 11:34 am

link to

Pitt QB Max Browne uses USC departure as motivation…

Comment by NickC 03.07.17 @ 11:44 am

I don’t know if anyone feels like being optimsitic right now, but we are favored tonight. I bet not many teams want to play us either with the potential of young artis jeter or johnson going for 25 on any given night.

Comment by ShorePitt 03.07.17 @ 12:25 pm

Tony, that article is a “must read” for the few remaining hold outs with their rose colored glasses intact. It’s actually haunting how prescient the author was. The Blather is a therapeutic outlet, as Emel pointed out, for those of us who care deeply and need a place to vent the related frustrations. In retrospect, we could have simply accepted our plight outlined therein last March, put Pitt BB in our rear view mirror and moved on thus avoiding a lot of stress and ulcers.

Comment by Wally 03.07.17 @ 12:34 pm

What’s interesting if you take a look at those composite ratings of the older Pitt players and you do that by just mousing over their names on VerbalCommitts is:

They are almost spot on with their composite ratings.

Out of the whole group on Michael Young was rated a composite 4 star.

The rest of them pretty much played up(or down) to their composite rating. If you’re honest with yourself and take off the homer glasses.

Comment by Emel 03.07.17 @ 1:39 pm

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