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April 17, 2017

Hope everyone had a good Easter weekend. My son and I went to the Spring Game on Saturday — I’ll get to that subject a bit later this week.

On late Friday evening it leaked out that Pitt was no longer the destination of guard Troy Simons. Simons was the leading scorer in all of junior college and a native of Pittsburgh. He had committed to Pitt back in March.

Simons is now looking hard at New Mexico.

The reasons aren’t entirely clear. It would seem that they had to do with his ability to get academically eligible at Pitt, but his junior college coach has denied that grades were the issue. Instead putting it on Pitt not bothering to communicate with him.

[Matt] Furjanic coached Simons at Polk (Fla.) Junior College. He said Simons didn’t receive a visit or a letter of intent because he was told by Pitt director of basketball operations Dan Cage that it’s not the program’s policy to do so with junior college transfers until they graduate.

Furjanic, a Rankin native who formerly coached at Robert Morris and Pitt-Greensburg, said Simons is on track to graduate by June 20.

“Because Pitt didn’t offer him a visit or a letter of intent, I felt it was in his best interests to look at other options because Pitt is making no attempt to sign him,” Furjanic said.

The late signing period for high schoolers started on April 12. It does not apply to JUCOs, but it isn’t an uncommon thing to have them sign and announce now as part of the class. I have no idea whether that policy regarding JUCO players signing until after they graduate is true or not for Pitt — or whether it was a recently implemented rule.

I can see the logic behind it, but it also means very little to let a kid sign now and release him later if there’s an academic problem. Seems like a strange time to implement a rigid rule unless it was a way to force the kid to move on without Pitt having to directly reject him.

His primary recruiter at Pitt was assistant Jeremy Ballard. Ballard, though, left Pitt for the same position at VCU last month. Which does lend some credence to the idea that Pitt’s interest in Simons diminished a bit without the coach who pursued him on staff to champion him.

The counter-point being the absolute lack of warm bodies in the program. With Simons, Pitt had 3 open scholarships (with at least three more opening up for the 2018 class). Hard to imagine Pitt wouldn’t want Simons simply to take up some space at this late time.

I have no idea what is going on with Pitt basketball at this point. I don’t know if the dysfunction that seems to be the public face of it right now is accurate. There is definitely a negative energy about the program that isn’t helping.





Overused but very applicable: dumpster fire.

Comment by Will 04.17.17 @ 8:36 am

It’s bad. Almost like they’re burning the program down on purpose. Doesn’t bode well for Stallings either way.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 04.17.17 @ 9:37 am

Kevin Stallings will be NOT have this team in basement of the ACC. He will instead move us directly to a bomb shelter under the basement floor thus elevating Boston College to the basement.

I hear there was a KS sighting at the Harrisburg Area Community College pick up game over the weekend. However I’m not sure that any of those kids were interested in playing for him.

If we ONLY give Kevin enough time Pitt may be able to move to the PA State Athletic Conference where he could compete for a title. That all depends on how well Shippensburg recruits over the next couple of years because they don’t have the same academic standards as Pitt does obliviously…

link to psacsports.org

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 04.17.17 @ 10:49 am

Wonder if Pitt plans an exhibition with a PSAC school next year…

I’ll bet Lombardi at IUP would give KS and Pitt a challenge next season.

Comment by Barvo 04.17.17 @ 10:57 am

I would take the team IUP if they were getting any points.

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 04.17.17 @ 11:13 am

What a damning article. What a nightmare!

Comment by Dan 72 04.17.17 @ 11:38 am

I wouldn’t jump to major conclusions on this one. Let’s give KS and staff the benefit of the doubt that a plan is in place and that Simons may not have been a good fit, and/or his potential academic issues (if any) wouldn’t be resolved before Pitt needed to make a decision on another recruit. It makes no sense that they just let him go due to incompetence or lack of a follow-up. H2P!

Comment by Tomas 04.17.17 @ 11:46 am

Tomas – You give Pitt Athletics and Stallings way to much credit. I mean it isn’t like he makes 2.4M a year. Who cares right?

Comment by Upittbaseball 04.17.17 @ 12:31 pm

What a disaster.

Comment by Steve 04.17.17 @ 12:32 pm

Simons commitment was announced on March 6. He had this to say at the time: “I was talking with Coach Stallings Saturday night and he said we need leadership. He said that he doesn’t need anymore players that feel they’re greater than the team. He needs someone that’s going to come in and bring the team together as one.”

Not much of a plan if it unraveled in less than six weeks. If Simons was going to have grade problems that should have been clear before it was announced and therefore remained under wraps until the outcome was clear. It’s at least another PR problem that makes the program appear inept.

Not sure what Furjanic has to gain by inventing a story about lack of interest or commitment from Stallings. After what we witnessed last season it makes perfect sense.

Comment by Barvo 04.17.17 @ 12:42 pm

Upittbaseball … perhaps so but this is a temporary setback, a “mere flesh wound” so to speak. Lots of folks are just anti-KS … they don’t like his hire, his looks, his demeanor, his coaching ability, etc. The guy may never win a title here but he is not a slouch … he had a .600 record at Vandy … 8 seasons of 20+ wins, another 3 with 19 wins … if he was a total zero, he would never have lasted 17 seasons. Give him time and let’s make a more factual assessment in 2-3 years. H2P !

Comment by Tomas 04.17.17 @ 12:44 pm

Barvo … I think fans are making this into a PR problem. To me, it is a so what. The NCAA is littered with recruits and/or schools that change their minds all the time. If so, NCAA b-ball is one big PR problem.

Comment by Tomas 04.17.17 @ 12:50 pm

There has got to be more to the story than we know. I mean c’mon, a former pittsburgh area kid, former pittsburgh area coach, 3-4 open slots, Nix and Milligan still up in the air … almost incomprehensible, that’s why I’m giving KS and admin the benefit of the doubt until we know for sure. H2P!

Comment by Tomas 04.17.17 @ 1:32 pm

Boy, I wish I had a job where I didn’t have to answer to anyone no matter how bad I F’d up or how bad the PR looked!

Comment by Dan 72 04.17.17 @ 1:39 pm

It’s as much of a flesh wound as this is:

link to imgur.com

H2P!!!

Comment by Pitt Dad 04.17.17 @ 4:18 pm

A Dog’s Taint would win 20 games in the SEC 10 years ago. They buy 14 wins playing atrocious teams. I could win 16 games at Vandy coaching remotely against that competition. Stallings Sucks and lasfted 18 years at Vandy because Vandy cares less abiut Hoops up until being ready to fire Rockports. But our pumpkin headed AD bought him out. Comical. Stallings isn’t liked because he is an asshole who loses. He could be a complete jerk but if he won it wouldnt matter. He is a jerk and he loses then blames kids.

Comment by Upittbaseball 04.17.17 @ 5:31 pm

Tomas – that’s part of the point. How many times can we give him the benefit of the doubt? It’s one thing after the other. It’s program spiraling out of control.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 04.17.17 @ 6:52 pm

Pitt Dad … sweet .. got the reference. it’s always funny. Let’s call it a draw.

Comment by Tomas 04.17.17 @ 8:18 pm

The worst thing is to give a dead man walking more time

Comment by TX Panther 04.17.17 @ 8:42 pm

Heather it’s time! End this nonsense now. I really don’t care who you hire, but anyone else than Stallings works fine!

Comment by Dan 72 04.17.17 @ 10:13 pm

Simon’s agent … I mean handler, Saul Goodman has confirmed his commitment to New Mexico

Comment by wbb 04.18.17 @ 6:28 am

Wasn’t this kid going to be the best of the bunch possibly? His coach’s quote is pretty disturbing…to me it suggests they saw something in Pitt they really, really did not like and found whatever excuse possible to get the hell out.

The most disturbing thing to me is that there are only two logical options…fire KS now, which seems entirely unlikely, or wait 2 more years. I mean, does anyone expect Pitt to be anything but a basement dweller next year? So when it happens, he won’t get fired….it was expected. Instead he will get another year.

I am sorry but I still do not understand the logic of your arguments, Tomas. We want Pitt to be great…well OK, to be perenially in the top quarter of the ACC would be great-enough. Right? I mean anything less should be completely unacceptable to any blue and gold Pitt fan. What exactly in the KS resume suggests that could ever happen? On top of that, there is a lot of smoke suggesting he does not mentor his kids and represent the program all that well…isn’t that purportedly the #1 concern of the Pitt BOT? I just don’t get it. Nothing about KS suggests the kind of success on and off the court we expect Pitt to achieve. Nothing. .600 in the SEC with NBA talent? That seems an argument against, not for. You are right…KS is not a total zero. And God forbid if we Pitt fans are just aiming for someone who is not a zero. Pitt does not need a 10 out of 10 but anything less than an 7-8 and we are settling for mediocrity. Anyone here willing to argue KS is higher than a 6, at best? So far considering what he did with a tourney team last year, and the mutiny we have seen this post-season, I give him a 2.

Comment by DD 04.18.17 @ 7:46 am

@Tomas – indeed we can. We can all disagree on here but none of us should ever be disagreeable. At the end of the day we all have the same goal – Pitt winning. And having a laugh or two.

H2P!!!

Comment by Pitt Dad 04.18.17 @ 8:11 am

I have been following basketball, especially Pitt basketball, for many years, and still don’t know what to make of the Pitt situation in general or KS in particular. We outsiders never really know what conversations take place in the inner sanctums but can be sure that many discussions were going on over the past few years. Any reasonable person should recognize that Pitt’s basketball problems began with the rocky transition from the Big East to the ACC. The Jamie Dixon era crashed when a winning coach couldn’t adjust to the ACC style and recruiting environment. Then KS comes in. We really have no idea how difficult it might have been to attract a seasoned coach who would be willing to leave a successful program for the uncertainty at Pitt. Now, after one year, everyone wants to dump on KS who was willing to accept that challenge and walk into a total mess. Let’s recognize we don’t know all of the constraints he was placed under, and give KS a chance to rebuild the program if he can.

Comment by VoiceofReason 04.18.17 @ 8:18 am

Did anyone put out an open invite to the “Kevin Stallings fan club? The guy is a horrible representative of the University.

If he were a winner perhaps we could look the other way but he has oversaw the worse loss in almost a 100 years and we lost to the Dukes.

We have no choice but to give him time but those of us with eyes in our head can see this is a sinking ship.

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 04.18.17 @ 8:55 am

VoR – define crash because Dixon took essentially the same team to the dance the year before and I’m guessing he would have gotten this team there as well. That is pure speculation but Dixon’s track record says so.

If crash means plateau, sure, I’ll give you that. It’s also why this 2017 class was so important. It was going to be Dixon’s first true rebuild and would have been a new foundation he needed to compete in the ACC. Who knows who he would have brought in with the better recruiting budget and salaries he could offer his assistants. I’m guessing Dixon would have had Pitt back.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 04.18.17 @ 9:19 am

Pitt crashed into the ACC by finishing fifth in their first season there. They went to the NIT the next season after losing Zanna and Patterson. Then back to the NCAA tournament in 2015-2016. The real crash started last season when Pitt finished below .500 for the first time in 15 seasons and their worst conference winning percentage in 40 years.

Pitt hired Kevin Stallings who was allegedly on his way out at Vanderbilt. Stallings had made 7 NCAA tournaments in 17 seasons including a play-in game most recently that Vanderbilt lost by 20 points. It was his first NCAA tourney in four seasons. That’s hardly fits any definition of successful. 55 year old Kevin Stallings reportedly signed a contract at Pitt paying him in excess of $2M per season for six years. He was about to coach a team coming off a 4 point tournament loss to a higher seeded sweet sixteen team and that would be returning 6-7 top scorers. That hardly fits any definition of uncertainty and would make me willing to “accept” that coaching job.

I believe there may be some other reasonable recognition required.

Vanderbilt’s record in the SEC under Stallings was below .500 BTW.

Comment by Barvo 04.18.17 @ 9:28 am

Barvo and Tossing, you both make good points. But can you honestly say that Dixon had any really good recruiting classes since Pitt moved to the ACC? The successes you mention were made with an aging group of players that had no real replacements. I have mentioned this before that they haven’t recruited a solid ACC level point guard in the 5 years during and after James Robinson. That was all on Dixon. I’m not touting KS’s prior success in any way, just saying that the problems started long before KS got here.

Comment by VoiceofReason 04.18.17 @ 9:39 am

I am trying to personally move away from Dixon/Stallings comparative comments…since at this point, it is now about Stallings vs. a replacement. That said…I do believe a program can improve recruiting through better assistants who specialize in recruiting…but better assistants do not greatly improve getting a team to maximize their given potential. So we ditched (oversimplification) a guy who had a fixable problem (improving recruiting) for a guy who has an unfixable problem (actually coaching kids to realize their potential).

At the end of the day, KS recruited NBA talent at Vandy…and essentially did nothing with that talent. Becuase he has no track record/ability of maximizing talent through excellent coaching.

Comment by DD 04.18.17 @ 10:19 am

If you want someone who can berates college players on national television, historically underachieves with NBA type talent, and publicly deflects blame onto his players for losses than Kevin Stallings is your kind of coach. There is no one who can point to something he has done that would lead anyone to believe that he will have any level of success during his short time at Pitt.

IF any of the kids that have or are going to transfer or those close to them believed in KS or that the program would have even moderate success under him they wouldn’t all be looking for a way out. They are closer to him than any of us so them ALL walking away speaks volumes.

Pitt let/encouraged Jamie Dixon to walk and we got a second rate bum who was about to be fired from of all places Vanderbilt.

Vandy meanwhile upgraded with Brice Drew.

The only thing I look forward to next year is Kevin Stallings being booed at the Pete by the Zoo who he has yet to try to reach out to for any kind of support (I know this because my kid is a Junior with honors 🙂 and she received only 1 email from HCKS this past year while Dixon sent something out every home game & bought the kids waiting in line pizza or doughnuts all the time) and for his firing which will happen 1 or 2 years from now.

He is simply a place holder collecting a check and doing very little to earn it. Kevin Stallings is a name that will down as one of the worst coaches in Pitt basketball history.

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 04.18.17 @ 11:00 am

I am starting to yield to the group’s comments on KS. Especially DD’s comment on getting JD help with recruiting. But if that is so obvious, why didn’t the Pitt AD make him get rid of the assistant dead wood and hire some good coaches? And just must point out that the NBA players he brought to Vandy were 3 stars that developed into NBA talent. Maybe he had something to do with it.

Comment by VoiceofReason 04.18.17 @ 11:22 am

VoiceofReason-It is UNreasonable to suggest anything other than the KS hire is an abject disaster. To suggest that we “give him a chance” or to wait and see what he “can do with his own players”, both false platitudes, is to perpetuate this downward cycle to irrelevance. No one wants that. The administration needs to address this sooner than later. Everyone should do what they are capable of to communicate this to the administration. I’ve canceled my tickets personally. This needs to be rectified.

Comment by Will 04.18.17 @ 12:53 pm

Wow … Vandy was a hotbed of NBA talent under KS. I can’t believe they didn’t beat UK and UF every time out …

i mean c’mon, Jeffrey Taylor, Dan Langhi (prob recruited prior to KS), Matt Frieje, John Jenkins, Derrick Byars, Demarre Carrol (who left and went to Missouri), Wade Baldwin IV, Festus Ezeli and Damion Jones.

Other than Carroll Ezeli and maybe Baldwin and Jones .. the rest may have been drafted but basically were fringe guys that didn’t stick around long.

Comment by Tomas 04.18.17 @ 12:56 pm

I’m pro Pitt through and through. I’ve watched many a football game that was beyond lost. I enjoyed some great and some not so great Big East tournament games at MSG.

Stallings lost me when he threw his players under the bus – more than once. You’re the leader. Be a man. Take some responsibility. As far as I know, losing is not yet a capital crime in PA. Being a jerk should be.

H2P!!!

Comment by Pitt Dad 04.18.17 @ 1:26 pm

VOR – Like most, I’ve always stuck premise that KS was a disastrous hire, but I never called him a bad coach- I think sometimes the argument gets confused, at least in my opinion. KS has a decent record with Vandy over many years, almost 500 in a weaker, yet Power5 conference- that doesn’t sound like a bad coach to me, but it doesn’t sound like a good one either. And therein lies my issue: given all that Pitt hoops had going for it, this hire was an expenseive downgrade for the program. And by the way, I don’t buy the idea that Dixon’s struggles were the result of moving to the ACC, I think that’s a commonly held but faulty view; his problem was recruiting, and the loss of key assistants that were moderately suceesful in that area. By I have the same question you do: why not replace the ones he had? Loyalty? Money? What? Frankly, his problem with his assistants was as glaring as the Matt House problem with Chryst, yet nothing was done about it….

Comment by 1618mt 04.18.17 @ 1:32 pm

Oh yeah, and per Pitt Dad’s comment above, aside from the coaching/recruiting angel, KS has NOT represented the university well with his behavior, in fact he has made the administration look foolish by association.

Comment by 1618mt 04.18.17 @ 1:34 pm

@tomas those fringe guys you named are more than we had at Pitt under Dixon and yet we rarely missed the NCAA tournament while playing in the Big East and the ACC both of which are better leagues than the SEC.

I couldn’t name any Vandy players from the Kevin Stallings era as I and most actual Pitt fans paid no attention to that program.

Are you a Pitt fan or just a fan of Kevin Stallings?

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 04.18.17 @ 1:46 pm

VoR – there is no doubt that Dixon struggled recruiting but the program still didn’t free fall or crash. The approach Dixon had wasn’t recruiting focused anyways. Never was. It was development focused.

Had Dixon stayed, he would have had his first real recruiting budget in a decade plus money to go after top assistants. Neither of which he had under SP.

To my point, and what Barvo alluded to, the program didn’t crash until Stallings came on board. It had plateaued and stalled under Dixon but the 2017 class was the opportunity to start fresh.

I agree with 1618MT. Stalling was a bad hire. I wouldn’t label him a bad coach. He has done himself no favors though. The room was very easy to read when he was hired … yet he never endeared himself to the fans.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 04.18.17 @ 2:00 pm

Four seniors on a BB team, seems like they should shoulder at least some of the blame when things go south.

Comment by Grizzly1 04.18.17 @ 4:00 pm

go stallings and go pitt.

Comment by goalie44 04.18.17 @ 4:28 pm

Geno Thorpe to visit per pittsburghsportsnow.

Comment by Lastrowofsection4 04.18.17 @ 4:48 pm

@Tony … those fringe guys, while drafted, are not significantly, if at all, better than Gray, Adams, Blair, Wanamaker, Young, Brown, Patterson, Zanna and JRob. The point was that KS and Vandy was not bringing in high level NBA talent like is tossed around on this board.

Comment by Tomas 04.18.17 @ 5:32 pm

Not sure anyone said Vandy had “high” NBA talent. And, I believe only three of the comparative Pitt players made it to the NBA. And what did Dixon do with those 3 players? Get a number one seed in the tourney…not a play-in game one-and-done. If the point of the above is that the Vandy fringe guys were not better than the Pitt guys, well, yes, I totally agree…and look at what Dixon got out of his guys and KS got our of his…no comparison in the results attained…5 year stretch of hitting the top 15, compared to, well, I won’t take the time to look it up but Vandy sure did not attain anywhere near that kind of success.

Comment by DD 04.19.17 @ 7:21 am

Hey, Jamie is back!

@DD Dixon also won two Big East regular season titles and one BE tourney title. Pitt also played in a string of BE tournament finals. Dixon finished with a total conference record of 143-81 (.638). His BE record was 115-55 (.676).

Stallings won one SEC tourney title and his conference record was 138-142 (.493).

Still contend that the reason Dixon and Pitt plateaued was the disastrous 2010 and 2011 classes. Pitt paid for those two classes for years. Pitt probably could have successfully returned if Adams, from 2012, had stayed for 2-3 years. For example can you imagine the 2013-2014 team (first season in ACC) with Robinson at point, Patterson at SG, Young at SF, Zanna at PF and Adams at C with Artis and Wright coming off the bench?

Not that it should come as a surprise but Lyke is supporting Stallings:

link to post-gazette.com

I find it interesting that she is supporting him in his efforts to “build” the program. Didn’t a fairly successful program exist before he arrived?

Comment by Barvo 04.19.17 @ 12:36 pm

Barvo – spot on.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 04.19.17 @ 1:56 pm

Once again Barvo brings reality to a conversation. Thank you sir. Maybe you should toss your hat into the ring the next time we need and AD.

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 04.19.17 @ 3:37 pm

Lyke isn’t going to say “After having a conversation with Kevin Stalling my impression is that this guy is a first rate tool and is simply hanging around, collecting a check, and doing as little as possible until we fire him.” now is she?

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 04.19.17 @ 3:46 pm

presumably a rhetorical question but, no she isn’t going to say that. And, hopefully, they have had “roll up your sleeves and show me how you are going to make us a winner” sit down discussions, not just, hello my name is Heather, what’s yours ? Clearly she knows he has an image problem. Probably concerning to a lot of fans, it appears from her comments that she is “supporting” him and has bought into whatever plan he has discussed with her, as well as, wanting “us” to get to know him, i.e., he isn’t going anywhere in the short-term.

Comment by Tomas 04.19.17 @ 4:20 pm

Her quotes hardly sounded like an endorsement. If anything it made Stallings sound like an outsider.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 04.19.17 @ 7:56 pm

@TT … agree. as Tony said, she wasn’t going to rip him a new one. so that leaves her making some innocuous statements. from what i’ve seen of her to date, KS needs to get it done, and do it asap. she will provide him support so that he can’t cry foul; however, i can see her giving him enough rope to hang himself.

Comment by Tomas 04.19.17 @ 8:12 pm

Tomas – yep. She just toed the company line. It sounds like Stallings is an outsider in the athletic department.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 04.20.17 @ 6:11 am

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