April 20, 2017

Opening Vote of Confidence

Filed under: Basketball,Coaches — Chas @ 7:43 am

These numbers are bad no matter how you massage them.

Since the end of Stallings’ first season – and the first losing season at Pitt (16-17, 4-14 ACC) since 2000 — four players have announced plans to transfer, including sophomore Cam Johnson, who would have been Pitt’s top returning scorer. A fifth player — point guard Justice Kithcart — was dismissed by Stallings near the end of the season.

That’s in addition to the loss of four seniors, all of whom were starters.

Nine players out, and six coming in (at the moment). It stands to reason that sooner or later, new AD Heather Lyke would get asked about basketball coach Kevin Stallings and Pitt basketball.

Yesterday she got the question while at an event with Robert Morris and Duquesne to, well, celebrate the volume of upcoming NCAA events to be held in Pittsburgh.

In a four-year stretch from 2019-22, Pittsburgh will be host to the 2021 Frozen Four (with Robert Morris as host school), first- and second-round games of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in 2022 (Duquesne), the Division I wrestling championships in 2019 (Pitt) and the women’s volleyball championship in 2019 (Duquesne). In all, between the Division I, II and III levels, Pittsburgh was awarded 22 preliminary and final rounds of NCAA competitions, the most of any city.

The NCAA Basketball Tournament returning no doubt spurred questions to Lyke about Stallings.

“I’m excited about working with him and the opportunity,” Lyke said. “My biggest question was really finding out what he’s about, why he wants to be at Pitt and what’s his vision for building this program. After my conversations with him, I know he wants to be here, I know he’s committed to being here. I’m very confident in his ability to start to build it.”

Though the current situation surrounding the program appears unfavorable, Lyke sees promise.

“He’s got a ways to go, but we need to support him, we need to be behind him and we all need to get to know him a little bit better,” she said. “That’s what I’m doing right now — spending time to get to know him and figuring out what are the greatest ways we can support him and get him connected with all of you so you get to know him as well.”

If you were expecting her to blast Stallings, cut him off at the knees and/or announce his beheading at midfield prior to the start of the season opener in football; then you are no doubt disappointed.

It was as expected. Being positive about him. Supportive and talking about rallying the fanbase (presumably that’s who she was referring, and not the media on the scene which has been supportive enough) behind him.

It is worth noting that AD Lyke made no mention of how long Stallings will be supported. She spoke of helping him and supporting him. Even believing in Stallings. But there was no comment about how Stallings will be the coach for a long time. Absolutely no time commitment was made in this.

Stallings will get to three years, simply because no AD can or would make that move so quickly. The perception among other coaches (and many fanbases) of Pitt after seeing Dixon pushed out is that the demands on the coach for success relative to the program are outsized to reality. Firing a coach — even one who appears to be floundering badly — that quickly would only shrink the pool of coaches interested in Pitt (see, also, NC State’s next two coaching searches post-Herb Sendek).

In more interesting and positive coaching news, there is former Pitt great Ricardo Greer. Greer had a long and prosperous career in Europe, but retired a few years ago and quietly got into college coaching. He had been the Director of Player Development at Central Florida for the past two years, but has now been hired to be an assistant coach at Dayton under Anthony Grant.

I’m excited for Greer. He was the brightest spot at the end of the Willard era, and he immediately bought into Ben Howland as a junior. He practically dragged Pitt to the Big East Tournament Championship game as a senior. That run, even ending in defeat, is still among my absolute favorite weeks as a Pitt fan.

Right now Pitt has 5 kids coming in and 5 spots to fill. That most likely will turn into 7 when Nix and Milligan transfer out at the end of the summer.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 04.21.17 @ 8:29 pm

Oh man, I broke the board again. Where did all the comments go?

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 04.21.17 @ 8:31 pm

Good job TT! 🙂

Comment by DD 04.21.17 @ 9:42 pm

what happened to the comments?

Comment by Will 04.21.17 @ 10:33 pm

“Stallings will get to three years, simply because no AD can or would make that move so quickly.”

I used to believe that also; but now that he has lost another recruit–I believe he has become so toxic he will not be able to recruit and the coming season will see single digit–likely low single digit win totals. Assuming that happens, I believe they have to can him because thee will be no reason to believe year 3 will be any better than year two. Other coaches will understand because they will know how terrible a job Stallings did and taht they couldn’t possibly do worse.

Comment by pitt1972 04.21.17 @ 10:38 pm

Death Spiral?

Comment by gc 04.22.17 @ 7:22 am

We have gone from one of the heavy weights in the Big East to a laughingstock in the ACC. No one wants to play for this guy. Why would Nix and Milligan want to leave, they will be first string if they stay. Where else could that happen?

This guys strength was supposed to be recruiting, now he is begging grad transfers to come, just like Jamie did in his final years.

Barnes buried us and left for greener pastures.

Comment by gc 04.22.17 @ 7:45 am

gc…the only other equivalent of the KS crisis I can offer was the hiring of Dave Hart as AD in 67. “death spiral”? I think the spiral has ended and we are just stuck with “death” for the Pitt Basketball program.

We are looking at a team made up of Pitt Football players and the best walk-ons from our IM system. How can this get any worse? Fire this guy and offer the job to the. Ouch who can bring the most players with him.

Comment by Dan 72 04.22.17 @ 8:09 am

Gc – because starting isn’t worth playing for this guy? Who knows but the reality is they are trying to graduate to leave. Craig Meyer has been right about everything else, including Cam. He dropped a hint a player that would shock may leave and a bout a month later …

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 04.22.17 @ 8:12 am

Dan, you and I go back to the Carl DePasgua-Dave Hart Era, when few really cared much about Pitt athletics. But we are now in an era when millions have been spent on the Pete, we are in the ACC and we have had some success. We have at least been moderately competitive in both sports.

We will field a team this year that can’t beat Edinboro, IUP or Point Park.

At this point Stallings should just say I’m sorry and resign.

Comment by gc 04.22.17 @ 8:30 am

Pitt can force his resignation or just admit the past AD made a mistake. I dont think a quick exit will shrink the pool of candidates that are interested in the job. Its a new AD. Its the ACC. And if you allow a budget for good assistants, most qualified coaches (MAC level, Old Big East, Conf USA) would love the chance to jump to the ACC. KS will cost Pitt at least 2.5M each year in stays in lost revenue, merchandise, concessions, parking, misc. That doesnt even quantify the damage to the Pitt brand. We will become a national embarrassment very quickly.

Comment by TX Panther 04.22.17 @ 8:37 am

I’m assuming a Pete at 65% capacity.

Comment by TX Panther 04.22.17 @ 8:39 am

TX, I think your assumption is too generous.

Comment by gc 04.22.17 @ 8:47 am

65% capacity on nights where Pitt gives free Primant’s and Stalling bobble heads.
Otherwise, it will look like Heinz Field during a WPIAL game in a rainstorm.

Comment by Gasman 04.22.17 @ 9:08 am

There would be consequences to firing Stalling so early but it’s not anything money couldn’t fix. That’s the rock and the hard place Pitt finds itself in. If they fire Stallings, they have to pay the buyout plus over-pay for the next head coach. The candidates will have all the leverage. Pitt should just raid either UNC or Duke’s staff. Go after Steve Robinson or CB McGrath or something. They’re in the ACC. Go get ACC coaches.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 04.22.17 @ 9:11 am

Barnes arrogance when he hired ks is laughable now. He is grossly incompetent. For those of u who r against a female ad most females do not possess the arrogance of men like Herman munster. I suggest u could pick at a woman at random from any college athletics staff who would b a better hire then Barnes.

Comment by Steve 04.22.17 @ 9:45 am

I would take it one step further and say you could snag a better AD than Herman from the checkout line at Walmart

Comment by Gasman 04.22.17 @ 10:50 am

The only replacement hire problem that I see for Pitt is the appearance that Barnes was allowed to force Dixon, a very good coach and perhaps the best Pitt coach ever, out in order to hire another coach.

Stallings failed miserably in his first season. He wasn’t hired by Lyke. If Milligan and Nix leave he’s run off the last two recruiting classes. He’s lost a RS sophomore starter. He’s already lost one of his own recruits. No problem firing him there.

The only truly major problem are the terms of his contract. Perhaps Lyke should take at look at attendance figures from last year and have the athletic department begin calling season ticket holders about renewals now to gauge prospects for next season.

@Gasman Why would anybody want a Stallings bobble head?

BTW Does Stallings ever NOT look like a Bozo in a photograph?

Comment by Barvo 04.22.17 @ 11:15 am

Dan 72, gc, TT, Barvo, I have been a Pitt Hoops season ticket holder for 34 years. I have seen the program go from Good to bad and back again but I have never felt so F’n disgusted with the program before.

Even when Buzz Ridl was coaching and I went to the games and endured Lucious Keese I had a great time watching basketball.

The Miami game this year was the last time I went to the Pete to watch a game and I walked out of there after the team quit and disgustedly decided that I will buy season tickets no more until someone gets some intestinal fortitude and fixes this mess. Hell…Dave Hart and Carl DePasqua were better coaches.

I was hoping I’d see a final 4 team before I go to that great hoops game in the sky but alas…..

Comment by The Hagen 04.22.17 @ 12:47 pm

Chas, let us know what you are doing about the loss of a bunch of comments lost on each topic during the last several weeks. Is there a cure?

As I mentioned on another site, if Stallings is looking for a BB coaching future, he needs to tell PITT his contract should be voided. He needs to explain the obvious; he is the wrong man for the program under the present negative cloud.

He should wait until about half way through next yr’s season. If the team is doing poorly, he would make some personal points and give himself a chance to get a job somewhere else. Otherwise Stallings’ future is dead.

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 04.22.17 @ 2:37 pm

To say Barnes is “incompetent,” is to say Gallagher is INCOMPETENT.

Yes, it’s that simple!

Comment by PittofDreams 04.22.17 @ 2:39 pm

As many know, I’ve been a James Conner fan going way back.

When everybody was saying he should be rushing the Passer NOT carrying the Football… I was in a minority. Before he even stepped on Campus, I was on record saying he would make everyone FORGET about the local Kid who many thought was destined to be the “Next Tony Dorsett.”

As for this week’s NFL Draft, Todd McShay says Conner going late 3rd or 4th.

I have been on the fence about PANTHER BEASTMODE’s success at the next level.

But, seeing the determination Conner is showing heading up to the Draft… I think it might be safe to say a LOT of Teams are going to regret NOT taking a chance.

Comment by PittofDreams 04.22.17 @ 2:46 pm

On the record saying Conner is a REALLY good fit for the Eagles.

We shall see.

Comment by PittofDreams 04.22.17 @ 2:49 pm

Pod, I see your point re Gallagher and Barnes connection, others have have made it, but I think it’s bad logic. I do think Stallings presence at Pitt is chipping away at Gallaghers reputation though, that’s fair

Comment by 1618mt 04.22.17 @ 2:51 pm

Stallings = Barnes
Stallings does not equal Gallagher
BUT it does make Gallagher look VERY BAD

Maybe Heather can make better hires and raise gobs of $$$$

Comment by TX Panther 04.22.17 @ 3:01 pm

1618… Fair enough.

However, I see Gallagher as being WAY over-rated in terms of expectations.

A Federal Bureaucrat. That should have been the FIRST Red Flag!

Comment by PittofDreams 04.22.17 @ 3:04 pm

Everyone should realize that all of the support for Gallagher as a Savior for Pitt Athletics is based on Narduzzi being a BIG success?

More failure than success at this point.

Comment by PittofDreams 04.22.17 @ 3:14 pm

Maybe Heather will bail Gallagher out?

Again, we shall see.

Comment by PittofDreams 04.22.17 @ 3:17 pm

By the way, not OVERLY exuberant about the two Runningbacks coming in this Fall.

Still think Narduzzi would be SMART to give Pugh a chance at carrying the rock.

More potential than the others… in my humble opinion.

Comment by PittofDreams 04.22.17 @ 3:23 pm

More failure than success??? Lol. Football is king and the priority right now. Basketball is on the backburner for a while, I’m afraid. Two more high priority grad transfers just committed to other schools. One picked VCU and the other Arizona St.

Gallagher’s rep is tied to academics not athletics. This isn’t the SEC. I mean he let a committee hire the last two AD’s. Remember, a Chancellor in Pitt’s system is just a VP. The BOT is the boss.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 04.22.17 @ 6:10 pm

BTW, Sibley, widely considered a power back, ran a PR 10.8 100 for indoor track. Plenty to like about all 4 RB’s and Aston.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 04.22.17 @ 6:12 pm

Chas:You are convinced Barnes and Gallagher wanted Dixon gone?

Comment by Tony77019 04.22.17 @ 10:44 pm

1966 slogan “the year the Panther begins to roar”

Comment by Tony77019 04.22.17 @ 10:48 pm

POD – I’m not sure if anyone thinks Gallagher is ‘savior’ of Pitt athletics (although I don’t recall, maybe some posters have been over-exuberant), but many seem him as an upgrade and think there’s some positive momentum in some key areas since he’s been here (aside from the Barnes hire). I know most posters only follow football and hoops, but they made a great soccer hire since he’s been here too. Weighing everything in his short tenure, I think it’s way too early to speak negatively of the job he’s done. Even with the Gallagher debacle, at least we can say Gallagher is gone already. Now if only we can make the same move with you-know-who…

Comment by 1618mt 04.24.17 @ 9:02 am

Ah… that’s even with the Barnes debacle…

Comment by 1618mt 04.24.17 @ 12:37 pm

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