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February 3, 2018

Open Thread: Pitt-UNC, phhbbttt!

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 7:27 pm


As if this were a nooner on the ACC network affiliates. Or  when reality kicks in elsewhere and it is ACC Digital Network Extra/WatchESPN.

The storyline if there was any drama to this game would be Cam Johnson  facing off against his former team.


Here’s the reality. They don’t know this guy.

Saturday, when the Panthers and Tar Heels match up, he will face his former team for the first time since the dust settled from that saga, and players such as Wilson-Frame will get a close and extended look at the teammate that could have been — not that they’re thinking much about it, anyway.

“We’re preparing to play against North Carolina,” Wilson-Frame said. “He happens to play for North Carolina.”

Johnson, through a North Carolina spokesperson, was not made available for interviews in the lead-up to Saturday’s game. Unlike how it has been at almost every media event this season, coach Kevin Stallings was not made available Friday at Pitt’s scheduled news conference.

Stallings would love a win. Cam Johnson would love to be posted up in his favorite spot just shooting open 3s. I’m guessing neither will happen.

Johnson is a fine player, but unless he is set at his spot. Receiving the ball and has time to line up his shot, he’s no more then 20% on shooting. Frankly, the Tar Heels have better and more versatile players that will be a problem for Pitt.

Does this sound bitter? Probably. Is that bitterness true? Probably. Is there more then an element of truth? Probably.

The fact is that Cam felt that UNC offers him a better shot at the NBA. It’s hard to fault a kid for chasing his dream. Realistic or not. Having said that, he left Pitt voluntarily so I understand how he might be public enemy number one. I can’t fault anyone who fall into this group. You’re either with me or against me.

I’ll never understand an argument saying that he should have honored a commitment or that he knew what he signed up for, however. Just because it’s always been that way or everyone else does it, doesn’t make it right. I’m glad he found a way out since that’s what he so desired and, although I find it unfortunate, I do believe Pitt deserved the backlash that they received for attempting to stop Cam.

Let kids negotiate LOI’s with a lawyer or an agent present on signing day and let’s see how many schools drop that clause to get a kid on the court … or field. Otherwise it’s just selling your soul to the devil.

I find the “protect the sport” or college athletics argument absurd. Doing something to save an institution instead of letting it naturally evolve to fit the times only stunts progress and promotes animosity. I find it hard to believe college sports would die. It may change … but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

HTP! It would be very fulfilling to get our first conference win with this game and I hope Cam goes 0-11 … but I’ll be secretly rooting for him the rest of the way.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.03.18 @ 8:03 pm

I don’t like Cam going to a conference opponent. It’s hard enough to compete against the pricks without developing players for them on top of it.

Comment by Nick 02.03.18 @ 8:29 pm

I hope Cam has a career ending injury and ends up shoveling shit the rest of his life

Comment by Steve h 02.03.18 @ 8:36 pm

Unc no better than Louisville uk or aurburn f roy williams

Comment by Steve 02.03.18 @ 9:46 pm

Nick – The where doesn’t bother me. He should be able to go where he wants. Plus he graduated.

Good first half …

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.03.18 @ 9:49 pm

Comedy Hour keeps going by Stallings and his no talent NAIA bums.

Comment by Upittbaseball 02.03.18 @ 10:45 pm

Losing by 30 to a Very Bad UNC Team is comical.

Comment by Upittbaseball 02.03.18 @ 10:45 pm

These poor kids looked terrible. Product of not being ACC “stock” and a goat for a coach.
These freshman will never develop into anything respectable.

Comment by Pitt Dreamer 02.03.18 @ 11:44 pm

Cam did what is best for Cam, why anyone would fault him for that is wrong since we all do what is best for ourselves.

Why would anyone have stayed with the disaster which has befallen Pitt Basketball.

I give our current players a great deal of respect for coming here and trying their best against ridiculous odds.

It will take Pitt years to dig out of the bottomless pit they have created for themselves.

Sorry, but this is all on Gallagher, he hired Barnes who created this Cluster@#$% and then skipped town.

Gallagher needs to get his head out of his butt and fix this.

They had a legend in Jamie, and they pushed him out the door, instead of naming the court after him and giving him the resources needed to compete in the ACC.

Now we are the absolute worst P-5 team and most Division 1 teams could beat us.

Comment by gc 02.03.18 @ 11:59 pm

Tossing, just asking…wasn’t that a rule that you couldn’t transfer in-conference without permission? And how many teams gave permission for something like this before Pitt did? Again, just asking because I honestly don’t know.

Comment by panther94 02.04.18 @ 1:11 am

Oh, how far Pitt has fallen from being competitive. Blatherites complained about Jamie Dixon but now wish he was still Pitt’s head coach. It looks as though Pitt will never be relevant in sports again. Sad. Very sad.

Comment by MariettaMike 02.04.18 @ 8:43 am

MM – It’s a sad state of Pitt sports right now. But a good BB coach can turn things around in a hurry with a few really good recruits.

As fo FB, coach Duzz has a plan (even though he keeps it top secret) – he knows the hand he was dealt, low $ budget, very little support from administrative leadership and BoT and small crowd fan support. Due will win with 3* recruits who develop into very good talent lyke A.Donald, J.Conner, D.Lewis, B.O’Neill, etc.

Occasional coach Duzz will snag a 4* or two that help raise the level of team talent. Overall, he will motivate the team to win as a team.


Comment by Erie Express 02.04.18 @ 10:04 am

fo = for
Due = Duzz
Occasional = Occasionally

typing on an iPhone before church.

Comment by Erie Express 02.04.18 @ 10:06 am

panther94 – It was a Pitt rule that other schools also have. It was not a conference rule. In UNC’s case, they allowed a football player to transfer to Syracuse recently who played against them the following season.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.04.18 @ 11:04 am

I never complained about Jamie Dixon.

I noticed as his salary went up the quality of his assistants went down. I always felt that Pitt was only going to spend a set amount of $$ on BB.

Jamie wasn’t the best recruiter he so needed people like slice around him to get that side of things squared away. Once the $ wasn’t there for ace recruiters (it was going to Jamie’s salary) the recruiting fell off and we all know the rest of the story.

I think in hindsight most in the administration would agree it would have been much easier to spend additional $$ on ace recruiter assistants & keep the talent pipeline going on top of JD’s salary. However those decisions took place slowly over a number of years.

Many were worried we would become Boston College now a short 2 years later it will take a great game from our team and some luck to beat them.

Comment by Tony In Harrisburg 02.04.18 @ 11:39 am

Money torpedos Pitt again. Dixon could barely recruit in the Big East; the ACC was over his head. Pitt had no choice but to move to the ACC – the alternative was virtually unthinkable. How much conference money is there in the MAC? The AAC? Pitt did the only thing it could do when the major conferences started to consolidate, but it created an unmendable rift in an athletic program that was already in turmoil. Were there other factors? Sure there were, but I said all along the Dixon would eventually leave of his own accord regardless of how Pitt athletics’ decisions. The move to the ACC only exacerbated the issues that were already there, exposed Jamie Dixon’s weaknesses, and accelerated his departure. Stallkings was an unfortunate by-product of this mess. I suspect Pitts choice was more limited in his hire than most people think – anyone at the top levels who might have had any interest in the job would have been mortified by the lack of recruiting and depth. Even an “up-and-commer” would have been put off by the notion that this job could have been a “career killer”. The job that beats you down, ruins your reputation, and sends you tumbling down the path of prep schools and DII. Ask yourselves this simple question: where does Stallings go from here? His resume at Pitt is an abject disaster. He has absolutely nothing to point to as a bright spot. He has some viable excuses to be sure, but that’s not going to ease the concerns of any decent D1 school. In a roundabout way, as bad as this stretch of basketball has been for Pitt fans, it has been absolutely devastating to Stallings. If Lyke pink-slips him at the end of a winless ACC season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him just retire on the buyout – a scenario which, depending on what size tin foil hat you wear, might be Stallings best case scenario. Maybe he’s not as dumb as we think he is 🙂

Comment by 55 02.04.18 @ 11:59 am

I agree,55

Comment by alcofan 02.04.18 @ 12:28 pm

Tony – spot on. I don’t understand why more people don’t see that. He was about to get an increase in pay for his assistant pool and had already received a bump in recruiting money … He just saw how bad Barnes was before the rest of us did. Schools that are successful spend money on assistants and have large recruiting budgets.

55 – I don’t buy that at all with regards to Dixon. Dixon’s recruiting downfalls didn’t appear until tourney time when talent rises to the top. I do agree his team construct created problems in a one and done format.

Not sure how you can say his recruiting was barely good enough for the Big East with how much success he had there and considering the Big East was heads and shoulders the best conference. Plus he had the same team that Stallings failed with in the tourney the year before … not too bad for not being over his head in the ACC.

The problem Dixon ran into was that he’s a saber-metrics guy and tried going the position-less basketball route for the ACC and it backfired. After Artis and Young left, based on his recent recruiting, it appeared he was going back to a traditional lineup. For not being able to recruit for the ACC, it’s shocking he was still able to make the NCAA’s. His recruiting at TCU appears to back this up as well.

2017-18 was always going to be a re-build year … It never would have been to this extent had Dixon stayed.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.04.18 @ 12:49 pm

He left nothing for Stallings. Hi s recruiting was suspect the last two years in the Big East and almost nonexistent for Stallings. Transfers happen when coaches leave – but usually there’s enough of a pipeline to maintain some speck of credibility – not the all-out dumpster fire that has defined the last two seasons. IMO JD rode his talent as far as he could down the stretch but had no desire to coach/recruit in the ACC. Barnes was never going to give him what he wanted/needed no matter what conference Pitt was in. I don’t blame Dixon for any of it – I hated to see him go. He was good for Pitt basketball in ways that can’t be quantified by wins and losses, but that’s what most people remember. His last two seasons were an NIT embarrassment and an NCAA one-and-done with with what amounted to a bubble team. The cracks were starting to show. I always thought he’d leave at the end of the ’10-’11 season – I don’t think his stock was ever higher than that. Maybe even the end of ’09-’10, In the end, what he left for the incoming coach paled beyond comparison to what he inherited from Howland. Some of those circumstances, as mentioned, were beyond his control, but some were not. Still, I’ll never blame him for leaving how and when he did.

The Big 12 might be better for him overall, but I suspect he’ll run into the same problems at TCU that he did at Pitt – mainly that he isn’t Kansas/Oklahoma. My guess is that he’ll make the occasional run if he’s lucky, but TCU might be more grateful for that than Pitt fans were. Currently he’s got the Frogs in the bottom 3rd of the conference, but it will take 3-4 more years before I’m ready to comment on his work there.

Comment by 55 02.04.18 @ 3:43 pm

Yes, Dixon left nothing for poor KS. Two guys that spent time in NBA camps and one that is now starting for basketball royalty NC…KS is not a good coach and would screw up Duke if given the chance.

Comment by HbgFrank 02.04.18 @ 4:54 pm

55 – most programs not named Duke have down years. Even in down years Pitt was competitive. The program had definitely stagnated but was headed towards a rebuild and a fresh start in 2017.

I also was sad to see Dixon leave but I also understood after 15 years at Pitt, a change of scenery may have been good for both parties. I didn’t see change as being bad … until word leaked on who was replacing him.

I don’t agree Dixon left Stallings with nothing at al. He didn’t leave Stallings with Stallings type players. That’s different. Kithcart and Mannigault were not shooters and Stallings puts a premium on shooting. Them not working out is not on Dixon. It’s not Dixon’s fault players he recruited didn’t fit what his predecessor wanted to do. Aaron Thompson de-committing because of advice from Mannigault is also not on Dixon. I got that from an assistant on Paul VI who coached both Thompson and Mannigault and currently has a kid on my son’s youth team. The school was real excited about having a mini-pipeline to an ACC school. Cam Johnson transferring is also not on Dixon.

Stallings is the one who set up this season to play out the way it did. He can blame Dixon but the onus is on him.

Dixon took over a program in far worse shape than Stallings did. Dixon took a team that was 12-21 the year before with 2 conference wins to NIT champs and had them in the top 10 at one point this season. Blame his poor non-con schedule, but he had TCU there which is huge for a program like that.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.04.18 @ 5:26 pm

Great Pitt Basketball insight 55 and Tossing. . Maybe the best I’ve read on any blog. I did not like Dixon as a coach but that is a moot point now.

So we’re here ……what in the hell do we do now!??

Comment by Dan 72 02.04.18 @ 11:22 pm

Dan_72 – For one, stop blaming a coach who left two years ago. Lol.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.05.18 @ 10:45 am

I don’t blame Dixon one iota for the Stallings hoax hiring. I just did not like his coaching style in the least. I blame Gallagher and the BOT for allowing themselves to be fooled by the Barnes hoax. And most of all….ignoring for the ten thousandth time the voices of season ticket holders, fans and alumni.

I am so proud of Pitt’s fans for finally saying
Enough” and voting with their feet.

Comment by Dan 72 02.05.18 @ 10:55 am

Dan_72 – Sorry, that was not directed at you. LOL. I was just answering your question. 🙂

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.05.18 @ 11:11 am

Exactly Dan72. Mr. G made a terrible AD hire, who made a terrible HC hire for Pitt BB. HCKS is what he is as a BB coach. He did not hire himself. My ire is directed squarely at Mr. G because he is the lone accountable official at Pitt for what is now a historically bad basketball program.

Comment by HbgFrank 02.05.18 @ 11:54 am

Rumors came out that Stallings was going to be hired a full 3 days before he was inked. Every Pitt fan anywhere on social media bitched a fit during those 3 days. If hired KS would be DOA and fans would stay away in droves. Yet they hired him anyway.

IF big time college basketball is a business they should take a lesson from every other business and understand their customer. IF they would have hired a young coach the fans would be willing to give that person a chance. Attendance would still be down but not like what we are seeing.

Sometimes you get exactly what you ask for and Pitt is getting the attendance numbers that they should have expected when they made this hire.

Now they have to live with that decision for a year or two more. (depends on buyout $ versus attendance $ losses) No one is going to bail us out of KS’s contract like we did for Vandy. If he’s lucky he can land an assistants job somewhere but that won’t happen right away. Every opposing coach has nice things to say about KS but that’s because they enjoy playing against him.

Hopefully Lyke won’t have her head up her ass and turn a deaf ear to the fan base when it’s time to replace KS.

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 02.05.18 @ 2:57 pm

Tony, +1 and spot on. I know some people were annoyed TN let the fan base dictate Schiano not getting the job. The link to PSU gave them ammo but it was really irrelevant since the decision was met with such animosity from the beginning. When you promise your fans you’ll make an inspiring hire … you cannot make an uninspiring hire and not expect consequences. Know your customer.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.05.18 @ 3:59 pm

Nobody really knows anything about Lyke’s ability to succeed at this level, time will tell. All we have of substance on record to my knowledge is a seemingly poor wrestling hire, though this is the guy’s first year so we’ll see, hopefully I’m wrong about that. The main event that will showcase her worth will be the BB hire, and I will be very surprised and disappointed if that event does not occur after this season. So this means that right now she/they must have a list of qualified candidates that would be good fits at Pitt already in place if she knows what she’s doing. The one mistake we don’t want to make is being unprepared and wind up with another poor hire. KS being an awful choice has led us to this crossroads, the pressure will mount to make a competent choice this time.

Comment by 1618mt 02.05.18 @ 4:00 pm

The $10M buyout after two years will play more of a role than Heather being able to fire him. Do you want to raise $10M to fire someone you can fire the following year for $2M or raise $10M and put it to real use? Tough decision. I say fire Stallings but I see the logic the other way as well.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.05.18 @ 4:46 pm

Stallings is a better than decent coach and an ok recruiter. C+ at all things Basketball. He recruited the only guys who would come to Pitt w the firestorm and rumors going around. Each has at least one horrible basketball flaw that is unfixable. They will not be any better in a year…or 2. If we keep him another year the damage that will be done will be more losing, crushing what’s left of Pitt’s brand, and more awful recruiting.

I say to Heather and Mr. G.. Add up the revenue losses from the above and if they are more than $10 Million, can him this season. If not, keep him another year. There is always the chance he will find a stud recruit or two??

What bothers me most is Stallings arrogance. He’s made 0 attempt to win over Pitt fans, Alums and students. He’s a gruff discompassionate man in appearance and on the court.

He’s basically taunting Pitt to pay him the $10 large and let him walk.

Comment by Dan 72 02.05.18 @ 5:05 pm

Dan72 – Good comments. And I agree, unless there’s going to be an alum kick-in, then it does have to make some sense to do this after year 2, but as many have said there may be merit given the ticket sales plummeting, etc. But good point, it does have to be feasible financially.

I do disagree with your comment that Stallings is a “better than decent coach”. He has a long history in a weak basketball conference that suggests he’s a below average coach, though not awful. He’s also brought in some nice recruits there over the years, so I’d say he’s a better (though not great) recruiter than a coach.

But that said, when you combine his Character as you implied in part, along with his below-average ability to coach, and the bad fit that he is for Pitt, we have the ingredients for this nasty predicament. I do think though, as bad as this is for Pitt, it’s gotta be really uncomfortable for him as well. In the end, he’ll be laughing all the way to the bank though.

Comment by 1618mt 02.06.18 @ 8:26 am

1686. You and I should be so uncomfortable!

I coached an AAU team from a little County in Maryland. Had all the best HS players from that County. We could play even with most local teams but when we played in downtown DC or Baltimore we got slaughtered. Most games we were down 10-35 points at half. 4 games a day of that, it wasn’t much fun.
Not many teaching moments either. That’s what KS and staff are going thru. It cannot be fun. Out-talented every night…ugh.

Comment by Dan 72 02.06.18 @ 10:55 am

Dan72, I never coach bb (just soccer) so you probably have a much better handle on this than I, and it actually sounds like your experience as a coach is an apt comparison. I think KS’ discomfort is more than just about being outclassed on the court at this point with no hope in sight this year, I think he’s taking a ton of heat personally from Pitt fans everywhere and his reputation is taking a major hit as well. Anyone with a lot of pride has gotta be hurting to know that everybody wants you to leave.

Comment by 1618mt 02.06.18 @ 12:32 pm

Let’s see. Pride vs $10 large! Hmm

Comment by Dan 72 02.06.18 @ 1:05 pm

Exactly. Laughing all the way to the bank. I’d hope he at least gives Barnes a kickback.

Comment by 1618mt 02.06.18 @ 1:20 pm

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