October 13, 2016

Quietly Basketball Begins

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 7:41 am

There was no midnight madness this year. Instead, the school went with an event near Heinz Field on homecoming. Emceed by the great Bill Raftery.

I didn’t make it to the event, but I actually saw Raftery in the press area shortly before the GT-Pitt game. I was grabbing another coffee and he was getting something to eat.

Couldn’t bring myself to interrupt him as he was about to eat. He must have come straight from the event and doing interviews with local media. I’ve seen ESPN football announcers around there before. Some former players. Guys who are now NFL scouts. But I’ve never felt particularly star struck before.

Raftery has been the college basketball voice that means the most to me. His enthusiasm for the game. The storytelling. The catchphrases still delivered with energy and perhaps a knowing wink. Actual analysis. Do I still watch Big East games simply because he’s on the call? Yes.

What sets Raftery apart from others like say Vitale or Bill Walton or other ex-players or coaches. He is only talking about the game. He doesn’t get caught up in deifying coaches or players. He will break down the plays — the good and bad — while letting the game flow. He hasn’t become a caricature of himself (Vitale, again). He doesn’t make himself bigger than the game — and never let ESPN or now FS1 do that. He’s still teaching the game, even as he is entertaining.

If I had gone up to him. All I would have wanted to do is gush and really, just say, “Thank you.”


September 29, 2016

Basketball Head Coach Kevin Stallings is a disciple of UNC Coach Roy Williams. So it is no surprise that Stallings wants his teams to be playing at a faster pace. That has long been a hallmark of Williams’ teams at Kansas and UNC.

Pitt will attempt to up the tempo this year, and the media got an early glimpse this week.


September 13, 2016

There was just no way I was doing any basketball posting last week. Wasn’t sure I would squeeze anything out this week, but it’s got to happen.

The ACC finally released the men’s basketball schedule, which means Pitt’s basketball schedule is finally complete.


August 29, 2016

Basketball Bits, 8/29

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 7:28 am

A few basketball related things.

Last week I noted the ACC schedule for basketball will go to 20. Really didn’t dig deep into that side of it, and I still don’t think I am right now. One thing to consider is how that lessens the impact of the non-con schedule in terms of RPI, BPI, KenPom, etc.

On the one hand you now have a portion of the schedule shrunk by over 15%. That same side of the schedule that we and the punditry will harp on for bubble teams come March. With the increase to the conference schedule, the value of the non-con should reasonable shrink as it is only 33% of the schedule.

The decrease in the non-con schedule will also flatten the difference — at least among ACC teams — in their non-con strength of schedule.


May 27, 2016

Friday Morning Links ‘n Such

Filed under: Basketball,Football,Players — Reed @ 7:19 am

The James Conner story hasn’t ended yet and won’t for some time.  But for now this is the last I’ll talk about his diagnosis.  Unless you are a Pitt fan who has been living beneath a rock for the last year you’ll know Conner has – had, let’s hope – Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and just lately got the great news that after 12 chemo treatments the Docs did a cancer scan and Conner came up 100% negative.  Yeah! for him, his Dr. and all Conner’s fans for the amazing support he received.

So it is good news all around. Here are a few links to stories on it… then we’ll turn our attention to football issues with Mr. Conner… which is what, I’m quite sure, he is doing also.

From DiPaola of the Trib-Review where he says this:

“Once the (chemo) port is out and (his chest) heals, he is free to do whatever he wants and engage in contact once practice starts back up,” Marks said. “There will be no restrictions.”

Conner, who worked out lightly with teammates during spring drills in March and April, said he should be physically ready to do everything when Pitt opens training camp in early August.

He said he did not lose weight during chemotherapy, actually gaining 5 pounds.

“Overall, he really tolerated it well,” said Marks, noting only a few times when Conner’s white blood count dipped.

“One of the more common side effects is fatigue, particularly toward the end of therapy. It was remarkable he was able to function, go to practice, go on the treadmill and remain as active as he did. Most folks are pretty wiped out by then.” (more…)

May 23, 2016

This is… interesting.

When teams are matched up in the B1G/ACC Challenge, there is almost without exception, an attempt to pair up teams of similar expectations.

For different reasons, a Pitt-Maryland match-up suggests pairing off two teams that could be very good or very mediocre.


May 8, 2016

Stallings Gets First Verbal

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 11:25 am

A point guard for the 2017 class.

Aaron Thompson is considered a 4-star recruit by Scout and ESPN. Rivals and 247 say 3-star. He’s out of Fairfax, Virginia and also had offers from Miami, GT, Temple, Dayton, SMU, VT and PSU.

Stallings had been recruiting him at Vandy so there was a relationship there.


May 4, 2016

There’s a “but” involved.

Been rumored for a month or so that Pitt and Penn State would face-off in basketball this year. BUT that it wouldn’t be any sort of “home-and-home” exchange. Sure enough, it’s going to be in New Jersey. And it is the undercard.

Villanova will play Notre Dame and Pitt will face Penn State in the first Never Forget Tribute Classic at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. on Dec. 10, sources told CBS Sports.

An official announcement is expected soon.

The first game of the doubleheader between the Wildcats and Fighting Irish will be available on CBS while the second will air on CBS Sports Network.

Villanova and Notre Dame will tip off at Noon ET with Pitt and Penn State expected to begin their game at approximately 2:30 p.m. ET.

So it is the undercard, but goes second. That’s different, but that is CBS for you. They will make the Nova-ND their Saturday noon game, and see if people can find their cable sports channel for the second game.


May 3, 2016

Basketball Notes, 5/3

Filed under: Basketball,Players,Prognostications — Chas @ 7:45 am

It’s the time for recruiting. Coach Kevin Stallings have put out plenty of offers. For transfers, grad transfers, still deciding kids in the 2016 class, and especially kids for the 2017 recruiting class.  Big men, guards, shooters, forwards. They have been all over the place. Nothing close to concrete. Makes it kind of difficult to get a handle on what they are looking for — other than players. Now it just comes down to landing some.

On media related news, Paul Zeise is leaving the Pitt basketball beat for the Post-Gazette. He’s been moved up to sports columnist/opinionator. Zeise was a very good beat writer first for Pitt football and then basketball. He’s been grinding for years on that side and has raised his profile on the general sports side for the last few years via radio work. It’s a well-earned promotion.


April 14, 2016

In case you missed it, Donald Trump endorsed necromancy, Lynn Swann is the AD of USC, and Tubby Smith is going to Memphis after Pastner went to GT. All boggle the mind in different ways.

In the realm of sanity, the coaching staff for Kevin Stallings looks pretty damn good with the final hire.

University of Pittsburgh head coach Kevin Stallings announced the addition of Kevin Sutton to his staff Wednesday afternoon. Sutton joins Tom Richardson and Jeremy Ballard as an assistant coach for the Panthers after spending the previous three seasons at Georgetown.

“I got to know Kevin in 2007-08 when we were recruiting one of his players out of Montverde Academy,” said Stallings. “He has a wealth of experience and is an excellent teacher and mentor. Kevin is well connected in the recruiting world particularly at the prep school level and within the ACC footprint. When you ask people in the profession about Kevin the feedback is extremely positive and flattering. I am very excited to have him on our staff.”

Sutton, a coaching veteran with 27 years of experience, joined the Georgetown staff in 2013. He helped the Hoyas to a 55-44 record with a pair of postseason appearances. In his second year with the program, Sutton saw the Hoyas go 22-11 overall and reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Sutton arrived at Georgetown following two seasons as an assistant coach under Mike Lonergan at George Washington. He also had a pair of two-year stints as an assistant coach at both James Madison and Old Dominion.

In addition to his collegiate coaching experience, Sutton coached at five nationally-ranked high school programs – Flint Hill Prep, Harker Prep, St. John’s Prospect Hall, Montrose Christian and Montverde Academy – amassing a 489-102 record and winning two national championships. In 1998, he was the associate head coach on the USA Today Super 25 National Championship team and in 2007, he was the head coach of the Montverde Academy National Championship team. He also coached Montrose Christian and Montverde to second place finishes in national championship tournaments.

Sutton has also been selected as a coach for USA Basketball on three different occasions.

Given where he was an assistant and the prep schools he coached, Sutton will be a strong presence for Pitt in the Baltimore-DC area.


April 6, 2016

Some movement on Kevin Stallings coaching staff. The only sure things were that Stallings was bringing his longtime assistant Tom Richardson with him. And that none of the old Pitt assistants would be on the staff. There is now some debate on the nature of what Brandin Knight was offered to be an assistant.

Stallings said discussions with longtime Panthers assistant and former player Brandin Knight included a “sizeable pay raise” and touched on changing his title to associate head coach, but Knight declined to pursue other options.

Prior to Stallings statement, it was assumed that Richardson was going to be associate head coach (top assistant) as he was at Vandy.


[Editor note: I drafted this before I even knew Reed was writing his own thing on Barnes. So, this isn’t a counterpoint. Just my own thoughts.]

One of the nice things about traveling is that it does give you time to think. Between the driving, the flights and motion there has been a bit of time for that. Can’t break out the laptop and there are only so many times you can bust out a pithy 140 character tweet that neatly encapsulates the rambling thoughts bouncing around the head. It gave me a rare chance to step back and actually think before blathering.

That has led me to think more and more about the hiring of Kevin Stallings. I’m not going to waste my energies venting about Stallings. I want him to prove that it really was Vandy, not him, that was the reasons for the underachieving.

That he is reinvigorated by the move and that it is going to turn out a lot better than it seems. Retaining the recruiting class and the fact that all seems calm with the returning players is encouraging. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I’d rather have a little hope for a while longer.

I think that what most of us are bothered by is not hiring Stallings, but why hire Stallings.


April 5, 2016

We have had a lot of discussions over the last week about our relatively new Athletic Director and his actions in the BB coach hiring process.  Readers on here and other media outlets have discussed Barnes in detail and expressed opinions ranging from feeling he should have his work closely looked into to showing support for Barnes in what he has done.

One of our readers and our favorite senior citizen Old Pitt Grad pointed out in the comments section of yesterday’s article that Barnes had held the “Senior Assistant Athletic director” position at the University of Washington inferring that must have been an important post to have had.

I lived in Washington State for three year back in the early 1990’s and attended many Washington Huskies FB games. Back then what really jumped out at me was just how similar in almost every way the University of Washington was to the University of Pittsburgh.

It sits in a nice mid-sized city, is an “Urban School” (be careful with that phrase Reed!”), but interestingly enough has double the enrollment as Pitt yet has just about the same track record in D1 football as Pitt has had over the years.


April 3, 2016

It was closed. Nothing to see here.

(Calm down guys – Just kidding & still updating). 

The news outlets did have some football stories up though…

The Trib has an article on the OL.

After nine days of spring ball, Pitt’s offensive line is unsettled, with only the left side set. All-ACC seniors Adam Bisnowaty and Dorian Johnson man the left tackle and guard spots, respectively, and both have been starters since 2013 (30 starts for Bisnowaty, 27 in a row for Johnson).

But when former starters Alex Officer (left foot) and Jaryd Jones-Smith (knee) return, the offensive line will look different than it did Saturday when Pitt scrimmaged at Heinz Field.

With all the questions concerning the Pitt hiring process and the square dance that Barnes did with that Search Firm John Harris’ article in the Trib on the subject is timely:

Universities’ reliance on a third party has made search firms power brokers in college athletics. And that has raised questions about sports departments’ and coaches’ relationships with those firms.

“It used to be sort of be the old boys’ network,” said Chris Hunt, president and cofounder of Hunt Scanlon Media, which tracks the talent management industry. “This athletic director knew another one. The people (behind) them might be brought up through the ranks to replace them. That’s changed.”

In this instance, Barnes didn’t enlist the services of just any firm. He reached out to a friend. Barnes selected Collegiate Sports Associates, which has conducted searches for high-profile head coaching and athletic director vacancies.


April 1, 2016

Nobody Is Leaving (Almost)

Filed under: Basketball,Players,Recruiting — Chas @ 10:45 am

[Greetings from Cincinnati — don’t ask.]

Even before anyone was hired, I stated that it was unlikely Pitt was going to see much in the way of transfers. With a large senior class, JUCO, redshirt, a couple of local kids and a sophomore in line for plenty of playing time. That has indeed been the case.

Pleasantly surprising has been the retention of the 3-man recruiting class. All three had other choices with their release — and they did indeed take a quick look about. Corey Manigault was the first to ask for his release, but was also the first to recommit. Justice Kithcart — the player with the most programs coming to poach him — has decided to stay. And now it seems Crisshawn Clark is going to stay as well.


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