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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.

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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.

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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 Hoops.com 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.

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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.

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[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.

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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.

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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.

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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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March 29, 2016

Post-Stallings Intro

Filed under: Basketball,Coaches,Stallings — Chas @ 5:15 pm

[Still on vacation in Houston, so this took a little time to get done.]

So are we reaching the acceptance phase? Seems that the media is at least getting there. Probably easier to get there with this then Jack’s now being called, “Jim’s.”

For how ever long Pitt leaves it up, you can peruse the press conference at your leisure. If you view the press conference in two pieces, you can say that one was very good at handling things and the other was a bit of a struggle.

Kevin Stallings seemed to do a good job up there with his prepared remarks and answering questions. He got a bit choked up talking about leaving Vandy and of his former players. He gave respect to Jamie Dixon and the standards he set that he needs to meet and surpass. (more…)

March 28, 2016

Don’t hold back now… tell us what you really think.  Predictions for the presser, running comments as it is being held and the final review and Lessons Learned after the parade has left the building with Stallings sitting triumphantly on Gallagher and Barnes’s shoulders.

NEW BLATHER CONTEST

Speaking of our no longer a virgin AD Scott Barnes and the words “Final Four”,  I will buy many beers for the Blather reader who is closest in guessing the time elapsed from when the presser starts until Barnes says these exact and wonderful words – Final Four”.

Final Four” = 3:44 into the presser.

I’ll start by saying it will be 98 seconds.  The first minute of the presser will be his looking around for the list of reasons “Why This is a Good thing” that he left on his office desk.

Plus: I’ll buy every one of you beers at the first home game if Barnes drops the glorious “Next Level” bomb.

Next Level” = 27s into the presser! 

Wayyyy sooner then I figured and to me that is a death knell right there.  Wannstedt got it in his presser; Graham got it in his and so did Paul Chryst.  Interestingly enough Narduzzi didn’t.

Post your guesses below and have fun – it is a fantastic day to be a Pitt fan.

Presser link

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This Really Happened

Filed under: Basketball,Coaches,Hire/Fire,Stallings — Chas @ 10:44 am

Very grateful that my father and brother-in-law keep stocked bars with some truly excellent bourbons and scotch. Though, I’m pretty sure I’d be drinking any rotgut when Saturday night went to hell.

I don’t know what to say. I was keeping my expectations low, simply because looking at the landscape of college basketball and the coaches out there. I just didn’t see any homerun hires. Solid ones? Sure. Medium risk, high reward? Even that. But this? Never saw it coming.

As usual Pitt kept a tight lid on things until the very end. And oh, what an end.

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March 27, 2016

The Pitt Basketball Ventatorium

Filed under: Basketball,Coaches,Media — Reed @ 12:58 pm

(Chas is on vacation without wireless or you know he’d be all over this.)

I’m going to post this quickly – I’ve been away from a computer all morning – and will add content as the day goes along.  So here’s your chance to be heard again, and again, and again….

Oh and HAPPY EASTER!!!

OK, here’s what happened in a nutshell. Pitt hired the first head coach in any sport in its history to have a chin that goes directly to his chest bypassing his neck.

FILE- IN this March 10, 2016, file photo, Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings reacts to a call during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference tournament in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt is one of eight teams whose tournaments are starting a little bit before the first round of the college basketball NCAA Tournament officially opens Thursday, March 17. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

Here is how this happened.

In Scott Barnes first, and actually only big decision so far, he has pissed of the Pitt fans so badly there has been an internet suicide watch put into effect. He couldn’t keep our all time winningest BB coach onboard – although that truly wasn’t for lack of trying I believe.  After all he stated that he spent the whole day talking with Dixon before Dixon made his final decision.  That die was cast.

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March 24, 2016

Coach Search 2016, Continues

Filed under: Basketball,Coaches,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 7:48 pm

Programming note. I am traveling early tomorrow. Heading to Texas. Coincidence. I swear.

Not the Metroplex, but Houston to see family and take a bit of a vacation for a week. If you want to impute the selfish reason of not wanting Dixon to leave because I wanted a bit of peace on the vacation. Well, you probably are not completely wrong.

Now, I have to remain somewhat plugged in, and will post a little.

Okay, onto more stuff about potential candidates.

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Two Bad Years of Recruiting

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 7:02 am

One of the things that people seem to be debating is when it all started going south. Hindsight is on full blast.

Pointing to that failure to advance past the Villanova in the Elite Eight. Or that Butler game. Those are moments. Losing to Wichita State? Those are games.

Things became problematic when Pitt had back-to-back disastrous recruiting classes. That put Pitt in a hole that Jamie Dixon had been trying to get out of for a while.

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March 23, 2016

Coach Search 2016

Filed under: Basketball,Coaches,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 7:30 am

So, so weird that this isn’t football related.

Have we got the Miller boys out of our system yet, or is this going to be an ongoing thing?

I don’t know that there is much to say after yesterday’s 15 minute flurry. Neither Sean or Archie were ever going to be interested. Sean is at a basketball school, in a major conference, with tons of resources, easier access to talent, makes big money, etc. Yes, he’s a Pitt alum and local, but he wasn’t coming back.

Archie is waiting for his spot. He had offers/interest from Alabama and others and passed last year. I don’t even know for certain that he would go back to his alma mater of NC State when they get tired of Mark Gottfried (related note, good luck to Cat Barber in the NBA Draft and good riddance).

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