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September 29, 2017

In light of the burgeoning scandal in college basketball, the response from some corners is that if players were compensated — paying players, permitting them to cash in on their likeness (autographs, cut of jersey sales, etc.), and even allowing them to cut deals directly with shoe companies — it would end this sort of shenanigans. So would eliminating the NBA’s restriction on high school players that creates the one-and-done rule.

It’s an appealing notion. And it would reduce it a bit. Everyone would have to get comfortable with shoe companies dictating which schools would get the players. Nike deciding which blue bloods get certain players in their stable. That certainly would be what happens. Shoe company paying six-figures for a 5-star, elite player. They are going to tell him where he’s playing. They are going to recoup that money in apparel sales.

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September 28, 2017

As expected, Rick Pitino is out at Louisville. Technically, he is on administrative leave. That, though, is for contract/money reasons. He has to be put on leave for 10 days before he can be fired for Louisville to avoid paying a tremendous buyout. Again, this is more the cumulative effect. Not just for this scandal.

This will end up with lawsuits and an eventual settlement — unless the FBI is given/releases some direct evidence of Pitino’s knowledge before it gets to trial.

The somewhat surprising thing is that Louisville’s AD Tom Jurich is also out. Some reports have said he was told to place Pitino on leave/fire him, but he refused. Others deny it. Regardless, this is a big hit for Louisville as Jurich is widely credited with building the Cards into the athletic program it is today — and how they were able to get into the ACC.

Jurich’s firing also has the effect of triggering a reduction in the buyout their rather nomadic football coach would have to pay if he were to take another job. Bobby Petrino’s buyout to leave goes down from $8+ million to $4.25 million. Why, hello there, Nebraska. What’s new with you? Ole Miss, what’s happening?

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September 26, 2017

“Always be a pessimist, you will never be disappointed.”

Variations on a theme.

I don’t think of myself as a pessimist. More that I am a cynic.

Whether it is as a wounded idealist, someone who wears it as an armor rather then choosing to believe or strive for something, or a realist with a sense of humor.  Perhaps all of them and more.

Which means a day like this creates something interesting.

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May 22, 2017

This is so stupid.

It has been seven weeks since Cam Johnson made it known that he was transferring from Pitt as a grad transfer with two full years of eligibility left. To no one’s surprise the process of finding a new home has been a slow one.

A long-armed, tall guard who shoots better then 40% on 3s. From a Power conference. He was going to be in demand. And he was. Teams like Arizona, Kentucky, Oregon and others all contacted him. He took plenty of visits.

It was clear that Johnson was looking to play at a big name school where he would get plenty of exposure.

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May 19, 2017

Still Trying to Add Pieces

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting,Transfer — Chas @ 7:11 am

I don’t know about you, but I needed to do a refresher on Pitt’s scholarship roster before even talking about the remaining recruiting stuff.

Returning players:

Ryan Luther, Forward, Senior

Jonathan Milligan, Guard, Senior

Zach Smith, Guard, Senior

Incoming freshmen:

Marcus Carr, Guard

Khameron Davis, Guard

Shamiel Stevenson, Small Forward

Terrell Brown, Power Forward

Peace Ilegomah, Center

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May 18, 2017

Finding the Right Road

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 6:41 am

A very good piece from Craig Meyer in the Post-Gazette. Talking about Pitt basketball trying to regain more then simply its footing.

In the past three years, going back to its later years under former coach Jamie Dixon, the program has faded from the national relevancy it once relished. In that time, it has posted a win percentage of .560, down significantly from the .763 percentage it posted in its 13-year peak from 2001-14. If anything, its recent mark is a regression to the mean, much closer to the .550 all-time win percentage the program owned prior to the 2001-02 season.

With those numbers come pressing queries. What can this program become? And where does it go from here?

I suspect this will be the sort of topic revisited more then a few times over the summer. There’s no easy answer — regardless of who the coach is or will be.

It strikes me as important not to react like this article is saying Pitt sucks or that the basketball program is a historically poor one. The fair reading of Pitt’s overall basketball history — especially if you look back before the past 15 years or so — is of slightly above average. Not dominant for extended periods, but rarely a perennial basement program.

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May 10, 2017

Stallings Has A Plan

Filed under: Basketball,Coaches,Stallings — Chas @ 7:30 am

Just before the weekend, articles were published following a sit-down with basketball head coach Kevin Stallings. A transcript of the interview was also put out on Saturday, to help flesh things a little further.

This is Stallings at his best and worst as far as a public figure. He is candid, open about a lot of things and doesn’t hide behind as much coachspeak. That same honesty, though, can make him come off like an ass, and someone who puts the blame everywhere but on himself.

[Editor note. I had this drafted on Sunday, I swear. But I kept revisiting, and adding to it. SO much to chew on in this.Just posting it at this point before I do more revisions.]

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May 5, 2017

So the  two weeks have been close to positive for Pitt basketball and coach Kevin Stallings. Or at least as good as it’s been since the season ended.

No one else left, a couple coaches hired, a NLI signed and now a transfer. Let’s review.

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April 26, 2017

No Bad News Is Some Good News

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 7:33 am

No one else has left Pitt’s basketball program. One of the late verbals even made it official by signing his Letter of Intent.

Pitt has added to its 2017 recruiting class with the official signing of a national letter of intent by 6-10 center Peace Ilegomah. The talented big man joins a solid three-man class of Rivals Top 100 point guard Marcus Carr, big man Terrell Brown and junior college standout Jared Wilson-Frame.

“We are excited about our incoming class,” said head coach Kevin Stallings. “We are going to build around players committed to one another, the community and the university and this is a talented group of players that will help form the foundation of this program.”

Ilegomah averaged a double-double with 14.0 points and 12.0 rebounds per game along with 3.0 blocks per game to help guide the CBD Montverde [Fla.] postgrad team to a 25-7 record and a runner-up finish in the National Prep Championship. The native of Lagos, Nigeria played two seasons at Roselle Catholic [N.J.] prior to doing a postgrad year at Montverde Academy. He is listed as the No. 27 center in the class by 247Sports.

It is expected that small forward Shamiel Stevenson will sign his LOI this weekend.

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April 22, 2017

I Need a Miracle Everyday

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 3:51 pm

Is Pitt basketball coach Kevin Stallings trying to test the conventional wisdom of colleges coaches being reasonably expected to get three years, or is he just that bad that no one could fault Pitt for pulling the plug after two years — crap, still 11 months to go?

That someone who has been (at least by the fringe) called a Stallings apologist — for not demanding his firing within 12 months of his hiring —  needs to think aloud if all conventional wisdom and logic needs to be tossed out the window. That Pitt just needs to make the break in the midst of the late signing period and while grad transfers are considering their futures. That’s just not a good sign.

In case you missed the late news on Friday, the best incoming freshman guard in Pitt’s class was released from his National Letter of Intent (NLI) to Pitt.

Now, that list of past Panthers includes his very first recruit.

Guard Aaron Thompson, regarded as one of the top players in Pitt’s 2017 recruiting class, was granted a release from his national letter of intent, the school announced Friday. Thompson committed to the Panthers in May 2016, about five weeks after Stallings was introduced as the program’s new coach.

Rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals, Thompson (6 feet 2) averaged 10.9 points per game for a talented squad at Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, Va. His performance earned him a spot on The Washington Post’s All-Met first team.

Thompson had had a great senior season and had been elevated in recruiting rankings to a 4-star and in some instances a top-150 national recruit.

He was also a high school teammate of Cory Manigault– formerly a freshman at Pitt and now a kid in search of a new school. How much that had an impact is unknown.

On my list of things to do since March is a post on where Pitt basketball stands, overall. Keep having to trash posts because the basic tentpoles of the team keep leaving.

In addition, Pitt just lost out on Longwood University graduate transfer Khris Lane to VCU. This is where you wonder. I mean, wonder with concern and a touch of panic even if you are the guy talking poeple off the ledge.

Jeremy Ballard, who had been a VCU assistant before moving to Illinois St for a year, and then hired at Pitt. But after only one season, jumped (down/back?) to VCU at the same position as he was at Pitt. Now, Pitt loses Thompson from the DC area and a grad transfer Pitt pursued with the ardor of a hop head for an Alchemist Heady Topper… well, there are concerns issues fuck it, panic.

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.

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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.

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April 13, 2017

Awkward Holding Pattern

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting,Transfer — Chas @ 7:37 am

Sorry about the gap in posting. As usual, I put off doing the taxes until the final week. And naturally, that coincided with a crunch week of 12-hour work days.

There’s not much to really write about what is happening in Pitt basketball at the moment. Pitt is pursuing transfers — grad and regular — visits are on the table. Yet, it doesn’t seem like anything is happening. Even as it also feels like a period of total chaos and a desperate need for something. Anything to happen.

The team for next year will not have one returning starter. A recruiting class that is sevendeep, and it still isn’t enough. There are still rumors of at least one more possible transfer out of the program. I mean, at least it isn’t Memphis, but this is still a mess (or as Pat Forde put it as an aside in a column about this year’s coaching hire — “blooming disaster”).

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April 1, 2017

Cam Johnson Latest to Leave

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting,Transfer — Chas @ 8:02 am

Well, so much for an impromptu vacation.

You know it’s bad news when a press release is e-mailed out at 5:30 on a Saturday morning:

Redshirt sophomore Cameron Johnson will graduate and transfer following the spring semester school officials announced Saturday morning. The Moon Township, Pa., native will earn his degree in three years at Pitt and have two season of eligibility remaining after receiving a medical redshirt for the 2014-15 season

Johnson averaged 11.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game a year ago as the Panthers finished 16-17 overall and 4-14 in ACC play. A two-time All-ACC Academic Team and a 2017 CoSIDA Academic All-District selection, Johnson finished fifth in the ACC in three-point percentage (.415) and eighth in three-point field goals (2.36 3pg.).

Pitt currently has a seven-player recruiting class featuring highly-touted junior college prospects Jared Wilson-Frame and Troy Simons and high school standouts Aaron Thompson, Marcus Carr, Terrell Brown, Peace Ilegomah and  Shamiel Stevenson. The Panthers have additional scholarships available and will look to reshape the 2017-18 roster with graduate transfers, traditional transfers and late signees. Johnson will become the fourth player to transfer out of the program since the close of the 2016-17 season.

Man, I hadn’t even gotten the coffee made when I saw this. Probably a good thing, when you don’t want to do a spit-take on your phone.

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March 19, 2017

NCAA Tournament has mostly gone according to chalk. Not been a good one for the ACC, as a whole. Down went Louisville, Virginia and Notre Dame. This is what it has felt like in the ACC for the last couple decades. Everyone flaming out and stuck hate-rooting for UNC and/or Duke to carry the banner for the rest of the conference. Sucks.

On the plus side, Villanova reverts back to form by exiting in the first weekend for the second time as a #1 seed in the last three years.

The first four days of the NCAA Tournament has been more interesting for the coaching moves, then any Cinderella stories.

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