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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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March 14, 2017

Who Are These Guys?

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting,Transfer — Chas @ 5:17 pm

That will be the question Cam Johnson, Ryan Luther and Pitt fans will be asking. The Pitt basketball roster continues to, um, evolve.

Freshman Corey Manigault and sophomore Crisshawn Clark will transfer out of the University of Pittsburgh basketball program school officials announced Tuesday. Both players are expected to finish the spring semester and leave the school in good academic standing.

“We wish Corey and Crisshawn the best of luck as they look to continue their collegiate careers elsewhere,” said head coach Kevin Stallings. “We will continue to support both of them through their impending transfers.”

Neither one is a shock.

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March 13, 2017

Nothing particularly coherent. Just the jumble trying to work through after a week of basketball and then the NCAA Tournament field (and NIT) being set.

Let’s all give a big cheer for the NIT having a fantastic sense of humor. Days after Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim, in a post game press conference, went off on the uselessness of Greensboro, NC as a site for the ACC Tournament (he’s not wrong). Followed by Greensboro’s twitter feed dropping the mike. And just for good measure, the minor league team piling on. The NIT gave the #1 overall seed a home game with UNC-Greensboro. It is truly an amazing thing when the NIT can actually pull a significant amount of attention from the NCAA Tournament bracket.

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March 9, 2017

Season Finally Ends

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 8:16 am

At least they didn’t go out like Duquesne. Ooof.

There was a brief period in the second half. Pitt had an energy that had all but disappeared before halftime. They were attacking the basket — and forcing Virginia to foul. The defense was showing effort. And Pitt pulled within 2 points barely 7 minutes into the second half.

This from a group that in the first half looked listless as the deficit grew. Whether it was being tired from the night before or simply ready to give-up. The energy from Pitt looked so negative that the ESPN crew of Sean McDonough and Doris Burke openly talked of how everyone at Pitt was ready to move on from this season.

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March 8, 2017

9pm, ESPN2.

The last time these two teams met, all of five days prior, it didn’t go so well for Pitt. Senior suspensions. Blowout loss. And the look of a team that just wanted to pack it in.

I know, getting hyped for this game, huh?

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Not Dead Yet

Filed under: ACC,Basketball,Conference — Chas @ 8:35 am

Wait. Pitt won?

Lots of gallows humor in this game. It was ugly. It was hard to watch. Moments of incredible stupidity. There were even a couple smart plays. But Pitt won in the end.

Pitt gave up more offensive rebounds (-4). They turned the ball over way more (13-7). With those differentials, Georgia Tech had a lot more shot attempts then Pitt (+8). But GT is an offensively challenged team (to be kind). While Pitt didn’t exactly light things up, they did just enough from the field and the free throw line to eke out a 61-59 win.

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March 7, 2017

7pm, ESPNU.

Wait. Pitt’s favored in this game?

I suppose when a team has only 2 wins away from home the entire season, there is reason to be skeptical. But against Pitt? Pitt has 4 wins outside the Pete, but only one in conference — against BC. Someone has to win.

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March 5, 2017

Over Before It Began

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 11:02 am

When Pitt Men’s Basketball tweeted out the starting line-up, there was no way this game was going to end with positive feelings. Whatever slight, sliver of optimism that Pitt could repeat the stunner of UVa was done. Milligan and Luther were in the starting lineup in place of Artis and Young.

This, barely 24 hours after it was announced that Justice Kithcart was dismissed from the team. As the news trickled out during the opening minutes of the game. It went from the players (and roommates) being late for practice to them being 10 minutes late to the team breakfast that morning. Coach Kevin Stallings held them out of the game for 10 minutes.

By the time Artis and Young saw the court, Pitt was down 19-2. Yet to score a basket. The only thing left in the half was the question of whether Pitt would crack double-digits before halftime. (They did. Yay?)

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March 4, 2017

UPDATE (11:58): Worth tossing to the top. Starting lineup will exclude Artis and Young. Milligan and Luther starting in their place.

12 pm, ACC Network Syndication or ACCN Extra/Watch ESPN.

Last regular season game and then an opening round game in Brooklyn for the ACC Tournament. Sadly, with the effort and outcomes in prior games, it is hard to believe Pitt will make any noise at the ACC Tournament.

Pitt goes into Charlottesville looking to lock down that 13th seed and meeting Clemson in the opening game. A loss would put them in a tie for 14th with NC State, and presumably because they lost in head to head against the Wolfpack drop them to the 14th seed. That would mean playing either Georgia Tech or Wake Forest.

I know, high drama.

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