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August 25, 2017

A hallmark of a Pat Narduzzi defense is being disruptive upfront. Not simply being able to stop the run, but penetrating in the backfield to keep pressure on the quarterback whether simply dropping back or those running the option or spread. The linebackers are going to play closer to the line, and look for chances to make plays up-front rather then contain.

The risk to his defense is that it also leaves the corners on an island with little help. It’s one of the reasons Pitt was so bad against the pass and led the conference in surrendering passing plays of 20 yards or more. (The other reasons included injuries and issues around talent in the secondary.)

It was a source of frustration for myself and many others that Narduzzi and Defensive Coordinator Josh Conklin refused to change — or even tweak — the system to account for the fact that the D-line simply couldn’t generate the pressure up-front that was needed.

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August 23, 2017

Almost as long as this blog has been around, a familiar question has been about getting the back-up quarterback some game reps. Specifically, when there is a senior starting QB. It essentially became a running joke in Tyler Palko’s senior year, of fans asking when Bill Stull might get a few mop-up snaps.

Which serves for some amusement to see this bit in Kevin Gorman’s column praising the naming of Max Browne as the starter:

DiNucci, by contrast, hasn’t even played a full game. He was 3 of 9 for 16 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions in late relief of Nathan Peterman in the Pinstripe Bowl.

That should have taught Narduzzi to get his backup more playing time during the season, something DiNucci needs if he’s to eventually succeed Browne at Pitt.

Ah, the classics. They never get old.

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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 11, 2017

Sure, dump three bits of news on one day. It’s not like this time of year is starved for content or anything.

Pat Narduzzi is not a quick starter on the recruiting trail. We all know it. It is a bit maddening. Yet, even by his standards, this class has been slow to start. Pitt finally added commit number two. A QB from New Jersey.

Nick Patti, a 6-foot-3 quarterback from St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, N.J., has committed to Pitt.

Patti announced the news Wednesday afternoon on Twitter, becoming the second verbal pledge in coach Pat Narduzzi’s 2018 recruiting class. He’s rated a two-star prospect by Rivals.com and a three-star by some other scouting sites.

According to Rivals, Patti chose Pitt over offers from Boston College, Cincinnati, Rutgers and others. He’s considered a pro-style passer, and figures to be Narduzzi’s only quarterback in the class of 2018.

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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 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 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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February 1, 2017

Snap Class Evaluations

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 6:30 pm

Signing day is done for Pitt. I mean there is still the outside possibility of one other kid joining the class at the end of the week (Kane Taylor), but for all intents and purposes the dust is mostly settled.

That means it is time to see what the recruiting rankings say about the class.

I know. I know. Recruiting rankings are meaningless. It’s about the grit and determination. It’s about uncovering those diamond-in-the-roughs and coaching them up. Aaron Donald was only a marginal 3-star recruit with not many major offers. Yada, yada, yada.

Yeah, no. The recruiting rankings do matter. No one claims they are perfect. No metric would be when it comes to evaluating how teenagers project out in — well… anything in life. Still  they do a pretty good job compared to anything else.

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NSD 2017

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:25 am

Yeah, it’s really more than half over. Isn’t it?

With four kids already enrolled and taking classes, this isn’t a huge volume of signatories for National Signing Day.

Over half the 18 expected signees have their National Letter of Intent faxed over to Pitt by this point. Including Kenny Picket, Todd Sibley, Gabe Houy.

There are a couple other possible guys announcing today who might join the class.

It almost sees low key.

Almost.

Pitt has the thing going on with the ACC Digital Network to show behind the scenes stuff all day.

The media — including recruiting sites were invited to attend the whole day at the South Side Facilities. To be there when the kids faxes came through.

 

January 19, 2017

Several Pat Signals

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:44 am

Pitt got three more verbals in a roughly 24 hour period. Only two are known, though.

The first, was Jason Pinnock. A cornerback from Connecticut. Pinnock was a Boston College commit, but after a senior year that saw interest in him rise he decommitted. Pitt offered him and both Syracuse and Notre Dame were showing interest. Pinnock was supposed to to take a visit to South Bend, next week but has since cancelled his remaining visits.

His star rating is not high. Rivals.com has him updated to a 3-star, but the other recruiting sites say 2-star. At 6-0, 180 pounds, he is along the physical lines of what Coach Pat Narduzzi wants in his corners. Obviously, he is not going to see the field right away.

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