Well, if I’m going to be providing some basketball content on The Pitt POV then I need to cram some BB study in quick-like. To help with that, and to familiarize some readers to the details of the basketball program, here are some things to get started with.
We have a new BB coach! Yeah Us!!
Kevin Stallings was hired away from SEC’s Vanderbilt University in AD Scott Barnes’ first big personnel move. Like it or not – he didn’t have the best track record there. The Vandys had four sub-20 win seasons in the last decade and averaged only 20.9 wins per year… barely meeting the 20 win benchmark that defines a ‘good’ season.
But he’s our guy now, bought and paid for. As soon as he’s finished Part II of his anger management course I’ll try to get an interview with him. Just kidding!
I think our new Athletic Director went out on a bit of a limb to hire Stallings . Even though the general consensus among fans, at least from what I can tell and remember I’m new at the BB coverage, is that Jamie Dixon had run his course at Pitt. We were what we were and it wasn’t champions.
I did follow that story line a bit back when the chatter about Pitt changing coaches was on the Internets and it seemed to me that signs pointed to Dixon being gone no matter what the Pitt administration or the fans wanted. It was more like Jamie Dixon was washing his hands of the Pitt job rather than the reverse.
Many fans were not happy with the Stallings hire. I have no real opinion on it yet but I do wonder if he is a stop-gap measure by Pitt until there is enough money in the BB budget to go after someone that would be a better fit. Pitt is spending big money on the FB program.
Salaries are the highest they have ever been in that sport and we are pumping money into brick and mortar facilities, both in FB and with major investments in the ‘minor’ sports infrastructures.
I don’t know for sure but looking back on Barnes’ long-term plans news he released last week it does makes me wonder.
Stallings has some big shoes to fill in his new job – Dixon had 328 and .727% winning mark while leading the Panthers roundball team onto the hardcourt. But Stallings was no slouch before his hire here either. Here is some of his resume’:
As a head coach, Stallings has quietly put together an impressive resume as evidence by some of the accomplishments listed below:
• 455 wins – tied for 25th-most among active coaches
• 12 seasons with 20 or more wins
• 16 postseason appearances, including nine NCAA Tournament bids
• Eight NBA Draft picks, including two first round selection in the 2012 draft
• Five All-America selections
• Five Academic All-America award winners
• 45 all-conference selections, including 37 All-SEC honorees
• 62 academic all-conference performers
• Four conference Player of the Year selections
• Three conference Coach of the Year honors
• Three conference tournament championships, including the 2012 SEC Championship
• Winningest coach in Vanderbilt history with 332 wins
So he actually had more wins at Vanderbilt than Dixon did at Pitt – albeit with weaker SEC conference play. At least I think the SEC was weaker than the Big East & ACC, right Pitt fans? His Pitt players returning from a disappointing 21-12 record with an even-steven 9-9 record in against ACC opponents will have their work cut out for them. Down a bit is a listing of who we have on the roster this season.
You can see that Stallings was able to get three players to re-commit to Pitt after they changed their minds when Dixon took off:
PITTSBURGH- Incoming freshmen Justice Kithcart and Corey Manigault along with junior college transfer Crisshawn Clark have recommitted to the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball team. All three considered reopening their recruitment following Pitt’s coaching change before quickly recommitting to new head coach Kevin Stallings.
“We are extremely excited to have Corey, Crisshawn and Justice in the fold,” said Stallings. “They each bring different skill sets to the table that will help our team. My conversations with each of them and their families have been really positive and I am looking forward to getting to know them even better as we move forward.”
“Corey, Crisshawn and Justice…” That sounds like something a drunken old Scotsman might garble when trying to make a toast to the newlyweds at the end of the reception.
Those three kids are all 3* recruits so it looks like we may not see any true FR Phenoms coming in to save the day anytime soon. Our last 4* BB recruit, Damon Wilson out of NY State, had some playing time last year averaging 10+ minutes per game for a minor 3.3 ppg. He’s a 6’5″ Guard and should be a player to see more action this upcoming season although I have to say from reading his Pitt bio and doing some quick searches I don’t see where that 4th star comes from.
The Manigault kid though looks promising though, especially at 6’8″ . The name aside (see below) you have to be impressed with his offer sheet – to be chased by Georgetown and Maryland isn’t peanuts. At least those were big programs when I last closely followed college ball. Also Xavier wanted him and they embarrassed us in the NCAAs not too long ago so that means something right?
Here is who we’ll see warming up on the court before the 1st game is whistled to start:
By the look of the stats we have a nice returning team going into this season. We lost our #3 scorer, James Robinson and his OK 10.2 ppg but who also carried a poor .373 field goal percentage. I think that stat – BB’s FG % -, is much like the yards per carry for a football running back in that it is a key indicator of a player’s quality and worth on the field.
A team can live with a poor shooter if he’s strong in other aspects of play but Robinson’s 3.2 rebounds per game looks to be easily replaced also. Maybe you all can tell me about some redeeming qualities he had but to my eye he’s not going to be sorely missed.
Hey, I just noticed we are sorely lacking in height. Can’t teach that can you?
I’m 6’6″ and can tell you from 1st hand experience that it don’t mean a thing if you can’t position yourself and use learned martial arts discipline and associated moves to intimidate the other players, like this.
Returning hometown kid 81″ Michael Young looks to be a player though. He put up more points than anyone else and had more rebounds…
One of the top returning post players in the ACC after earning honorable mention all-conference honors as a sophomore a year ago … Has started all 70 games of his career … Enters the year with 669 points and 396 rebounds (167 offensive rebounds) … Powerful interior player with the ability to stretch defenses with solid shooting touch out to the three-point line .
Note the “with solid shooting touch out to the three-point line ” tidbit which is accurate because at and beyond that line he tailed off to a .333 hit rate. Not the worst on the team and for a guy 6’9″ I guess that’s OK – just pales in comparison to his good .537 two-pointers stat.
I assume he’s at Power Forward so pulling down 15+ ppg and almost 7 rebounds from that position is a good starting place for Stallings to start. If the HC knows what’s good for him he’ll keep hands off that young man and build a different team round him than we had in the past.
Here is a nice interview with Young conducted by the Pittsburgh Sport’s Now Alan Saunders:
AS: What are your early impression of Kevin Stallings?
MY: I love him. I love the whole staff. Everybody is coming with energy and positive vibes every day, just wanting to get better. They want you to get better and they want to make sure that you’re getting into the gym on your own, things like that. It’s just a positive environment. Not to say that the last environment wasn’t positive, but this is new, with new coaches, a new style of play and new voices. Everything is going well so far.
Take it FWIW but sometimes change is good even if it might not look like it right off the bat.
Here are the numbers on the whole squad, less the class of 2016 recruits of course:
I said before that I don’t follow Pitt BB much (at all) but in the one game I watched last season I did notice we looked slow and sloppy as shown by the last play of the game when Robinson ran into his teammate:
Pittsburgh (21-12) had a chance to take the lead in the closing seconds when Hayes missed a 3 and James Robinson took the rebound the other way. But his wild layup surrounded by defenders bounced off the rim, Happ corralled the loose ball and the Badgers put the game away with three free throws.
“Got the rebound. It was about 2 seconds on the clock. Just tried to get a good shot,” Robinson said, “and I just ran into my own teammate.”
At least he’s honest.But he’s done good things in the clutch also:
With that game, and as had become a tradition with Pitt and Dixon, we bowed out of the 2016 NCAA tournament with a first round loss to Mighty Wisconsin (home of ex-Panther All-Time greatest FB HC Paul Chryst).
The Panthers tended to do that a lot. In the last decade Pitt was bounced out by the second round nine times. The one season when we actually progressed past two rounds we did pretty well – finally succumbing to Villanova in the Elite Eight by the almost slimmest of margins in a 78-76 loss.
BOSTON — It was physical. It was defensive. It was just the way they like it in the Big East.
With bodies clogging the lane and 3-pointers clanging off the rim, Scottie Reynolds made a half-court dash for a last-second basket to give Villanova a 78-76 victory over Pittsburgh and send the Wildcats to their first Final Four since the 1985 team made its stunning run to the NCAA championship.
Too bad Jamie but at least you actually got somewhere important in the post-season unlike any of our stumble bums football HCs since 2004.
That was a nice year – really a pinnacle year for Pitt BB’s recent history. The fact that it dove tailed with our FB team’s 9-3 regular season that happened at same time was pretty special for fans and truth be told is something that we would kill to have happen again…soon please God.
When I was really bored I’d read BB fan’s comments detailing the sufferings of the slings and arrows of crappy BB fortune that came pouring out after those losses in the past years. Why? Because it reminded me that the FB team wasn’t the only underachiever in the Pitt sports stable.
That sounds harsh but when you guys make me start talking about BB it just reminds me of the true mediocre run we have had in athletics over the last ten years or so.
But Hey -That’s all going to change now right? We have a new Chancellor, new AD and a new HC (<< copied from almost every FB article written by the media last fall) and we are going into the season a new year with a 0-0 record dammit!
Am I missing something or what? I looked all the Hell over for a full 2016-017 BB schedule and couldn’t find one. All I could find was this article on the final scheduling of the non-conference games for this season. Is the full schedule not finalized yet? Strange way of doing business if that’s true.
Reed does not approve. But hey! Lookie here…
at Maryland (ACC – Big Ten Challenge) [Nov. 29] –The Terrapins went 27-9 with a 12-6 Big Ten conference mark last season and reached the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. Maryland returns several key contributors, including All-America candidate Melo Trimble (14.8 ppg., 4.9 apg.), and is likely to start the season ranked in the top 25 of the AP Poll. Pitt has won three straight meetings in the series but Maryland holds a 5-4 edge all-time against the Panthers.
Well, I’ll have to get tickets to that game as it is only a few miles right down Rt 1. Maybe we can get together before the game if anyone else is thinking about attending.
From the YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS UP dept: ex-HC Dave Wannstedt did an interview with the guys at Pittsburgh Sports Now and actually said this:
“I think you just have to be careful that you don’t win too soon,” he said. “If you win too soon, all the sudden, everyone expects more the next year.”
Honest to God folks – it just never stops with Wannstedt does it? But this is one of the stupidest things I have ever heard in my life – sports related or not. The best part is that it comes tumbling out of the mouth of a HC who took a full four years to have a winning record at Pitt.
I swear – the fact that some Pitt fans actually wanted Wannstedt to be Pitt’s AD is truly incomprehensible to me. Granted I haven’t ever had a high opinion of DW but this takes the cake.
On a separate note: Our new BB recruit Cory Manigault’s last name reminds me of a man who was arguably the best basketball player who ever lived. Earl “The Goat” Manigault was a legend who, if you ever saw him on a basketball court, would leave you shaking your head in disbelief.
When I was younger I had the pleasure of watching many BB stars when they were in college and the NFL: Ewing, Jordan, Bird, Magic Johnson, Dr. J, and many others. Remember yesterday when I said I was a gym rat for years? That’s what my life was like – chasing BB around any way I could.
Well, I also traveled around and tried to see as many of the great players who I heard about in the courts and gyms I was playing in. I had the pleasure to watch Earl Manigault play a game in a summer league BB in New York city back in the early ’70s and I’ll say without hesitation he was the Number One player of all I saw play.
I’d put Connie Hawkins next, then Michael Jordan. Manigault and Hawkins, who had ties to the city of Pittsburgh when he played on the ABA Pittsburgh Pipers, were two men who would have been the Kings of Basketball if they could have let the drugs and the booze go.
I wonder how many fights young #1 son Narduzzi got into when his buddies were talking about his sisters – each one very attractive as shown here. Mom’s a stunner also. What a nice looking family – I wish I grew up next to a nice family like that who’s Father traveled all the time.