“Jamie Dixon leads TCU past Kansas, kicks Pitt in groin“
I’ve stayed away from BB talk on here because I historically haven’t been that interested in it. But halfway through this season, and after reading the complaints about Kevin Stallings on here, I started paying more attention.
And what a waste of time that was. Again, I didn’t watch much Pitt BB under Dixon – just tourney games but it seems his teams were 100% better than what I saw out of Pitt this season… and I don’t think Dixon had that much better talent every year either.
I had a phone conversation the other day with some interesting third-party info being passed – which means it is 50/50 at best – but supposedly Stallings wouldn’t mind moving on if the financial side of things didn’t hurt him. Again, that may well be just water cooler talk but still… I wouldn’t be surprised on bit – would you?
We’ll wait and see on that. What is evident, and I’ll disagree with one of our commenters here, is that Stallings had zero control over that squad from the day he was hired. My take on that?
These student/athletes aren’t stupid and whatever happens in the Pitt administration as far as coaching departures, hires, press conferences, etc…, affect them way more than that stuff affects Pitt fans. After all, this is not only their educational opportunity on the line but in some cases it maybe their life’s work and huge financial opportunities in the balance also.
Players don’t like when successful head coaches leave the school and in turn, leave them and their teammates. They may understand the reasoning for it but they were almost all recruited by the old coach and signed on with Pitt to play for them.
We saw that writ large when Dave Wannstedt ‘resigned’. Even with all the negative things going on those returning Wannstedt players carried their hurt feelings over into the 2011 season with new HC Todd Graham. I could hear it on the Southside in my off-the-cuff conversations with players during the spring and fall camps very clearly. They were angry and very skeptical of the changes.
I believe we clearly saw that again with the basketball team this season. And much like Todd Graham Kevin Stallings didn’t endear any of them with his immature habit of tossing his players out into Oakland’s dedicated Rapid Transit Bus Lanes going past the Petersen Events Center after their losses.
When those negative factors start to really gel, and that begins most often in the first third of the season, communications start to break down and confidence starts being lost – in both directions. The players don’t trust the coach to have their best interests at heart and the coach gets frustrated because he’s not getting the 100% buy-in he feels he deserves just by being the head coach.
I also believe Stallings didn’t realize the quality difference between our ACC opponents compared to his old SEC opponents – and the ACC has proven to be a better conference by far year in and year out.
When you have a 4-14 record against your new conference with a team populated with experienced returning players, there is something wrong in your coaching style. ..not their playing style.
Stallings needed to sit down with the upperclassmen right away and asked them for advice on how the ACC plays – they are the one who had 216 ACC games under their belts so far in their careers.
Case in point: four of our Top Five scorers were seniors this season. Right there should show you that we certainly should have been scoring more points and allowing less than the previous year. But instead we saw this:
Now that is hard to read but it shows that our scoring went from 75.0 ppg to 72.8 (-2.2) and then more importantly our points allowed per game rose from 67.3 to 74.7 (+7.4).
7.4 points may not sound like much but when college BB final scores are often well within that margin it shows how we dropped the ball there. Of course along with that our W/L record had a -5 win turnaround and early exit from the ACC tourney – with a slim to none shot at getting the NCAA Big Dance or whatever they call it these days.
Obviously that happened because there was a breakdown between the players and their coach. I started watching the games more after that horrendous 55 point loss to UL in January and was shown time and again that it got to the point that when we pulled out a win in the remainder of the season it was going to be because of the players’ talents that evening and not Stallings’ coaching acumen.
Stallings career at Pitt has been cursed by the old AD Scott Barnes with the under-the-table search and hire mechanism even before that ridiculous initial press conference announcing Stallings where Barnes’ idiotic and rude statements about the Pitt fans and the local media left Stallings both stunned and holding the bag. Not a great way to get your feet under you at a new place, that’s for sure.
I don’t know what the future holds for Stallings and Pitt BB. He may well stay and turn things around – but this season didn’t do anyone any good at all. It wasn’t just our highly successful Jamie Dixon abruptly leaving either. It went deeper than that because Pitt fans understood that Dixon had finally had enough of Pitt and wanted to go ‘home’.
That is what a roiling and unstable athletic department does – it shakes the foundations of the sports programs that are trying their hardest to make the best of a bad situation.
After the new Chancellor fired long-term and hated Steve Peterson and then when the carpetbagger and resume’ builder Scott Barnes thumbed his nose at Pitt and left us searching for another AD in the space of a bit more than a year, it showed to the people below on the food chain that the guys above don’t have their best interests at heart.
Which is why the most colleges that are successful in both football and basketball simultaneously have that stability with success use it to ensure confidence down through the athletic administration, coaching and support staffs and then into the players themselves who then carry it out onto the field of play.
Aside from our football staff at present Pitt doesn’t have that yet, hasn’t for six years and may not for some time. One third of the equation isn’t enough for a school like Pitt – we need firm and consistent support and quality work from the Chancellor on down to achieve the successes other school already have.
For the golfers: My home address to send your POV Golf Outing fees to is:
5551 Phelps Luck Dr.
Columbia, MD 21045
4120-997-0388 (H) or 410-782-9981 (c)
…and please make a notation on the check that it is “golf” so I don’t think it is a donation.