129 thoughts on “Virginia at Pitt Open Game Thread

  1. Haven’t seen it mentioned here yet, but heard on Paul Zeiss’s show that Jordan Addison signed an NIL deal with the Bowser Auto Group.


  2. D disappeared w the entry of EZ and Santos. But…. Capel has to extend his bench. These guys just have to learn how to play. Jeffries plays decent D when he doesn’t allow himself to get screened off but he is useless (Isnore) at every other part of the game.


  3. You can’t simply put defense the best defensive team in the country. Someone has to make a shot, steal or cause a foul or this is over.

    Very disappointing effort by Pitt and a huge step backward.


  4. Pitt was 1-6 behind the arc. They weren’t even taking outside shots. Their best shooter Burton played 40 minutes and attempted only 7 shots. EZ plays 32 minutes with ZERO shots. They constantly ran the shot clock down and forced up bad shots. Overall, except for Hugely it was a poor performance.


  5. I stopped watching after the 5 minute collapse right before the half.

    Capel was being outcoached and I knew in my gut the 2nd half would be more of the same – a good night’s sleep was the best option.

    I’m glad I went with my gut feeling, but very disappointed in the team and coaching performance.

    Is it the coaches responsibility that the ball is protected, block-outs happen and free throws are made? IMO yes, it is called teaching and when your guy doesn’t perform up to par, he is replaced with the next man up, who you as the coach are teaching as well.

    When the next man up doesn’t have ACC talent, it is called recruiting.


  6. Femi might be a nice kid but he’s forced into being a point guard and just can’t do it

    only 3 turnovers but how many “nice” drives to the basket where he misses the finish? 3 or 4?

    btw, officiating was bad, but they seemed to make up for it,,,, maybe refs just stink


    recruiting IS the biggest problem, but it is not the only big one

    FT shooting has virtually nothing to do with coaching, but last night that % was very good

    last night was mostly not entertaining to watch, but worse to listen to

    can Capel, admirable guy that he is, fix it? I’m hanging on by one or two fingernails


  7. There is just not enough talent on this team to compete in the ACC night after night. Hugely and Burton the only two capable of playing at a high enough level on most nights. Gueye and Odukale are good players at times. That just is not enough to beat most ACC teams on any given night. Even with Sibande and Horton who fit in the same category as Gueye and Odukale, this team would be facing an uphill battle talent wise with the top two thirds of the ACC.

    It is talent that wins games in any sport.

    Hugely is the only one showing superior talent at his position on most nights. Two guys fouled out guarding him and a third had 4 fouls. Their technique to slap the rebound out to the perimeter was very effective.

    Capel’s only hope is to bring in some more difference makers, guys with offensive talent. You just won’t win any games with one three point shot made.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Here is an in-depth look at Pitt BB from The Athletic magazine. This site is well worth the subscription cost if you like well thought out and written articles about Pitt athletics…

    It’s time to stop living in the past’: Picking through the bones of the once-proud Pitt basketball program.

    Dana O’Neil Jan 19, 2022

    PITTSBURGH — It took all of four minutes to suck the few signs of life out of the Petersen Events Center. Already trailing Boston College, Pitt turned over the ball on three consecutive possessions, rendering the place practically silent.

    As head coach Jeff Capel stewed on the sideline, a fan barked from the upper level: “Hey, Jeff, get these guys motivated. Let’s go. I didn’t come here to watch a loss today.”

    The sentiment was hardly surprising. How clearly it could be heard was.

    This was a game against a bottom-tier ACC team that, at the time, hadn’t won a road game in 23 months. This was a chance for Pitt to get a win. Yet inside the Pete, an announced crowd of just 7,876 (capacity: 12,508) greeted the Panthers, and the student section was nearly vacant. No doubt the numbers were thinned by winter break and a surge in COVID-19 cases, but the biggest turnstile repellant was the losing. The Panthers hadn’t won a game in four tries, and when they threatened to give this one away — John Hugley fouling T.J. Bickerstaff on a layup with 13 seconds remaining, allowing BC to cut a four-point deficit to one — the crowd shared a collective groan.

    But at least this time, Pitt held on.

    As time expired, Boston College’s Makai Ashton-Langford missed an off-balance layup, and a cheer went up from the crowd. It was as cathartic as it was celebratory. Any win these days — no matter the skill of the opponent or the chaos to the finish — will do, and as the fans ambled out into the frigid night, they seemed more like survivors than winners.

    It didn’t use to be this way. Once the Pete counted as one of the better home-court advantages in college basketball, its raucous atmosphere built around its student section. The Oakland Zoo denizens sat not just behind the basketball stanchions, but along the sideline across from the benches. Gifted some of the best seats in the building, the students returned the favor by regularly turning the house into a rager.

    They came because the product in front of them was worth watching. From 2001 through 2014, the Panthers averaged 26 wins to just eight losses, their postseason appearances a practical lock and dotted with Sweet 16 trips and an Elite Eight appearance. But it wasn’t just the students who filled the place. The locals loved Pitt, too, embracing a basketball team to which they could relate. “It was the best ticket in town. The best,’’ says longtime Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Ron Cook. “It throbbed, there was so much energy in there. It’s always tough to be a college program in a pro town, but people here, they loved Pitt basketball.’’

    Pittsburgh is a place built on the backs of its steelworkers, the folks who clocked in each morning and chased the hard work with a shot, a beer, Myron Cope and the Steelers. That lunch-pail mentality seeped into the pores of Pittsburgh’s soul. Yinz don’t care much for style points; just get the job done.

    That became the Panthers’ approach, too. First Ben Howland and then his successor, Jamie Dixon, mined the New York playgrounds and the Northeast corridor for players who brought the same attitude to the basketball court. Maybe they didn’t quite shatter backboards a la Jerome Lane, but DeJuan Blair, Brandin Knight, Levance Fields, Carl Krauser and company played with the same attitude. Pitt basketball did not merely have success or tradition; it had an identity.

    To look at Pitt basketball now is to see a team flailing in search of itself. The Panthers are not a good offensive team (No. 213 in adjusted offensive efficiency, per KenPom.com), or a terribly good defensive team (No. 126), and KenPom’s overall rating, No. 163, has them sandwiched between South Alabama and Indiana State, at the lowest spot among all ACC teams. They continue to find inventive ways to lose. Five of their last seven losses were by five points or fewer, three of them one-point, last-second defeats snatched from the jaws of victory. The slight ember of hope, ignited by a final-bucket win against St. John’s, was quickly snuffed by a final-minute loss to Notre Dame and another at Louisville, and another bright spot — that last-second win against Boston College — dulled by a 16-point rout at the hands of struggling Syracuse. They are 7-10 and Pomeroy predicts just one win, against Georgia Tech with a narrow 52 percent chance at victory, for Pitt from here on out, eyeing yet another season-end skid despite a historically anemic and beatable ACC. If he’s right, it will mark their fifth consecutive losing season, their longest run of fealty since the mid-1960s, when Bob Timmons fought the school’s stringent admissions requirements to start a team at the then-private school.

    Maybe the most telling number of all, though, is this one: 3.0. That’s the number Pomeroy assesses to the Panthers’ home-court advantage, ranking it 177th in Division I. “It breaks my heart,’’ Cook says forlornly. “It’s hard to believe it’s the same program.’’

    Much like a program renaissance, a plummet does not happen overnight. It takes as many bad decisions to ruin a program as it does good ones to establish it. To unwind the tangled ball of yarn that is Pitt basketball takes some doing, and there is plenty of blame to go around. Figuring out how the Panthers got here, though, is just the start. “They say winning cures everything,’’ says one prominent booster. “But how? How do we win? How do we fix this?”

    Kevin Stallings was a lousy hire. The evidence is there — he inherited a 21-12 team and within two years turned it into 0-18 in the ACC — and it’s all but universally accepted by everyone except then-athletic director Scott Barnes and search firm head Todd Turner, who made the deal. “No one understood that hire,’’ one local high school coach says. “Absolutely no one.’’

    When dissecting the carcass of Pitt basketball, this is usually where people begin, at the 2016 news conference when a perplexed media contingent rightfully questioned how a guy who just took a golden parachute out of Vanderbilt was supposed to keep Pitt going. It’s not the proper jumping-off point. Stallings’ appointment plays a huge part (more on that in a bit) in the program’s slide, but it’s not where it all started to unspool. Nor did it begin when Barnes earlier that year greased the skids for Dixon’s departure by lowering his buyout, ostensibly to allow the coach to head to TCU, his alma mater, but really to give Barnes the plausible deniability to let Dixon walk without actually showing him the door. That, too, played a part and requires further examination.

    It began on a March night in 2009 at Boston’s TD Garden. The Panthers that year enjoyed arguably the best run in program history, starting the year 16-0 to earn their first No. 1 ranking and finishing it with their first No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Though vulnerable in the early rounds — they only moved away from 16-seed East Tennessee State late in the first round, needed another late-game push to oust Oklahoma State, and topped Xavier in the final minute of the Sweet 16 — they nonetheless arrived on the doorstep of the Final Four with a date against a familiar opponent, third-seeded Villanova. It all unraveled in 5.5 seconds, as Scottie Reynolds took a quick dish from Dante Cunningham, cut into the lane and scored on a layup, sending Villanova to the national semifinal instead of Pittsburgh.

    That game became both the brass ring for which the program continued to reach and the albatross that dragged it down. Tantalized by the taste of the Final Four, some boosters grew disillusioned as one team after another failed to turn regular-season success into postseason glory. “There was this feeling of, ‘Why aren’t we in the Final Four?’” says Sporting News columnist and Pittsburgh native Michael DeCourcy. “But there was no understanding of the delicate enterprise that Pitt basketball was, and how much Jamie had built.’’ This is always the tango in sports, or all sports for that matter, to find the proper balance in wanting more while remembering the road already covered.

    Dixon not only failed to match that 2009 run but he never got out of the first weekend for the remainder of his stay. This is fair to criticize, however, it’s also worth noting that in his 13 years, he took the Panthers to 11 NCAA bids, more than they’d achieved in the entirety of their previous history. In the decade before Howland and Dixon came to town, Pitt’s Big East Tournament record was 3-10, the Panthers failing to win a single game in seven of their 10 tries in New York. “The joke was your tournament package included a first-round ticket and two theater tickets,’’ a source says. From the time Howland took over through 2009, they went 19-8 and won the title twice. Yet there was far more what have you done for me lately, than thanks for what you’ve done for me, period. “Boosters wanted him gone, and to this day, I can’t fathom why they thought that way,’’ says another prominent booster. “I won’t name names, but there were important people — trustees, all of them — and I want to ask all of them now, ‘How’s it going, guys?”

    The truth is, for years Pitt basketball served as the departmental ballast. The school gambled on Howland, then-athletic director Steve Pederson hedging his bets on the promise from Sonny Vaccaro that the Northern Arizona coach was an up-and-comer. He rewarded the university with a Sweet 16 appearance in his third year. When Howland left for UCLA, the school toyed with looking outside but, prompted by a veteran roster that wanted a familiar face, promoted Dixon. He took that experienced team to a 31-5 mark in Year 1.

    The school invested in the program — the Petersen Events Center debuted in 2002 — but while it chugged along peacefully, the football team churned through coaches and the university through ADs. From 2003 to 2015, four men sat in the AD chair. From December 2010 to December 2011, it counted six head football coaches. The last of them, Paul Chryst, at least stuck around for three years before leaving for Wisconsin. “We were making money. We were succeeding, but it was about football,’’ one booster says of the men’s hoops program. “It’s not the administration ignored it, but it didn’t do anything much to help, either.’’

    By then, the decisions were never going to be about basketball. When the Big Ten announced in 2009 that it would consider expansion, the conference realignment rush was on, and everyone jockeyed for position, including Pitt. Several Big East sources have claimed that Pitt undermined the critical TV negotiations that ultimately led to the demise of the league — the Big East walked away from a $1.3 billion deal with ESPN — only to quit the conference in 2011 for the ACC.

    Dixon found out that he’d be coaching in a new league via text message, his phone lighting up when he arrived in New Zealand to see recruit Steven Adams. That about sums up where basketball fit into the decision-making. Compared to other conference shuffles, this wasn’t the worst move for hoops — the ACC’s roots are in basketball and its schools care deeply about the sport — but it wasn’t ideal, either. Pitt, along with Syracuse and Boston College, sits on ACC islands with no natural rivalries other than each other. That all three have failed to match their Big East success is not a coincidence. Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke, hired in 2017, is rightly tired of the argument that the ACC shift is part of basketball’s continued slide. “When I got here, people said, ‘Hey, we weren’t ready to get into the ACC,’’’ she says. “We were headed into Year 5. When do you think you want to get ready? Now we’ve been in the ACC for a decade. It’s time to stop living in the past.’’ But many counter that the move has been nothing short of disastrous for Pitt basketball, and not nearly as uplifting for all of Pitt athletics as people expected.

    Stylistically, the league didn’t necessarily suit the Panthers’ slow-tempo approach, and without the lure of the Big East’s New York market, the obvious recruiting base disappeared, too. Years ago Pittsburgh produced plenty of homegrown talent. But over time, the well dried up and to get good, Howland and then Dixon got creative. They looked for three-star kids who were willing to stick around, redshirt even, and at first pitched playing against the best in the Big East. Then, as their method showed results, they got to sell beating the best teams in the league. But aside from the obvious — going head-to-head against the teams on Tobacco Road — the message didn’t resonate once the move was made to the ACC. “Between Ben and Jamie, Brandin Knight and Slice (former assistant Barry Rohrrsen), they built this amazing apparatus to succeed,’’ DeCourcy says. “And it was just discarded because ‘We want the ACC.’’’

    Yet for all the work to orchestrate itself into the better league, the athletic department has hardly been elevated as a whole. The men’s soccer and women’s volleyball teams have enjoyed postseason success, but until this year, the football team never won more than eight games in a season, and this year the league title only earned the Panthers a bid to the non-College Football Playoff Peach Bowl, which they lost to Michigan State.

    When Dixon struggled to match his Big East success in the ACC — the Panthers went 11-7, 8-10 and 9-9 in his three years — it made for an easy narrative that he couldn’t adjust to this brand of basketball. Toss in his NCAA Tournament’s struggle — their 2016 loss to Wisconsin in the first round marked their third consecutive early weekend bounce; fourth if you count a first-game dismissal in the 2015 NIT — and many thought Dixon had reached his Pitt expiration date.

    Depending on which side you believe, Barnes, who had by then taken over for Pederson, either altruistically lowered the $10 million buyout on his coach’s contract so Dixon could follow his heart to his alma mater, or he lowered the buyout to nudge Dixon out the door. “Barnes was looking to make a move,’’ a booster says now.

    Barnes did not respond to The Athletic’s request for comment. Dixon declined to comment, saying only, “I love Pittsburgh. I gave my heart to that place. I spent 17 years there, and it still means a lot to me and to my family.’’

    Regardless, the move stunned people in college basketball. TCU would not be confused as a basketball power and the slope in the Big 12 was decidedly steeper than any climb Pitt might have in the ACC.

    As shocked as folks were with Dixon’s departure, they were even more stunned by what Pitt did next.

    Usually fairly tame, Stallings’ introductory news conference was downright contentious. “People talk about winning a press conference,’’ DeCourcy says. “That might have been the biggest L in the history of press conferences’’ with reporters digging in on the coach’s credentials, peppering Barnes about his decision to pass over Knight, a former Pitt star who worked as one of Dixon’s assistant coaches for eight years, and homing in on Stallings’ ability to relate to players.

    Reporters also questioned the relationship between Barnes, Stallings and the search firm hired to pick him. Collegiate Sports Associates is headed up by Todd Turner. Turner worked as the athletic director at Washington, where Barnes was one of his associate directors, and also was the AD at Vanderbilt who hired Stallings. At the time search firm hirings were under intense scrutiny, as the third parties frequently hired both boss and coaches at several schools.

    People in the city were equally confused by the selection. “Outside of one of the Miller brothers (Sean, the former head coach at Arizona, and Archie, the former head coach at Indiana, are both Pittsburgh natives), people here wanted Brandin Knight,’’ one prominent high school coach says. “And when that didn’t happen, that hurt a lot of people.”

    The skepticism proved prophetic. Stallings’ best record came in his first year, with a team that included six roster holdovers from Dixon. Yet the Panthers finished just 16-17 and 4-14 in the ACC, losing to Louisville, 106-51. The following year, the roster depleted, Pitt finished 8-24 and a woebegone 0-18 in the ACC. The Panthers were not even competitive, losing by an average of 17 points per game.

    The writing was on the wall, and even Stallings knew it. One person connected to the program recalls a postgame conversation in which Stallings requested help with finding a lawyer, wanting to ensure he landed most of his buyout. “He just lost a game,’’ the person remembers. “And he’s worried about his money. That says it all.’’

    Through his lawyer, Scott Tompsett, Stallings declined to comment.

    By then Barnes was long gone, bolting for Oregon State after just two years on the job, and Lyke came in for the cleanup. “An AD mentor of mine told me a long time ago, ‘There are not a lot of golden batons out there,’’’ she says. “Meaning that, when you take over a job, there will be work to be done.’’ Her first to-do item, firing Stallings. That happened March 8, 2018, two days after the end of his second season. The formal parting took three additional weeks as the school and coach haggled over the terms of his buyout before settling, but the aftereffects lingered even longer.

    Fan interest plummeted. Between Dixon’s final year and Stallings’ last, the attendance figures were severed in half, from 8,889 to 4,117, and according to Pitt’s 2020 annual report, ticket revenue plummeted along with it, from well over $5 million to a little more than $3 million. The once-rowdy Oakland Zoo felt more like nap time, an entire generation of Pitt students finding no compelling reason to watch a basketball game.

    It gets worse. Two years after Stallings’ dismissal, the NCAA handed him a three-year show-cause penalty, accusing him of allowing non-coaching staff members to participate in practice, developing an alert system to prevent the violations from being caught, and ordering that any incriminating practice videos be destroyed. That left Pitt with probation, a $5,000 fine plus reductions in recruiting days and the number of hours the team was permitted to practice each week.

    And a rather sizable canyon for the next coach to excavate. “That decision set them back further than they realized,’’ a search firm exec says. “You see that over and over. You get the wrong person, the wrong fit, it’s not just a year or two to dig out. It can take years to get out”

    Naive? Yes, Jeff Capel will admit now that maybe he was a little dewy-eyed. In his previous two stops as a head coach, at VCU and Oklahoma, he inherited teams with strong foundations, and he arrived at Pitt buoyed by those experiences, certain the program’s strong traditions would be a launching pad for a rebuild. He was welcomed warmly, too.

    After the school swung and missed on Dan Hurley, who instead opted for Connecticut, and failed to lure Sean Miller from Arizona, getting Capel seemed like a pretty good win for a third choice. A Mike Krzyzewski protege, Capel won big at VCU and with the Sooners, until that stop was derailed amid an NCAA investigation. “I thought, ‘Wow! That’s a great get for Pitt,’’’ the search firm exec says.

    Capel immediately did some things Stallings never did, reaching out to the community and students to reconnect the fan base. But Capel also quickly removed his rose-colored glasses, understanding that Pitt’s successes were too far in the past to overcome the rest of the upheaval — the AD churn, conference switch, losing and loss of recruiting inroads — quickly. “It was probably really stupid of me to think that way,’’ he says. “I knew it was a proud program. That’s one of the things that attracted me to the job. But you get here, and you realize there’s so much more going on than you realized.’’

    He also immediately lost three players — Ryan Luther, Marcus Carr and Parker Stewart — to transfer. But when Capel managed to lure a decent recruiting class despite the late start — Xavier Johnson, who originally committed to Nebraska, Au’Diese Toney, who opted to reclassify and play immediately, and Trey McGowens, the highest-ranked Pitt player since 2012 — people felt optimistic about the Panthers’ hopes.

    There is no quick fix to problems as deep as Pitt’s, and Capel’s choice, to try and grow an old roster, takes time. It showed in the Panthers’ incremental improvements, from just three ACC wins in Year 1 to six in Year 2, but the seeds of progress were planted. Last season, two members of that original class (McGowens ended up transferring to Nebraska) plus Justin Champagnie, showed the promises of blossoming, jumping to an 8-2 start that included the exclamation point, a win at home against Duke (though COVID prevented fans from enjoying in the celebration). Champagnie had 31 points and 14 rebounds in the game, his fifth 20-10 double-double in the young season, and rightly turned the heads of both fans and NBA scouts.

    What should have been the start of the turnaround, though, turned into the nadir. The Panthers lost nine of their next 11 and on Feb. 24, with just three regular-season games left to play, Johnson announced he was transferring. The next day Toney joined him. At the time, both were starters and the team’s second- and third-leading scorers. “What was that?” one booster says. “That’s just a ‘screw you’ if you ask me.’’ Capel says it was a chemistry problem, though he won’t elaborate. Another source says it was “straight-up jealousy like I’ve never seen before,’’ the two envious of the attention, on and off the court, that Champagnie earned. Either way, both are faring well for teams with far better success than Pitt. Toney is averaging 10.7 points and 5.3 rebounds for 12-5 Arkansas, Johnson 9.6 points, 4.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds for 12-4 Indiana.

    They also weren’t the only ones to leave. Abdul Karim Coulibaly moved on to St. Bonaventure, and Terrell Brown hopped to San Diego. When Champagnie left for the NBA, the Panthers were short five of their top seven scorers, and any incremental progress all but disappeared.

    Nor did it help — for victories or program perception — when Ithiel Horton, the top returning scorer, was arrested in November and charged with aggravated assault, resisting arrest and public drunkenness. Suspended indefinitely, Horton was reinstated to the team last week after the police officer who alleged the assault could not make a scheduled hearing and the charges were dropped. But a week and one game later, the officer refiled the charges, and 90 minutes before the game against Boston College, Horton again was suspended indefinitely.

    Bottom line, Capel is nearly back to square one, with a young, depleted roster trying to create consistency. The difference? It’s now Year 4. The coach sees progress even if others don’t. Five of the Panthers’ last six losses are by a combined 10 points, and they had a chance to win each. That, he knows, is a glass-half-full approach, but he’s been around teams that stopped caring or flat-out quit, and his, he does not believe, is one of them.

    But the riddle of college basketball is attracting the players who can change a program when the program can’t offer a reason to come. Pitt right now requires a leap of faith, a challenge only doubled in the era of the transfer portal, when players are only too happy to leave when things get hard. “Kids hear stuff,’’ one high school coach says. “They play at open gyms at Pitt. They’re worried about what they’re getting into. If they do commit, will this coaching staff even be around when they get there?”

    Though some are getting restless — “I wouldn’t say he’s at the end of his leash, but it’s gotta be tightening,’’ one booster says — Lyke, who hired Capel, does not sound like someone ready to cut him loose. She points to her football program as the reward for patience. Many wanted Pat Narduzzi gone over the course of his seven years at Pitt. This year he finished 11-3 and won the ACC title. “Continuity of the right coaches matter,’’ Lyke says. “I don’t believe this about our team, but in basketball, I think there is an individual nature about the sport that’s grown. Everyone has their own shooting coach, their own trainer. But Jeff does an extraordinary job of focusing on the team concept. His philosophy and his relationship with his players are going to do the right things over time. But it’s not an immediate fix.’’

    Nothing is. Digging out from Pitt’s rubble will take nearly as long as creating the mess, and as the shoveling continues, the Panthers face something far more disabling than fan impatience. “Apathy is really starting to seep in,’’ a booster says.

    A few years after the Pete opened and just after Howland led the Panthers to the Sweet 16, the university reconfigured its season ticket packages. The same loyal fans who were invited into the Pete to choose their seats when Pitt struggled were told they needed to donate at least $500 for the right to buy tickets. Plenty of folks who had good seats in the lean years were moved based on their financial gifts; some who had four tickets suddenly found themselves with two tickets and no parking.

    It ticked off a few loyal customers, but there were plenty of people to replace the disenfranchised as Pitt’s success roared. Beginning with its first game, the Pete hosted more than 200 consecutive sellouts, and by 2011, according to the Post-Gazette, the waiting list topped 11,000 names.

    On Jan. 8 against Boston College, what Cook once called “the best ticket in town” could be had for as low as 11 bucks.

    — The Athletic’s Stephen J. Nesbitt contributed to this report.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I still don’t understand why Capel was not forced to make coaching changes when four guys jumped ship and Champ went pro. Toney would have really helped this team, and Coulibably was getting better every year, even Brown would have helped to spell Hugly.

    Times have definitely changed regarding recruiting with the portal. Of Pitt’s top 11 guys, 5 are recruits, 5 are transfers. and 1 is a walk-on. Of the 4 most productive guys, 2 are recruits and 2 are transfers.

    It is a new paradigm which Capel will have to master, no longer can you build a team over time with the in and out flow of players.

    Add to that, the really good ones leave really soon for the pros ala Champ. Will Hugly go pro after this year?
    Or be tempted by a more competitive program?

    How does NIL fit into all of this?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. We should be so grateful to Sonny Vaccaro for delivering Howland.

    Without that hire, which doesn’t bring Dixon, Pitt’s hoops history would pretty much be mediocre to deplorable.

    The administration’s incompetence toward football throughout history gets most of the talk, but hoops for some reason get little criticism. I’m baffled at how so-called smart people can be so dumb, and for many, many decades.

    This staff offers no hope. Zero shooters after four years and even if the lone one who can shoot wasn’t suspended, the squad would still be short two who can in an age of the deep ball.

    Capel is getting another year or two, but how he gets this turned around when kids being recruited are being told Jeff will be fired soon is a Herculian task in itself. The assistants sure aren’t reeling in any kids.


  11. Just a question, does it usually take this long to officially announce a football coach?
    Seems awfully peculiar. Is it that hard to come to terms or is there something else going on?


  12. PN was working on a deal with Heather. Most coaches ask for more money for their coaches. Add a probably Cignetti buyout and his contract. It is all connected and takes time.


  13. Great articles all….. and a lot of truths laid bare!

    After following Erie’s path and getting a good nights sleep, I spent some time thinking of how to fix Pitt basketball right now, with the players and coaches we have. Obviously talent, especially shooting talent is lacking.

    But, Pitt’s offense is a “merry go round” moving too fast to be effective. Shooters get open about as often as Steeler receivers!

    I know Capel and staff see this but it’s very hard to teach young players to slow down when they find comfort in running around like chickens!

    The most important thing an offensive player has to do when he has the ball, is make his opponent “play him” or react to him. No offense can work without it! Ever!
    Pitt players barely touch the ball on offense with an occasional pick and roll. It takes time and patience to set a screen then rescreen! You can’t do either without making your opponent “play you”. The Syracuse game was a classic example. Cuse stayed in their zone and Pitt players on offense moved at lightning speed ….. as Cuse Zone never had to react or move.

    Anyhow, that’s the one thing I’d fix immediately! Until Horton returns it’s the only thing that might help … now!

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Jeffress should transfer to a high profile academic school in the Ivy League where he can develop his talent. He had offers from Northwestern, Vandy and Stanford and his intelligence is not in question. I just can’t see him playing in the Pac 12, Big 10 or SEC. A transfer to Penn would enable him to play at his talent level and get a FANTASTIC education.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. good thought

      gotta think he WANTS to stay at Pitt now but why he chose them over your list is absolutely not smart

      anyone know what he is studying?


  15. Pitt ranks 26th in U.S in psychology (high rank) Penn is ranked 8th. Penn has the GREAT Annenberg School for Communication (Graduate School) I have my M.A. from Annenberg and spent over 40 years in the radio industry. You wanna play basketball —play in the terrific Palestra and get a world-class education. Hail 2 Pitt and Fight on Pennsylvania

    Liked by 1 person

  16. You never know how good you are unless you are tested by better players.
    Jeffress is still only18. He still has time on his side.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. The game has changed and these young guys aren’t getting the chance to develop. Cam Johnson didn’t really show much till his junior year, but he didn’t have to play because there was talent ahead of him.
        Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna had their best year as 5th year seniors. How would they have done if they came out early and played as freshmen?

        Jamie was able to develop a program over time. Not sure that is possible in the current environment. Jamie rarely played freshmen with a few great exceptions, Blair, Robinson. Even the great Sam Young wasn’t a starter till his junior year.

        Now you have to bring in Burton and Gueye for experience, but they haven’t grown up in your system.


    1. in looking for his birth date I see he’s listed as a Guard

      I don’t care how much time he has remaining at Pitt or any D-1 school, he’ll never be a guard

      uh, on second thought, Pitt is quite possibly the best place for him if he wants to continue that path to guard, thinking about the Baltimore kid Jamel Artis who was apparently the only one who could dribble one year at the Pete


  17. The other thing is that none of our guys have played together.
    They are playing against guys that have played together for some time.
    I think it is somewhat remarkable how much they have improved since the beginning of the year.
    You have to figure that during the off season Sibande and Horton were getting much of the action.
    The problem is largely that the level of competition is only going to get stronger.


  18. What happens if Hugely decides to go to a winning team to improve his chances of being drafted in the NBA?


    1. Hugely’s high school coach and Capel seem pretty tight. He’s getting the touches needed at Pitt to get to the NBA. Capel needs to recruit better players to put around John.


  19. I’m confused.

    On the one hand, this pretty terrible Pitt team is losing relatively close games. So there must be some kind of decent coaching going on to keep a team that really can’t shoot in these games…. (And yes the ACC is down, but not as far down as Pitt…)

    On the other hand, you see teams like UVA, who can’t shoot very well either, getting some critical, relatively-easy baskets by setting screens and using them effectively. Whereas we rarely seem to do anything scheme-wise that leads to easy buckets.

    I suspect we need to lower the sights on recruiting, go back to developing more mid-level high-schoolers with upside – but mainly use the portal. But most important, we need coaches who can scheme us some easier buckets.

    I like Capel as the head coach – but I’d insist he bring in a well-respected “scheme” coach as his “offensive coordinator.”

    Trying to recruit the elite players hasn’t worked – go back to basics…. My $0.02.

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Jeffress has, I believe, 3 years left after this season because of the COVID waiver. He still has a lot of time to develop.


    1. but NOT into a guard, see my post above

      def small forward and maybe not a liability but a real contributor at some point

      he had a nice block late in last night’s game that was part of Pitt getting close near the end


  21. OT: Post Gazette has an article out this afternoon titled “Why former Pitt Players believe Frank Cignetti is the perfect piece for the puzzle’ at offensive coordinator” A great read and as such there is little doubt about who will be named OC at Pitt. When is the key question now.


  22. I agree with Dan’s comments about making the defense work more, but it doesn’t completely explain why Pitt runs the shot clock down to almost zero, and then forces a bad shot. It’s like the perimeter players all think that a better shot is coming and maybe someone else will take it. As I mentioned, EZ with no shots in 32 minutes… he is just wasted space on the floor. Jeffress takes no shots as well, but at least he might be developing for next year.


  23. What’s the over/under on the number of Pitt hoops coaches returning next year?

    And is it any wonder Herman Munster refused to comment for the above article?
    Spineless, incompetent, arrogant, program-wrecking, over-compensated, never-should-have-been-hired buffoon.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I started to type that “arrogant” should have been CAPITALIZED

      but then needed to add “never-should-have-been-hired buffoon”

      and certainly “program-wrecking”

      clearly “over-compensated”

      only not certain you would’ve needed to capitalize “spineless” 🙂 , but I’m open to it

      I can’t ever erase the memory of the Stallings intro presser – starting with the Pitt band ensemble

      F HERMANN!!! , capitalize each and every insult, you might start to come close!!!


  24. I’m not a fan of telling coaches who to fire and not fire. Just fire the coach at that point. You hire someone, you let them do it their way. If it doesn’t work you get rid of them. As soon as you start dictating things, the relationship is already broken and you’re just wasting your time.


  25. Kiper’s first mock draft has the Liberty kid to WFT at #11 – best not there anyway under the utterly laughable disastrous organization with Snyder

    From ESPN+
    18. New Orleans Saints
    Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt

    The Saints won four of five games to end the season and almost snuck into the playoffs, but their offense was subpar after Jameis Winston tore his ACL in late October. If Winston goes elsewhere in free agency, Sean Payton is going to want a new quarterback to coach up. Taysom Hill, who turns 32 before the start of the 2022 season, hasn’t shown enough to be considered their QB of the present nor future.

    That’s why I see Pickett, who’s coming off an efficient 42-touchdown, seven-interception season, as the perfect fit for New Orleans. He took a huge leap in 2021, showing off pinpoint accuracy to every area of the field. He started 49 games in college, so he can play right away for a team that wants to compete for the playoffs. The biggest question I’ve heard from people in the NFL is one that you might laugh at: hand size. Pickett has small hands — we’ll find out their exact size at the Senior Bowl soon — and that matters to the teams doing the drafting. If he can play his home games in a dome in New Orleans, that’s a plus.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Dating back a few months, I mentioned the ideal teams for KP3 were Minnesota, New Orleans and Denver.

    New Orleans with HC Patton would be the best now that the Vikings and Broncos fired their HC’s.


  27. Pitt women bballers not faring well against the vt hookies. 27-46 at half.

    This is my first look at our panther squad and it isn’t pretty. Going to turn this one off. Maybe they can come back, but look a bit unorganized.


  28. Pitt women having a good 3rd quarter

    refs again suck and mostly bad at Pitt’s expense, phantom charge near the end of the 3rd quarter


  29. In Pitt women’s volleyball news: Pitt picked up another transfer from the portal. Last year’s Iowa’s team was not very good. One player kind of carried the team and was named to the second team All Big Ten. The prior year she was named to the first Team All Big Ten. That player was senior Courtney Buzzerio. She is 6′-5″ and is listed as a setter/outside hitter. She is kind of tall for a setter but Pitt could use an emergency backup this year as we only have two setters on the roster.

    Courtney played in 107 sets and averaged 4.075 kills per set and hit 0.229. That is a pretty good hitting percentage given she was Iowa’s main attacker. She had a total of 436 kills. The next three closest players averaged around 245 kills. She also had 42 total blocks. She also serves. She led the team with 30 service aces versus 51 service errors.

    Courtney appears to be a six position player as she averaged 1.318 digs per set with a total of 141 digs for the season. I would guess she will be used in a similar manner at Pitt. This will allow Rachel Fairbanks to concentrate on her setter role.

    Along with our 6′-5″ outside from Washington State, Coach Fisher has decided to go tall on the outsides. Pitt is not going to be at a size disadvantage next year!

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Pitt women basketballers lose by 10. They trailed by 19 at the half – cut the lead down to 4 near the end, but then went cold.

    Everett has been struggling with her shooting. The whole team struggles to score in the first half of games – then come back in the second halves, but fall short…

    AB played a lot of minutes but didn’t score. I think Coach White should play Liatu King more at forward…

    Go Pitt.


    1. A key stat from tonight’s women’s game:

      Foul shots:
      VT 22 for 25 (Wow!)
      Pitt 9 for 15

      So VT makes 13 more free-throws and wins by 10…

      Go Pitt.


    2. So disappointed with the results of this team. Ladies basketball is all about one teams talent vs the opposition teams talent. Not X’s and O’s. I mistakingly thought Pitt had more talent. Not so… so far.


      1. Yeah, you know way more than me about this stuff, Dan, but where they struggle – like the men’s team – is scoring. Tonight the starting center was 2 for 7 while the starting wing was 0 for 3. Guard Everett is normally a good shooter but she’s been slumping some. Day Harris seems to be getting back to form, but she needs several shots to get going.

        Which brings me to another point — Coach White plays 12 players. Keeps the players fresh, but seems to me this makes it tough on the shooters – they don’t get a chance to get in a groove, and stay in a groove…

        We do have a local guard recruit coming in next season who is a good 3-point shooter…

        Go Pitt.


        1. I watched the first half closely and our ladies looked disorganized and not playing as a team with a purpose.

          In the second half, we began to pressure full court and candidly, VT couldn’t handle it well. With the head coach going 12 people deep in the rotation, constant full court pressure seems like the best way to go to get easier buckets. Might be my rare look into the women’s game, but full court pressure seems to be the right way to win games as the opponents only seem to have one very skilled ballhandler in the lineup at a time.

          Am I correct in this observation, or was it just the VT team that did not seem to have more than one, very skilled ball handler? They really struggled against great pressure. I would like to see the Pitt coach employ that strategy every game to see what happens. Also, the announcers indicated that we didn’t defend their three point shooters well at all.

          On a positive note, I did like how our women attacked the offensive rebound. We did really well there!


    1. Amazing how quickly Indiana turned their program around with a 1st year HC, after the bad handful of years with Archie Miller. I believe the Hoosiers are currently 14-4.

      Jamie Dixon was 31-5 in his 1st year, granted former HC Howland was heading to UCLA and had the cupboard pretty full for his assistant.

      Jamie left Stallings with a good team (6 of 7 top scorers returned from a winning season).

      It is disappointing to sit and think about how far this program was allowed to fall. No end to this display of bad basketball in sight either.


      1. Indiana’s had 1 losing season in the last 10 or so and yes it was last season but do you think Pitt has anywhere near the basketball history, B1G money or alumni support or administration commitment or fan support, etc. that a school like IU has?

        And last year’s losing season was because they finished on a 6 game losing streak to go 12-15 in a fairly decent conference

        Plus, X can at least hit FT’s, might be a better passer than Femi(if he tries), definitely can defend better(when he tries), has much better assist/TO ratio, etc., even if he is a cancer(in some fan’s opinion’s – not mine as I do not KNOW)

        amazing? maybe but maybe not


      2. Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of Foge’s hiring. While I think he could have done a better job if Sherrill didn’t leave an awful QB room, there is a point I want to make.

        Foge’s hiring was done very quickly with no national search to find the best candidate. Reminds me of how Barnes handled the Stallings hire. He put out feelers on a few coaches, they said no, so he turned to his buddy Turner at the search firm and got it done quickly.

        In comparison, 30 years ago around this time, Dan Rooney was taking his time finding the best candidate for the Steelers job and his patience paid off with Cowher.


        1. Everyone loved Foge, he was a great defensive coach and a Pitt guy, an up and comer.
          Who knew he wasn’t going to be a very good head coach at the time?
          I don’t remember who it was but his offensive coordinator wasn’t very good.


          1. He promoted Joe Daniels to OC in 1982 and made Moore assistant head coach.

            Marino threw 37 TDs under Moore in 1981. Daniels never coached again after 1982 and Moore went back to OC in 1983. No QB doomed Foge.


            1. Yes Joe Moore maybe greatest O-line coach of all time but was an awful OC. He went 3-7 in 1984 with Fralic and Ironhead on the team. Somehow they beat PSU 31-11 at University Park. 5-5 the next year which ended Foge’s career as a head coach.
              Foge and Joe Moore, great examples of the “Peter Principle”


              1. Marino threw 37 TDs under Moore. Pitt went 8-3-1 with Congemi in 1983 under Moore.

                Fragile John got hurt in 1984 and there were no other capable QBs on the roster.

                Congemi was bad in 1985. Seven points versus tOSU, 10 versus WVU, 7 versus Navy, shut out in the last two home games versus Cuse and PSU. Congemi for some reason is remembered by Pitt fans for being better than he really was. Small, inaccurate, injury-prone. Sherrill taking him over Kosar was criminal.


  31. For whatever reason there was great frustration on last year’s team that lead to a total implosion.
    A big part of it was losing so many games. Largely the same problem, weak 3 point shooting.This year’s team is better defensively.

    It is just a shame that we had Hugly’s misadventure. That team would have been so much stronger with an inside game. This year’s team could have been so much stronger with X and Toney.

    But only if X would have learned how to play within himself. He tried to do more than he was capable of which lead to a lot of highlight drives but way to many turnovers, missed layups and out of control drives. He could be great fun to watch and at the next minute very frustrating.

    It looks like he may have matured with Indiana enough to be much more productive, good for him.


    1. It just makes you wonder what were the causes of the implosion? Was it just poor chemistry, the losing environment. How much did Covid affect the attitudes, overall level of frustration? How about coaching, why couldn’t the coaches lay a better foundation and team attitude? Obviously these kids didn’t want to stay and play for Capel and his staff or with each other. Even Champ who has done well, was he part of the problem or the result of the environment?

      This year’s team seems to be more cohesive, I guess we won’t really know till the end of the year.


  32. On PSN, I read where 247 Sports has Pitt’s portal-class rated as the 10th best.

    Weird that now we have rankings for “portal classes”…

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 3 people

  33. It’s official … some of you can relax, now …

    Liked by 1 person

  34. They need all their new offensive coaches in place ASAP looking over the tape of the players on the Pitt roster.


  35. I disagree. Sooner the better but it’s nothing urgent. Better to hire the right person than just to fill the spot. Why watch tape when they’ll see them live in 60 days? There is nothing urgent about this hire outside of fans being overly interested in an assistant coach. Someone will be in place when it’s truly needed. It’s just a WR coach. I know everyone loved Marion but players like Addison (with Kenny’s help) will make coaches look good. They need this person in place for Spring ball and recruiting … Pitt’s recruiting generally kicks off with the June camps. Pitt is just fine.


  36. I’m nominating ErieExpress for the WR job. I remember when he said very early on that T. Mack would be a good WR, while I was a bit skeptical… 😊

    If ErieExpress is unavailable, my backup is Scooter. Who wouldn’t want a WR Coach named Scooter?

    Either of these gentlemen would have the WRs playing sky high, IMHO… 👍

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m honored to be considered and if Duzz called I’d say yes. Fitz, Detrick Jells, Yogi Roth, Tyler Boyd and Fred Biletnikoff would be regular guests at the South Side facility.

      Liked by 1 person

  37. I don’t like the Cignetti hire. Little success the last two years at BC. I looked at film with Jurkovic playing, they struggled to score against better than average teams. They were inconsistent. He is not one of the better OCs in the country. If Pitt wants to stay on top, they need to go after a very successful OC.

    That being said, I wanted Whipple fired before this past year and he ended up being PN’s best OC. Actually, best OC at Pitt in decades so what the heck do I know.

    I hope Cignetti opens up his offense more. Thirty plus points per game are a must.


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