Lots of talk around Pitt Basketball right now, along with a lot of blame. Those that did not want to see Kevin Stallings hired are in the corner that he is the problem. There is also a small group of people who are in the corner of the players being at fault. Some have gone as far as blaming the previous regime. With all of that said, 15-16 regular season record was the first losing record since 1999. So the million dollar question is, Who is really to blame?
I have been watching social media, listening to local talk radio, and listening to fans in local establishments and one can say, its truly divided. Though most fall in line with Stallings is to blame. Here is where I fall with all of the opinions that are being floated out there.
First off, I realize Jamie Dixon had an opportunity to go to TCU and took it. He has had several opportunities over the years to go there, but this one seemed very appealing because I believe he knew what he had returning. Or what he did not have returning.
When Jamie had been most successful, he had good point guard play. Not to mention guards behind those good guards. I have heard from scouts and current coaches that a good guard can give your team between 3-5 wins a year. The fact that Pitt played this entire season without good guard play can explain many issues with this team.
If you look at the win scenario I just gave you, a James Robinson could have given this team a record of 18-13 which puts them close to the tourney. If you take the best case scenario, they could have finished 20-11. That would have landed them in the tourney and we would not be having any of the talk we currently are.
Now on to other major issues this team has. They have some very selfish seniors, not showing up to practice or meetings on time, not buying into the defensive plan, and basically not playing with heart.
Mix that with the fact They truly lack talented depth. When Ryan Luther(who is no Lamar Patterson by the way) was injured, the Panthers 6 man and first guy off the bench was essentially gone. That left the 4 seniors and sophomore Johnson to play the bulk of the minutes. The guys that backed them up, were not ready to step up and be big time contributors. That explains many of the second half collapses we saw throughout the ACC Season.
Let us also talk about the offensive dry spells we have seen from this team. We saw this group in the past 4 years go double digit minutes without scoring in recent seasons. So why was it such a big surprise when they duplicated that this season? The fact is, it should not have been a big surprise at all. It should have been expected.
This team went as far as Young and Artis could take them. Sheldon Jeter would go 5-10 games in between good offensive games. Chris Jones is not a great ball handler and makes poor decisions with the rock way too often. Artis as a whole is a poor ball handler and had way too many turnovers. Although both he and Young are both above average offensive players for sure.
Let’s also talk about how slow this team is as a group. They struggle with teams that have speed, length, and or skill. That does not and was not going to be a good formula for this year’s ACC.
Did Kevin Stallings under achieve in his first year as a coach? Of course and I think he would probably tell you the same thing. But it is hard to come into a situation with a group of players that don’t buy into everything your selling. Especially when your team is riddled with seniors that want to do only what they want to do.
This losing season was a group effort, but I think I would lean more towards Jamie leaving this team without a decent guard on the roster and the group of seniors that are left did not respond the way they needed too. I do not think you can pin all of this or even half on Kevin Stallings. This is a streaky shooting team with no guard play and absolutely no depth on the bench. That is a recipe for disaster and I don’t care who is pacing up and down the bench, there was not going to be many more wins than that.