Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Many thoughts on Pitt football and basketball

I just have some thoughts and info that has accumulated over the past week or so, so here it goes.

1.  The first thing I want to say is that PAT NARDUZZI IS HERE TO STAY!!!  I understand that Pitt fans always expect something bad to happen, but with all due respect, don't be so paranoid.  Only five head coaches in Pitt's modern history left for another school. Two of them (Johnny Majors and Paul Chryst) left to return to their alma mater, one of them (Ben Howland) returned home to coach the school he always grew up loving, one (Jackie Sherrill) left for a ton of money when Pitt had bad leadership, and one (Todd Graham) is a douchebag with no morals. Well, Narduzzi was born in Connecticut when his father was at Yale, and he spent his formative years in Youngstown before playing at Youngstown State. He's obviously not going to leave for Yale or Youngstown State. That means the only connection he is to Michigan State. First, Mark Dantonio is not returning to his alma mater, South Carolina. He's from Ohio and has spent his entire coaching career in the Midwest. Outside of the four years he spent in college four decades ago, he has no affiliation to the south at all. Not to mention that he'd be 60 next season, he has spent a lot of time getting Michigan State to where it is now, and he's treated like a god in East Lansing (including huge pay). Michigan State is also a better job. The legendary Steve Spurrier was only 44-40 in the SEC there, and it will always be an also ran in that highly competitive conference.

Also, Pitt is the closest major program to Youngstown at just over an hour. This is home for him. It's his area, it's his people, and he knows he can win here. Pitt is actually a better program than Michigan State, as Narduzzi would quickly tell you. It's very hard to recruit at Michigan State, whereas Pitt is surrounded by a very fertile recruiting area. Bottom line, coaching at a school doesn't give you some crazy, insatiable thirst to go back there as soon as you can. It's home that makes you want to go back, and home for Narduzzi is the Pittsburgh area. He really has no reason to go elsewhere. So relax and enjoy the man. As I said from the moment he was hired, he's the one you've been waiting for.

2.  A win over Georgia Tech would be huge for Pitt's eventual win total, but I'm actually pessimistic for this game. Of Georgia Tech's four losses, three were on the road against tough competition (Notre Dame, Duke, and Clemson), and they lost at home (North Carolina) late to another excellent team. Plus, the law of averages says they won't lose 5 in a row.

3.  The most encouraging thing about the fast start this season is that their actual on field talent is probably less than last year. The Panthers are without James Conner, Jared Jones-Smith, Rachad Ibrahim, Matt Rotheram, and TJ Clemmings. It's pretty obvious looking at that why the offense is struggling. Outside of Tyler Boyd there's simply no big time playmakers, and the offensive line has had two veterans replaced by the very mediocre Artie Rowell and the very raw Brian O'Neill.  The future is extremely bright for O'Neill, who I think could be a first round possibility in the future, but he's just learning the position.

4. Even though the on field talent this year may be less, the talent level is about to go up. Don't get me started on the ridiculous Rivals ratings system, which penalizes Pitt for not having 20 recruits yet. That's just one of the reasons why you have to take rankings system with a grain of salt. Another is the quota that Rivals use. They only have 50 five star prospects and 250 four star prospects. But what if there are more than 50 or 250 that are worthy? Too bad. That makes no sense.

I can settle this debate once at for all, to be honest. At the moment Texas has two 4-star recruits and seven 3-star recruits. Rivals has them ranked No. 57, behind schools like SMU, Washington State, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wake Forest. And listen to this. SMU has no 4-stars, four 3-stars, and seventeen 2-stars, yet they are ranked above Texas. In average per recruit, Texas is No. 14, which obviously makes much more sense. So, bottom line, Pitt is actually No. 41, not No. 71, as Rivals lists. When it's all said and done, Pitt should be around No. 30.

Thomas MacVittie and Chase Pine deserve to be 4-star prospects and Maurice Ffrench is obviously a 3-star, not the 2-star they have him listed at. Pine is having a great year on defense and even at quarterback. He's been a major force on the field. Ffrench has been unstoppable in New Jersey and had over 400 total yards this weekend. He runs, he catches, he returns. He can do it all. And MacVittie is now healthy after an early season injury and is playing very well despite playing in the ridiculously loaded Cincinnati Catholic league. J.J. Cosentino of Florida State was a 4-star prospect at Pittsburgh Central Catholic because he was big, athletic, and had a strong arm. What was overlooked was that he was such a bad passer (less than 50%) that Central Catholic rarely let him pass. MacVittie has been much better this season than Cosentino ever was. And, by the way, he and his father absolutely love Pitt, and they've pretty much shut down his recruiting. That's why there are no more offers. In fact, his father often messages me with pro-Pitt comments and he can't wait for his son to get to Pitt.

5.  As for recruiting, the first thing I want to say is that you shouldn't believe message board naysayers that Pitt has no chance for Miles Sanders, Kaezon Pugh, and Khaleke Hudson. Sanders has been secretly visiting Pitt for months and he's scheduled to have an official visit for the Notre Dame game. The Panthers could conceivably win that game and be 8-1. That's highly unlikely but let's say the Panthers are at least doing well at the time and Penn State is not. Both things are possible. It will cause a buzz at Pitt among the top local recruits if the Panthers have the look of a real winner. And Sanders could easily get swept up in that. In fact, what I've been told from those close to the situation, is that Sanders wanted nothing to do with Chryst so he committed to Penn State, but that if he still hasn't decided, he probably would have chosen Pitt. Basically, he got himself into a Penn State mindset, and he doesn't want to be disloyal. All along I said I would still take Penn State since he's already committed to them, but it would not surprise me for a second if he eventually flipped.

As for Pugh, he is not automatically targeted for West Virginia as many believe. He could absolutely end up going there, but Pitt was not happy about losing Aliquippa and they are all going all out to get them back in the fold. Both Chris LaSala and Rob Harley are on the case, and if they don't get him, it's simply because Pugh wants to play with Dravon Henry (for essentially one year since Henry will likely go to the NFL after his junior year).

Hudson may be a long shot for the reason that as a strong safety, he has no chance of playing over Jordan Whitehead. But Hudson takes great pride in keeping everybody in the dark, and that includes those closest to him. Nobody has any idea what he's thinking so anybody that says he's waiting for a Penn State offer or isn't interested in Pitt, is simply making it up.

6.  As far as the other recruiting, I think Damar Hamlin, Aaron Mathews, and Zack Gilbert will be Panthers, and they will join MacVittie, Pine, Ruben Flowers, Therran Coleman, and Rashad Wheeler as the cream of the crop. But that won't be all. I expect a flip or two to Pitt, as well as a probably a few late Florida signings. I think Juwann Winfree is a real possibility, too. The one I am a little worried about is UCLA transfer Chris Clark, who seems to really want to play with his friends at Syracuse.

7.  I expect the 2017 and 2018 classes to be even more impressive. I don't think Pitt will get Lamont Wade. He and his handlers are the type that loves the spotlight, and they find their value in where Lamont signs. I have a good feeling, however, with locals Paris Ford, Donovan Jeter, and Kenny Robinson. All three are big time talents. I also think there's a better chance than many think with LB David Adams and DT CJ Thorpe. Both would be crucial signings as they would make the middle of the Panthers defense very stout. A future DT combo of Jeter and Thorpe would make Pitt fans salivate. The Panthers will also be favorites for Brandon Ford's teammate at Upper St. Clair, Gabe Houy, and Devin Street's brother, Darian. Outside of PA, Ironhead's son, Connor Heyward, is a talented Georgia WR that the Panthers have a strong shot with, and elite Virginia DE Tyjuan Garbutt is another. Obviously there will be many more major targets as it's still relatively early for out of state targets. In 2018, it's all about Pine-Richland QB Phil Jurkovec. He will be a very highly rated national recruit his senior year. Trust me when I tell you that this is exactly the type of QB the Panthers need to make serious damage on a national level. And I like Pitt's chances- a lot. And he won't be the only really good WPIAL prospect in that class. I will have more in future posts, but let's just say that the WPIAL is strong again.

8.  If Pitt could land Sanders, Clark, and Winfree the offense will get better in a hurry. Clark would probably have to wait a year, but Sanders would start immediately, and Winfree would join with Flowers, Quadree Henderson, and probably Mathews in a suddenly deeper receiving corps. On the opposite end, if they don't land all three, their future RB, WR, and TE units will still need a lot of help. It's a very crucial time in the development of the program.

9.  Okay, this is when some people are going to lose their minds. The Pitt basketball team, and Jamie Dixon. Look, here is the way it is. Dixon is not doing everything right and he's in a very delicate spot at this point. His coaching is excellent. Trust me on this. You won't ever win an argument with any knowledgeable basketball person if you say otherwise. It's his recruiting that has been suspect. He doesn't have the perfect staff for him because while he's a great evaluator of talent, he does not close well. So basically he needs an ace recruiter, which he really doesn't have. But, Pitt will win this year, and they will win as long as Dixon is there. They will always win because Dixon is just that good of a coach. Now, he may not consistently win big like you got used to, but he will still win.

10.  This year's team should go to the NCAA tournament, in what I assume will be around a 7-9 seed. Not many teams have a duo like Jamel Artis and Mike Young on their frontline. And after a year with a lot of dead weight, there's none of that this season. Every single scholarship player on the roster can play. Depth, youth, rebounding, perimeter shooting, and defense were all problems last year. Every one of those problems have likely been solved. Rozelle Nix, Rafael Maia, and Alonzo Nelson-Odoba are a three headed monster that's obviously better than having Joseph Uchebo, Derrick Randall, and an undersized Mike Young. Nix, Maia, and Nelson-Odoba are big, strong, they rebound, and they play defense. Graduate transfer Sterling Smith adds more defense, and his perimeter shooting will combine with returning Cam Johnson and newcomer Damon Wilson. By the way, the word I've been getting out of Pitt is that Wilson has been very good.

11.  Assuming everybody that can come back, does come back, next season will still have a strong core of Artis, Young, Chris Jones, Sheldon Jeter, Ryan Luther, Johnson, Wilson, Nix, Jonathan Milligan, Justice Kithcart, and Corey Manigault. And there's two more to be added.

12.  The key is what Dixon does in recruiting in the next year. Not only does he have two more to add in the '16 class, but he could have as many as seven more to add in '17. Dixon better get the recruiting situation improved before then, needless to say.

13.  Speaking of recruiting, I talked to various coaches around the country that told me that Pitt completely mishandled the PG recruiting situation in the past few months. Kithcart was not even close to being the best of the bunch, yet that's the one they ended up with. In fact, one coach told me they could have had a better PG, Maliek White, had they waited. He called it "a colossal mistake" that Pitt had both visit at the same time. Another coach told me that it's unfathomable that Brandin Knight couldn't get fellow New Jersey native Myles Powell to even visit. White went to Providence, Powell went to Seton Hall, and former target Tone Carr went to Penn State. Not exactly inspiring to lose players to such programs.

14.  One of the biggest excuses that people use as to why Dixon doesn't recruit at an excellent level is because of the lack of local recruiting talent. That's somewhat true but he inexcusably lost Maverick Rowan, and now he has elite local '18 targets Robbie Carmody and Curtis Aiken, Jr. on the horizon. He wasn't the first to offer either, which is pretty telling. In fact, every time I complained about a lack of an offer for Carmody, he favored it on twitter.  So, basically, he wasn't thrilled about the lack of attention either. If he loses both, especially a legacy like Aiken, then he will forever be considered hopeless as a recruiter.

15.  Lastly, Dixon will never be fired. Pitt is not crazy. What he's done at Pitt is a minor miracle. It's not nearly as easy to win here as you think. And if Pitt got rid of him, they will not get a big name. Nobody worth a damn will want to work for a school that fired Dixon. Believe that. The best hope is that he gets his recruiting in order. If he does he will continue to win. If you just realize that Dixon will win but will probably never be in the Final Four then you can just sit back and enjoy the fact that Pitt is still better than most programs. Not everyplace is destined for a national championship. In fact, few are. It is what it is. Pitt won't cheat, and without cheating there's no way they will ever be good enough to win it all. And if you want to root for a cheating team, there's plenty out there to choose from.

55 comments:

  1. I like your even-handedness in discussing the Pitt programs--I like hearing the good and the bad. You're not a fanboy in the sense that you can talk about the negatives....Nice nice article.

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  2. I agree with you that Jamie is a great coach and a terrible closer, but I do think his style also limits his choices on recruits. There's just a limited group of guys that wants to come in to play that style.

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  3. Thanks again for this. You are the best Pitt writer out there.

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  4. '...lack of local recruiting talent'

    'Pitt won't cheat, and without cheating there's no way they will ever be good enough to win it all.'

    That is the basic gist of the whole program wrapped up in less than 50 words...

    The recruiting problem is real. No one grows up watching Pitt, wanting to play for Pitt, and is actually good enough to make an impact at Pitt... Or at least almost no one. One national recruit every few years? It's not enough.. Even if Dixon did land all of the local impact recruits, it wouldn't be enough.

    To this day, I still don't understand how the bottom fell out of NY/NJ/Phi... The Big East Tourny is a shell of it's former self. And Slice can't be the only guy in the country capable of recruiting that area.

    I won't necessarily go as far as you on the second point, in that I think you can win big without cheating - maybe not every year, but it can be done. I agree though, Dixon doesn't cheat. Even if he wanted to, he wouldn't be allowed to.

    So how does Dixon win big? By doing the same thing he did before. Get a couple pros on the team, and surround them with veteran players that have been in the system for 4 or 5 seasons.

    Where do the pros come from? Hey - that's his question to answer. A local kid staying home (Blair) and a mid level prospect that developed and reached his potential (Young) were the answers last time...

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  5. I'd be curious to know the reason for your optimism on Jurkovec. It seems like he'll have his pick of the litter and I would think the Notre Dames and Michigans of the world, just to name a few, will be awfully tough to beat out.

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  6. Thanks for your analysis. Not many writers can summarize things as well as you. With regards to basketball, do you think Jamie will ever ask Brandon Knight to move on? There is something to be said for loyalty, but keeping him on the staff is really hurting the Pitt program.

    As for Georgia Tech, this year is the best chance Pitt has in beating them for a while. First, they have a lot of injuries on offense especially on the offensive line. This should allow our defense upfront to disrupt the plays early which is the key on the triple option. If you force a decision to be made before the quarterback is past the dive option then you just have to defend it and the quarterback run. Aaron Donald was a one man wrecking crew two years ago blowing up plays early. Unfortunately our offense was not up to the task along with our secondary.

    The second and most important reason is that I will not be present. I have been to the last two meetings. After last year's debacle my buddies suggested I not come up north again for homecoming.

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  7. #12 is huge .... Artis, Young, Jeter, et al will be big and untimely losses. What JD does for 2017 will determine the success of the team through the end of the decade. Can't afford to mess this up. Being a smart guy, when does JD cut ties with non-performing staff members? Also .... Chris ... what do you think about Smoke Williamson ? Thanks .. keep up the good work !

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    1. Smoke is a good recruiter but he's probably not a good fit. We'll see if he can adapt. It doesn't help that Dixon isn't a good closer.

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  8. I think pugh being close with whitehead could be a big factor to when he decides

    I feel like hamlins all bout pitt now it seems like and matthews should be pitts to lose now since it was down to us and maryland i read


    Any idea if the rumors montae nichaelson(sp) wanting to transfer to pitt are true tho?

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  9. Doke:

    Thank you for this really good piece! I have one comment and a question.

    The comment is in regard to your assurance that Narduzzi would not be interested in returning to MSU. Dantonio is 10 years older than Duzz and had a heart attack a few years ago. If he were to retire at say 65, I think Duzz would clearly be MSU's first choice to replace him because next to Dantonio they give primary credit to the resurgence of MSU football to Narduzzi. They love him there, so they would go hard after him and Pitt would have to come up with the type of money that it never has offered to match MSU's offer.

    The question is about Juwann Winfree. What is behind his suspension at Maryland and is he the kind of kid that Pitt would want as a transfer?

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    1. It will probably be five or so more years since Dantonio would retire and by that time Narduzzi will be immersed at Pitt and Muchigan State will have moved on. But if they did come after Narduzzi, like I said, I don't see why he would go back. It's easier to win at Pitt and his allegiance by then would be to Pitt, not Michigan State. It was just a stop on the way for him. It wasn't home.

      As for Winfree, it wasn't anything too bad, like a failed drug test or a crime.

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  10. I don't follow basketball recruiting much, but how did teams like Wichita State, Gonzaga and Butler have such good teams recently? Do they have NBA caliber recruits or is it just good coaching and a good system? Is there any chance Pitt can go that route to be successful in basketball?

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    1. Pitt has been doing it that way for about 15 years.

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    2. I think we'll see a cleaning house of assistants after this year and Jaime will have some money to find that ace recruiter and confidant. The only guaranteed hold over will be Smoke.

      New AD, new $ and a new approach. I don't think people understand what a detriment SP was to the entire athletic department and not just the football program.

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  11. I think Kithcart is better than we think and I think we have a higher ceiling than sweet 16 . I agree that nobody would want to work for a school that fires Jamie Dixon

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  12. Doke - I think the best part of the future for Pitt's athletics is the new Chancellor and AD. They will give the coaches what they need to win and make it fun to be a Panther fan.

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  13. Do you think Scott Barnes will put any pressure on Jamie to change his approach to recruiting? And how does a guy who knows basketball as well as Dixon not see that his problem is the players he is putting on the court?

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  14. Narduzzi doesn't consider Youngstown home. He has no family left there.

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  15. Gonzaga'r run has been similar to Pitt's, consistently successful regular seasons form many years, but both have struggled to make a run in the tournament. Butler made it to the top, but their success has been shorter and seems to be flaming out. Wichita St. has had a real good run of late, both prior to and in the tournament, but I don't know how long it will last.

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  16. Craig, even if you were correct with your second sentence, that he has no family left there, that doesn't mean that he doesn't consider Youngstown to be home. But I don't think you are correct about family -- I remember Narduzzi talking about his decision to take the Pitt job, and his kids asking how long of a drive it was to Youngstown, since they drove there often.

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  17. Two points for clarity :

    Pugh to WV does not make a lot less sense......for Pugh. First, if he is going as a LB, he will not see the field in his true FR class despite the shifty speach and bucket of Tony Gibson lies. Pugh will Redshirt, which means that he and Henry will not defend together when Henry gets out next year. Pitt on the other hand needs immediate MLB help and he will legitimately compete right out of the gate. The coach wants competition and the best player, will play.

    I had lunch and spent the day with a DL from GTech who started as a true freshman. He had originally committed to University of Miami as a Junior and flipped at the last minute. When I asked him why he flipped, his rationale was very specific. He really liked where GT was heading as a program and didn't trust the HC completely. When he had a doubt, he knew it was the wrong place for him. Miami has never been the same since. He said that it was his worst phone call he has ever had to make, followed by the best phone call he ever made. A clear thinker!

    Lamont Wade is an interesting story. OSU seems to be his leader, but he needs to think things through. Urban is not a coach that treats his out of staters too well. He is all about making Ohio proud. He takes 4-5 star kids in order to keep them away from other schools. He occasionally dips into FL for the speed talent. If Wade is 5'9", he should try to stay here and make local contacts to take care of him when his collegiate days are over. If his handlers are smart, they get him in the right situation for life, not football. The average size of an nfl cb is 5'11" 195 and growing with 4.4 speed. Will probably be at least 6' by the time Wade is ready to come out of school.

    Foster and Consentino are two good examples of kids going away and not prospering. It may still happen, but it just doesn't look good for them.

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  18. Good info on the recruiting front....thanks Doke. As for Dixon, he shouldn't need an ace recruiter, he should by now BE an ace recruiter. As it is he's being out recruited by Penn St. of all schools.

    He's needs to clean house after this season and get recruiters who can sell Pitt and better evaluate HS talent. He and his staff have been, to be nice, sub par at that aspect of recruiting for a few years now.

    Erik noted the other problem with Dixon's coaching....at least we have football now to get excited about...

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  19. great read. thank you. H2P

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  20. Great analysis! Do you think that with the firing of Edsall at Maryland, that it probably cause a few commits to de-committing. And what is the likelihood that Pitt can be in the mix for these de-commits?

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    1. Pitt is pursing hard a four-star corner from New Jersey who's committed to Maryland. His last name is Hill.

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    2. The Hill kid is a 2 star with no other P5 offers.

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    3. Tyrone Hill is a four star on Rivals and a three star on espn.com.

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    4. Better look at rivals site again. He's a 2 star. Not a big deal. Just trying to get the facts straight.

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    5. Yes, I was way wrong on Hill's rivals.com ranking. The good news is another Hill, George Hill, is no longer committed to Ohio State and is a four-star athlete from Hubbard, Ohio. Pitt, WVU and one other school are the finalists for his services.

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  21. How much will Terry Smith's influence affect Miles' choice of colleges?

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  22. Terry Smith hated Pitt but....he was the H/C at Gateway in Monroeville not at Woodland Hills where Sanders plays.

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    1. I understand that. But what I am asking is how much Smith's Pittsburgh connection (not the specific high school) may affect Miles.

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  23. Dixon has a contract that Pitt simply has to let play out at least one or possibly two more years. The new AD is very connected to BB and to think he can't bring in a very good coach and build the program is wrong. I predict he can and will if Dixon doesn't pick it up. Pitt spent 140 million on the Pete and that investment has to work with fans, ticket sales, enthusiasm. Dixon is no longer an it coach and creating and maintaining a sense of a top program. Narduzzi likes it here and he is comfortable with the brass, level of talent within a gas tank of Pitt. He will be very successful and will not leave for a so called better program. He will make Pitt a much better program especially whenPitt beats the Nits next year.

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    1. Tell the 90% of the schools that have been less successful than Dixon that they can easily find a coach. I had a talk with Mike DeCourcey of The Sporting News the other day and he said that the word in the college basketball world is that Pitt has the 9th best program in the ACC. Some Pitt fans have gotten spoiled and don't realize how good they have it. Pitt may find a coach that could have a really good year from time to time but you're delusional if you think Pitt is going to be some national power with a new coach.

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  24. I heard that if Pitt basketball doesn't have a decent year in 15-16 that Dixon will be asked to replaced his entire staff. I don't necessary think that is a bad thing. I've said before that Knight should be replaced. Let's be honest, James Robinson hasn't grown much under his tutelage and he's lacked in recruiting. I think the ONLY recruiter we have for basketball is Smoke Williamson and even he is unproven. As Chris said, Dixon isn't much of a recruiter so he needs that ace on staff. That's why I was so disappointed to see Slice leave after one season. He hardly had time to rekindle the relationships he built during his first tenure at Pitt.

    On another note, Chris you said Pitt fans don't know how good they have it when it comes to basketball which I agree. However, winning forces expectations to grow. Pitt was very strong for a decade, but have taken several steps back in the last 4-5 years. Plus Dixon is one of the highest paid coaches in the NCAA. If you want to be in the upper echelon of salaried coaches, you are EXPECTED to meet the demands of students, parents, fans, alumni, etc. In my opinion, Dixon deserves 1 or 2 more years to turn things around. If they miss the tournament this year, he should go into the 16-17 season on the HOT seat. As mentioned above, Pitt spent a lot of money to ensure Pitt's success in basketball. To allow it to middle in the ACC for several years isn't part of the plan.

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  25. Great article, thank you!

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  26. Before we get down on Brandin Knight, let's remember that Damon Wilson, this year's 4-star recruit, and point guard of the future, was recruited by Knight. As Dokish wrote above: "By the way, the word I've been getting out of Pitt is that Wilson has been very good."

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    1. Knight is definitely not a bum but I think he's best in NJ and with Pitt out of the Big East it's harder to get kids out of there. It would also help Knight's career if he added another school to his resume. If it were me I'd keep Smoke to see what he can do, and make a change with the other two assistants.

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  27. Great stuff. Wish you would put these ones out more often. Love the recruiting news on both sports.

    I know many programs tend to recruit particular areas/regions where assistants have connections, but Ohio seems like such a fertile area that Dixon isn't even sniffing. Tons of P5 players in the '16 class (especially in ne and central OH) that don't have Pitt offers. Next year (the big year) will also have its share, but it rarely works for a less flashy program to get in late on a guy.
    Any thoughts on why it seems like so few offers go out? Do certain assistants have certain regions? Do they have a philosophy with regards to how many offers per spot they send out?

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    1. They do almost all of their scouting during the AAU season or by going to high schools. And to be honest, Pitt doesn't have anybody that has a lot of connections in Ohio. Smoke has his connections in Detroit and Chicago, Knight in NJ, and Barton in the New England prep schools. Now you see the problem. Their two top recruiters are best in areas that doesn't have any interest in Pitt.

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    2. Chris:

      Where are the best recruiting areas for Pitt at this stage of things?

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    3. Definitely PA and OH should be first, then New England and the eastern seaboard. But being in the ACC they should look everywhere because kids will want to play in the ACC. But the problem is that without a great local recruiting area they are not going to be the ideal choice for anybody that has a lot of options. That's why they need an ace recruiter. Ralph Willard got Vonteego Cummings out of Georgia so it can be done with the right recruiters.

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  28. Great work Chris. Any word on when the top local '16 football recruits are planning to commit? I understand commitments generally slow down during the season. I know a few of the recruits are going to the national all-star games, have any said they will announce during those games?

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    1. To be honest, I don't pay attention to when kids say they will announce because it usually changes. But usually around Thanksgiving things start picking up again.

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  29. I'd like to believe that even if Dixon is a mediocre-at-best recruiter, he is an excellent coach. Sometimes it's just hard to feel that way, though, given the micro-managed, controlling, borderline manic style he exhibits in almost the entirety of every game. Seems to me that style worked in the Big East slugfests, but is out of place in the faster, more athletic ACC.

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  30. Pitt needs to get into Ohio and win some kids over. The Northeast area in particular has some kids that are P5 conference players. The Culver kid from Warren comes to mind 6'9 lefty that can run and there are others, that area always produces some top kids and it is close enough to Pitt that we should have a presence there. PGH high school hoops doesn't produce many P5 level guys, but when it is clear that there are guys (Aiken and Carmody in 2018) Pitt should be first in to offer and build a relationship. Makes no sense how those two accumulated other P5 offers before Pitt.

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  31. Chris, what did you make of Rich Walsh's piece last night regarding the Woodland Hills' players. It sounded like the players felt Chryst had a dull personality and I know for a fact that House wasn't well-regarded among the players.

    Richie is a Pitt kid and clearly has some ties within the administration. I loved when he asked why is it important for local kids to go to Pitt.

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    1. I think it was obviously an attempt by Walsh and Pitt to woo Miles Sanders. And I'm all for it.

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  32. I agree with you Chris most of the time, but saying JD is a great coach is going too far. He cannot manage a game, he jumps around like a buffoon on the sidelines the whole game and very rarely draws up a play when needed or defends when needed. He maybe a great xo guy at times, can coach up some 2-3 stars but definitely can't recruit or attract 4 star talent and keep him with the style he plays. If pitt keeps him yeah he will win, but there are better coaches out there and they would come to pitt. Loyalty is one thing, in sports your as good as your last year or two.

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    1. The guy had more wins in the Big East when he was there than enough Calhoun and Boeheim. And his players weren't nearly as good. Enough said.

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    2. What about Archie Miller? You don't think he could come in and do a good job at Pitt? It would obviously be an upgrade for him to jump from Dayton to Pitt and the ACC.

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  33. Great piece per usual, Chris. Keep 'em coming!

    I'd like to hear you discuss in more detail why you think the lack of local talent is such a detriment to Pitt hoops recruiting? And in turn, a hindrance to them getting over the hump, so to speak?

    Admittedly, if Jamie Dixon could recruit a roster full of future NBA players simply by riding the light rail to City League schools, that would be easier. But most national powers recruit nationally. In other words, name schools fill their rosters with players from everywhere.

    Maybe apples to oranges comparisons, but there aren't nearly enough local players to fill Duke's and UNC's rosters. Including guys from PA on both, guys which Pitt should be able to get.

    I contend Pittsburgh doesn't need to become Tobacco Road or Indiana to rise to the next level. Their recruiting problems are more fundamental. Thus, hopefully easier to solve more quickly.

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  34. Pitt rarely has NBA talent. But in college, one can win with good talent. Dixon won with good talent. So did Bradley, so did Wichita ST. Plenty of good programs that win. That is until in Pitts case the NCAA rolls out. Dixons NCAA record in not very good. That is a big determining factor in how good a coach one is. I have said Dixon is Gene Keady from Purdue. Nice coach teams play hard and they win nothing in the end.

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