Pitt fans have had a good 24 hours now to let the hiring of Kevin Stallings sink in and the opinion really hasn’t changed as mostly the entire fan base views this as a terrible hire from athletic director Scott Barnes.
But what exactly does Stallings bring to the table as a coach?
While personally I am not thrilled with the hire, I’m not dead set against it either.
Here’s a few areas where Stallings will improve the Panthers in quick time.
The biggest improvement will be at the offensive end of the floor.
Pitt returns six of its top seven scorers and adding an offensive mind like Stallings to the mix should make them a lot better right off the bat.
Stallings is a very good X’s and O’s guy and is well respected in the coaching industry.
Prior to this season, CBS Sports polled all current NCAA coaches on who the best offensive coach in the game is. You will be surprised with the results.
- John Beilein, Michigan: 16.9 percent
- Bob McKillop, Davidson: 13.4 percent
- Bo Ryan, Wisconsin: 12.4 percent
- Mark Few, Gonzaga: 11.3 percent
- Mike Krzyzewski, Duke: 7.9 percent
- Dave Rose, BYU: 6.8 percent
- Mike Brey, Notre Dame and Kevin Stallings, Vanderbilt: 5.6 percent
This quote sums up Stallings as a coach:
On Kevin Stallings: “His in-game adjustments and adjustments at the halftime are probably the best I’ve ever seen — and out of timeouts. Plays that, when you scout teams, you watch them play and play and see so many games, but he can draw something out of a timeout that they’ve never run before, and you’ve never seen before, and it looks like the same play, but he’s never done it.”
That alone is refreshing as Pitt, under Jamie Dixon could have been among the worst teams in the country executing out of timeouts. It will be nice to have a coach that can draw things up and make adjustments on the fly.
Next is tempo.
Barnes wanted a coach that would bring a more exciting brand of basketball to the Petersen Events Center and Stallings will do that.
“Coach Stallings and I share the same vision for Pitt — playing in the Final Four,” said Barnes. “Kevin has a successful track record recruiting the ACC footprint and beyond, and is one of the best coaches in the country at building an offense around his talent. He plays a fun up-tempo style that players love and fans will enjoy. Kevin runs his program with impeccable character and has a high care factor and connection with his student-athletes. He is a Power Five conference coach whose experience and success will be immediate assets for our program.”
That quote brings me to the recruiting aspect, something I also believe Stallings will help offer up a quick improvement for this Pitt team.
Stallings can recruit and recruit NBA-type talent. He has gotten seven players to the NBA in recent years and that number should jump to nine this summer. Pitt has simply missed out on being able to get that type of elite talent under Dixon.
You would think that if Stallings could get high end talent to Vanderbilt, playing in a mediocre SEC, he should be able to have even greater success as a recruiter in the ACC.
At the end of the day Barnes wanted an experienced Division I head coach, one that can recruit top end talent and one that will bring an exciting brand of basketball to Pitt.
Like it or not he got all of that in Stallings.
Yet the one thing that bothers me still is Stallings lack of success in terms of winning.
Stallings has compiled a 455-283 record with nine NCAA Tournament appearances over a 23-year head coaching career. He’s only made seven NCAA Tournaments in 17 years with decent talent while at Vanderbilt.
He’s well respected in the coaching circles and brings everything that Barnes wants, except a guy that has proven he can win more than Dixon.
But let’s be honest, that guy wasn’t out there for Barnes to hire.
The choice was to either go with a young and unproven coach, who hasn’t accomplished much as a Power 5 coach or go with an experienced coach such as Stallings.
Stallings is now the 15th head coach in Pitt history and takes over a team that went 21-12 overall and 9-9 in the ACC a year ago. The Panthers reached the NCAA Tournament for the 13th time in the past 15 seasons before falling to Wisconsin, 47-43, in an opening round game in St. Louis.
Is Pitt better now with Stallings then they were with Dixon? That is going to be debatable.
But I think Stallings deserves a chance before everyone jumps ship.
He’s not a guy that is going to get Pitt to a Final Four overnight, but he is also a guy that can get this Pitt program moving in the right direction quickly, which is step one in the process.
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