Louisville, KY: Coach Kevin Stallings started 5 freshmen last night on the road in Louisville and in the first 8 minutes or so, that plan was working. But this team is still minus their best player in Senior Ryan Luther and his loss is becoming increasingly harder and harder to overcome. His loss has led to inconsistent offensive outputs with elongated dry spells which is putting the Panthers deep in holes. Last night was no exception as they went down by 18 at the half on their way to a 77-51 loss to the Cardinals.
Pitt played 8 good minutes defensively against Louisville, rebounding and causing turnovers with those five Freshman in the starting rotation. They would also get some good minutes from Kene Chukwuka, but the inconsistencies in offense reared it’s head in a big way during that first half and just like in the Miami game, it was the difference in the game. Without Luther on the floor, they do not have the ability to maintain that level of defense nor do they have the ability to create easier baskets around the hoop when they need them most. Pitt was up 12-11 5 minutes into the game. They went down 13-12 and that score held till the 12:09 mark of the game.
Parker Stewart made a 3 pointer at 15:09 in the game. But that would be the last shot Pittsburgh would make for 8 minutes or so. During that time Louisville would go on a 17-0 run to stretch the lead to 28-12. The Panthers were missing layups and jumpers as the ball was bouncing all over and around the rim. They just could not buy a bucket.
One of the big reasons last night was Mahmoud for Louisville. It seemed like the missed dribble drives were because the Panthers had to change their shot trajectory off the backboard getting around his reach. He also finished with a few blocks.
The Panthers would try push back late in the half and had an opportunity to draw to within single digits but saw missed shots and a turnover domino into a 41-23 deficit at the half.
Pitt would once again come out and work the lead down to 11 points but could not continue the mini run. Because of that, another elongated period of no points would set in and sabotage any chance for the Panthers to put together a comeback.
The Panthers starting lineup did not include Jared Wilson-Frame last night as they started Carr, Davis, Brown, Stewart and Stevenson. The last couple of games we have seen Wilson-Frame coming off the bench and last night was no different. Unfortunately for he and his teammates, his results were no different.
Parker Stewart led all Panthers with 12 points while Carr finished with 11 and Stevenson finished with 10. Those three kids are the best three freshmen Pitt has had in a decade. The reason that is not the story is because they do not have that core of upperclassmen around them. This Panthers team does not have that to lean on So they will have to depend on themselves and learn on the job. That will not play out well with regards to their overall record this season, but it will in fact pay dividends in the seasons to come.
Stallings and Fan Interaction
Another story that developed from last night’s game was the jawing back and forth from the fans in Louisville to the Players, and subsequently from Pitt’s Head Coach Kevin Stallings.
Here is the audio during the game.
— Whitney Harding (@WHAS11Whitney) January 3, 2018
He explained after the game during his presser that someone said something bad about his players and he was not going to let that happen. Here is the Press Conference in which hello explains.
If you have listened to Coach Stallings in the past and this season, he calls it like he see’s it. He Sugar coats nothing, but sticks up for his guys when he feels it’s needed. Which is a bit of a change from last season.
Kevin received a lot of flack last year for not doing that and for calling his players out in the media. You can go back to last season and understand his frustration because he felt as if they were not putting forth the effort necessary to win games. This year, is the exact opposite The effort is there, so he is creating a bunker mentality right-now because of the youth of the team, it’s easy to understand why.
Pitt will continue their road trip as they will take on the Virginia TechHokies over the weekend in Blacksburg.