While many people over the weekend (including some prominent national media types) lambasted Pitt for the hire of Kevin Stallings as the new men's basketball coach, a few quietly called it a good selection.
Count former Pitt coach Ben Howland among those that thinks Pitt hired a good coach. He talked with the Post-Gazette's Paul Zeise and had good things to say about Stallings.
Speaking of endorsements, I spoke with Ben Howland today and he had nothing but praise for Stallings and said that Pitt pulled off a real coup by hiring him. He said the two go back 30 years, and he called Stallings "one of the best offensive coaches in the country."
Howland said that Stallings was able to recruit NBA players to Vanderbilt and that isn't an easy thing to do "he has two first round draft picks on his team right now and that's a credit to him and his ability to recruit but not only recruit but develop players."
"This was a real coup for Pitt, a steal for them, an absolute no-brainer hire," said Howland, who is the coach at Mississippi State. "I've known Kevin for 30 years, Pitt basketball is in great hands. He will do a fantastic job. This isn't a young guy learning on the job, he will know exactly what to do from day one.
"Vanderbilt was the best defensive team in our league [the SEC], but he is also one of the very best offensive coaches in the country. As someone who loves Pitt basketball as much as I do and as someone who was honored to be a part of that program, I am truly excited about the future of the program."
There's a lot more in that Zeise link so be sure to check out the rest of it.
It's easy to paint some of that as Howland merely being charitable. I won't deny that. However, I do think that that in recalling some of Stallings' ability to land NBA talent at a difficult place and calling Vanderbilt the best defensive program in the SEC that Howland does generally have a lot of respect for him.
Whether or not Stallings actually turns out to be a good hire won't be known for some time. But Howland at least seems to believe there's some good in what Pitt did here.
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