I imagine that the hope for Kevin Stallings and the coaching staff was that tonight could be somewhat of a reboot. The team had been off for an entire week and had a chance to get away from all of the media/fan scrutiny to sort of recharge after its 1-5 start in ACC play. Stallings came out earlier and had some pointed comments to no doubt try to give the team a spark. And while Louisville beat Pitt the last time out, I'm sure there was some measure of hope (whether that was deserved or not is up to you) after the way they dominated the 2nd half against the Cardinals on the road.
So much for that, right. Pitt was demolished by Louisville and in the midst of it, Stallings was mercifully ejected. He, it seems, was the fortunate one. As badly as the Miami loss was, this was an entirely new level of ugly.
Despite all of that, it was the same old story (no, you people will not bait me into saying Same Old Pitt). The Panthers were doomed by a frustratingly slow offensive start to the game. Seven points ten minutes in. 13 points 15 minutes in. 18 points in the first half. You're just not going to beat anybody scoring that few points.
Louisville shot 71% in the first half against Pitt. 71%. Obviously, that's a huge problem .But then compound it by Pitt shooting a paltry 16%. I don't know which is the more appalling figure, to be honest. Pitt had many of the same halfway decent looks they've had in the first halves of games but, like those games, couldn't get them to fall.
If anyone can put their finger on the first-half offensive struggles the team has, I believe every D-I coach wants to get you on the phone to discuss your availability. Fact is, none of this makes even the slightest bit of sense. About the only thing that can be said is that this team just doesn't shoot the ball well. But that doesn't explain how they've performed in the second half at times or scored 80 points in nearly half their games this season, including dropping 88 on a great defensive team in Virginia.
This is sort of the point where deeper teams would probably reach into their reserves for a spark. For anything. Pitt has no such luxuries. Even if you are of the mindset that they should bench the starters, there simply aren't any reasonable alternatives right now aside from maybe playing Justice Kithcart a little more since he'll be needed next season. This is, quite clearly, a 'no way out' scenario.
Right now, we are far beyond of merely wins and losses. Fanbases can handle losses as long as they are within reason and respectable. Losing by 26 to Miami? Losing by 21 in the first-half against Louisville before rallying to close the gap. Losing by 50ish to Louisville the second time around? That just can't happen.
The idea that Stallings should be given his full three years or whatever is fine. But at the same time, these types of games are beyond unacceptable. The narrative that says all coaches need three or four years is wholly reasonable. But at the same time, the idea that a new AD could come in, see the embarrassing performances this year, and decide to blow everything up won't seem like something that should be off the table if Pitt continues a nosedive like this one.
There's bad and then there's abysmal. Currently, this situation resides somewhere a tick beyond the latter on the meter of acceptability.
At this point, I'm long past any vitriolic reaction that can be managed. And when you've started off 1-5 in the ACC coming into the game, getting blown out one more time just doesn't seem to have the same effect. This is worse than that. This is apathy. And when fans of a program start not caring, even if it's for only one season, that's not good. This goes far beyond this year. If Pitt strings together a few of these types of seasons, it will be very hard to keep people interested.
For the first time this year, I sort of dreaded plopping myself down in front of a TV for two hours. This goes well beyond any real aspirations for the team this year. That mostly went out the window with losses against Miami and North Carolina State. I think most of us are just trying to find a reason to be interested in Pitt basketball at all the rest of this season.
Anyone got anything? Didn't think so.