Basketball season is coming to a close, and the Pitt Panthers have not managed to win a single conference game in 15 attempts. Their struggles stretch back to last season, when they won just four games in the ACC in head coach Kevin Stallings’ first year in Pittsburgh. Given that, it should come as no surprise that Stallings now finds himself atop several coaching hot seat lists.
The coach actually started the 2017-18 campaign on a preseason hot seat list compiled by Shiloh Carder of Yardbarker, and he’s done little to earn the support of the fanbase since then.
At this point, Stallings has gone 4-29 in conference, which includes a 4-14 performance last season with two current NBA G League players on the roster in Mike Young and Jamel Artis, a sharpshooter in Cameron Johnson, and a future star in Ryan Luther. Only Luther remains from that group, and he’s been injured since December, leaving Pitt with mostly freshmen as starters.
That inexperience has seen the Panthers founder in the ACC, and they haven’t just failed to win games, they’ve sunk to the bottom of the NCAA in several categories, including turnovers, rebounds and points per game. Specifically, Pitt ranks 343rd of 351 Division I teams with 63.3 points per game, 333rd with 31.6 rebounds per game and 308th with 14.7 turnovers per game.
Still, despite the team’s disappointing play, many have been hesitant to call for Stallings’ firing, citing his brief tenure as reason enough to keep him in the fold. Matt Norlander of CBS Sports, who included Stallings on his Feb. 7 hot seat list, seemed to be of that mind, as he concluded, “Stallings probably gets a third year,” despite noting Pitt is “moving in the wrong direction.”
Since then, Pitt has indeed moved in the wrong direction, piling up four losses, three of which were 20-point blowouts or worse. Now, with the Panthers just three games removed from a potentially winless conference campaign, the national media’s opinion of Stallings and the state of the Pitt basketball program seems to have eroded.
On Monday, Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports released his hot seat list with Stallings prominently featured second from the top. Forde appeared to put less stock in the brevity of the coach’s tenure and instead took issue with the results, calling the situation an “unmitigated disaster”:
“He’s not even completed two seasons, but the Kevin Stallings era is an unmitigated disaster. The Panthers are 8-20, 0-15 in the ACC, and 13 of those league losses are by a dozen points or more. If they don’t win at home Wednesday against Wake Forest, they will very likely go 0-18. Stallings did not inherit a flush situation, but it has gotten much, much worse on his watch. Pitt should bite the financial bullet, admit the mistake and move on.”
Stallings and the Panthers will have perhaps their best chance at an ACC win when Wake Forest comes to town on Wednesday night. However, the Demon Deacons are nine-point favorites despite their own struggles, and even if the Panthers are able to post a win against a mediocre team, it’s unclear if that will do anything to extend Stallings’ stay in Pittsburgh.