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Stallings Says He Talks With Players First Before Media Criticism

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan)- A tough first season under head coach Kevin Stallings continued on Tuesday for the Pitt basketball squad as it blew a double-digit in the second half to Virginia Tech and fell to the Hokies 66-62 for it's 10th ACC loss on the year.

Throughout the season, Stallings has not been afraid to call out his team about their performance and their attitudes. Stallings joined "The Fan Morning Show" on Thursday and said that most times, the things he brings to the media are words he has already shared with his players.

"Any time that I've said something, the players have heard it almost exclusively because most times I say what's on my mind. Sometimes you have to stop pretty short, but yeah I think at times you try to send messages, but at the same time very rarely do I say something publicly that the players haven't heard first," said Stallings.

With the current roster construction, senior guard/forward Jamel Artis has had to handle the ball quite a bit and has played point guard, although that's not his natural position. Stallings says he has made the most out of that situation.

"He's just been put in a tough situation because of the make-up of our team," said Stallings. "Overall, he's done a pretty good job with it, but there are just some things that unless you've done it for a long time, unless you've done it for, I don't want to say you're whole life but pretty much your whole life, the inherent things that come with that, don't come with that. Like I've said, I probably had expectations that are a little too high, but Jamel has done a pretty good job for the most part."

Seniors Artis and Mike Young have the chance to go to the NBA after the season, but Stallings doesn't think their minds are on the next level at all.

"I think there's always a danger of that whenever you've got a guy that has a chance to play at the next level," said Stallings. "I don't think that Jamel and Mike have shown any signs of that to me, I have not worried about that one day with them and they've given me no reason to think that that's what their mindset is. That's not really been a concern of mine."

While Stallings has received some criticism for Pitt's disappointing season, Virginia Teach head coach Buzz Williams talked to the media after VT's comeback win against Pitt on Tuesday and had high praise for Stallings, saying that he believes Stallings is a "top five offensive coach in the country" and that he is the right man for the Pitt job.

"That's very nice of him, I don't know if he is right about the first part [top five offensive coach], I certainly hope he is right about the second part [being the right man for the job]. I appreciate him saying that, those are very kind things to say. I appreciate his kindness," said Stallings.

Attendance has gone down this year at the Petersen Events Center and Stallings says that's an ailment that winning can certainly fix.

"I thought we had a great crowd for the Syracuse on Saturday [Feb. 11] we had almost 11,000 people there and given the way that things went for us in the month of January, I thought that was a terrific turnout," said Stallings. "Crowd wasn't as great probably on Tuesday [Feb. 14] night, I heard that there were midterms and things like that which probably hurt the student crowd just a little bit, our students have been fantastic. I don't think that it's a problem that started this year either. I've been told that it's been on the decline a little bit. Winning takes care of a lot of that. But, when you play mid-week that you have a bunch of exams coming up, the Penguins are playing on the same night, heck, the season hasn't gone the way we had all hoped it would go, the crowd was probably OK. So, we've got to do our part and win more games and that kind of thing and hopefully that will solve the crowd issue."

You can hear the entire interview with Pitt head coach Kevin Stallings on "The Fan Morning Show" below. You can also catch Stallings on his weekly spot with the show Thursdays at 8 a.m.

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