Pitt suffers historic beating by Louisville
After Pitt's historically bad 106-51 loss to Louisville on Tuesday night, Pitt coach Kevin Stallings had plenty to say. Yet there was a lot he kept to himself while trying to maintain propriety.
“There are a lot of things I could say, a lot things I would like to say,” he said. “Suffice it to be, that's embarrassing. That's unacceptable. That's my responsibility to have them prepared to play better than that, harder than that, smarter than that. And we weren't.”
It's difficult to determine what was worse: The margin of defeat or Stallings' admissions to reporters after his team allowed No. 13 Louisville (17-4, 5-3 ACC) to dominate play like no other opponent to visit the Petersen Events Center in its 15 years of existence.
The margin of defeat, the largest in the past 111 years of Pitt basketball, was surpassed only by the 106-13 loss to Westminster in 1906. That was Pitt's first team.
But what might have hurt Pitt's first-year coach more than anything was his talk of “fragmentation” in the locker room.
“I feel there's some fragmentation maybe in the locker room, unfortunately,” he said.
He said he doesn't believe he has lost the team, and he said he doesn't sense any player dissatisfaction with the coaching staff.
But when he was asked if the situation can get better over the final seven weeks of the season, he said, “I don't know.”
“Even under the best of circumstances, we have challenges,” said Stallings, who was ejected in the second half after arguing with officials. “We're not very quick. We're not very big. We can shoot a little bit sometimes. We don't guard the ball very well. Everybody knows. We're not deep.”
Louisville, ranked No. 13 in the nation, led 51-18 at halftime, hitting 20 of 28 shots.
Throughout the game, the Cardinals scored in a variety of ways: driving to the hoop without much resistance, hitting 12 of 22 3-pointers as Pitt missed its first 12 from that distance and allowing 7-foot center Anas Mahmoud to sink all seven of his field-goal attempts.
Pitt (12-8, 1-6) had been averaging 79 points and at several points this season looked like a team with serious scoring ability. But while extending its losing streak to five, Pitt made only 13 of 51 field-goal attempts (4 of 25 in the first half, which was third-worst in program history).
Stallings said he doesn't know where to turn.
“I don't know what short-term alternatives I have available to me,” he said. “It doesn't feel like many, honestly.
“If I turn around and there's somebody who's not playing hard enough defensively, which was pervasive the entire evening, I pretty much have my five best defenders starting the game. We played other guys a lot tonight. Not a great result.”
Louisville was playing without guard Quentin Snider, its most experienced player. But four Cardinals scored at least 10 points, led by Donovan Mitchell's 29.
Pitt senior Jamel Artis scored only nine points in 28 minutes after getting 43 against Louisville earlier this month. Michael Young, still wearing a protective mask over a broken orbital bone, led Pitt with 12. Top backup Ryan Luther missed his third consecutive game.
“One thing this team has consistently shown is the inability to deal with adversity,” Stallings said. “I don't understand how you don't dig in and compete harder.”
The game was played one day after Stallings criticized his players, specifically the seniors, for their lack of leadership and failure to embrace his coaching concepts. But he said their efforts against Louisville were not a response to those remarks.
“I don't tell you anything I don't tell them,” he told reporters. “I'm just honest. I'm honest with them. C'mon, man. That was an embarrassment. It was an embarrassment for me. That's the product of my work. It should be embarrassing to them.”
Louisville coach Rick Pitino said he has been involved in similar games, but most of those were in the NBA. “It happens,” he said.
He added, “When you get knocked down, you judge players' values by the way they get up.”
Said Stallings: “It doesn't look good. It doesn't feel good right now. It won't get turned around if the guys wearing uniforms don't come together and fight a lot harder than they fought tonight.”