Gorman: Pitt not just getting 'Slice' of NYC in Rohrssen
The immediate reaction to Jamie Dixon hiring Barry Rohrssen as an assistant is that Pitt basketball is refocusing on recruiting New York City.
The Brooklyn-born coach known as Slice lured Mark McCaroll, Carl Krauser, Chris Taft, Ronald Ramon, Keith Benjamin and Levance Fields to Pitt during a seven-year run that saw the Panthers make the Sweet 16 three times and Rohrssen rise from director of basketball operations to assistant coach to associate head coach.
“It just seemed to shake out that that's where a lot of those kids were from who ended up coming here,” Rohrssen said. “They ended up having success, and it just snowballed.”
Rohrssen, however, wants to make it clear that his compass isn't pointed only at New York.
He'll go wherever the talent is.
“My feeling about recruiting is that you have to be aware of and open to all possibilities, from local to international,” Rohrssen said. “Basically, it's not just where you go but it's who you get. It's getting the better players.
“You have to know what's going on in your own backyard all the way to around the globe. Just because our batting average was pretty good in that area, we would be short-sighted not to explore every and any possibility that's out there.”
Rohrssen's arrival comes at a time when Pitt is at a crossroads on the recruiting trail. It joins the ACC needing to rebuild its roster.
The Panthers are adding a colorful character in Slice, a savvy recruiter who spent five seasons as head coach at Manhattan and the past season as an assistant for the Idaho Stampede of the NBA Developmental League.
“When you become a head coach, your eyes are opened even more. One of the biggest things you wind up doing along the way, you go from making suggestions to making decisions,” he said. “Having been in the position where you're required to make so many decisions, now, hopefully, when you go back to the role of making suggestions you have better suggestions.”
One of them is to convince elite prospects — no matter where they're from — to visit Pitt and see all that it has to offer.
“Quite frankly and quite honestly, it's always been my feelings that the players in your program are the best recruiters,” Rohrssen said. “They're what you'd call the ‘living proof' of what's going on. The biggest key is getting them. Pitt has a lot to offer. There's so many good qualities about this program, about this university and about this city.
“If you can get a kid here that can see that up close and personal, live and firsthand, that's what you need to do.”