Pitt basketball notebook: Krzyzewski calls Kevin Stallings' team 'a building program'
Just two years ago, Pitt concluded its 15th consecutive season of 19 or more victories.
Now, coach Kevin Stallings might start an all-freshman lineup for the third consecutive game Wednesday night when Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski brings his seventh-ranked Blue Devils to Petersen Events Center.
When Krzyzewski was asked if Pitt (8-8, 0-3 ACC) is improving in Stallings' second season, he countered with this assessment:
“They are a building team. You're talking about building a program. That's what (Stallings) is doing. Kevin is an outstanding coach. He knows how to build programs.”
Of the 12 Pitt players who have scored points, seven are freshmen.
“These guys are getting playing time,” Krzyzewski said. “They play well together. I see them as a building program and a good one. They can shoot the ball, and they seem to have real good chemistry.”
Meanwhile, Krzyzewski has a different type program. He will start four freshmen who are destined for the NBA in a year or two.
While Stallings hopes to keep the nucleus of his roster together for the next 3 1⁄2 seasons, Krzyzewski said, “We literally have a new team every year.”
He said the need for senior guard Grayson Allen to adapt to four new teammates might be at the root of his recent struggles. He missed 15 of 20 shots in a loss at Boston College last month.
Allen and 6-foot-11 center Marvin Bagley III are averaging 39 minutes through the first three ACC games, and Duke's depth might get worse.
With injuries keeping 6-11 center Marques Bolden and 6-10 forward Javin DeLaurier on the bench, Krzyzewski might have to turn to little-used reserves Justin Robinson, Jack White and Antonio Vrankovic, who are averaging about five minutes
Pitt's Parker Stewart is averaging 11.2 points over the past five games, and Stallings said he hopes to get him even more shots.
Stewart, meanwhile, keeps his mouth shut.
“I don't say anything,” Stewart said. “I just show up and play. I trust the offense. I know my shots will come. I trust (Stallings) to get me shots.”
Stewart, the son of Tennessee-Martin coach Anthony Stewart, said he owes his scoring ability to his father, who started bringing him to the gym for shooting sessions at a young age.
The five freshmen
Pitt might use an all-freshmen lineup — Stewart, Marcus Carr, Khameron Davis, Terrell Brown and Shamiel Stevenson — for the third consecutive game. Junior Jared Wilson-Frame, a junior college transfer also in his first year at Pitt, scored 20 points Saturday coming off the bench at Virginia Tech.
Pitt will wear all black uniforms for the first time Wednesday, with fans encouraged to also wear black. Wilson-Frame said he's “hyped” to wear the uniforms, but he said atmosphere at the Pete already would have been “crazy” for this game.
“Whether we wear black or not, this game would have been one of the bigger games of the year.”