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Pitt

Boston College turned around program with key players, while Pitt can't get recruits

Jerry DiPaola
| Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, 7:27 a.m.
Pittsburgh coach Kevin Stallings gestures as his team plays against Boston College during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in Pittsburgh. Boston College won 81-58. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh coach Kevin Stallings gestures as his team plays against Boston College during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in Pittsburgh. Boston College won 81-58. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Boston College's Jerome Robinson shoots over Pitt's Terrell Brown during the second half Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.
Boston College's Jerome Robinson shoots over Pitt's Terrell Brown during the second half Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.
Boston College's Johncarlos Reyes (center) and Pitt's Kene Chukwuka chase the ball during the first half Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.
Boston College's Johncarlos Reyes (center) and Pitt's Kene Chukwuka chase the ball during the first half Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.
Boston College's Jerome Robinson goes up for a shot against Pitt's Terrell Brown during the first half Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.
Boston College's Jerome Robinson goes up for a shot against Pitt's Terrell Brown during the first half Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.
Boston College's Nik Popovic (center) vies for a rebound with Pitt's Marcus Carr (5) and Shamiel Stevenson during the second half Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.
Boston College's Nik Popovic (center) vies for a rebound with Pitt's Marcus Carr (5) and Shamiel Stevenson during the second half Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.

Boston College coach Jim Christian watched his team dismantle Pitt in every way possible Tuesday night. Like most coaches who have come into Petersen Events Center this season, Christian said Pitt fans need to be patient.

“It's just staying with the plan,” said Christian, whose ties to Pitt include serving on Ralph Willard's staff from 1996-99 and helping eliminate the Panthers from the Sweet 16 in 2002 as a Kent State assistant.

After all, Christian did rescue his program from an seemingly impossible situation.

Boston College had won only two of 36 ACC games prior to this season and was winless in 2016. Now, the Eagles are 16-10 and 6-7 in the ACC and, perhaps, headed to the NIT.

“It can happen anywhere in the country,” he said. “It is not unique to us or to Pitt.”

But having great players is the key, and Boston College positioned itself well by recruiting guards Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman from North Carolina high schools in the middle of the ACC footprint.

Robinson scored 46 points against Notre Dame and is second in the conference in scoring (20.6 per game). In the second half Tuesday, he scored 25. Pitt managed only 24. Meanwhile, Bowman is averaging 16.6 points, 25 percent better than any Pitt player.

Pitt hasn't been that lucky.

“When you're in a situation when you have to rebuild from scratch,” Christian said, ”you have to get the right pieces and those right pieces have to be loyal and see the big picture. It started with (Robinson), the first person who came in and saw it.

“It's a tribute to him and his family that they saw what was going on and saw that if we got a couple more pieces, things could happen.”

Meanwhile, Pitt hasn't recruited well enough in any sector of the country since before Jamie Dixon left. Pitt does not have any players like Robinson to lift the team.

Perhaps one or two of Pitt's freshmen can become a go-to scorer, but only Marcus Carr is scoring in double figures (10.5). Stallings is hoping they will improve by next season, but hope is no help now.

“Honestly,” Stallings said, “in a perfect world, a lot of my players would be playing 10 and 12 minutes a game as role players on a good ACC team. But we don't have the veteran guys in the program to warrant that.”

Stallings can blame himself as he did Tuesday, saying, “I haven't done my job if I look down there and we have two offensive rebounds.”

But at some point, there is a reality that can't be ignored.

“If you have to bring in nine or 10 new guys,” Christian said, “you are like an expansion team. It is not a normal situation.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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