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Don’t blame only Stallings for Pitt’s season — three players let him down.


Michael Young and Jamel Artis are two of the most productive players in Pitt basketball history, and they received appropriate accolades Sunday.
Young was named to the All-ACC second team by 50 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association; third team by a panel of 60 people, including all 15 conference coaches. Artis was honorable mention on both teams.
But it was just a bit strange to hear good news about Young and Artis on Sunday night after the Saturday disaster in which coach Kevin Stallings held them out of the first 10 minutes of the 67-42 loss to Virginia for being 10 minutes late to a team meeting.
It looked even worse when paired with the Friday dismissal of freshman guard Justice Kithcart the previous day.
Players who are late for meetings show disrespect for rules and the man who writes the rules, the head coach. Seniors who have been in the program since 2013 know better. Unless they’ve forgotten — or don’t care — what it means to be part of a team.
Pitt had two extended losing streaks during the ACC season — eight games from Jan. 7-Feb. 4 and four from Feb. 22-March 4. It could reach five Tuesday when Pitt (15-16) plays Georgia Tech in the first round of the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn, N.Y.
This is the worst Pitt season since 1999-2000 (13-15) when Ben Howland was trying to rebuild the program. Stallings had four seniors returning from an NCAA Tournament team. Pitt should not have fallen off this far.
Stallings, a smart coach and a good guy, never clicked with his first Pitt team, even though he allowed his players the offensive freedom Jamie Dixon never permitted. His roster was deficient in many areas (not his fault), but there is plenty of blame to lower on his shoulders for his inability to push his players to overcome adversity.
In the end, three players let him down.
Young is seventh all-time in scoring at Pitt with 1,804 points. Artis is 11th at 1,667. That shows commitment and durability. But their actions before the Virginia game indicate they lost interest in the season Saturday (or perhaps before that).
Kithcart never met the high expectations put on him while he was being recruited. Stallings trusted Kithcart only enough to use him an average of 13.3 minutes game. Pitt needed much more.
No one wants to push the reset button more than Stallings, who has seven commitments from the Class of 2017, including local product Troy Simons, who comes from the same Hill District neighborhood that sent two all-time great players to Pitt: Sam Clancy and DeJuan Blair.
The 2017-2018 Pitt team will have Stallings’ stamp on it. The one playing Georgia Tech on Tuesday night does not.



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