PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – Kevin Stallings is not going to shy away from it. His team is young, and the learning curve could be a rough one over the next four months.
Pitt enters the 2017-18 regular season with a total of three starts among players on their active roster. Chattanooga and North Carolina Central have the second fewest starts with 11.
After finishing last year with 16 wins, the lowest since Ben Howland’s first season in 1999-00, the Panthers open the season with a trip to Annapolis Friday night to take on Navy as part of the Veterans Classic.
Stallings’ house, somewhat by his choice, was generally cleaned in the off-season, as just two players return in seniors, Ryan Luther and Jonathan Milligan.
“I think we know who is going to be in the rotation through maybe eight spots,” Stallings said of his squad that is breaking in 11 new players. “But to know exactly where they’re going to fall in that is a little bit of a different story.”
As part of the Veterans Classic, which will be aired on CBS Sports Network, and also includes a game between Alabama and Memphis, Pitt will start a season with a true road contest for the first time since the 1994-95 campaign.
Pitt did play a lone public exhibition game, a 71-59 victory over Slippery Rock University on Saturday at the Petersen Events Center.
“It’s going to be a little bit different,” Luther said Wednesday. “We usually have a couple of home games to warm us up and get in game action. But going out on the road, I think, is going to be good for us.”
Leading Navy on the court is New Castle native Shawn Anderson, who scored 12.2 points per game last season and played Luther, a Hampton High School grad, numerous times in their high school careers.
“He’s a good kid and a great player,” Luther said. “It was always fun battling against him, so it’s going to be cool to say ‘what’s up’ to him and compete against him.”
Anderson’s coach, Ed DeChellis, hails from Monaca and coached at Penn State before taking over the Midshipmen seven years ago.
“They’re physical, they’re well-coached and they’re disciplined,” Stallings said. “We have to go in and execute and stay with our fundamentals and stay with the things that we’ve been working on basically since the summer and execute those to the highest degree we can.”