Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at email@example.com. Check out his bio here.
Few take a loss in the introductory press conference.
New Pitt basketball coach Kevin Stallings definitely won his on Monday afternoon, even as the room upon arrival resembled more pep rally than press conference.
But when the pointed questions came, some even out of line, it’s my opinion he handled them about as deftly as he could have.
Stallings was prepared.
Stallings was more-than-organized.
Stallings stayed the course and had a clear and distinct path.
Stallings never showed a bit of fluster or bluster even when some other men might have, by lines of ridiculous questioning that began to both him and athletics director Scott Barnes with such challenging remarks as “come clean!”
There was also a portion of the press conference, that was tense at times, where a writer phrased a question about Stallings’ goal of wanting to lead Pitt to the NCAA tournament unnecessarily with “last time I checked, Vanderbilt is eligible for the tournament too” or something along those lines.
It was an embarrassing showing for some in the media, who seemingly couldn’t put their personal feelings aside and understand they were there to report the news, not make it.
Stallings walked into the mad nest of what seemed like 50 hornets and, for my money at least, traipsed right through it without so much as a single sting.
Good for him.
Do I think Kevin Stallings was ultimately the right man for the Pitt job? I don’t know.
That all remains to be seen, as what he does on the court really will trump anything he can say.
It will come down to recruiting and winning, come down to implementing an offense, getting his team to play defense and trying to add to those banners he sat beneath today.
There is no question, that will be the ultimate barometer and it should be.
But as I walked into the Petersen Events Center on Monday afternoon, you could have counted me as one of the staunchest skeptics of the hire. I had condemned and denounced the Stallings hire much of the morning on The Fan Morning Show, spent probably too much time on Twitter telling people how much I didn’t like that he was the man selected for the job.
Will that all ultimately change? I don’t know. That comes down to wins and losses.
But in that press conference, where some sharks wanted blood at all costs, Kevin Stallings showed me much.
He showed me just how unflappable he was.
He showed me he didn’t let people see him sweat.
He showed me just how much he could let even the most pointed questions roll off his back without getting into a jousting match.
That was something, in my opinion, Jamie Dixon never could do — and Dixon became overly-defensive in his final few years at Pitt.
So with the performance in his introductory press conference, Kevin Stallings didn’t necessarily make me the president of his fan club; he did however force me to respect the hell out of him.