Stallings Continues To Work With His Players' Approach To The Game

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan)- Pitt’s 2016 basketball season to this point has been interesting, to say the least. Pitt is coming off its second-worst loss in its history after getting blown out by AP ranked No. 13 Louisville, at home no less, 106-51.

Of course, many are looking to first-year Pitt head coach Kevin Stallings for answers and are wondering what in the world is going on with the program. Stallings has been very candid to reporters about his team and the relationship that he has with them and that they have with each other.

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He was no different when he joined “The Fan Morning Show” on Thursday in his weekly spot at 8 a.m.

“[My relationship with the players] is the same as it’s been other than we’re all a little more disappointed in what’s been going on,” said Stallings. “There’s nothing that is strained about my relationship with the players, there’s probably a guy or two that doesn’t play very much that isn’t very happy with me, but that’s not any different than its been, either. But, in terms of the overall picture and all of that, it’s not any different than it’s been the entire time.”

Stallings admits that his honesty can be taken harshly, but says it’s also appreciated.

“One of my drawbacks sometimes is I’m probably a little too forthright and too candid with things that I say, but I’m the same way with the players,” said Stallings. “I tell them what I think and I think they have an appreciation for that because no one is getting berated and no one is getting belittled. I’m just telling them as honestly as I can what I see and what needs to be better and what needs to be fixed. I think they’ve embraced that kind of honesty.”

Stallings says that coming into the season, he knew there would be a small margin for error being in a tough conference like the ACC and maybe even a smaller margin for injuries with the team’s lack of depth. But, it’s been the way his players have responded to challenges that concerns him most.

“The thing that’s more disappointing to me in the difficulties that we’ve had in that [injuries and lack of depth] is the inability to deal with adversity,” said Stallings. “What I’m concerned about is that it’s almost, ‘Okay, this is our excuse.’ And it can’t be that way. We have to figure out ways to play better, to be more competitive, despite the fact that we might be a little bit shorthanded.”

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So, what are his short-term options for a fix to the struggles?

“That’s a good question,” Stallings said after a pause. “If you’re talking about in terms of personnel, we have who we have. What our best short-term option is is to play harder, play more together, be more connected and really that connection that I’m talking about is a player to player connection more than anything else so that the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. But right now, we’re not greater than the sum of our parts because we’re not connected like we need to be. The players know it, the players say it and that’s our biggest challenge because when we hit adversity and particularly in games, it seems very quickly that we go into five guys as individuals trying to play the game of basketball. It just can’t be done that way, you have to play as a unit.”

Stallings also said the problems may not be solved just by winning more games and that it will take a little bit more than that.

“Winning masks a lot of problems, winning solves some problems, I think winning would help the outlook of this group, but it will get better when we play as a unified group that’s out there playing for each other,” said Stallings. “I don’t think it’s an intentional selfish approach, it’s an approach, if I can believe what the players say and I think I do, it’s an approach that they’ve always had. They tell me that when they faced adversity, they’ve always done this. It’s learning how to trust the other guys you are playing with and I think I’ll see it when it starts happening.”

You can hear the entire interview with Kevin Stallings on “The Fan Morning Show” below. You can also hear him every Thursday at 8 a.m. for his weekly hit on the show.

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