Posted: 8:46 p.m. Thursday, May 2, 2013
By Anson Whaley
April was a pretty traumatic month for Pitt. There was (in no particular order), the Trey Zeigler transfer, Steven Adams' decision to go to the NBA, the recruiting losses, and rumors of J.J. Moore transferring ... and that was just the basketball program.
But May's a new month and things are off to a good start with news that former assistant Barry Rohrssen is on his way back to Pitt. Matt Steinbrink of Rivals broke the news via Twitter. He also said that he would replace Pat Sandle.
As I wrote back in 2011, I thought Rohrssen coming back to Pitt a few years ago after being let go by Manhattan was a possibility. But Jamie Dixon went with Bill Barton instead. Rohrssen may have been holding out for another head job. Or maybe he just wanted more money. Whatever the reason, he didn't make it back into the program then.
If this holds up, there's little question it's a big move. Rohrssen had a hand in recruiting some of Pitt's best players from the New York area including Chris Taft, Levance Fields, Carl Krauser, and Ronald Ramon among others. Just as important, many credit Rohrssen with the development of guys like Aaron Gray, who came into Pitt as a mess and left a legitimate NBA prospect.
Let's get one thing straight. Pitt's recruiting hasn't been in shambles. They've landed three top 25 recruits in the past four years. And others such as James Robinson and Mike Young should be big pieces of the program. But the Panthers have had plenty of misses and it's on the mid-card guys where I think they've struggled. Isaiah Epps never panned out. John Johnson struggled with his shot and fell behind Cam Wright before transferring. Guys like J.J. Richardson and Dwight Miller didn't contribute early and ended up leaving. And that's not even addressing Khem Birch's transfer.
One thing to watch in this is Pitt's ability to continue to go into NY/NJ and get recruits with the move to the ACC. Will those kids continue to come to the program or will they opt for the basketball-focused new Big East? My guess is that Pitt can still get some of those guys as they're not too far removed from recruiting those players. And having Rohrssen will make it that much easier.
Then there's the development factor. Players have shown marginal improvement, but haven't grown as much as they probably should have. Dante Taylor is a prime example - he came into Pitt and was better than someone like Aaron Gray as a true freshman, but by the time he left, he wasn't nearly the player Gray was. Pitt, like any program, needs its players to grow. Hopefully Rohrssen helps in that aspect as well.
Recruiting and development have been two of the biggest knocks against Pitt in recent years. If it goes through, this move should help.