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Pitt’s Luther ‘Disappointed’ by Decision to Fire Stallings

Pitt’s Luther ‘Disappointed’ by Decision to Fire Stallings

Senior Pitt forward Ryan Luther became the first member of the team to comment publicly on Saturday with regards to the firing of head coach Kevin Stallings, and he had some strong words directed toward athletic director Heather Lyke and the Pitt administration.

In a message posted to his personal Twitter account, Luther wrote that he was “disappointed with the decision to fire Coach Stallings” and that decision was made by “people who are not involved with the program daily and influenced by the wrong things.”

Luther wrote appreciatively of the effort Stallings and his staff made in coaching up a team with seven freshmen, nine first-time NCAA players and 11 newcomers altogether in 2017-18.

Ryan Luther (4) eyes up his shot as the Pitt Panthers take on West Virginia on December 9, 2017 — DAVID HAGUE

“I believe I speak for our team by saying that Coach treated us extremely well and not only did what was best for the team but also what was best for each one of us,” he wrote. “Regardless of the circumstances, Coach always stood up for us as players and took responsibility for things that were often times out of his control. The relationships that our entire team and I have formed with his staff are truly special and something I will always be thankful for.

Luther, 22, was the lone regular from Pitt’s 2016-17 team that returned to play under Stallings, and he was off to a hot start in his senior year. He averaged 12.7 points per game and 10.1 rebounds per game over the team’s first 10 contests before he was lost for the rest of the season due to a stress reaction in his right foot.

Pitt initially thought Luther would return to action, but Stallings announced on Jan. 11 that Luther would miss the rest of the season and apply for a medical hardship waiver in order to return to action in 2018-19. In order to qualify for a medical redshirt, a player cannot play more than 30 percent of his team’s game, a number that Luther just barely qualified under.

Stallings frequently cited Luther’s absence for a reason that his team struggled. Pitt went 8-24 overall and was 3-19 without Luther in the lineup.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but I firmly believe that we would not have gone winless with Ryan on our team,” Stallings said after his team’s ACC Tournament loss to Notre Dame on Tuesday. “I think that there were a few wins in there that we would have had with his presence, and not only do you lose your experience and your go-to guy and a guy that’s averaging a double-double, but you also lose the guy that everybody generates their confidence in when he’s on the court.”

“Ryan was definitely a key piece to our team,” added freshman point guard Marcus Carr. “Anybody who’s seen us play before since the beginning of the season knows he’s a great player who pretty much does everything, is steady, and does everything on the court for us. The loss of him was definitely pretty big and definitely affected our team, but he continued to be at practice with us and trying to help us grow as a team without him so that we could play our best without him. But looking forward to next year, I can’t wait to have him back, and I’m excited for what next year could be.”

Of course, next year is far from a certainty now that there’s been a coaching change. Luther has already been at Pitt for four years, so he has the ability to graduate and transfer wherever he’d like for next season if he chooses to. Luther reportedly visited West Virginia to see the Mountaineers’ home game against former Pitt coach Jamie Dixon and TCU in February.

Luther has not spoken publicly since his injury. He told Pittsburgh Sports Now in July that he intended to see things through at Pitt.

“When I chose to come here to Pitt, it was for a lot of reasons, it wasn’t just one,” he said. “I made a commitment and I’m sticking to it. … It’s my last go around. Especially being from here. I wanted to leave it all out there and have no regrets.”

~~~

The full text of Luther’s remarks follows.

“I am disappointed with the decision to fire Coach Stallings. I believe I speak for our team by saying that Coach treated us extremely well and not only did what was best for the team but also what was best for each one of us. Regardless of the circumstances, Coach always stood up for us as players and took responsibility for things that were often times out of his control. The relationships that our entire team and I have formed with his staff are truly special and something I will always be thankful for. Unfortunately, because of the decision from people who are not involved with the program daily and influenced by the wrong things, it has come to an end. Our team wanted to be here at Pitt and to play for Coach Stallings and his amazing staff. We believed as a whole we could have grown together and been a great team next year. #H2P”

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17 Comments on "Pitt’s Luther ‘Disappointed’ by Decision to Fire Stallings"

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Shame on Pitt
Guest
The following are solely my opinions based upon the information that I have read and my observations over the past several days. It is my sincere hope that the University of Pittsburgh will investigate these concerns and address them in an appropriate manner. I have been a season ticket holder and donor to Pitt athletics for many years and I have ever been so ashamed of Pitt. There were ugly days under the leadership of Ed Bozek and Steve Pedersen. The way in which the Wannaredt firing was accomplished was disgraceful. Steve Pederson stood before Pitt fans and students and… Read more »
Terry Durko
Guest

i wish I could have said this as well. I agree 100%. If Pitt does not pay Stallings in full, I well be giving up my season tickets.

Pat
Guest

I’ll second that! In a perfect world, we should contact Coach Stallings, admit our mistake, and re-install him as HC. Best for everyone involved.

Vandutch
Guest

It’s over get over it. Transfer and move on or play. 0-19 says it all. Ryan Luther would not have made a big difference this year or next

joel
Guest

You are no more than a typical hater that is full of BS. Stallings after Luther’s injury had Pitt set for next year. He had Luther, 2 transfer Gs [one from St. Johns], 3-4 freshmen that needed a year on the court, and he had a real shot at that 7’11” C that played in S. Carolina. That team would have won 10-15 games. So now Pitt will have 2 more years of an empty PEC.

Mon Valley Jack
Guest

Comments like this destroy credibility as a Pitt fan who can be objective. 15 wins next year? With same roster + Ellison and 2 recruits who were not recruited by any other ACC schools? Luther gets talked up as a difference maker – he’s a marginal D-1 player who would not start for any other ACC school.

For those distraught over Pitt playing hard ball with Stallings, its business. If they have evidence that his ” recruiting trips” went toward family visits, bravo that theyre not letting him get away with it.

Joseph Steigerwald
Admin

15 wins was not out of the realm of possibility. That would mean 3-5 ACC wins and a couple more out of conference.

Mon Valley Jack
Guest

15 wins and 3 conference wins are what losing teams aspiire – you supporting this is a joke.

You think Mike DeCourcy is credible? Knowledgeable? He wrote the other day that Stallings is a dreadful coach. Good enough for me.

Joseph Steigerwald
Admin

Okay, well there are plenty of people who think he is a good coach. Gottlieb thought they’d be a middle of the pack team.

Mon Valley Jack
Guest

Not sure why youre editorializing on Stallings? Why the need to defend him? This is an objective news site correct? He’s not a PSN employee – youre defending him like you have a vested interest to support him? Maybe its to not dry up the pipeline of info his side is feeding the site.

At one point, Stallings was fine at Illinois St and Vandy. Just wasnt a good fit here -the bleeding needed stopped.

Plus, the optics of him sleeping at a recruit’s game is not only awful but indefensible.

Joseph Steigerwald
Admin

This is a news and opinion site.

Terryf
Guest

Ya and im disappointed in this sites continuing with your bullcrap agenda here eveey other article on here is all about how this site doesnt support pitt’s decision here unlike you guys H2P

Young
Guest

You are not real H2P. You are nothing but a hater, who read some here and there, say things with no background. How many games have you been this year? Don’t tell you didn’t because they were not winning. How else did you support the team?

joel
Guest

Some of the haters claim that the players did not like Stallings, that is pure BS. The haters must not have watched the last game [ND] as the players never gave up during the whole game. On top of that a coach has to be a teacher and mentor to his players. He does not run a popularity contest with them.

Pat
Guest

Right! Regretfully, decisions continue to be made without considering what’s best for student/athlete. KS always did what was best for team, and school. I guess highest graduation rates and other academic achievement is not important.

Eric A. Payne
Guest

Mr. Luther, I agree with you that this decision was made without the team’s input and consideration.Unfortunately, that person or persons will not crawl out form under the rock long enough to face the public and take responsibility for that decision. Hopefully,a new coach will be found soon, and the team will stay together and prosper, but if that doesn’t happen and you decide to transfer, I would like to thank you for your career, loyalty and the way that you represented the University of Pittsburgh.

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