March 21, 2007
The last of the Howlands
When Connecticut came to Pittsburgh earlier this season, Huskies coach Jim Calhoun explained his team's struggles by comparing them to the Panthers' success: Pitt, he said, has linkage, while UConn suffered from a small amount of carryover.
Calhoun was referring to the Pitt players, most of whom spend four years at the university, and thus can set examples for the younger players who come in.
Calhoun was right: Pitt's 2006-07 team is top-heavy in its class distribution, with three starting seniors and enough veteran depth to allow for redshirting of the freshmen. And those players who have been here for four years learned the college game from the players before them who spent four years at Pitt and so on.
With that kind of linkage and the proper examples set, the Panthers have been able to sustain success.
Of course, the linkage really dates back to the beginning of the Pitt basketball program's resurgence, a renaissance that took shape when Ben Howland was hired as head coach prior to the 1999-2000 season and really got moving the next year when the Panthers advanced to the Big East Tournament final. From there, the Pitt program has become one of the most consistently successful programs in the nation, and through it all, the Panthers maintained a continuum among the players from class to class.
...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now for a FREE Trial