OAKLAND--For the past 13 years, Pitt fans grew accustomed to seeing starters almost automatically hit the bench after picking up their second foul in the first half of games.
Time and time again, it happened with DeJuan Blair. It happened with Gary McGhee. It happened with Steven Adams, Talib Zanna and Michael Young.
During his time at Pitt, Dixon sat players 89.6 percent of the time after they picked up their second foul in the first half of games, according to relatively new data materialized by Ken Pomeroy. Only 46 of 321 eligible Division I coaches have substituted players in early foul trouble less often.
Current Pitt coach Kevin Stallings is not one of those 46 coaches. Stallings has historically gone to his bench 79.5 percent of times in which a player picks up his second foul in the first half.
This is not to criticize Dixon or praise Stallings. Some of college basketball's most successful coaches substitute players who are in early foul trouble at a higher rate than Dixon. According to Pomeroy, coaches such as Memphis' Tubby Smith (95.1 percent), Iowa's Fran McCaffery (94.2 percent), Wichita State's Gregg Marshall (93.9 percent), Michigan's John Beilein (93.9 percent), Virginia's Tony Bennett (93.9 percent), Dayton's Archie Miller (92.2 percent), Michigan State's Tom Izzo (91.3 percent), Cincinnati's Mick Cronin (91.1 percent) and Wisconsin's Greg Gard (91 percent) all point to their bench at a higher rate than Dixon.
On the flip side, coaches of many blue-blood programs such as Jim Boeheim (50.9 percent), Sean Miller (64.6 percent), Roy Williams (76.4 percent) and Mike Krzyzewski (77.1 percent) go to their benches a whole heck of a lot.
What can we infer from this as it relates to Stallings? He will probably use substitutions to his advantage this season. It is likely that Stallings goes about nine men deep this season. Not only is it a deep group, but it is a versatile group. Jamel Artis, Michael Young, Damon Wilson, Sheldon Jeter, Corey Manigault, Cameron Johnson, Ryan Luther, Chris Jones and even Crisshawn Clark are all capable of playing at least two positions on the floor.
If any one of Pitt's starters gets in foul trouble, Stallings has a number of players he could hypothetically turn to for that player's replacement. It shouldn't be uncommon to see, say, Jeter, get replaced by someone who doesn't play his position, such as either Kithcart or Wilson, which would push Artis from point guard to the four. Such a scenario would pose as a cat-and-mouse game, forcing Pitt's opponent to adjust.
The beginning of the Stallings era will certainly be fun to study.