Kevin Stallings stressed that "the decision is not made by me" when asked whether he would return for an 18th season at Vanderbilt following a first-round NCAA tournament flameout against Wichita State.
Turns out, it was.
Stallings abruptly left the Commodores for Pittsburgh on Sunday, trading a program that spent most of his tenure in the muddled middle of the Southeastern Conference for one trying to forge a new identity in the stacked Atlantic Coast Conference after Jamie Dixon bolted last week for Texas Christian.
"Coach Stallings and I share the same vision for Pitt — playing in the Final Four," Pitt Athletic Director Scott Barnes said in a statement. "Kevin has a successful track record recruiting the ACC footprint and beyond, and is one of the best coaches in the country at building an offense around his talent. He plays a fun up-tempo style that players love and fans will enjoy."
Stallings is 455-283 with nine appearances in the NCAAs while at Illinois State and Vanderbilt. The 55-year-old went 332-220 with the Commodores and is the winningest coach in the program's history. His tenure included seven NCAA berths and trips to the Sweet 16 in 2004 and 2007.
Irvine in CIT final
Luke Nelson scored 15 with five assists, while Alex Young added 11 points and eight rebounds to help UC Irvine beat Coastal Carolina, 66-47, in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament semifinals.
Mamadou Ndiaye added nine points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots for UC Irvine.
Colton Ray-St Cyr hit a three-pointer to put Coastal Carolina (21-12) up two with five minutes left in the first half, but UC Irvine (28-9) responded with a 17-2 run that spanned halftime to take a 38-25 lead with 17:14 to play and the Anteaters led by double digits the rest of the way. Ndiaye and Aaron Wright scored five apiece during the decisive spurt.
The Anteaters will face Columbia (23-10) in the championship game Tuesday.
In the other semifinal, Moado Lo scored a season-high 29, on 11-for-18 shooting, with six assists, three steals and two blocked shots to help Columbia beat NJIT, 80-65.