While much has been made over the years about the work done by Ben Howland and then Jamie Dixon in the rebuilding of the Pittsburgh basketball program, there was another key figure in the Panthers’ transition from Big East doormat to perennial league title contender.
That would be former assistant coach Barry “Slice” Rohrssen, whose ability to recruit New York City resulted in a pipeline that played a major role in Pittsburgh’s success.
Rohrssen left the program in 2006 to become the head coach at Manhattan and spent this past season as an assistant coach for the Idaho Stampede of the NBA D-League.
According to multiple reports, “Slice” is on his way back to the Steel City to Coach Dixon’s staff as an assistant coach. Pittsburgh formally announced Rohrssen’s return in a press release Friday afternoon.
With the departure of multiple veterans and Steven Adams’ decision to enter the NBA Draft (there have also been reports that both J.J. Moore and Cameron Wright are considering a transfer), this summer sets up to be an important one on the recruiting trail as the Panthers make their move to the ACC.
Bringing back Rohrssen means the return of program’s best recruiter and also strengthens Pittsburgh’s connection to the New York metropolitan area.
Rohrrsen was the main recruiter on former Pitt players such as Chris Taft, Levance Fields, Ronald Ramon and Keith Benjamin. He also is a quality big man coach who oversaw the development of Aaron Gray, who went from little known recruit to NBA draft pick in four years, with Rohrssen overseeing his early development.
Here is the bottom line: Dixon has holes to fill on a roster that is in serious need of upgrading. Rohrssen can help in that endeavor in a crucial time for the program as it transitions to the ACC.
The Panthers currently have three signees in their 2013 class: point guard Josh Newkirk, small forward Jamel Artis and power forward Mike Young.
“It’s extremely exciting to be returning to Pitt,” Rohrssen said in the release. “We obviously want to continue and build upon the great tradition established at Pitt. The program’s success speaks for itself. It’s been an honor and I’m proud of my association with the University of Pittsburgh.
“I love the city of Pittsburgh and feel that it’s home. It’s a great place to be.”
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.