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February 28, 2004

A Couple Additions

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chas @ 3:36 pm

Some other info bits that may be useful. Pitt’s website is running, and they finally got the press release and game notes (PDF) for tomorrow’s game.

Orangenation didn’t seem to bother with a game preview this time. It’s a shame because they do great work on looking at the match-ups and breaking the game down. A couple good articles on their site worth noting, though. This is a Big East update from last Friday.

Pittsburgh (23-2, 9-2): The Pittsburgh Panthers have turned into the team that nobody wants to play this year. After losing senior catalyst Brandin Knight and center Ontario Lett, it looked like it would be a mediocre season. Don’t look now, but Pitt is ranked fourth in the nation and holds the nation’s longest home winning streak, dating back to the 2001-2002 season. This past week was a mixture of success, however. Earlier they lost a tight battle, taking Seton Hall down to the final seconds before Andre Barrett sealed the game with a couple of free throws. Just six days later, Connecticut came knocking, and the Panthers slammed the door in their face, 75-68. Pittsburgh’s last test of the season will come March 2nd when they visit the hot Providence Friars.

Notice they didn’t say it would be the Syracuse game tomorrow. That makes tomorrow’s game essential for Pitt, to avoid taking a bad loss. Nevermind losing at home.

The other article is a report card on Syracuse. Brutally honest in its evaluations, it provides a lot of things to watch for in the game.

The game is on CBS, but they don’t let you know where the coverage is for this or Kentucky/LSU. I have no clue which Cleveland is going to get.

Syracuse – Pitt: No One’s Talking

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chas @ 9:11 am

Quiet week and quiet day before the game. Oh, will someone let Mike Waters from the Syracuse Post Standard know that the game is tomorrow.

SU, Pittsburgh get defensive in showdown today
They play completely different styles, but both have been effective.

February 28, 2004
By Mike Waters
Staff writer

Defense wins championships.

The cliche originated on the football field, but it works just as well on the basketball court.

This afternoon, Syracuse and Pittsburgh face each other in a nationally televised game at Pitt’s Petersen Events Center.

Call his hotel, meet him in front of a locked up Pete. Something. He appears very confused. And not just about the day of the game.

In contrast,Syracuse’s lineup includes no defensive stalwarts other than junior small forward Josh Pace. And yet, the Orangemen continue to frustrate opponents with their 2-3 zone defense.

Even when Pitt handed Syracuse that 21-point whipping in January, the Panthers made only 44.3 percent of their field-goal attempts. While Syracuse was 4-for-16 from 3-point range, the Panthers were 5-for-16.

Wow. Pitt shot only 31.25% from behind the 3-point line. Clearly the defense must have done its job to keep Pitt below its season average of 32.8%. It had nothing to do with bad shots and starting the game with 3-12 shooting. Talk about looking at the glass half-full. The game was over with 10 minutes left.

Speaking of the 2-3 zone, Pitt also outrebounded ‘Cuse 50-36. There’s a reason why Syracuse is looking to go man-to-man a little more often tomorrow.

They had 20 offensive rebounds and received dominating inside performances from freshman center Chris Taft and junior forwards Chevon Troutman and Mark McCarroll, who combined for 42 of the team’s 66 points and 21 rebounds.

Pace said the Orangemen have been working a lot on their zone defense, but plan to mix it up with some more man-to-man this game to offset Pitt’s strong post presence.

Syracuse has won 4 of its last 5, but it ends the season on a rough ride. Playing at Pitt, then at West Virginia and ending the season at home against UConn.

Back to the Syracuse beat writer who previews the game and notes the record for Pitt at the Pete. Interesting to note that it will still be a while before Pitt approaches the record for most consecutive wins from the opening of a new arena.

UCLA, which won its first 51 games at Pauley Pavilion beginning in 1964, and Providence, which opened the Providence Civic Center with 41 straight victories in 1971-72.

Waters sees hope in history for the Orangemen. Prior to the opening of the Pete, Syracuse is 14-5 in Pittsburgh since Pitt joined the Big East in 1982.

Finally, Brandin Knight is tracked down in Ashville, NC where he is toiling in the NBDL for his thoughts on this year’s team and Krauser.

“They have everything,” Knight said. “We weren’t as big last year as they are now, which sometimes would get us into trouble because Ontario (Lett) wouldn’t be on the court and we’d have matchup problems. They have a lot of bodies and experience, so they should be able to do more things.”

Knight, who plans to attend tomorrow’s game, added a caveat.

“It all depends on which Pitt team comes to play,” said Knight. “If it’s the team that played against UConn in Pittsburgh, I don’t think anybody can beat them. But if it’s the team that played against Georgetown the other night, they’ll be out in the first or second round.”

Knight doesn’t anticipate an early exit for these Panthers, though. He said they matchup well with any team in the nation, including programs with a superstar such as former Marquette guard Dwyane Wade, who took over in the second half of the Panthers’ Sweet 16 loss.

“With the way they play defense, they’re tough to beat,” said Knight, who’s been impressed with first-year coach Jamie Dixon. “People talk about shooting being a problem for those guys, but if they rebound and keep taking control of people, that (off-sets) it.”

I’m not taking Syracuse lightly. If McNamara shoots well from the outside and Warrick plays as expected inside, Syracuse can score and even force the pace. Syracuse, though lacks Edelin and has been getting by without a real point guard and a sure 3rd scoring option. Josh Pace has become their 3rd scorer, but he hasn’t been consistent. I think ‘Cuse will handle the physical play much better, simply by virtue of having gone through the Big East schedule. Pitt may be the most physical team in the Big East, but they aren’t the only one. The Syracuse players know what to expect, and have experienced it.

For Pitt, obviously keeping the halfcourt game and preventing fast break and transition scoring are always major keys. Assuming Syracuse comes out to start in the 2-3 zone, rather than simply settle for the outside shot by Page and Krauser, it might be best to get it inside to Troutman and Taft to let their height and width do some work. It may also force some early Syracuse fouls. Page may want to try and take it inside himself, with some layups and runners. He needs to show that the Georgetown game was just a bad game, not the norm. Krauser and Brown are givens in what they do.

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