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December 30, 2006

I’ll Get to the Joke Later

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Media,TV,Wannstedt — Chas @ 10:35 pm

I don’t have the energy tonight, I’m just going to pass this along with little more than a blog-esque raised eyebrow and eye-roll.

University of Pittsburgh head football coach Dave Wannstedt will provide guest analysis for FOX Sports’ television coverage of the FedEx Orange Bowl on Jan. 2, 2007, in Miami, Fla.

Wannstedt will join hosts Chris Rose and Jimmy Johnson for pregame, halftime and postgame coverage of the 2007 Orange Bowl matchup featuring ACC champion Wake Forest and Big East champion Louisville.

Well, um, maybe that will be something else to help with recruiting?

FAMU-Pitt: Open Thread

Filed under: Basketball,liveblog,Non-con,Schedule — Chas @ 6:48 pm

I’m not going to do the liveblog tonight. There’s a ton of other b-ball and football I have to keep at least a little bit of attention to watch at the same time. I’ll be posting comments along the way in this post tonight.

8:10: Nice. Pitt off to a 7-0 start before A&M could get their first bucket. 13-5 Pitt, with 15:52 on the clock. Pitt has nailed 3-3 on 3s. The hardest thing in this game, may be keeping interest of the players.

8:28: Pitt now up 24-13. Six Pitt players have scored. Gray already has 7 rebounds in 9 minutes. Cook leads with 8 points. Ramon is only 1-4 shooting, missing a couple wide open 3s. 7 assists on 9 baskets.

8:44: Halftime. Pitt leads 37-26. Pitt is struggling to keep interest in this game. FAMU is not a good team. Cook has led in scoring with 13. Gray has 8 rebounds, but not a lot of touches as the zone FAMU runs keeps Pitt taking jumpers and outside shots. So Pitt has shot only 14-35 (40%) with 16 3-point shots (making 7). The eFG% was 50%. Best stat, though, 12 assists on the 14 baskets. That tells you how well Pitt is passing the ball.

9:15: Pitt up 47-26. The Rattlers are yet to score in the half, 15:18 left. It isn’t that Pitt is even trying at this point. FAMU is just no where near the same class. Jarvis is an idiot, complaining that Pitt isn’t moving the ball enough. 17 baskets, 15 assists. The “problem” is that Pitt hasn’t had to force anything because FAMU isn’t good.

9:18: Greene for FAMU was tossed, after clocking Sam Young somewhere around the head. The refs didn’t hesitate, there is some speculation that he had done something close to it earlier, and repeating it even harsher was enough to toss him.

The Rattlers seem like they are just pissed about being so outclassed. 50-30 with under 14 minutes left.

9:36: Pitt is just playing this out. The best you can say is that Gray has gotten a lot of rest in the second half. This is the time to give Gilbert Brown and a few others some real time. To go cliche, you just want to get this game ended without anyone getting hurt. The body language for FAMU is they just want to go — they’ve taken enough abuse in the non-con and are tired. I can’t say I blame them. Sanders and Jarvis talked about how Gillespe, the FAMU coach, raised over a million for the athletic department by scheduling guaranteed games like this over the last 7 years. That isn’t raising money. That’s just using the players they have as cannon fodder to build their funds. Send them out there to get the crap beaten out of them.

9:57: Jeff Rizik gets statistical relevance!! He gets his first basket a few seconds before the end of the game. The smiles on the bench makes it great.

It wasn’t an impressive win, despite cruising by 26, 77-51. The best thing you can say is no one got hurt. The team gets to celebrate the New Year and then everything gets real serious.

Big Day of college basketball today. In the Big East, the marquee game will be the first real game for WVU and UConn as they face off down in Morgantown (2pm ESPN2). I’m more than a little curious about how each team will react to a foe that is not there simply to cash a check.

That, of course, leads in perfectly to tonight’s game against Florida A&M (PDF). The bad news to me, Mike Jarvis will be providing the color commentary. Nothing like some hack, cheating, incompetent coach who doesn’t say anything bad about anyone because he wants back into coaching providing insights. John Sanders is okay. I here him often enough calling MAC football and Cleveland Indians games that he doesn’t bother me.

This is a game, even with the expected win, that will drop Pitt’s RPI.

Florida A&M lost to Florida by 15 points (72-57), but it lost to Illinois by 21 (84-63) and was hammered by Maryland (93-54), Bradley (107-75), Illinois-Chicago (75-57) and Miami (Ohio) (52-33).

The Rattlers, who have an RPI of 205, also eked out a 66-65 against North Florida (1-10) in their previous game. And three of their six victories were against non-Division I teams Warner Southern, Edward Waters and Albany, Ga., State. They also beat Savannah State and Bethune-Cookman, both of which are considered among the worst 10 programs in Division I.

In other words, Florida A&M appears to be the perfect opponent for a Top 10 team in need of an easy tuneup before conference play.

Uh, yeah. The team seems to be past the little nagging injuries. Naturally there are half-hearted attempts to build up the opponent.

“They’ve played a few teams real tough,” Gray said. “They have some good players. It’s going to be a good test. If you overlook one team, that’s when they make it a close game or even beat you.”

Said Young, “They seem like they shoot it well.”

That’s fine and okay with me to end the non-con with a patsy. Especially with the BE schedule about to kick in rather harshly — at Syracuse, USF (okay, that’s not the harsh part), at DePaul, Georgetown, UConn and Marquette. All in eighteen days. That DePaul to UConn stretch is a 6 day period. That’s going to be the brutal part since it’s at DePaul and you just don’t know which Blue Demon team will appear.

December 29, 2006

Strange Facts and Opinions

Filed under: Basketball,Fishwrap,Internet,Media — Chas @ 6:21 pm

I’ve written it before, but it bears repeating. I’m a big fan of the newspaper Q&A and chats with beat writers. Not that they are that informative, so much as they are more honest about the biases and POV of the writers. What styles of play they like, players they  prefer and so on.  I haven’t posted on the chats and Q&A in a couple weeks.

Paul Zeise is doing some chats regarding Pitt basketball lately.

Frank_Fizzle: Paul – You have Pitt ranked No. 12 in the preseason — what do you think of the Panthers so far?

Paul Zeise: I think what I thought at the start of the year — the Panthers are a good team, they are a top 20 team, perhaps even a top 15 team but they aren’t a top 10 team. They don’t have a go-to guy on offense — and when I say go-to guy I’m talking about a wing player or a guard who can take over a game at any time – I think that they will be hurt by any team who can match their size with legitimately athletic big men because their frontcourt, especially when Young is not in the game, is not very athletic.

Coach_with_a_SAG_card: Paul, since it’s inconceivable for a team to win a championship without a go-to guy, is there any reason for Pitt to play the rest of its games since the Panthers don’t have a go-to guy? Seems like they might as well just hang it up now, right?

Paul Zeise: Um, no. I think there are plenty of reasons to play. But if you are being sarcastic, tell me all the teams who have made the Final Four in the past decade or so, other than George Mason, which was a fluke, that didn’t have at least two legitimate NBA-caliber players. Pitt is a good team, an excellent team. From what I’ve seen it is not yet an elite team. Who are the NBA prospects on this team?

I have very mixed feelings about this sort of thing. It’s the same sort of thing where no teams win in the NCAA without at least one McDonalds All-American High Schooler. It’s a trend, and a reliable one. BUt, I think that trend has been on the wane as players are more often leaving sooner for the NBA. I mean, to turn it around, how many teams with at least 2 McDonalds All-Americans have failed to even make the Final Four? How many times has the “go-to” guy failed to deliver for a team, and the rest of the team can’t pick up the slack?

Part of it is that, especially in the NCAA Tourney, is often when the “go-to” guy emerges. Or, it is a course of the season thing. For Pitt, there is still plenty of time for another “go-to” guy to emerge. And there are choices: Levance Fields, Sam Young and Mike Cook all show that potential.

I guess, my biggest problem is that it is just too simplistic a justification. “Sure they are a good team, but they don’t have a single player who can take the ball and dominate.” Last year, Florida arguably had multiple players emerge as the go-to or big game player at the right time. They had tremendous talent that gelled last year, but which player was absolutely indespenisble for them to win any given game?

Ray Fittipaldo, since he has to cover Pitt basketball full-time, treads a little softer with absolute statements.

Q: Coach Dixon better pray that Sam Young stays healthy; he is the key to their success. If he can’t rebound, this team is done. When Gray misses a layup, no one is there to rebound. Kendall can’t shoot, play defense or rebound. He looks lost on the court. Has a team ever dropped from No. 2 to out of the top 25 in a month? The inability for this team to guard athletic players will be fatal. They look out of sync. I counted at least half a dozen instances where they should have gotten a pass into Gray. Instead, they continued passing the ball and ended up with a poor shot and no chance for a rebound. Where is the leadership? The mix is not working. Two meaningful games, two opportunities to impress, two poor performances. Right now, Pitt is a No. 7 or No. 8 seed at best and is on its way to an underachieving season. A healthy Young is their only way to success. I hope they prove me wrong.

Fittipaldo: Young and Fields are going to determine how far this team goes. We all know Gray will be there on most nights. In my opinion, Young and Fields are Pitt’s next most talented players. Fields has started to take on more of a scoring role at the behest of the coaches. If he continues to progress defensively and can keep his turnovers down, he’ll be tough come March. Young can be the difference maker, though. He is such a force athletically that teams cannot account for him at the power forward position. Pitt needs him to be healthy to have a shot at a deep tournament run. If you think Pitt is a No. 8 seed that means you think this team will lose seven games in the Big East. I cannot see that. They won’t roll through the league like many expected, but I still think they are the best team in what might turn out to be a down year for the Big East. I see Pitt losing no more than five games in the league and at worst at No. 4 or 5 seed. We shall see.

The Q&A also displays a lot more negativity in the questions from the fans which, by their nature I would say forced Fittipaldo to defend the team more. It’s fascinating, and I saw and read the same sort of freaking out around here after Ohio State got smacked silly by Florida.

I can’t help but wonder if there is something of a carry over in the football mentality. The limited number of games, and any mistakes means the big dreams are over. That a bad game or any kind of loss is absolutely killer for the team, the season, the hopes and prospects.
Basktball is completely different in that way. You can have, even a few bad games and a few more losses in the season  without it meaning the team is bad or a reflection of their worst performances.

Braced and Ready for the Weekend

Filed under: Admin,Uncategorized — Chas @ 4:38 pm

Lots of errands to do ahead of a really long weekend. The grocery and liquor stores will be so busy over the weekend, that there would be no way to just pop out for anything needed. So, everything that a 4-year old, a pregnant wife and I could need were taken care of today — so I won’t have to bother later.
It is expected that I will be hunkered down in front of the TV and the computer for most of the waking hours. Lots of college basketball and football the next few days to cover here and at AOL Fanhouse. It’s tough to be paid to write about sports in front of my TV, but I endure.

The Sun Bowl just showed flashbacks to the 1975 Sun Bowl Pitt won 33-19 over Kansas. Guess if Pitt can’t go to a bowl, that’s the best we’re going to get.

December 28, 2006

Trying to Get On the Court

Filed under: Basketball,Players,Puff Pieces — Chas @ 8:55 am

Gilbert Brown got a bit of love from his local paper as he tries to get meaningful (any) playing time for Pitt to get the redshirt off of his back.

Gilbert spent 10th, 11th and 12th grades at the South Kent Prep School in South Kent, Conn., and went from being a gangly, athletic kid to a talented basketball player who caught the eye of former Pitt assistant coach Barry Rohrssen.

And why wouldn’t he? Brown has an impressive array of midrange shots in his offensive arsenal, but a 38-inch vertical leap makes him a dazzling dunker. And even though Pitt coach Jamie Dixon lost the assistants who recruited him, Brown still came to Pitt.

“I really wanted to stay home, but I also wanted to play for a high-caliber team that could win a national championship,” Brown said.

“I had all kinds of schools recruiting me. Villanova, West Virginia, all types, but I thought that Pitt was the best situation for me even though they got in kind of late.”

The article spins positive that Brown will play this season. The main reason he hasn’t cracked the rotation is that he was slowed by mono and then an ankle injury. The quotes from Coach Dixon seem familiar to me — as if they were recycled from past stories so I’m not sure Dixon simply repeated himself or if they were re-used for the story.

If Pitt junior guard Keith Benjamin, who was Brown’s host on his recruiting visit, has his way, his friend will make a huge contribution to the team as soon as possible.

“Gil’s looking good right now,” Benjamin said. “His shot really has improved tremendously since he first stepped on campus, and he’s more of a complete player now. He’s not just a slasher and a dunker.

“He’s getting better every day. The mono and injury set him back a little bit, but he’s working hard to get better. And he’s going to do that, but it just takes a little time. You guys wait to see what he can do.”

I have to say, Benjamin’s attitude this year has really impressed me. If there is one player who probably has had his minutes squeezed this year it’s Benjamin. If Gilbert Brown gets in there as well, Benjamin might really struggle to get off of the bench. Yet, there he is supporting the team, not causing any problems and generally talking up his teammates.

December 27, 2006

Collecting Newcomers

Filed under: Football,Players,Puff Pieces,Recruiting — Chas @ 11:25 am

Well, NLI day is still 6 weeks away. The visits are on hiatus for a couple weeks. Things are relatively quiet. Bob Lichtenfels at PantherDigest.com (Scout.com) has a look at the recruiting going on around the Big East. Pitt may still end up with the top class in the BE, but WVU or Louisville (or perhaps both) have potential for late gets to pass Pitt.
That means with the sports scene similarly quiet, there are little stories about various local high schoolers in the newspapers and where they are headed. Henry Hynoski, is a popular subject as the Pennsylvania Single-A Player of the Year.

Playing fullback runs in the family. Hynoski’s father, also named Henry, was an all-state pick in 1970 at Mount Carmel, starred at Temple and spent the 1975 season with the Cleveland Browns.

“I had the chance to watch a lot of old films of my father playing football and he became my idol,” Hynoski said. “It’s been great having someone like him to learn from, but the best part of all is that he never pushed me to play football.”

Hynoski can’t wait to play at Pitt.

“(Coach) Dave Wannstedt wants to build the program around playing power football and I think I fit his system perfectly,” Hynoski said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing how I do at the next level.”

One writer in Eastern PA isn’t worried about Hynoski going to Pitt and the talent level, simply based on the work ethic and genes.

I followed the elder Hynoski during my years at Temple University and wrote about him for the school newspaper, The Temple News. Both players carry the nickname “Hyno” and I remember dubbing the father as “Dynamo Hyno” after an outstanding individual performance.

He was a friendly, down-to-earth fellow despite his status as a Division I football star.

The younger Hynoski is bigger and with a style that impressed Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt and his staff. The University of Iowa was the other frontrunner in Hynoski’s collegiate choices.

Some people question the younger Hynoski’s ability because of the small-school level of competition. But with his stock and work ethic, he should be a successful collegiate player like his father.

Hey, bloodlines are a popular thing at Pitt.

Another is the most recent verbal in Greg Williams out of Naples, Florida. His uncle is former NFL RB Albert Bentley.

“I wanted to talk to my uncle and everything,” Williams said. “My family felt comfortable with the place, so once I knew that I decided to go ahead and commit.

“My family hasn’t been to Pittsburgh, but the coaches have been down here and met with my family and showed them what Pitt has to offer.”

Williams visited Pitt on Dec. 1 and West Virginia on Dec. 8. He also had planned visits to Florida, Indiana and Minnesota.

“It was really just the coaches,” Williams said of the deciding factor. “Aubrey Hill was my main recruiter, and I talk to him all the time. He was always coming down here checking up on me. That made a big impression on me, because I want to be around coaches who want to help me.

“Pitt had a lot more to offer with the campus and the academics and the players and all, but I really enjoyed being around the coaches.”

Finally, up in Johnstown, another Pitt verbal (for the class of 2008), Antwuan Reed was named to the first-team AAA.  He got there as a running back, but seems likely to be moving to Corner or Safety full-time for Pitt.

Reed, who already has committed to join former Trojans LaRod Stephens-Howling and Scott Corson on the Pitt football team, could play on either side of the ball for the Panthers. Arcurio said that Pitt offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh and defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads are each vying for Reed’s services.

Reed, who could not be reached for comment, was a first-team running back on The Tribune-Democrat’s All-Area team after being a second-team pick as a sophomore. But some scouts see the 5-foot-9, 167-pounder as a cornerback in college.

Johnstown used him at safety this season.

“We played him out of position, at safety, because if anybody broke free, he could catch them,” Arcurio said. “We gave him a lot of freedom to make plays. He could always recover and get back in time.”

There might be a little time to figure out where to play Reed.

Publicly Feeling Better

Filed under: Basketball,Players — Chas @ 8:19 am

Forward Sam Young is playing Power Forward once more and is scoring. It all just happened to coincide with his knees finally responding to treatment for tendonitis. What also coincided with all of this is Sam Young finally being willing to talk to the media.

Young’s struggles were confounding. He didn’t speak to the media for the first six weeks of the season, turning down all interview requests. He finally took questions after the Dayton game and seemed right at home.

“I knew that my lack of play wasn’t because of my ability,” he said. “There were a lot of things going on that were setbacks for me.”

Young said his lack of production had little to do with his switch from power forward to small forward. Instead, he said the knee injury denied him the explosiveness and leaping ability that helped earn him a spot on the Big East all-rookie team last year. He also endured back pains before the Oklahoma State game.

“When my knees were hurting, I felt like my first step was slower,” he said. “It was harder to get by guys. I couldn’t jump off one leg. When I would go to the basket, I had to jump off two legs, so I would even out the weight on my legs.”

I hate to not take him completely at his word, but there still seems like there was a bit to do with the move to small forward. I’m not disputing the issues with the knees, but his position on the court and some obvious confusion at times when playing at the small forward position really indicates that he was struggling with the move more than anyone wants to admit.

I’m glad he’s back at power forward, happy and productive. He is obviously much more at ease at the spot. I still hope, though, that they continue to work with him to learn the small forward position better. The increased versatility and options are just too enticing.

December 26, 2006

Back From Exile

Filed under: Admin,Uncategorized — Chas @ 3:33 pm

Hello everyone. Didn’t mean to take the time off, but the trip to the in-laws is an exile from high speed. What I’ve found is that I am a lot less tolerant of dial-up the longer I’ve been on high-speed. Given the time of the year, and Zanesville, Ohio, nothing that offered any wi-fi has been open for the last couple of days. So I went into withdrawl and coped without any internet for the duration. Thankfully, there was enough to drink.

If you get a chance, try the Rye Stout from Bell’s. Very, very well done. I’ve always liked rye beers, but they are so hard to find and very few that are that good (yes, I like Founder’s). Rye is a tough grain to control in the brewing.

December 24, 2006

High School Players of the Year

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 9:00 am

It’s that time of year. Where local papers all over the country select players of the year. Like say in Rochester, NY where the 2006 POY stays in the Collier family for another year.

Good call, coaches. Even Kevin Collier himself agrees, after Churchville-Chili junior Averin Collier was selected as the 2006 Democrat and Chronicle AGR Player of the Year based on ballots from area high school coaches.

The honor stays in the family. Kevin Collier was the 2005 AGR Player of the Year.

“I’m happy for him,” said Kevin Collier, a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh. “He’s earned it, he didn’t get it handed to him. The level that he’s at now, we’re expecting even greater things from him. That’s not just family members, but everyone.”

And now the recruiting of Averin really begins.

Collier has scholarship offers from Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Boston College, Connecticut, Virginia, Louisville, Temple and Buffalo. Coaches at those eight schools can envision Collier playing one of four positions: running back, linebacker, cornerback and receiver.

“(Pittsburgh assistant) David Walker said, ‘We’ll offer him at kicker if he wants to play kicker,'” Dick said. “The funny thing is, some schools send two letters in a day.

“It’s really going to heat up again after the college coaches finish with all of their stuff and take the time to see what they need.”

Collier said he was “wide-open” about which school he would commit to. Most college coaches can find a position for a player with 4.5-second speed in the 40-yard dash who can squat 400 pounds six times.

Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Michigan and Penn State can expect Collier during each of their “Junior Day” visits.

“I’ll make my choice before Christmas, around this time of year,” said Collier, who cannot sign a binding letter of intent until February 2008. “I don’t know if anyone can get an edge.”

Kevin has said that he would not pressure his younger brother to join him at Pitt. If Averin Collier does become a Pitt Panther, it would not be the first time he followed Kevin.

Locally, in the Pittsburgh area, it was no shock that Terrelle Pryor was the POY. Just like it isn’t clear which sport Pryor will play, it isn’t clear where he’ll be heading next year. He is looking to play both sports, but who knows. With the success of Vince Young and Troy Smith, he is really thinking about football and playing QB. The one thing, is that it is a safe bet that he will go to a school where the football and basketball coaches at least agree to give him the choice to play both.

December 23, 2006

I’ve spent the day watching basketball and even the minor football bowls — Big East presently 1-0 — all day. Florida impressed the hell out of me today. UCLA was no surprise — only the level of the ass-whoopin they put on Michigan. I wished evil things on NC State as they fumbled the ball away to Cinci — Trevor Ferguson got major playing time in his second game with eligibility. Sorry, maybe he doesn’t mean much, but I hate some kid claim homesicknesses to go back to Florida then turn around and take advantage of the Pitt coaches cutting him slack, and then going to NC State. Clearly it was really about realizing where he wasn’t going to get immediate playing time.

Now, I’m settling in with my Stone Brewing Double Bastard IPA. Going to watch the game and posting thoughts throughout.

Gray misses the easy putback and then fouls inside the first minute. Ergh.

Fields in transition all the way, no call with the contact.

Dayton answers. Damn.

Fields for 3 with assist from Graves. Nice. Just as the shot clock was getting inside 3.

Dayton is doing what it can to bring Gray out to the perimeter, but the Pitt defense is up on intensity. Really trying to get to the ball.

Fields steals back the turnover to score 9-2. He is looking Krauser-esque (in a good way) early.

Roberts drains a deep 3. Nothing to do.

Gray answers with a rim-rattler. 11-2. 15:25

Does anyone else think that Kendall has the thought, “I can’t do anything right,” at this point. He fumbles the ball inside, then falls over on the turnover and picks up a foul. His whole body language looks bad. 11-8 Pitt, 14:34.

(more…)

No Time For Pity

Filed under: Basketball,Non-con,Opponent(s),Players,Schedule — Chas @ 11:26 am

Pitt doesn’t have time to wallow in a tough road loss. Tonight at 8, the Dayton Flyers come to the Pete for another A-10-Big East match (PDF Game Notes). The Flyers are 10-1 this season with wins over Louisville and Creighton, and on an eight game winning streak.

The Flyers are doing it with a tough defense that has allowed only 50.7 points/game. Of course, a weak schedule helps too. It’s the first time both teams have ever met.
Pitt’s defense may be struggling against the elite teams, but the offense has been doing okay. Looks like Sam Young is going back to the power forward. Especially with the way he played in the last game.

Dayton fans are feeling confident about their chances.

Sorry about the quick run through. I’m on monitor duty for the AOL Fanhouse today and there are lots of games to cover.

December 22, 2006

Did The Verbal Get Delayed?

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 11:16 am

I’m not sure why the papers are only now going with the verbal from RB Greg Williams out of Florida. That was noted a few days ago.

Interesting, though, that he hasn’t qualified academically at this point. May be heading to prep school?

So, it’s obvious that Coach Dixon has some personnel juggling to do.

The power forward position is becoming a big issue (to many it is already there). Kendall’s game is suffering right now. Whether it’s purely mental or something else, he is lost out there. Biggs is still a major work in progress. As the competition has dramatically increased, his results have plummeted. The foul issues and struggles in the OSU game, forced Dixon to put Young back at power forward and he responded with his best game. He may be undersized at the spot, but he played bigger than Kendall and Biggs — but even he still made the dumb fouls. It’s going to create a minutes crunch at the PF, but unless Kendall turns it around soon there seems to be little choice.

The problem is that means no back-up for Mike Cook at small forward. I think Dixon is going to have little choice but give up the redshirt on Gilbert Brown to give Cook some breathing room if he doesn’t go with Benjamin more — something that would really mean giving away size for the unit.

Consider what would be seen with Young 6′ 6″ at PF, Benjamin 6’2″ G/SF, Gray 7′ and then 2 of the 3 guards Graves 6′ 3″, Ramon 6′ 1″ and Fields 5′ 10″. Could Pitt, really go that small?

Now here’s the thing about these moves. None of them do anything to really help the defense. Brown is a freshman, he’s not going to provide greater defense than Cook, who is acceptable but much more a scorer. Young is aggressive at power forward, but always wants to do more on the offensive end. That just puts more on Gray to do inside.

December 21, 2006

Damn. Another Loss.

Filed under: Basketball,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 10:53 pm

Aargh. I liveblogged this thing for AOL tonight. I already feel like I have a hangover.

Some thoughts on this. I expected to be angry if Pitt lost regardless of how they played. Can’t have them losing 2 in a row on the road or otherwise. That said, I’m disappointed in the loss but not in the effort and the way they played.

After the Wisconsin game, everyone was upset about the effort, the lack of focus and simply looking like they were coasting. That wasn’t happening in this game. Overall, the energy level was just much higher. Pitt was diving to the floor, getting after things.

Sam Young finally started looking like his explosiveness was returning. Unfortunately, along with the explosiveness, so was some of the mindlock silly fouls from last year.

Oklahoma State is a very good team. They impressed me. Neither team was able to impose their style for the whole game. Only spurts. Both Pitt and OSU had moments where they were playing their game, and there were other points where they found themselves in an unfamiliar style. As you would expect, the teams, despite different styles played a very even game.

Mario Boggan is a great undersized college forward. His game was the kind we used to admire from Chevy Troutman, outfighting the big trees underneath and getting the ball. Only Boggan can hit FTs. Boggan also did a great job of bringing Gray way out from under the hoop when Pitt was on defense. It is something Pitt has to adjust to, because teams will keep doing it — if they have any sense. With Gray away from under the basket, the Panthers are not a tremendous rebounding team inside. You wonder why Pitt was so outrebounded on the boards, that has a lot to do with it. Even if Gray isn’t grabbing the board, he’s clogging things up to give the other players a chance. It was a subtle adjustment OSU made early in the game. Gray grabbed 4 in the first few minutes of the game, then only a half-dozen or so after that.

I don’t know what has happened to Kendall. He is just playing without any confidence. Everytime he takes a shot, I don’t think even he knows if it will go down. I really thought when he hit his first jumper in the game things would go his way, but he is just looks lost out there. It reminds me of his sophomore year where he started breaking out, then he started missing some shots and his confidence disappeared.

Antonio Graves made a big mistake when he tried to foul and grabbed the guy around the neck/shoulder. Even if Eaton hadn’t gone down, that was too obvious a call not to make. It marred an otherwise effective game, even going 5-7 on FTs.

If Mike Cook could play defense, he’d be a candidate for an All-American.

More later when a more accurate box score comes out. Stats like rebounding, TOs, assists and such are notoriously unreliable immediately after a game.

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