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January 7, 2007

Petrino On His Way Out

Filed under: Big East,Coaches,Conference,Football,NFL — Dennis @ 10:31 pm

All of the major sports websites have confirmed that the Big East will be saying farewell to one of it’s coaches; Luhlvuhl’s Bobby Petrino will be heading to Atlanta and will be named the new head coach of the Falcons.

There are two ways to look at this from a Big East standpoint. Either you say it’s great that B.E. coaches (Petrino, Rodriguez, Dantonio, Schiano) are considered for jobs like these…or you can go the opposite way and say it’s not good that the conference is losing such a good coach.

I’m not sure which way to think yet, what about you?

Just a quick look about at what happened today between noon and 2 pm down in Oakland. The AP article focuses on how we were simply able to wear them away which is to be expected from us playing a team fighting off a boatload of injuries. The game was close when their starters weren’t in major need of some oxygen but as the game moved along the USF players just had a tough time keeping up.

South Florida coach Robert McCullum made gave his own comments on the Panther’s nine man deep rotation:

”Their depth makes them one of the best teams in the country. Maybe they’re not the prettiest – they won’t get a lot of style points – but they’re one of the best teams.

”Depth is one of the strengths they have,” McCullum said. ”They could take a run well into March – or April.”

All of this was easily seen for the first 8 1/2 minutes of the second half; we held them to four points in that span while opening a 42-26 lead.

I love how he mentions how this helps in March. The Big East tournament can be brutal on most of the teams because of needing to win 3 games in 3 days (or maybe even the “Orangemen Sweep” of 4 games in 4 days) but Pitt is a team built to win all those games in such a short span.

You’ll see a more on this game over the next day before we prepare for DePaul.

I’ll be making comments throughout, but I won’t be doing a full liveblog. Everyone knows the drill by now.

12:12: Pitt is looking to have the Bulls aggressiveness against the Pitt size inside work against them by drawing fouls. It looks like it will be a bit ugly and unncecessarily tight, but it should make things wide open later. Still waiting for a little more aggressiveness from Gray to the basket.

12:21: The bad, Pitt is looking a bit sloppy especially on offense. The good, they are a bit more aggressive going for rebounds.

12:29: If there is a game for Pitt not to have the shots fall — and there have been several that have just bounced around and out — this would be it. 5-21 shooting. Pitt is killing on the offensive boards (9-2 advantage), but not getting the ball back in the bucket.

12:32: Kendall gets his 3d foul with 7:15 in the half. Guess we’ll get to find out how Pitt plays with more time for Young and Biggs.

12:42: Pitt took a quick TO after Gransberry just blew past them for an easy lay-in. Biggs totally lost him. Biggs is out of the game after the TO.

1:00: Halftime. Pitt leads 32-22. A mix of things for the poor Pitt shooting — 12-35. Pitt seems to be pulling up a lot more for jumpers and taking outside shots (not 3s, but just jump shots). Cook’s jumper isn’t going, and Young seems to be pulling up again rather than taking it straight to the hoop. 3 point shooting is steady, and not over done, 5-10.

1:06: Gray picks up his 3d foul right away going over the back trying to rebound his own miss. Correction, Kendall only has 2 fouls, the third was given to Graves who also has 2. Biggs, despite poor play in the first half, looks like he gets some extra minutes. I’d like to see them move Kendall to C and bring in Young.

1:19: The Bulls are already worn down, under 14 left. USF is standing around a lot on offense trying to conserve energy. Pitt now leads 41-26.

1:29: In a scrum for the ball under Pitt’s basket USF’s Saaka is rolling and writhing in pain, forcing John Sanders to comment, “Saaka might be hurt.” Really? Way to hedge. 48-29, 10 minutes left.

1:35: USF had to expend so much energy in the first half against Pitt — keeping things close, but they have no bench to help and they are already wiped out. Pitt with under 8 minutes left has played 9 players at least 12 minutes. Fields leads with 25 minutes.

1:45: Pitt may not have been able to hit their jumpers or finish close to the rim, but man, Pitt has been hitting the 3s. 63-41, 3:14 left. Kendall and Biggs have even hit 3s. 10-16 on 3s. 13-40 everywhere else.

 1:53: 69-48 Final. Pitt had 10 players score, as Hudson added a basket at the end. Depth. Have to love having it. Inside game was lousy, but this was the time to have that kind of bad game.

The Last Easy Game

Filed under: Basketball,Big East,Conference,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 11:40 am

I love this story on the Bulls coming to the Big East with the Mike Cook quotes. Mainly when it goes off-topic to the subject of East Carolina out of C-USA.

Cook was asked to picture his former team making the transition to the Big East.

“Man, that would be real tough,” Cook said. “It would be good for the school because you could get better recruits. But as far as competing in the Big East, I don’t think we would be able to compete.

“South Florida will have a better chance than East Carolina. You have a lot of players in Florida. They’re in a much better situation than if East Carolina would be if they came into the Big East.”

East Carolina’s fanbase is more than a little miffed that it was not one of the teams invited to join the Big East and still dreams of getting into the conference. That loss in the papajohns.com bowl to USF was more than a little painful to them, since the fans were hoping it would turn into some sort of “statement” on things. Personally, other than another team, I don’t see ECU offering the Big East much to make it worth considering them. But that’s a bit of a digression.

The article has a nice discussion on recruiting Florida and how in basketball, it’s as much about TV market penetration to get recruits.

“It’s good,” Dixon said. “It’s not so much that we’ll be traveling down there because this is year two and we haven’t been down there yet. I think it’s the presence. That will happen in the Midwest as well. The games will be carried there. They will be covered more in the papers. Coming here eight years ago I thought going to Ohio would be good for us. You think location-wise it would be a good place, but they don’t affiliate with the Big East like New York does or D.C. or New Jersey, which are farther in distance but worlds apart as far as familiarity in terms of basketball.

“I think it will have an effect. We were down there with Miami, so maybe South Florida takes their place.”

Definitely so, regarding Ohio. Mahoning Valley is about the only exception, but most of Ohio has little awareness of the Big East in the local media. Antonio Graves has been about the only Ohio recruit in I don’t know how long.

As for preparing for the Bulls, well it’s game film and little else.

The matchup will give Dixon and his staff the challenge of scouting a Big East opponent with almost no familiarity or history to draw upon. Dixon started breaking down film after returning from Syracuse on Thursday night.

“We’re going to catch up real quick,” Dixon said. “We’ll have every tape of every game they’ve played. As far as familiarity, it has a nonleague feel to it. But that will change. ”

One Pitt player with at least some knowledge of the Bulls is Mike Cook. The junior forward faced South Florida for two seasons while at Conference USA opponent East Carolina.

“From watching film, they play the same type of game,” Cook said. “They play hard on both ends of the floor and try to get the game up-tempo. It’s not really that much different. They’re strong, physical and athletic.”

The Bulls are undersized as Junior Center Kentrell Gransberry is 6′ 9″. Gransberry, though, averages a double-double (13.5 ppg 10.8 rpg). USF just came from a loss at UConn and expect the same sort of style of play.

“Pittsburgh has a lot of the same qualities as UConn, except you throw in experience,” USF coach Robert McCullum said. “They defend as well as anyone in the league. They’re one of the more physical teams in the league and they don’t give you easy baskets.

“They’re so rock solid tough in man-to-man defense. It will be quite a challenge going in there. A big challenge for all those reasons.”

Pitt needs to take care of the Bulls quickly. The next 4 games are going to be brutal. Starting with a road game at DePaul, where the Blue Demons are unbeaten.

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