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January 12, 2007

Hoyas Offense: Nothing Great

Filed under: Basketball,Fishwrap,Opponent(s) — Dennis @ 4:29 pm

Paul Zeise’s chat yesterday featured a question focused on tomorrow’s game against the Town of George.

slr: What does Pitt need to do to shut down Georgetown?

Paul Zeise: Well I think Georgetown does a pretty good job of shutting itself down. I mean the real question to me is what do the Hoyas have to do to shut down Pitt? I watched Georgetown the other night score 52 points in a loss to Villanova. They are not a very good offensive team and frankly i think they take one of their best players, Roy Hibbert, completely out of the equation with the offense they run. That Princeton style is great when you have a lot of players of similar skills — but when you have a talented 7-footer like Hibbert, you need to come up with ways to get him the ball more in a position he can score. They don’t do a good job of it and I think it is a reason they’ve struggled. There is just something missing with that team on offense and I think it is that the system doesn’t fit the talent.

I just figured we’d be able to get some Rollabannas behind the basket they’re shooting at. That would definitely distract them and shut them down. Just remember folks, let your Rollabanna whip itself back into scroll form when the Panthers are shooting.

Georgetown and John Thompson III has had Pitt’s number the last couple of years. They upset Pitt in January 2005 at the Pete, and beat Pitt last February after Pitt blew a lead in the first half. That second game, JTIII made a bunch of adjustments in the second-half and completely out-coached Jamie Dixon. Hibbert spent the second half on the bench as G-town went smaller and forced Gray to defend further and further from the basket. Not sure we can expect to see G-town go to that tactic again as Hibbert has since improved significantly.
The game notes are available if you want to look back (PDF) on the sub-par history of the Pitt-Georgetown series (29-37).

For Pitt, this is the start of the brutal stretch but also a huge opportunity with the timing of the 3 home games.

“Not only do we have three tough home games coming up, but against three of the best teams in the Big East,” center Aaron Gray said. “We have a little bit of an advantage, having them at home. But at the same time, you’re playing three of the top teams in the Big East in (nine) days.”

The three incoming visitors are off to relatively disappointing starts.

All three have been inconsistent at best in the last couple of weeks, but don’t worry, Aaron Gray isn’t looking ahead. He is armed with the cliches.

“We just have to take it one game at a time, prepare individually for each game and do our best,” Gray said.

Meanwhile Hoya faithful are looking for consistency from their team. Well, that and try to be like Wisconsin.

Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert might want to inquire as to what Wisconsin senior forwards Alando Tucker and Brian Butch had for breakfast the morning of Dec. 16. Whatever the Badger big men ate, it worked. Tucker and Butch scorched Pittsburgh pre-season Big East Player of the Year candidate Aaron Gray and scored season-high point tallies as the Badgers trounced then-No. 2 Panthers 89-75.

While the Georgetown frontcourt tandem may not add Wisconsin cheddar or Milwaukee’s Best to the pre-game spread menu, it couldn’t hurt to try and emulate everything else Tucker and Butch did in the early-season showdown.

Hey, if Hibbert wants to step out for 3s for the first time this season, that is fine by me. This being Georgetown, you knew someone was pining for the old JTII days of thug-ball. Oh, I’m sorry, Mike Graham was merely Patrick Ewing’s protector. Yeah, sure.

Hey, not only will Pitt be on Gameday, the newest promotional gimmick will be on display. Oh, not thundersticks, or something loud and annoying things like that. They are a different kind of annoying. The “Rollabana.”

Pitt Roll-out Banner.
Basically, it is a handheld, roll-up banner. You grab each end, pull and then wave the banner with both hands. Release and it conveniently rolls back.

Judging by the Rollabana website, I’m guessing it has been in Europe for a while and just started hitting the US in ’06. Starting with some baseball teams. The US distributor of the product doesn’t have much of a site, but they do have a message.

Promo

Be sure to be “crazed.”

Pitt will be one of only two teams to be part of College Basketball Gameday twice in the season. This Saturday and then in regular season Big East finale at Marquette on March 3. The other school showing up twice — UNC.

“They thought Pitt was, obviously, our best team and, given the incredible crowd at the Pete since it was built, with the Zoo, they thought it was a great atmosphere,” said Dan Gavitt, Big East associate commissioner for men’s basketball. “It’s a home run for ESPN.”

“I guess the national coverage you get all day, somebody told me it’s like a 12-hour infomercial on your school,” Dixon said. “It puts your school in a great light.

“It’s an accomplishment to be included in it, and for us to be on twice is a reflection of our program and our consistency over the years.”

ESPN intends to capture the atmosphere of Pitt and its campus, from the Cathedral of Learning to a look inside the Panthers’ locker rooms. Included will be a live interview with Dixon, a feature on senior center Aaron Gray, an on-court demonstration and a preview of the day’s top games accompanied by predictions and commentary by the “GameDay” crew — anchor Rece Davis and analysts Digger Phelps, Jay Bilas, Hubert Davis and Andy Katz.

And the day wouldn’t be complete without Dick Vitale, ESPN’s high-energy color commentator known for his signature calls. Vitale will join the show for 20 minutes prior to the Pitt-Georgetown game.

Of course, it still matters if you win the game and the others in this homestand.

Gray admitted there will be many distractions throughout the day. He said the team just needs to realize the opportunity that is in front of them. The Panthers can take a giant step toward a Big East regular-season championship by beating Georgetown, Connecticut and Marquette in the next 10 days.

“Not only are they three home games, but they’re against three of the top teams in the Big East,” Gray said. “It’s definitely a little bit of an advantage having them at home.

“We have a great crowd, great support from the city. We’re real confident and comfortable at home. Every team that comes in here is kind of worried because we’ve been voted the toughest place to play for two or three straight years.”

College basketball — especially in a year where there doesn’t seem to be too many teams that are absolutely far above the  rest — is  a situation where home court means so much. So you have to win the home games. Pitt can’t let the whole atmosphere of the infomercial and distractions work against them.

Luke Winn at SI.com finally puts Pitt back in his weekly power poll at #16.

Welcome back to the rankings, Pitt. For the record, it wasn’t all of your fans’ hate mail that got you reinstated — it was the road wins at Syracuse and DePaul, and the 3-0 start in the Big East. None of that is anything to get too excited about, but let’s face it: You didn’t really beat anyone before January. The resume matters here. The good thing is that kenpom.com’s new feature — “Game Plan” — has diagnosed your problem: You’re struggling in the games in which you get killed on the offensive glass. The three times you let an opponent grab at least 40 percent of the available offensive boards, you either lost (to Oklahoma State and Wisconsin) or nearly lost (to Buffalo). So beware the Big East’s two best offensive rebounding teams, UConn and Providence, OK?

Meanwhile, Clemson is ranked #8 and Air Force #9. That doesn’t bother me as much as the not beating anyone comment. Mainly because he credits both Wisconsin and UNC for beating FSU. Something Pitt also did by a similar margin. I realize those two teams beat more good teams (like Wisconsin beating Pitt), but the absolutist tone annoys. Thanks for the tip on the offensive rebounds — we were already aware of it.

ESPN.com puts Pitt in the #2 seed group (#7) in its power poll.

Panthers are quietly playing solid ball while the rest of the Big East continues to stub its collective toe. Interesting to note how similar Pitt’s dossier is to the team ranked No. 9 this week, which very few are talking about …

That team is Texas A&M.

PittTube

Filed under: Internet,Media — Dennis @ 7:12 am

Need a way to waste a few minutes of your day? Here’s a little roundup of some of the good YouTube videos featuring your Pittsburgh Panthers:

Gilbert Brown dunk: Gilbert Brown pulls off a great dunk in pregame warmups.

Sam Young does the same thing: Alley-oops it to himself at the 30 second mark.

Jerome Lane breaks backboard: “Send it in Jerome”

Revis Punt Return: ESPN’s #1 play of the year in college football. (Edit: Link fixed.)

Pat White meow: Not a Pitt highlight but still Pitt related (in a bad way) nonetheless.

Larry Fitzgerald catch: Larry goes parallel to the ground in the 2002 Insight Bowl.

Palko 1 – BC defender 0: If you were there, you got fired up.

I may have passed a really good one over somewhere. If you see one, go ahead and leave the link to it. Enjoy.

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