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January 25, 2007

Power Polls and Assorted Other

Filed under: Basketball,Polls — Chas @ 9:27 pm

For those of you sick of hearing about other things regarding Levon Kendall, this will depress you. The new meme may be that he had a role in the seminal animal playing sport movie, “Air Bud”:

How come no one’s talking about his acting skills, though? IMDB — and I don’t think this has been reported previously — lists “Levon Kendall” as an “Additional Basketball Player” in the epic 1997 film Air Bud (star Kevin Zegers is pictured at right). Pitt’s Kendall would have been 13 then, and the movie had a Canadian casting director, so it makes sense.

Let’s see how long until someone in the local media asks him about it. Actually, the question is, where was the film shot. If it was shot in Vancouver, then yes, it could very well be him. How many Levon Kendalls are there in the world? Luke Winn also dropped Pitt to #12 in his power rankings.

The ESPN Power Rankings puts Pitt at #8 which is actually better then where I and the rest of the AOL Fanhouse bloggers ended up putting Pitt (#9).

If you really want to find out more about Dixon — and maybe a little insight into why he won’t publicly rip into his players. Something many seem to crave. Maybe the FSN “In My Own Words” episode that runs on FSN-Pittsburgh next on Monday at 12:30pm will help people to understand (doubt it).

Recent addition to Pitt Blather, Dennis, inserted himself into P-G Pitt b-ball beat writer Ray Fittipaldo’s online chat today with a couple of questions.

PittHoopsatPittBlather: Those of us who have been following Pitt basketball for at least the past five years generally see this team as the best of the Howland/Dixon era in terms of being able to go deep into the tournament. But what do you think is the greatest reason? My vote goes to three-point shooting.

Ray Fittipaldo: I’m not sure I agree that this is the best team of the Howland-Dixon era. That team in 2002 and the one in 2003 were pretty good. Both lost in Sweet 16 games. This team is good for a number of reasons. The 3-point shooting is certainly one of them. The Panthers lead the Big East in 3-point shooting percentage and Ronald Ramon might be one of the top five 3-point shooters in the country. But there are other reasons to like this team. It has balance and it has depth. When Sam Young plays the way he did last night against Cincinnati, it adds another dimension to the team. They’ll need performances like that from him and other reserves in the tournament.

Jeff: I was curious about several of the last few Pitt losses; Marquette, Big East finals Syracuse and last regular season game with WVU … There is one constant in all three games — Tim Higgins was on the crew that did the game. This is one rather large coincidence. What are you thoughts?

Ray Fittipaldo: You mention those three games, but my understanding is that Pitt has a very good record when Higgins referees the game. One Pitt fan I saw at the Cincinnati game keep-s track. He said Pitt is in trouble when Jim Burr and Curtis Shaw are calling the game. I know Shaw was an official in all three of Pitt’s losses this season. And everyone at Pitt remembers Shaw throwing students out of the game a couple of years ago. If I was a Pitt fan, I’d be happy to see Higgins but maybe not when I see Burr and Shaw.

PittHoopsatPittBlather: Just when it appeared that Sam Young was steadily falling out of the rotation he stepped up with a solid performance last night. Do you see him being a factor come tournament time or do you think yesterday’s game was an aberration?

Ray Fittipaldo: If you noticed Young was into the game at the first media timeout last night, which is something new. I think Dixon wanted to give him more playing time to see if he could get more production out of him. Young has to do more than score once every five games, though, if Pitt is going to be successful in March. We all know the problems at power forward. If Young plays the way he did last night, their problems are masked a little better.

Nice.

Party At The Pete

Filed under: Basketball,Football,Recruiting — Dennis @ 4:53 pm

There will be a “party” of sorts on February 7 at the Petersen Events Center to celebrate National Letter of Intent Day and then the Pitt-WVU basketball game at 7:30.

We are excited to announce Pitt Athletics will host Pitt fans at “Panther Pride Night”. This very special event will be held in conjunction with National Letter of Intent Day for football on Wednesday, February 7th, 2007 at the Petersen Events Center. The festivities will begin at 6:00 p.m. Doors will open at 5:00 p.m.

Coach Dave Wannstedt will “kickoff” the evening with the presentation of his 2007 recruiting class, which will include introductions of those football student-athletes who signed binding letters of intent to attend Pitt earlier that day. Coach Wannstedt and his staff will provide exclusive insight into each member of the Class of 2011 and show video highlights from each student-athlete’s high school career.

Following the “signing day” activities, we will host a live men’s basketball “game watch” on the Petersen Events Center’s state-of-the-art video board. The Panthers take on West Virginia in Morgantown at 7:30 p.m. The Pitt Pep Band and cheerleaders will perform.

This comes from the Oakland Zoo Blog and it sounds like some of that came from some sort of official announcement but I have been unable to find one.

A party on a Wednesday night is almost as bad as holding an All-Star game on a Wednesday night (yeah, we’re talking to you NHL). So who’s bringin’ the six pack?

As you can imagine, shooting 12-19 on 3s and pretty well everywhere else will end up being the focal point of the local stories on Pitt beating Cinci.

Playing a Bearcats team that ranks 296th in the nation in 3-point shooting, the Panthers (18-3, 6-1 Big East) got more accurate the farther they were from the basket. They shot a season-best 63.2 percent from 3-point range, and 60.5 overall (23 for 38). No opponent in the 17-year-old history of the Fifth Third Arena has ever enjoyed a better shooting night.

“The shooting was great,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “It was good to see.”

Pitt had wide open looks and converted.

“The shooting percentage is because of Aaron,” said Ramon, who had 10 points. “We were getting open shots because of the way he moved the ball. We were getting great looks because of the way we pass the ball.”

“The shooting was great, but it started from the passing, as always,” Dixon said. “The decision-making was good.”

Things were going so well that even Sam Young got into the act. Young, who hadn’t scored in five games but had 10 against the Bearcats, made a 3-pointer with 5:04 remaining to give Pitt its biggest lead of the half, 32-18.

“It was great execution,” said Fields, who was two shy of the school’s 3-pointer record shared by Andre Aldridge and Jason Maile. “We knew they were going to double the post. Everyone was making the extra pass.”

The view from the Cinci papers was that while the team has made some nice comebacks from deep deficits, but not this time.

There would be no comeback on this night because the Panthers, who start three seniors and a junior, were too experienced to allow one. Pitt walked away with a fairly easy 67-51 victory before 9,196 fans.

“Being down 12 to Pitt is not the same as being down 12 to most people,” said UC coach Mick Cronin. “Being down 12 to Pitt is like being down 25 to a normal team. This is a team that’s not going to blow 12-point leads. They’re just too experienced.”

Coach Dixon still had praise for Cinci and Mick Cronin this season.

“To come up with this kind of talent and competitors is amazing,” said Dixon. “Because I’ve been recruiting in April, and it’s basically impossible to get players this good. Nobody got players that good in April. And he’s done a heck of a job with this group.

“Nobody in the country has this many first-year guys playing this kind of minutes. To be able to do the things they do with new guys is amazing.”

So Cinci can at least have hope.

I guess part of the reason Cinci rarely abandoned the doubling of Gray — even as they were getting pounded with 3s — was conserving depth and fouls. Leave a player inside against Gray and he could have muscled in easily and drawn a lot of fouls. Now, granted, the way Gray has been streaky (at best) with his FT shooting that may not seem like a bad strategy. The problem was Cinci couldn’t spare the bodies to follow a “hack-a-Gray.” At least that’s what I’m guessing since no one appeared to ask about that.

Looks like this place wasn’t the only blog to discuss the game as it went. Cinci Post beat writer Josh Katzowitz has a Bearcats blog and had insights of his own. Media riot when the food ran out early. UC students getting on Kendall. Good stuff.

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