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February 12, 2007

Just made it. Pregnant wife craved pancakes and fruit for dinner. Yeesh.

7:10: 8-2 L-ville, 15:55 to the half. Horrible start. Bad ball handling — 4 straight turnovers. Louisville has opened well shooting 4-6.

7:20: Pitt now trailing 17-7, 11:47. 0-5 on 3s, 2-10 shooting overall and 6 turnovers. Pitt has come out unprepared tonight. Can’t say I’ve seen much to like from anyone on the court.

7:26: Frustrating to watch this game with the inconsistent refs. It’s screwed on both sides, but I have no sense about when a foul will be called. They’ve allowed shoving and hits on both, but at the same time they have called some real cheapies.

It isn’t the reason why Pitt is doing so poorly. It just adds to the frustration.

7:38: Safe to say, this has been the worst Pitt has looked all season. Sloppy play. Bad passing, poor effort to get to the ball. Bad shooting. Team effort to look this bad.

7:47: On the bright side, they can only play better after this.

7:53: Pitt down 36-19. I’m blown away. 19 points, 19 rebounds, 15 turnovers. 5-21 shooting and 0-9 on 3s. That’s just too many 3s.
This is a team effort at this kind of bad play. No one player, the whole team shares this opening 20 minutes.

8:31: And now Fields is shaken up. What a tremendously bad game for Pitt. Sloppy. Poor execution, poor play, and even good shots aren’t going down.

Everything is coming together to go absolutely wrong in one game.

8:52: Geez. 61-46, 3:52 left. The team will have the rest of the week to stew and get angry over this performance. Even with all the turnovers (19), the piss-poor shooting was astounding. 14-39 overall and 2-16 on 3s.

9:24: Pitt loses 66-53. Louisville from the very start wanted it more. They played harder. They went after it.

Their defense was tremendous. Not simply pressing up court. It was the way they flew to the ball. There was no space for shots. They swarmed and kept Pitt from getting good shots. The early slew of turnovers, also made Pitt timid about moving the ball around. Afraid of screwing up again.

I mean it’s insane. You look at the stats and if you didn’t see the game you would just assume Pitt had a bad shooting night, and that was the main culprit. Note, these are unofficial stats and may change slightly.
Turnovers: 19-Pitt; 16-Lousiville
Rebounds: 34-Pitt; 33-Louisville

Free Throws: 16-22-Pitt; 10-18-Louisville

Fouls: 21-Pitt; 21-Louisville

Shooting:  17-48-Pitt; 26-54-Louisville

3-point shooting: 3-21-Pitt; 4-12-Louisville

All you can do is tip your cap to Louisville for playing far better then Pitt. For playing their best game of the season — and they did. This was not the same team that lost to Villanova a week and a half ago.

Nor was this the same Pitt team that took it to WVU last week.

It’s now up to Pitt to get up and deal. They can’t expect to win just because of who they are, who they are playing or where they are playing.

First off, how about all of the Steelers fans out there take a moment and thank the scheduling gods that this game is not during an AFC Championship game that we happen to be playing in. Last year I missed the Pitt game to watch the Stillers. Luckily my choice is between Pitt-UL and the Texas-Oklahoma women’s game–a bit of an easier choice.

Next is an update on where former kicker David Abdul is at right now. The answer: kicking in an indoor football league. Commenter B.B. left the link to the Pittsburgh River Rats (who I didn’t know existed until about 15 minutes ago), and it’s good to see he’s in good shape after some health issues.

Now looking to a possible future Pitt Panther, Terrelle Pryor gets an article on SI.com which speaks of a comparison to NFL QB Vince Young. As Mondesi’s House mentions, though, Young was never a top football and basketball recruit.

Jeannette, Pa., quarterback Terrelle Pryor has been compared to Young because of his 6-foot-6, 220-pound frame, his ability to glide past players at top speed and his ability to simply dominate football games.

….

“I leave it up to people to make their own comparisons when they watch me play,” he said. “It’s a very nice comparison, but I haven’t done anything yet. I like to watch Vince Young and Troy Smith and the quarterbacks that can move around and do things, but I don’t compare myself to them.”

Pryor is so good he could be the next (and first) Terrelle Pryor. He still looks skinny on his 6-foot-6 frame, he’s getting faster and he’s learning how to play quarterback. The same raw athletic ability also comes out in basketball, where Pryor is ranked as a national top-25 player.

And finally, I leave you with how the Big East Tournament would look if the season ended right now, compliments of Card Chronicle.

Wed., Mar. 7 Thurs., Mar 8 Fri., Mar 9 Sat.,Mar 10
Noon
8) Villanova
9) Providence
Noon
1) Pittsburgh
Semifinals, 7pm Finals, 8pm
2 pm
5) Louisville
12) Connecticut
2 pm
4) West Virginia
7 pm
7) Syracuse
10) Depaul
7 pm
2) Georgetown
Semifinals, 9pm
9 pm
6) Notre Dame
11) St. John’s
9 pm
3) Marquette
Out: Seton Hall, South Florida, Rutgers, Cincinnati

Louisville Needs It

Filed under: Basketball,Big East,Conference,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 10:35 am

You know, I started typing “Big game tonight,” and realized how stupid and trite that was. This is February. It’s in conference. They are all big games at this point.

Louisville is standing athwart the bubble still looking for a win that doesn’t scream, “yeah, so.” They missed chances at home against Marquette and Georgetown; and blew a shot on the road against ‘Nova. This week they have two more road shots that could be huge. At Pitt and at Marquette.

Unless Rick Pitino’s team wins at Pittsburgh tomorrow and/or at Marquette on Saturday, there’s no reason for prolonged high-fives. At least one victory at one of the most formidable places to play in the Big East is the minimum requirement if the Cardinals expect to be discussed for the NCAA Tournament four weeks from today.

Some would disagree. Some would say this 17-8 team better roll a seven (Pitt is ranked seventh) as well as an 11 (Marquette is ranked 11th) to muscle its way into the debate.

“ESPN has already picked the NCAA field,” Pitino said. “We’re not in right now. We need a win like this to get into the hunt.”

You could say that again. In fact, you could say it twice.

This is the price the Cards are paying for losing to Dayton, Massachusetts, Kentucky and Villanova. It’s the price they’re paying for not having a victory against a ranked team since March 2005.

This is the big, predominant theme for the Cardinals. Credit Pitino for playing this correctly for his team. Rather than complain about back-to-back road games against 2 of the 3 top teams in the conference. It is a chance.

“Right now we need to go against great basketball teams,” he said. “It’s a blessing more than anything else. We need to play against people like that because we need to get one of these road wins. You want a signature win, that’s all people talk about.”

The Cards got surprising output from the highly sought, but early bust Derrick Caracter in their last win — though it was against USF. The bigger story was that David Padgett was hurt — again. This time a sprained foot that has him day-to-day at best. With the constant stream of injuries from major to minor for Padgett, Mike at Card Chronicle may have put it best:

Why wouldn’t David Padgett sprain his foot while simply running down the floor without anyone within five feet of him? It’s like God is running out of ways to plead with him to do something, anything, with his life other than play basketball.

Pitt obviously doesn’t want to lose a home game — or any game for that matter. The fact is, though, with 3 of its final 4 games on the road, Pitt has to win to stay in control of the conference. And just as important, make sure to finish in the top 4 of the conference to get that 1st round bye in the Big East Tournament.

Last year, Pitt won a physical battle in Freedom Hall. In that game, Terrance Williams singlehandedly kept the Cardinals in that game with his best game ever. Right now, Williams has been struggling in a mini-slump — though the Cards have won the games. Williams is the biggest match-up problem for Pitt as a 6’6″ swingman.

But Williams looked uncomfortable on offense as the Cards lost to Villanova and Georgetown before beating South Florida. His three-point shooting remains mostly dreadful; Williams is connecting on just 26.2 percent this season while attempting more threes than all but seven players in the Big East.

His work inside the arc hasn’t been much more effective. Williams drove to the rim five times early in the South Florida game, making one layup but getting two shots blocked and being whistled for a charge.

Pitino says Williams doesn’t know what to do when he gets into the lane.

“He’s driving into what I call a telephone booth,” he said. “The window is closing on him all the time, and he can’t get to the rim and get fouled.”

Despite his muscular frame, Williams seems to shy from contact inside. He has attempted only two free throws the past three games.

“Most of the time I’m shooting on the way down,” he said. “If I take an extra dribble, I can go all the way to the rim and get an easy layup. But I’m stopping outside the paint, trying to jump and create something, and I get stuck in the air.”

Against Pitt’s shorter players on the perimeter, Williams might find his 3-point shooting to be better tonight. Expect Antonio Graves and Mike Cook to switch off on him during the game. Cook actually did some good work on defense against Providence in helping to contain Geoff McDermott.

Moreover, Cook was forced to guard Providence swingman Geoff McDermott, one of the Big East’s best rebounders, because Levon Kendall had to cover center Herbert Hill after Gray sat out much of the first half in foul trouble.

McDermott was hounded by the smaller Cook for much of the game. He finished with 11 points and only five rebounds. That was as much of a victory for Cook, maligned for his lack of defensive prowess, as his 11 points.

“I thought he played pretty good defense,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said.

McDermott averages around 11 points but usually corrals 9.6 rebounds. Not only did he limit the rebounding opportunities, but McDermott is their leading assist guy at 5.4. Cook helped hold him to only 4, while getting him with 4 turnovers.
If Cook can help keep Williams in check — you know he’s going to snap out of that slump — Pitt should be able to take the Cardinals. The Cardinal press has not been particularly strong. Still, that has been a struggle for Pitt at times. I expect to see it a lot when it’s just Ramon on the court without Fields.

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