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February 17, 2007

After this G-town-‘Nova game, it should be interesting.

2:13: Pitt trails 9-7, 14:52 to the half and Cook heading to the line. Washington has a good start. Hate to sound like sour grapes, but at least 2 of their shots looked like junk going up, but just fell. Pitt looks decent. Like what I’m seeing defensively so far.

2:22: Frustrating on the offensive side. The guards just are struggling with teams playing tight on them on the perimeter. Clearly, no respect for them to take them off the dribble. If Ramon, Fields, Benjamin and even Graves refuse to drive inside, there’s no reason not to play up on them. Washington can risk doing it, despite not necessarily having quick guards because of the size inside.

2:37: In case you are wondering, Sam Young played barely more than a minute before picking up 2 fouls. Like what I’ve seen from Cook in this half. He’s played good defense and is the only one scoring. Gray is shying from contact on offense. Just don’t understand that. He usually responds to the chance to go straight at an opposing big man.
5:47 left, 23-18 Washington.

3:00: Pitt leads at the half 31-28. Hasn’t been pretty at times, but Pitt survived a bad start to get the lead. Cook really kept Pitt in the game early. He has 10 points. Naturally the guards for Washington showed up for this game. Huskies shot 4-6 on 3s. Pitt only 2-8. Pitt struggling on the rebounds — on both sides.

Pitt only shot 9-27, but they have gotten Washington to be sloppy — 10 Husky turnovers, Pitt threw away 4 early but none the rest of the way. Plus, Pitt did finally get the memo about aggressive to the basket — or at least Fields did. The team has already shot 13 FTs (11-13 and Fields was 6-6).

3:15: I can’t believe some of the shots Pitt is managing to miss. The irrational part of my mind is hoping that this will balance out with some stuff that will go down later in a game Pitt needs (not that this is some sort of payback for shots earlier in the year). Pitt leads 39-37.

Gray took a shot to the face getting the rebound, but no call.

3:24: Scary thing. Cook and Young are the only Pitt players with more than a single basket at this point. That seems impossible. 45-45, 11:09 in the game.

3:33: Sean McDonough used to be good as a play caller. Maybe he’s having an off game. Maybe it’s because he’s paired with Wenzel. He is doing poorly with this game. Missing players, not seeing plays and just not calling the action.

3:48: Considering how poorly Pitt is shooting, it’s astounding that Pitt is winning. If they hold on, it will be on the defensive effort.

4:02: So, Pitt wins while being out-rebounded and poor 3-point shooting and not exactly great shooting overall? Instead they get the win with free throw shooting and  getting a slew of turnovers from the other team.

A 65-61 win. I’ll take it.

So, why does it seem to be begging for the game to be completely perimeter based instead. It’s not just the Pittsburgh papers trumpeting the inside game.

But the team that visits the Petersen Events Center this afternoon might own the best frontcourt tandem the Panthers have faced. Washington freshman center Spencer Hawes and sophomore forward Jon Brockman provide a 1-2 punch that has been hard for opposing teams to stop.

“I haven’t seen too many teams with two post guys who can score and rebound the way these two do,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “They’re very productive. They’re relentless. You’re talking about two kids everyone in the country wanted.”

The 6-foot-11 Hawes is the most-heralded basketball recruit in Washington history and made news when he chose the Huskies over North Carolina last year. He is leading Washington in scoring with 15.1 points per game and has scored 20 or more points seven times.

Brockman, a 6-7 power forward, had been Washington’s most heralded recruit until Hawes arrived. Brockman, who chose Washington over Duke, is second on the team behind Hawes in scoring (14.1 ppg) but is a tenacious rebounder in the mold of Chevon Troutman and averages 9.7 boards per game.

They will be going heads up against what is widely perceived to be the top frontcourt in the Big East Conference in Pitt center Aaron Gray and power forward Levon Kendall. The showdown between Gray and Hawes will be of particular interest, and 20 NBA scouts will watch the projected lottery players.

The Washington papers also expect the inside game to be the story.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said UW center Spencer Hawes of his matchup against Gray, a 7-foot senior center for the Panthers who is regarded as a possible NBA lottery pick in June. “It’s always fun to go up against the best.”

In the loss to Washington State, Washington had trouble finding Hawes inside. In the final 5:33 of a 4-point loss, Hawes never touched the ball on the offensive end. This was surprising, not just because Hawes had 22 points in the game, but UW has been struggling with their perimeter and outside shooting. Their guard play has been less then spectacular despite being highly heralded recruits.

The bad news, though, is that there’s very little offense coming from anywhere else. Ryan Appleby is averaging almost 10 points in his past seven games, but is shooting just 38 percent. Justin Dentmon is 2-for-16 the past two games, and the three freshmen other than Hawes have completely fallen apart. Quincy Pondexter, who led the team in scoring in non-conference games, hasn’t reached double figures in seven straight games, averaging 5.9 points in that time. Adrian Oliver has reached double figures only once in Pac-10 games, and that was 10 games ago. Phil Nelson has one double-figure game in the past 11, going scoreless five times, including the past three.

A little different from the way they were played up in the ‘Burgh papers.

So, no. Don’t expect to see a press and zone like Louisville.

“Teams can try to switch up game plans to try to play more press against us,” Gray said. “But this is what Louisville does. Other teams, they can go away from what they do to try to press us, but it might not work out. And I’m sure it will be an emphasis for us from now on.

“So, I really don’t foresee (a game) like this happening to us again. … It’s just something that we’re going to have to get better at, because teams probably are going to play it more often down the road in the Big East Tournament and NCAAs. And we’ll definitely be ready for it.”

They better. Pitt doesn’t want to be the first top-10 road win for UW since 1974 (they beat Kansas).

So Much Goodness To View

Filed under: Basketball,Media,TV — Chas @ 11:43 am

Lots of games worth watching today. I mean, aside from the Washington-Pitt game. Lots of games that matter for seeding and bubbles. This is ESPN’s bracketbuster weekend to add to the mid-major fun.
12pm (ESPN): Georgtown-‘Nova — Villanova beat the Hoyas in DC a month ago.

(Fox Pgh/ESPN Fullcourt): Penn St.-Wisconsin: Heh, heh-heh, heh

1pm (CBS): UCLA-Arizona: That #1 seeding and what should be a damn good game.

(ESPN Fullcourt): FSU-Virginia — Two ACC bubble teams

2pm (ESPN): Washington-Pitt.

2:30 pm (ESPN Fullcourt): Iowa-Michigan St. — Big 11 teams on the Bubble

3 pm (ESPNU): Holy Cross-Hofstra — I like any chance to boo Ralph Willard.

3:30 (ABC): UConn-Syracuse — and if you are lucky this will end up on the Full Court where you are instead and you can watch Texas A&M-Oklahoma.

4pm (ESPN2): Southern Illinois-Butler  — the highlight game of bracketbusters.

(various East coast based Fox Sports channels): Seton Hall-WVU — should be a slaughter, but a chance to scout Pitt’s next opponent.
6pm (ESPN): Memphis-Gonzaga — man this one has been harshed by Heytvelt’s suspension for dope and ‘shrooms

(ESPN2): Northern Iowa-Nevada — and this game sounded so good at the start of the season.

9pm (ESPN): UNC-BC — Let’s see, they didn’t show up at home against an inferior Duke team. Now it’s another big game at home. Gak.

(ESPNU): Louisville-Marquette — Marquette’s floundering and Louisville — well, anyways… Find a bar with a satellite because this will be the better game at this time.

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