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February 27, 2007

Well, the WWLS decided it’s properties take precedence over live games. The WVU-Pitt game was supposed to be on ESPN2. It’s been bumped to ESPNU. Why? So that ESPN2 can air an hour-long  Arena Football preview. Nice. Since the Mouse Monopoly has an ownership interest and airs the games now, time to pump it up after ignoring the thing all the years prior.

So, if you don’t have a dish, get yourself to a sports bar that does.
So, will Pitt be “demoralized” or “angry” when they come out tonight against the Mountaineers — or judging from so many of the comments will that just be the fans?

It’s Senior Night. Time to say good-bye to seeing Aaron Gray, Antonio Graves, Levon Kendall and even Doyle Hudson at the Pete as anything other than as a spectator.

“It sneaks up on you,” coach Jamie Dixon said. “Obviously, what they’ve done has been tremendous. What they’ve done over the four years is unbelievable.”

The seniors have a combined record of 100-27, ranking seventh in overall victories among Pitt players — 108 is the record. They are the only senior class in the Big East with 20 overall wins and 10 conference wins in each of their four seasons.

The Hoopies will be coming to Pitt with a week off and plenty of time to stew over their loss last week. A 3-point loss at Providence where they shot an amazingly bad 9-41 — on 3-point shots. When Pitt beat WVU in Morgantown a few weeks ago, Pitt had come off of a week-long lay-off. Of course, Pitt had a win before the break so there was no stewing.

So WVU will be looking to payback Pitt. They also will be desperate for a win. They are a bubble team that  has not a single good road win and a weak non-con. The team knows that it really needs this game.

“Last week we had what I call a mini-camp Thursday and Friday, where we got a lot of work in on basics. Sunday we practiced a couple hours and it was a lot about us and Pitt.”

Frank Young, who leads the Big East in three-point goals, said upsetting Pitt would be a big boost to WVU’s hopes for postseason consideration.

“I think it would put us in the driver’s seat as far as (impressing) the NCAA committee,” the 6-foot-5 senior reasoned. We may have to win a game or two in the conference tournament if we lose this game.”

Young, who’s averaging 14.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, believes the long layoff between games will be beneficial.

Besides getting some rest, the team had time to correct some mistakes and make adjustments for this rematch. “It gave us a chance to get our legs back,” Young said.

“It’s a rivalry game with a lot of emotions. That’s also a tough place to win. But we’ve just got to go in there and play hard.”

Pitt has it’s own issues. Specifically, the fact that the team has been shooting poorly. It’s been a lot of things, it seems. You have the poor 3-point shooting from the guards, the forwards haven’t exactly been hitting jump shots or much else consistently. Even Gray, before he got hurt, seemed to be struggling to finish.

It’s got everyone a bit frustrated. On the guards, it seems a mix of a slump — given the number of missed open looks — along with defenses playing a lot tighter on them because there is little fear of them penetrating or driving. The forwards — all of them (Kendall, Young, Cook and Biggs) –  haven’t showed consistency all season with a jumpshot and now that the guards aren’t getting free as much, that is getting exposed and not providing any spacing for the guards or for Gray to not face a swarming double-team.

For those of you looking for Coach Dixon to be anything but positive sounding, forget it.

“We were leading the conference in 3-point shooting,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “We had a high bar set there. If you don’t hit them it sticks out. It’s been obvious that we haven’t shot the ball well. The numbers don’t lie. But I think we’ve taken good shots. There have been some rare instances where shot selection has been a concern. But if you lead the conference in 3-point shooting you have to continue to take them. That’s important.

“You’ll find a [tough] stretch with any team. Even the best shooting teams in history, you’ll find four games where they didn’t shoot it as well. That’s easy to do. You just have to continue to take good shots. We’ve been doing that.”

If you find it frustrating that he never says anything really negative  about the team or the players, well that’s unlikely to change. That is the way Coach Dixon is with the media and his team. He won’t rip them publicly. He will be positive to the point where people will believe he is delusional. That’s just the way he does it. Other coaches that do it that way include Gary Williams of Maryland and Lorenzo Romar at Washington.

I admit it bothered me after the 2nd year of the Dixon reign, especially after the Pacific loss. The thing that I’ve learned is that it is simply his way of doing things. I doubt he believes it, everytime but Dixon is the type of coach that believes that stuff stays in the locker room. He won’t call out individual players. He will always be relentlessly optimistic publicly. I think it works against him at time and creates more anger to him, as people will say he’s in denial or is oblivious to the problems.

It’s quite weird. Pitt football and basketball has two coaches that are relentlessly positive about their team and players no matter what, that I think it creates almost a backlash of frustration. Where you feel like screaming at the TV or computer, “Liar!” when you see or read their comments. Unfortunately, not everyone can be as caustic and great copy like Jim Calhoun.





Wow, is tonight’s game huge or what? After Georgetown slipped at Syracuse, we’ve got a chance to pull even again.

Let’s say Pitt and G’Town both win out, and end up tied. What’s the tiebreaker for the BET #1 seed? They split, so is it based on strength of schedule in conference or something? Anyone know?

Comment by Aaron 02.27.07 @ 10:23 am

Solved my problem on a slow morning at work:

Alright, so according to the BE’s tiebreaking procedure(link to cstv.com), a tie is solved by “Each team’s record vs. the team or tied teams occupying the highest position in the standings. Continue down through the standings until one team gains an advantage,” if the teams split head to head meetings.

Right now, that’d be Louisville, whom Pitt lost to, and Georgetown defeated. So G’town would be #1 seed in case of a tie there. If Syracuse (Pitt won, Gtown lost) finished third, we’d win the tiebreak. If ND (Gtown won, Pitt didn’t play – so no advantage either way) finished third, it all depends on who finishes fourth behind them, and I’m not prognosticating that one.

Comment by Aaron 02.27.07 @ 10:33 am

Big East only uses tiebreakers for the BE tourney seeding. They will share a conf. championship if necessary.

Comment by chris 02.27.07 @ 10:33 am

right… it’s on PDF format at link to cstv.com

Comment by chris 02.27.07 @ 10:35 am

we need to win out, or we’re gonna lose the tiebreaker to lvl and finish as the 3 seed……although that isnt horrible, because we’ll probably end up playing them friday night anyway….payback game……

Comment by Schoe 02.27.07 @ 10:49 am

link to cstv.com

It moves to the records against the next highest team in the league, Lousiville. That gives GT the advantage.

If Seton Hall beats Louisville on Sunday, and ND beats Rutgers on Saturday. That moves ND and Lousiville into a tie for 3rd. Although ND wins the tiebreaker the rules combine Pitt’s and GT’s records agains both teams.
Pitt 0-1
GT 2-0

GT takes it again.

If Syracuse beats Villanova on Saturday that puts them in a three way tie for 3rd. Then the records against 3rd place are

Pitt 1-1
GT 2-1

This cannot be a deciding factor by rule 2b. So we will have to look at the next group down which could be up to a 4 way tie between WVU, Marquette DePaul and Villanova. It gets pretty complicated…

Without a lot of complications we need to UCONN to beat GT on Saturday.

Comment by Shablinky 02.27.07 @ 10:59 am

Damn Aaron you beat me to it.

Comment by Shablinky 02.27.07 @ 11:02 am

chas-curious, will you be setting up the user group again for the tournament?

Comment by scoocher 02.27.07 @ 11:21 am

I am hoping that for this stretch run, starting tonight, the team will rediscover the paint and get more close-in shots. Defenses just seem to hawk on that 3-point line and Ramon and Graves, in particular, seem like they could be getting lots of back doors or could be gaining serious advantage with pump fakes and then moving a few steps in toward the hoop – or, in Graves case, preferably driving to the hoop.

I really, really would like to see a strong performance tonight. If we can finish out the regular season and BE tourney strong, I still have hope for something special in the Big Dance.

Comment by Carmen 02.27.07 @ 11:27 am

I agree 100%, Pitt’s guards have to go to the basket more often. Graves has been trying to drive to the hole, but he can’t finish right now. It is all in his head. He isn’t shooting or driving with confidence. He consistently got into the lane versus Georgetown and couldn’t finish. He kept trying weak floaters instead of taking it right to Georgetown’s big men and drawing the foul. However, I liked the aggressive play.

Comment by Omar 02.27.07 @ 11:47 am

Maybe against WVU Pitt’s guards can do some penetrating and scoring, because WVU has nothing inside………but Fields and Graves aren’t going to do any penetrating and scoring against better competition because they’re limited. They make up for their lack of size with their lack of speed. That’s just the way it is.

Let’s get the ball inside to Gray. I don’t know what Dixon has to do to get him excited (steal his kitty cat, maybe??), but that’s what coaching is. He’s gotta get Gray to demand the ball, even when Fields and Graves and Cook don’t want to give it to him (which is most of the time.) Pitt risks a depressing end to their season because they’re neglecting their only differentiator — a 7-footer who can score and pass.

The guards, besides Ramon (who seems to get it) don’t seem to understand that they got open shots earlier in the season because they started the offense through big Aaron and he threw it back out for open perimeter shots. Let’s go back to what worked and exploit the one strength we have.

Comment by tiger paul 02.27.07 @ 1:54 pm

Graves and Fields are not that slow. Ramon has been a human turnover the past few weeks. This team is much worse with Fields on the bench. He is the key to a deep run in March.

Comment by Omar 02.27.07 @ 2:01 pm

This team is playing cold exactly at the time of the year when you want to be hot. They seem to lack energy and hustle once they get ahead. And of course the shooting has just been downright aweful. All of the passing seems to be killing us toward the end of games as we seem to be throwing a lot of balla away instead of just taking the shot when its there.

Comment by Rex 02.27.07 @ 2:05 pm

lets get some predictions.

62-59 Pitt.

Comment by HankPoteat 02.27.07 @ 2:09 pm

Will we be “demoralized?” Or will the guys be pissed that they played a tight game on a tough court and came away with nothing? I suspect that latter. Dixon is a good coach and is getting better. Good coaches take tough road losses and use them as emotional fuel. I say that they’ll be leaning more towards “anger” tonight.

That’s my “gut” feeling, anyway.

Comment by Shawn 02.27.07 @ 2:53 pm

Pitt wins 65-53. Gray gets the ball in his hands a lot and has 17 points.

tiger paul is absolutely right. Gray is often open down low and they do not get him the ball. They seem to be particularly hesitant to lob it over when the defense is trying to front him.

Yes, an angry Gray would be a welcome sight.

Comment by Carmen 02.27.07 @ 3:32 pm

72-54 Pitt

Comment by scoocher 02.27.07 @ 3:55 pm

61-60 Pitt, a last minute three by Ramon wins it

Comment by Rex 02.27.07 @ 4:03 pm

77-60 Pitt.

Comment by Omar 02.27.07 @ 4:54 pm

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