March 8, 2007

Hello all. Big thanks for everything Dennis has been doing here the last couple of days. It’s been a little chaotic. I actually had a post this morning that got swallowed by the ether. I was too frustrated to recreate it, but might try again later next week.

Any how. Not sure when this game will start with the WVU-L-ville game going like this.

9:19: Double OT for WVU-L’ville.

10:09: Well, Pitt is definitely playing with a lot of energy. Right now, they are clearly controlling the pace and forcing Marquette to play a slow. Good things so far.

10:17: Pitt up 17-16. I’m not exactly the picture of calm right now. This is going to stay tight. It just feels that way.

10:23: Pitt now down 20-18. Ugh. Ramon just panics when he sees a press.

10:26: Some good news. Lazar Hayward committed his 3d foul, and Dominic James has 2 fouls with 9:05 in the half.

10:33: Not the worst strategy, just foul Gray and make him shoot FTs.

10:41: Idle thought, does Fields think that he has to show he’s as good as Dominic James or something at times. It’s probably just the fact that he’s nailing 3s against Pitt, but there’s something about Dan Fitzgerald’s narrow face that annoys the hell out of me.

10:50: Pitt leads 40-37 at the half. The first time this year, Pitt has led against Marquette at the half.

10:53: Kendall is having a fine game. 6 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, 0 turnovers and 4 assists.

Young is looking pretty good on offense with 9 points. His defense, though, urgh. He is just impatient and hates to wait and guard, so he keeps leaving and drifting from his guy.

Gray is playing solid. Just wish he could hit a free throw — granted he’s no Terrence Roberts of Syracuse.

Not getting much from the guard play, but on the bright side only 5 turnovers. That’s an improvement.

11:16: Dan Shulman, “Aaron Gray is single-handily getting Marquette into foul trouble here.” Yep.

By the way, they took one of the fouls away from James, so he only has 1 foul (I don’t know).

11:29: Pitt still leading. They keep talking about how Marquette isn’t getting to the line like they usually do. The difference is Fitzgerald rather than McNeal. It’s one less perimeter threat to penetrate. And it seems they are settling for more jump shots in general. It’s also — obviously — the presence of Gray inside to change shots and force more pull-ups.

11:37: 69-57. It’s not over. Marquette’s got one more run at Pitt in them. Pitt just has to stay patient on both ends. Let the Golden Eagles get frustrated.

11:49: Pitt up by 12, still with under 4. Great night for penetration and going inside. Not just Gray, but Cook and Young are having great nights. Just attacking.

11:55: Okay, I’m going to say Pitt has this. 83-69, 1:32 left.

15 straight FTs by Pitt.

I didn’t want to jinx it, but I felt confident Pitt would win, when marquette had the steal and Barro was ahead of everyone and missed the lay-up because he looked back. Like what Fields did in the loss at Marquette.

12:01: Did I speak too soon? They missed 3 straight FTs before Fields made his second.

Well, Gray got his 10th Rebound for a double-double.

Gray, Graves, Fields, Cook and Young all in double digit scoring.

12:06: Is it worth mentioning that the streak of the games being decided by 6 or less points appears to be about over? I think it is.


89-79 Final
Yeah, that felt good. I’ll say that win takes a lot of the sting out of losing twice in the season to knock Marquette out of the Big East Tournament. Heh.

12:27: Post-game on ESPNews Coach Dixon was pretty much stock answers.

Mark Jones was feeling Gray up, poking him and checking him for scraps and scratches on his body. Awkward!

A good game all around. It was nice to see some stupid sh*t fall for Pitt for a change. I think Dixon earned his keep last night – clearly the team had made some changes in practice and they adjusted pretty well during the course of the game. Fianlly a good effort against the press – it was mostly a non-factor last night. Two issues I see:

1) If we make free throws down the stretch, we win by 20 and laugh Marquette off the court. I think this team has to play hard for the ENTIRE game and look for shots – the FT shooting just isn’t going to be there to maintain a safe margin unless we’re up by 30.
2) Still pretty clear that we have trouble with athletic players – especially guards. We compensated for that very well last night, but I’d still like to see Pitt be more physical – supposedly depth should buy you that. When some punk gets to the basket (which happens a lot with this team) make him wish he hadn’t if you’re going to take the foul anyway. The paint used to be a scary place if you were playing Pitt. Its fun to make other teams cry 🙂

I liked what I saw last night. For the most part, no complaints about the coaching, and the kids finally came out with a purpose early. Tonight is the real test – a very athletic team (but possibly a little tired) and a great coach with Louisville.

Comment by thestumper 03.09.07 @ 9:03 am

Well, golly gee and aw-darn shucks, I’ll give Dixon his props. He finally got the team to get the ball inside and realize the paint is their friend.

If I read the box scores correctly, they were 6-11 from behind the arc, compared to 4-16 in the first Marquette game and 8-23 in the second. If this team stays under 15 3-point attempts a game, that’s a very good thing. Means they are getting inside and making teams work harder on defense, drawing fouls, etc.

Nice to see Fields take a man off of the dribble and pull up (and hit) the 10-12 footer. He does that a little more consistently and they’ll have to respect that shot, meaning he’ll eventually be able to get to the hoop more often and either get the layup or draw defenders and dish to a big man (a truly novel concept on this team).

The best all-around performance I think I’ve seen this season. Let’s do it again tonight, fellas.

Comment by Carmen 03.09.07 @ 9:18 am

I was at the Garden, just some thoughts:

1. There were ZERO Marquette fans there, outside of the pep band. I think I saw one Wade jersey. There were Pitt chants throughout and quite loud despite a huge portion of non Pitt fans leaving after the first game.

2. As much as I’ve been on the fence about Cook, he adds so much to the O when he’s playing well and not traveling. His D stinks, but when he penetrates with cross-overs and hits mid-range Js he makes Pitt’s O a force.

3. Sam Young looks great, I didn’t see any remnants of his injury.

4. The coaching staff did a hell of a job in preparation. They switched from man to zone with ease and really shut down Marquette after the first 10 minutes when I think they had 22 points.

5. Louisville fans were rooting hard for Marquette, and were talking a lot of trash on Gray and Fields. We’ll see.

Comment by Matt T. 03.09.07 @ 9:37 am

Waking up is so much better after a Pitt win.

Let’s keep the train a-rollin tonight.

Comment by Aaron 03.09.07 @ 9:55 am

It was good, strong, cohesive, consistent effort and many of you said things that I was going to comment about

“Keep getting to the hoop. Good things will happen. Nice defensive intensity. Other than a little span late in the first half, the intensity has been there tonight. Great to see.”

Driving and cutting to the iron is what they should be doing on a consistent basis. This is the one thing from last night’s game that stood out. Think about it, by doing this, the team puts pressure on the D. Not only do they have worry about Gray and the outside shooting, the opposing D has worry about cutters to the hole. It is beneficial for a team not be 2 dimensional offensively because it is easy to defend. That was the best going to the hole I have seen all year.

“Best game of the season….without a doubt..the best 40 minutes all season for the whole team”

No argument here, their heads were truly in the game.

“Great job on not settling for jump shots, and kept the pressure on by driving to the hole.”

The key is putting pressure on the D. Also snatching the rebound or TO and running the floor and going to the iron, as they did last night, just adds to the pressure.

“Finally! Nice game plan to keep pounding it in to Gray, good shooting, made the foul shots, played smart and actually looked like they played with some passion fighting for rebounds and loose balls. Gray was a monster in the second half on the offensive glass battling for the ball.”

Played smart and with passion, indeed.

“I liked what I saw last night. For the most part, no complaints about the coaching, and the kids finally came out with a purpose early.”

No lackadaisical, tentativeness, unfocused play to start the game ….he** they did it all game.

What they did last night is what they have to do to succeed. They have to do it every game from now on. Yes, they have physical limitations as I have posted many times about, BUT they can be, for the most part, compensated for with effort, smarts, and discipline. Last night was an example of what many of us were led to believe this team could do. If they continue to play like they did last night, they can win this tourney and
break through the 16 door. This team has to play like that to beat more gifted, athletic teams. Hopefully the light has gone on!

Comment by Kenny 03.09.07 @ 9:57 am

[…] As I said last night/early morning, my sense that it would be a win for Pitt solidified when Barro missed the breakaway lay-in, the media horde, however, seems to have focused on Fields’ bankshot 3-pointer. […]

Dixon earned his paycheck today.We defensively won the game with switching off when they were driving to the hoop and then rebounded like there was no tomarrow.Also offensively we pounded it down inside consistantly then kicked it out when needed for the open jay or even better driving it down there throat.Also the running game.It kept them off balance,we did not pull up on the fast break and mostly took it to them(to the hoop). This was a basketball clinic on how to play the game.It was about time

Comment by Buzz 03.09.07 @ 11:46 am

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