March 10, 2007

Sorry, didn’t mean to take this long to come back. So I’ll hit this quickly.
Kind of a strange comparison. There was this brief article that criticized Dixon for pulling Gray when he had two fouls early in the first half.

But more importantly, Gray’s elongated absence allowed Louisville to take control of the game. Soon after Gray went out, Dixon put now-center Levon Kendall on the bench for an early rest. At the time, Pitt had a 13-7 lead. When Kendall returned, Louisville center David Padgett had scored six points and Louisville had a cut the Pitt lead to one and was in the midst of a 12-1 run.

Pitt was also outrebounded 25-12 in the first half, and Louisville had 10 offensive rebounds.

Gray needed to play more in that first half, particular after Padgett and Derek Caracter picked up their second fouls. The Panthers wouldn’t have needed that 20-2 run to start the second half just to get back into the game.

Then there was this NY Post article lauding Dixon’s gamble on leaving Gray in the game in the second half when he picked up his 3d foul.

Diamond Jaime Dixon played the role of the gambling man. He rolled the dice. He put all of his chips in the middle of the table and doubled down.

He wasn’t removing his star center, Aaron Gray, who had just picked up a third foul early in the second half.

“I think most people generally go with the two-foul rule, but I’ve gotten away from [that],” said Dixon. “Everywhere I’ve been it was kind of that thinking, even with Ben. You know it’s the experience of the player. It’s the situation. Its just a feel.”

Diamond Jaime has the feel.

Just two minutes into the second half, Gray, who played just four minutes in the first, was whistled for a third foul. The Pittsburgh players turned to the bench, but Dixon just signaled the next play like a poker player saying, “Check.”

There’s a reason why coaches and players don’t like to listen to what pundits and writers are saying.

The NY Times credits all the “supporting” players on Pitt for the win.

This just in, Gray didn’t play well. But Kendall expects him to do quite well tonight.

‘He’s always been strong,” said Kendall, who had nine points and five rebounds. ”He often has his best games after a tough one. He’s mentally strong. He understand that if the bounces didn’t go his way, he didn’t get some calls, that that’s just how the game went. He’ll be ready to go, and it will be a good matchup between him and Hibbert.”

I’m sure his dad will have plenty of notes for him after last night’s game.

Although it should be noted that Mike has always felt that his son could be more aggressive. And that the Pitt coaches don’t disagree.

”They kind of yelled at me, because I’ve been a little too passive the last few games, especially in our losses,” Aaron said after the Marquette game.

Call it a hunch, but after the 0 rebound result from last night, I don’t see Gray getting 15 rebounds against G-town and Hibbert to break the Big East Tournament record for rebounds.

Kendall gets lauded for his intangibles.

Meanwhile Graves gets lauded for his second-half performance.

And of course the P-G and Trib recaps.

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