March 13, 2007

As Gray Goes…

Filed under: Basketball,NCAA Tourney,Players — Chas @ 9:18 pm

Look, we all know Pitt won’t go far if Aaron Gray isn’t playing well. To paraphrase another Big East Coach from last year, “we wouldn’t have won 10 [expletive deleted] games without Aaron.” I think that has fueled some of the harshness on Gray. Plain anxiety.
So, the piling on Gray seems a bit excessive. I freely admit the timing of him laying an egg in the Big East Tournament Championship leaves a lot to be desired. Gray admits he had a very bad game against Georgetown.

Gray barely looked All-Emmaus in the Big East finals. It was not what he was seeking when he returned for his senior season after flirting with entering last year’s NBA draft.

“It was a bad night,” said Gray, who averages 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds. “I’m glad it happened in the Big East Tournament rather than the NCAA Tournament.”

Gray said he felt confident against Georgetown and wasn’t thrown off his game by the presence of 7-2 Hoya center Roy Hibbert.

“I didn’t take a shot, maybe one or two, that I didn’t think was going in,” Gray said. “Playing against big Roy, everyone was like, ‘Oh, were you a little timid going against him?’ My response is maybe I was a little too excited. My normal hook shots were going long. Shots are going off the back rim. Maybe I was moving a little big quicker.”

I do think he was too concerned with Hibbert getting a block, that he was taking too many hook shots and falling backwards, rather than trying to at or around Hibbert.

Still, you would think Gray has sucked for at least the last month the way he has been attacked by pundits and a lot of others. Joe Starkey wasn’t above overdoing it either.

What’s disturbing is the prolonged postseason shooting slump of senior center Aaron Gray. He made less than half of his shots in the first two games of the tournament and went 1 for 13 last night, including 0 for 9 in the first half. If he makes four of those, Pitt goes to the intermission down five instead of 13.

[Emphasis added.]

That’s cherry picking and massaging numbers to make the issue “prolonged.” Against Marquette, Gray was 7-16 and 10 rebounds (PDF). Yes, he was under 50%, but there was no one complaining that Gray was in a shooting slump for that game. He took a lot more shots than he usually takes — something everyone wanted. In the Louisville game, he was exactly 50% (2-4). So what Starkey was saying is that Gray shot 1 basket below 50% in the first game, but lumped the two games together. Lovely. Positively Smizik-esque.

Against Louisville, he couldn’t move without picking up a foul. Apparently that was all his fault.

All season, he has been at least equal to any big man he has faced straight-up (not one that steps out for 3s) until the BET Championship.

Agree completely. Gray was shooting almost 60% before the tournament–and now is still about 58% for year.
Seem to recall he has faced some big men in the past and has done well–held his own with Hibbert at Gtwn
with a bad ankle. One game does not a career make.
My main suggestion is that we quit posting him out on the wing on defense–all that does is give an open lane to the basket. Teams go in with the idea of getting him away from the basket–we should put him under the basket for rebounds.

As for the team itself-best predictor of success in the tournament is our assist/turnover ratio (best in country), effective offense (#10 adjusted for tempo), and recent ability to get to the foul line. the outside shooting is important–but we did not just luck our way to shooting over 40% from 3pt land for most of the year. We are streaky now-over 50% vs WVU, and 62% in the second half of
Louisville–need to set some screens for Graves and Ramon, and get them into the flow of the game early. If we continue to take good care of the ball, and get some decent shooting, no telling how far we can go.

Comment by tph60 03.13.07 @ 11:26 pm

Ramon needs to work on his conditioning. His three point percentage has faded noticably in the second half of the year during all three of his seasons. This is definitely because of tired legs. He is too good of a shooter to be missing open jump shots.

Comment by Omar 03.14.07 @ 9:54 am


“It’s too bad we didn’t keep track of exactly how many times Shawn Bradley got dunked on during his NBA career … because I think Pittsburgh’s Aaron Gray could end up shattering that record before everything’s said and done.”

Comment by Roman 03.14.07 @ 10:35 am

The sports guy fell off right when the NY Times did a piece on his columns.

Comment by Omar 03.14.07 @ 10:46 am

i stopped reading him after the patriots started winning super bowls, he got really whiney. although i have to say i agree with him on that one.

Comment by matt 03.14.07 @ 10:44 pm

Here is the real issue: Why did the officials emasculate Pitt in the L’ville game? Gray was then tentative against Hoyas because of it. Same thing in second Marquette game, especially on Pitt’s inital possessions, when M’s 2-3 converted to a 2-2-1 and collasped on Gray and committed uncalled fouls. Pitt might survive the officials in Buffalo, but not in CA. The seeding for the 16’s is as shameful as putting Pitt v. Marquette with Wade in an arena close to Milwaukee.

Comment by BronxPanther 03.15.07 @ 9:34 am

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