March 17, 2007


Filed under: Basketball,NCAA Tourney,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 10:59 pm

The storyline everyone wants. From sportswriters, to the fans. Pitt-UCLA.

The Bruins had a 13 point lead with a little more than 5 minutes left, but nearly blew it. From 46-33 to 49-49 under a minute left. Still UCLA was able to get a score and force Indiana to make the big turnovers on inbound plays. UCLA won 54-49

Hmm. The Bruins had a big lead and almost blew it. Why does that sound familiar?

Comment by Chris 03.17.07 @ 11:12 pm

I like the matchup honestly.

We’re VERY familiar with Howland’s style, I think it works to our benefit.

Dixon knows all that Howland taught him, and has added a little bit of his own stuff too since then.

I seriously think that this will work well for us.

Comment by Jimbo Covert's my dad 03.17.07 @ 11:29 pm

Are all the games staggered from here on out? Is it guaranteed to be on TV? Or will they be showing re-runs of Heidi?

Comment by Dave in Orlando 03.17.07 @ 11:33 pm

Did you know that Howland used to coach at Pitt and that he and Dixon are good friends? If not, I’m sure that CBS, ESPN and every other sports section/program will be telling us all about it over the next week!

Comment by Sean 03.17.07 @ 11:42 pm

Please help! I accidently erased the Pitt-VCU game on my DVR. Can someone please post or send the video? Arrrgh.

Comment by Davy D 03.18.07 @ 12:10 am

Hey Sean!

(CBS Script) Did you know that Kendall is also a very good piano player? Kendall has been a great player on the Canadian National team this past summer. Not only that but he was found by Jamie Dixon while Dixon was recruiting another player?

Please tell them to get some NEW material on Kendall

I guess if you know nothing about the Pitt team you find this info insightful. I however find that these guys really know very little about either team other then what is written down right in front of them. I will be turning off the sound on Thursday and listening to the radio while watching the game. I hope they have a different script.

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 03.18.07 @ 12:17 am

It’s UCLA…

Trackback by University Update 03.18.07 @ 12:17 am

Hail to PITT! Bring on UCLA!

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 03.18.07 @ 12:18 am

Here is the deal… I truly believe that this game is in the hands of gray…
If pitt makes there game plan get the ball to gray and let him do his thing they will put up the points.. Two teams that mirror each other. UCLA has the better guard play, and really they, like every other team that plays pitt, will have to focus on what to do with Gray. If we can play good D and rely on ramon and fields to knock down the tre every once in a while we are in. Gray just has to touch the ball. WHy not let him touch it every time down. he collapes the d, and he has shown he will score or kick it out for an open look.
I just pray that we can beat old benny.. I love him for turning the team around, but it would be so sweet to send him home to California AGAIN!

Hail to Pitt…
This is the biggest game i can remember in all of pitt bball history!

Comment by Adam 03.18.07 @ 12:28 am

Congrats on the OT win Pitt fans. I’ve come over from the BruinsNation(.com) to wish you and your team well in this weeks upcoming game. Since our teams bear no animosity toward eachother I’d like to dedicate this weeks game to the memory of Coach Dixon’s sister Maggie. She and Coach Howland were longtime friends and her sudden death last season was a tragedy.

Comment by alcor805 03.18.07 @ 1:53 am

Hey alcor805..thanks but I hope we step on your throat and beat you by 30.

Comment by scoocher 03.18.07 @ 2:21 am

No animosity? Howland left here because he thought we could “do no better” and had maxed out. (that’s a quote from dixon – his best friend) He didn’t believe, he just used this as a stepping stone to display his abilities, he didn’t have any intention of being here for a long time, or really care about the University. Fuck him. Fuck you. I’m with scoocher. If I were you i’d pray our players have no animosity. It’d be better for you if they came out flat. I’m hoping they’re mad as hell. Please don’t trivialize Maggie’s death either. That’s pathetic.

Comment by Stuart 03.18.07 @ 3:15 am

This is what they have to say about us on BruinsNation:

“Pitt is tremendously awful, it’s like they’re a parody of a Big Ten school, complete with a godawful “star” player in Aaron Gre/ay, who might lose to Yao Ming in a footrace.

Congrats on advancing to the Elite 8.

BenBall minus athleticism= Pitt


Comment by Stuart 03.18.07 @ 3:36 am

Ha….I know some of the readers here are classier than you Stuart but good luck to your team.

Scoocher, I won’t be on the court but I’m sure I couldn’t beat your team all by myself.

Comment by alcor805 03.18.07 @ 4:34 am

— To say there’s no “ill will” isn’t true. I’m not crazy about the way Howland left… flying to interviews during the week of the Marquette game.

— If we lost the VCU game that would/should have been the end of Dixon. We were so much more talented than that team it’s insane. I don’t know where people get the idea that Pitt isn’t talented because this team is stacked. They had 2 players that could crack our rotation and we were so much bigger, stronger, and more skilled than them is was insane.

–Adam is 100% right about getting the ball to Gray. Is Gray that out of shape he can only play 28 minutes? He crushed them when he was in the game is by far our biggest advantage over anyonve and everyone. He’s going to need to play 35 min against UCLA for us to win.

— alcor805: Why are you “dedicating the game” to anyone? I appreciate your wishing of good will, but that’s just silly if you have nothing to do with the game.

Comment by J-Maile 03.18.07 @ 7:53 am

By the end of Sunday there may be only two teams that have been to the Sweet Sixteen more times than Pitt in the past 6 years…Duke and possibly Texas. Yeah, I know its the games after the Sweet Sixteen that matter. However, if you were a weekend golfer and you consistently shot in the low 80s, you would win an awful lot of money against folks who every blue moon shoot in the 70s.

Don’t get me wrong, I want this team to go further, but their succsess is a great story as currently written.

Comment by panther84 03.18.07 @ 8:20 am

If you read the papers you will see that Gray was sick yesterday cutting down on his minutes. He has played less since his ankle injury as well. I don’t think Gray is capable of dominating against elite teams and UCLA is an elite team. It’s not a knock on him, he’s just not that good of a player. He’s 7 foot but he also weighs 300+ lbs and is too slow to dominate. I think he’ll have a decent game but people expect to much from a player who just isn’t a great athelete.

As for Howland, I have no animosity at all. He left for his dream job. After he turned the Pitt basketball program around. Dixon has done just as well as Howland did, who cares that Howland left. Howland’s level of success at UCLA is because he’s getting better players, and that’s because it is UCLA not because of Howland.

Finally, who cares what they say about Pitt on a fan blog?

Comment by Kevin Yoder 03.18.07 @ 8:43 am

Howland is an ass. He cost Pitt that Marquette game. I really think we can beat UCLA. We are better than them. Graves can shut Afllalo down just like he did Maynor (Graves’ fourth foul was the reason VCU got back in the game). We have a difference maker in Gray. We just need to knock down our threes. I think we can do it.

Comment by Omar 03.18.07 @ 9:17 am

Stuart, Interesting. I wasn’r aware of that quote from Dixon. When did he say that? What was the context?

Comment by TMGPanther 03.18.07 @ 9:27 am

Dixon said it in a post-gazette article earlier in the season. The article basically discussed Pitt’s success over the years, first under Howland and then under Dixon.

Comment by Omar 03.18.07 @ 9:35 am

I looked for the article and it streuck me when 90 articles written in 2006 contained some mention of Howland. You would think he took us to the final four the way he is mentioned all the time. Hopefully, a beating in San Jose will allow Dixon to escape his shadow a little bit.

Comment by TMGPanther 03.18.07 @ 10:17 am

kevin?? are you serious… Have you ever played bball? just having gray in a game is huge. Teams have to focus on him and work much harder. A player with his size wears a team down mentally and physically. Gray struggles defensively against guys that can pull him out and make him defend. I dont see Mata giving gray alot to worry about. The question is will we look for him and will he get into foul trouble. Afflalo is a good player that will have a couple inches on graves so it should be interesting. Kendall needs to step up defensively too, because if im Ben howland ive seen his poor post defense. As soon as gray goes out or gets extended they should be dumping it in to Mbah a Moute. It will be really interesting to see what happens.
Both teams have looked pretty crappy lately. I thiink Pitt is the better team, but that UCLA is better coached (as much as i hate to say it)

But kevin… dont knock Gray. Yeah, he can be frustrating to watch some days… but we would not be in the sweet 16 without him…

Comment by Adam 03.18.07 @ 10:21 am

Howland on the Pitt match up and his ties to Pitt.

link to

Comment by TMGPanther 03.18.07 @ 10:23 am

I’m a little surprised at this observation. “Despite Pittsburgh’s proximity to Buffalo — just 216 miles, according to Google Maps — the Panthers had a surprisingly small contingent of fans at HSBC Arena. A larger showing might have helped them when the other 90 percent of the crowd turned in VCU’s favor during the comeback.”
From TV it sounded like a large contingent of Pitt fans were present. I suspect a number of fans, like myself, passed up Buffalo in favor of a possible trip to San Jose or Atlanta. for those of you that were in Buffalo, what was the Pitt support like?

Comment by TMGPanther 03.18.07 @ 10:30 am

Has onyone see the date/time of the Pitt/UCLA game? I’m trying to figure out if I need to get out of work. Any help is appreciated.

Comment by Desmondo 03.18.07 @ 10:49 am

It will be on Thursday at 7 or 9.

Comment by Omar 03.18.07 @ 10:55 am

Omar, I hope you are right, but I just found on espn it says 3pm on Thursday.
link to

Comment by Desmondo 03.18.07 @ 10:58 am

They hinted on the radio after the game that Gray was sick — in the paper I saw that he had 1 hour of sleep and couldn’t keep anything down. And Cook bruised his kneecap at the end of the 1st half. Kudos to both for their efforts in overtime – and I agree with Omar that Graves’ 4th foul was the difference – combined with Gray and Cook’s ailments in the 2nd half. It could have been a recipe for disaster, but we’re moving on.

Gray can dominate UCLA IF – and that’s a big, bold IF – we can get him the ball.

Comment by Kevin 03.18.07 @ 11:02 am

I can’t believe that maggot bruin came on this site “wishing us well” and “dedicated the game to Maggie Dixon.”

Chas-put the moderation up and block this loser like Sam Young.

Comment by scoocher 03.18.07 @ 11:02 am

Desmondo and Dave,
the games will not be staggered, 4 games Thursday and 4 Friday. First games start between 7 and 7:30 pm EST. In the past the west coast games started around 4:30pm PST. I doubt the 3pm time you saw is correct, even if it was meant to be PST, making it a 6pm EST time start.

We should know later today as CBS will post the exact times on its site.

Comment by TMGPanther 03.18.07 @ 11:43 am

Another ESPN source (different than the link provided by Desmondo) claiming the game will be at 3 p.m. Doesn’t say Eastern or Pacific.

link to

Comment by Dave in Orlando 03.18.07 @ 12:16 pm

Unless you’re saving your coverage for the offseason, Chas, now’s as good a time as any for a “Spirit” post. Incidentally, FOX Sports has put together a gallery to celebrated the phenom, but the network’s taken the subject a little too literal. (See tOSU “Spirit” queen in pic 39-of-47 at: link to

Aside from the general absence of our ladie Panthers — have our cheerleaders improved any, I wonder? — at least one Syracuse coed caught my eye in the meager sample showcasing the BEast.

Comment by Neil 03.18.07 @ 12:34 pm

I’m not knocking Gray. I doubt Pitt wins 20 games this year without Gray. I just think people expect too much from a guy who’s slow and a bit awkward with the ball under the basket. He’s light years better than when he came to Pitt and no doubt can get even better. But if Pitt plays a team with some bigger players who are quicker Gray will have problems. I think that has been pretty well documented. Kendall is the guy who is pretty much an underachiever. He’s played well but I think he was easily capable of averaging 10-14 pts a game. He’s capable of more on offense, but I’ve given up on him providing more.

I’m no expert but I would say UCLA has the better players and Pitt is better coached, opposite of what you think. UCLA is definitely capable of playing a crappy game. Let’s hope Pitt continues to shoot well and they’ve got a chance.

Comment by Kevin Yoder 03.18.07 @ 12:35 pm

3pm EST seems like an odd start time to me. I guess we’ll find out soon enough when the CBS sites lists the times.

Comment by tmgpanther 03.18.07 @ 1:03 pm

According to the Pitt site the game starts at 9:55pm EST. Go figure

link to

Comment by tmgpanther 03.18.07 @ 1:12 pm

UCLA has two players that are better than Pitt’s. Collison and Aflallo, the rest of our team is as good or better. We can and should beat UCLA. Whether we will is another question. Hopefully we learned from the stinkfest against Georgetown.

Comment by Omar 03.18.07 @ 2:28 pm

TMGPanther –

I heard dixon say it out of his own mouth in a post-game interview within the last 2-3 weeks on 94.5. He said Howland didn’t think we could do any better and Dixon said he thought Howland was wrong, and that we could do better, and that’s why he stayed here. The context was a question about not taking a head coaching job he was offered somewhere else back when he was an assistant here, when he was getting advice to take any head coaching position ever offered, no matter where. Instead he stuck it out. I believe he’s in for the long run – and I would love nothing more than in 15-20 years to have had several final fours, a national championship or two, and rename the court Dixon court. I like to see people committed to this university, not use it as a stepping stone.

I’m sure he’s also been quoted in print saying the same thing. If i can find a transcript of the interview (not likely) i’ll post it.

Comment by Stuart 03.18.07 @ 4:14 pm

9.55 PM EST is 12.55 AM (after midnight) in California….ESPN has it listed at 3pm, and i’ve yet to see ESPN have it wrong. That’s noon Cali time. Makes more sense.

Comment by Stuart 03.18.07 @ 4:18 pm

no, stuart, no. Pacific time is 6:55 PM IF 9:55 PM EST

Comment by Neil 03.18.07 @ 4:44 pm

“I’m no expert but I would say UCLA has the better players and Pitt is better coached, opposite of what you think.”

You are correct that you are no expert. I would suggest becoming familiar with UCLA’s roster. Pitt has better talent than these guys. I’d be surprised if we win though.

I get really agitated when people start bagging on Gray just because he doesn’t look cool. It’s such a stupid way of viewing the game. Gray is one of the 10 best players in all of college basketball and should destroy UCLA if we get him the ball. Of course, that’s a big “if”.

I am very worried, however, about Howland eating Dixon alive by exposing all of the problems anyone who has watched Pitt play more than 3 times can cleary see. I can promise you he will not let Gray sit under the hoop on offense and is going to pressure the shit out of our gaurds.

Comment by J-Maile 03.18.07 @ 5:23 pm

It’s intersting since Howland always says he left for his “dream job”, which i guess can still be correct. But I was not aware that he believed he had reached a ceiling at Pitt. I hope we kick his a** so that we can raise that ceiling!

Comment by TMGPanther 03.18.07 @ 5:32 pm

I just came back to fix my post when i realied what i did with the time thing above….thanks for fixing that Neil. And everyone but now has the game listed at 9.55PM EST…

I, too, hope we can hand them their asses. The line on the game is ucla -2 or -2.5…seems people think it’ll be a pretty close game. I haven’t seen anybody trap our picks the way UCLA does, I wonder if we’re going to work on that this week (I hope so). And I’m glad UCLA doesn’t normally employ a full-court press, although we should be ready for it at any random time (see: Indiana’s collapse at end).

Comment by Stuart 03.18.07 @ 7:43 pm

UCLA fan here, but I’m not here to bash Gray or Dixon or anyone. Looking at Thursday’s game. I honestly cannot see UCLA winning the way they’ve played lately. Collison needs to do a better job taking care of the ball and Afflalo needs to show more variety in his game then just running off screens to the 3 point line. Graves will shut Afflalo down if he doesn’t look to get into the lane more often than he has lately. Offensively, Gray will present a lot of probelms for UCLA because he passes so well. His passing ability will make it tough for us to double on him and we don’t have a big enough man to guard him 1 on 1. I really think this game is in the hands of Howland though. Pitt is a good offensive team that will get their points and will play good defense. UCLA will defend well, but their offense will be the issue. Howland keeps running the same offensive sets that gives the offense little variety and if he doesn’t throw a few wrinkles in for Thursday, UCLA will not score and will lose. If he does, then UCLA will be able to both score and get to basket where hopefully, Gray gets into foul trouble. However, Howland has shown a tendency to be stubborn so whether UCLA changes up his offense is still up in the air. If I weren’t a UCLA fan I’d probably be betting on Pitt this Thursday.

Regarding Howland leaving, why are the Pitt fans so upset about it? Was it that he felt Pitt has reached it’s ceiling or the way he left or simplt that he left a program he had built? From an outsider’s view I don’t see much wrong with it as he did wonders for the Pitt program and that is something Pitt fans should be grateful for. Then, he left for the job he coveted since the day he got into coaching, which also happens to be one of the marquee jobs in all the nation. The way I see it, Howland took the Pitt program from nothing more than an after thought, to a national power and helped get a new arena built in the process. Sounds like he did plenty for your program and you should be happy for him coming home to his dream job. Then again, that is an outsider’s view who doesn’t know a lot on the situation so I may be way off here and have my facts wrong so feel free to correct me.

Comment by Ryebreadraz 03.19.07 @ 1:26 pm

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