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December 28, 2007

It’s been a while since a team with as high a national ranking as Pitt’s has traveled to Dayton.

UD hasn’t had a visit from a team ranked sixth or higher since a memorable 72-71 victory over No. 3 DePaul on Feb. 18, 1984.

“It’s a terrific opportunity for us,” UD Athletic Director Ted Kissell said. “With nonconference scheduling being what it is, you’re just not going to get many of these (games) anymore. I think it’s going to be a very, very special environment.”

Dayton has fans. They did rank 26th nationally in attendance last year, but this will be their first full house of the season (the Xavier game in February is also sold out).

For Dayton to have a chance against Pitt, their talented freshman forward, Chris Wright will probably need to have a good game. At the very least, they will need him to play. He’s been hobbled by an ankle sprain that he didn’t tell the coaching staff about, and has lingered. At this point, he hasn’t played or practiced in over a week and will be a game time decision. I’d assume he will play and be effective, but that will keep Dayton fans a bit nervous.

Pitt, of course, has it’s own issues with injuries. Mike Cook will be replaced in the starting line-up by Gilbert Brown.

“I have to be more aggressive and be ready from the start instead of just playing fill-in minutes and giving energy to the team. I have to be more consistent with what I do.”

Brown is one of three players who will see increased playing time due to Cook’s injury. Senior Keith Benjamin, the backup shooting guard, will play more minutes at small forward. And freshman Bradley Wanamaker, who has not played since the Duquesne game Dec. 4, will see more minutes at small forward and shooting guard.

“We lose about 25 minutes a game, so there are 25 minutes available for other guys now,” Dixon said. “Obviously, Keith, Gilbert and Bradley will get those minutes. We interchange those guys a lot. We put a lot of different packages out there. We have a lot of flexibility. I know those guys are looking forward to the opportunity.”

It’s something of a minor upset that Brown gets the starting nod over Senior Guard Keith Benjamin. Dixon’s loyalty to starting seniors has been very noticeable in the past (John DeGroat being the most glaring example). Still, it’s hard to ignore Brown’s higher potential and size. Not to mention sticking with a forward rather than starting a three guard line-up.

Bradley Wanamaker is also likely to return to the rotation and Benjamin is saying the right things.

The injury also lands Benjamin with his biggest role since arriving at Pitt four years ago. Benjamin hasn’t played more than 21 minutes in any game since his sophomore season. Cook’s injury leaves Benjamin and Ramon as the only seniors who play.

“My voice has to be heard a little bit more now,” Benjamin said. “I have to do more things better.”

Wanamaker, who hasn’t played since the Dec. 5 Duquesne game, will switch to shooting guard, where he can show some of the skills that made him a standout Philly high school player, and some small forward.

“It’s not going to be too much of an adjustment for him,” Dixon said.

Shame Darnell Dodson couldn’t qualify academically. He definitely would have gotten some of the freed-up minutes.

Interesting note from Fittipaldo’s Q&A today about Dixon and former AD Jeff Long.

… Let me say this: Dixon is very comfortable now that Steve Pederson is the athletic director again. Pederson and Dixon have a very good relationship. Dixon’s relationship with Jeff Long was strained to the point that they almost never spoke. When Dixon was entertaining offers from Arizona State and Missouri a few years ago, he phoned Pederson, who was the athletic director at Nebraska at the time, for advice. Pederson reminded Dixon that he was in a very good situation at Pitt, and Dixon opted to stay and a sign a long-term extension.

That doesn’t mean Pitt fans don’t have to worry about Dixon leaving now that Pederson is back. The more Pitt wins the more other programs looking for a coach will put the full-court press on for Dixon. It comes with the territory of having a perennial top 25 program.

Here are the Pitt Game Notes (PDF). Dayton hasn’t put theirs out at this time.





Pitt received a committment from a junior in Lancaster, PA named Lamar Patterson. Patterson is a 6’5″ player being recruited to play the 2. He is currently listed as a 3* recruit and held offers from Virginia, Minnesota, Penn State and Marquette.

Comment by Omar 12.28.07 @ 10:16 am

The Scout page for him shows Marquette interest but no offer–but, it could be old info, and thus wrong, of course. Whatever the case, he looks like a typical Pitt recruit. A 3* now but it wouldn’t surprise if next November when a LOI is sent in for the class of 2009 that he could be a 4*.

Comment by pitt1972 12.28.07 @ 10:24 am

at least we beat out that recruiting machine, Ed DeChellis from state penn!

Comment by Kurt 12.28.07 @ 10:44 am

I like the ideas of Brown and Wannamaker getting more minutes (especially seeing what they can do during the Lafayette game, which might give them a better chance to get comfortable than the Dayton game). Other thoughts: what about trying to play Levance and Wannamaker at the same time (since one of Brad’s issues is that he probably doesn’t have the handle to be a big-college PG at this stage in his development)? I’d be interested to see if Ramon was more assertive when you took some of his minutes away. I’m also an advocate of playing Blair, Biggs and Young at the same time. I know Sam struggled to get involved at the 3 last year, but I guess I’m always going to be seduced by his athleticism into thinking that he’s the perfect 3 at the college level. He can score from just about anywhere, can drive, etc. Plus putting another big down with Blair seems like it would clog the lane even further. On the other hand, Blair has held his own down there without the help, so maybe I’m off-base here.

Comment by Maz 12.28.07 @ 11:09 am

For some reason I’m not worried about Brown at all. He has played in every game this year and his defense is very solid. He doesn’t have the confidence in his dribble right now, but I think he will get more comfortable with increased playing time. Plus he is an outstanding finisher and will be an asset on the fast break.

Comment by Omar 12.28.07 @ 11:23 am

Lamar Patterson is also the younger brother to former syracuse QB Perry Patterson. Rivals.com doesn’t list him as a Pitt commit at this point so I’m not sure how strong his verbal is.

I think he would be a very good player for Pitt. A good chance he will get a lot more interest after a good summer.

link to pittsburgh.rivals.com

Team Kobe Bryant has a couple of prospects worth noting. Dalton Pepper, a powerfully built 6-foot-4 wing from Pennsbury High School in Philly, is a fundamentally sound player. He’s not a flashy player but makes sense for structured programs. It makes sense Michigan was on hand to see him play.

Pepper said he has offers from Miami, West Virginia (who was also on hand to see him play), Villanova and Virginia. The Wolverines are obviously involved, too. So is Florida and Pitt, Pepper said.

After a good showing at the Rbk U camp, Lamar Patterson of Lancaster-McCaskey High School said he’s heard from Minnesota, Michigan, Rutgers, Pitt, Syracuse, Miami and Temple.

Comment by Chas 12.28.07 @ 11:38 am

Scout and Dokish reported the commitment.

Comment by Omar 12.28.07 @ 11:50 am

Omar, I presume you are correcta and Rivals is just late.

Comment by pitt1972 12.28.07 @ 11:57 am

PSR link–discusses other Pitt recruits of interest.

link to pghsports.com

Comment by pitt1972 12.28.07 @ 12:07 pm

I am going to the Pitt-Dayton game tomorrow, this is going to be a tough game for Pitt to win.

The Dayton players and crowd will be very wound up, if Pitt plays a good game they will win but Dayton can pull the upset if the Panthers give a poor effort.

Comment by dr jimmy 12.28.07 @ 1:49 pm

Agree with Omar. Not worried about Brown, and looking forward to getting Benjamin some more minutes. When he’s been in this year, he’s been good going to the hoop and getting out on the break. D will never be his strong suit, but have liked what I’ve seen from him this year. Also will like to see Wannamaker get some more minutes, ’cause Ramon needs to either start contributing or just step aside. I have always been a Ramon fan, but his inability to knock down open 3s and poor passing/ball handling will not cut it once BE play begins.

Comment by Carmen 12.28.07 @ 3:14 pm

Comment by Emmy 12.28.07 @ 4:56 pm

In case anyone’s interested, St. Anthony’s (featuring Pitt Recruit Travis Woodall) is playing on Versus right now. It’s halftime and St. A’s is killing La Cueva. Woodall has a great handle and really knows how to run an offense. He can stroke it, too. He’s going to be the next great Pitt point guard.

Comment by Crackbaldo 12.28.07 @ 7:01 pm

The best is that some freakin’ morons said that losing Cook would be good. Picksburgh fans some of the freakin’ dumbest in the land………
Go Stillers lol

Comment by kp 12.29.07 @ 3:29 am

I must be a moron, too, because I think losing Cook will make Pitt a better team this year and beyond. He is not irreplaceable and the truth is, the players beyond him have a lot more natural talent. The days of hardnosed football players playing on our wings is over. Time to get some athletes out there so that we can get further in the tournament. Gilbert Brown will help do that.

Comment by Mark 12.29.07 @ 3:48 am

I think both of you (kp and mark) may be right to a degree. IMO, losing Mike Cook is going to hurt for a while (due to losing his experience and hurting the level of experienced depth on the team) but by season’s end the higher potential of Gil Brown (he was being groomed to replace Cook in 2009, afterall) along with the natural development of Brad Wanamaker, could make the team as good or even better than it was at the beginning of the season before Cook got hurt. In other words–a near term negative but long term positive is very likely, IMO, what will be the result.

Comment by pitt1972 12.29.07 @ 9:02 am

short term – hurts
But, long term – good…very good

wishing Mike a successful recovery

Comment by TexasPanther 12.29.07 @ 10:24 am

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