December 30, 2007

Damn, Damn, Damn, Damn

Filed under: Injury,Players — Chas @ 4:29 pm

Not good news on Levance Fields.

Pittsburgh guard Levance Fields suffered a broken left foot in Saturday’s loss to Dayton and will be out 8-12 weeks, which could end his regular season.

Pittsburgh spokesperson Greg Hotchkiss said Fields will have surgery Monday and will have a pin inserted in his left foot.

That drops the scholarship player number to 9.

Get well soon, Levance.

Brutal 2007 season for football and basketball injuries.

What a horrible turn of events. I can’t believe Fields is so badly hurt.

Comment by Omar 12.30.07 @ 4:38 pm

We all know Dokish has some great sources at Pitt and he is reporting that Fields should be back in about 6-8 weeks. I bet the people at Pitt are officially making it a little longer to be cautious. The bad news, though, is that he also said Ramon has an injured shoulder and may miss time, too. They aren’t sure how bad he is yet, though.

Comment by Mark 12.30.07 @ 4:44 pm

I think i’ve figured it out. These are the absolute must wins: at usf, at cinci, at st johns, rutgers, cinci, depaul.

Then we have to find a way to win at least two of these games: seton hall, wvu, providence, at ND, at SU.

Anything on top of that will be a miracle. If we could just get one good upset of at nova, nova, at uconn, at marquette, louisville, or at wvu, that may be the game that gets us in.

If we get by Lafayette, this could put us at 21 wins, with an 11-1 OOC, pretty good OOC and overal SOS.

Comment by Stuart 12.30.07 @ 5:02 pm

Now the half full part:

Think about next year – we’re going to have 4 starters that all have major starting time, and our backups will all have major minutes under their belts too. Our 3 best players will be back in fields, blair and young. Brown will have a season of starting already, Wannamaker is going to have logged major minutes, even Diggs will have time, maybe he’ll become serviceable, and Biggs is back too. We’re only losing Ramon’s inconsistent shooting and Benjamins backup minutes. Maybe one of the freshman can come in and actually make some spot up 3s. But for once we won’t have to rely on freshman minutes to do shit. So, much like football, next year is “the year.”

I just wish fields and cook could have gotten injured just a couple games earlier. Imagine getting them both back for an extra year…

Comment by Stuart 12.30.07 @ 5:15 pm

I don’t care about how good this team will be next year. I am concerned with how good they will be this year. This is when you figure out if the “depth” always associated with the program really exists.

Comment by Joey D 12.30.07 @ 5:39 pm

Stuart – It’s way too early to start thinking about next year. (It’s not even 2008 yet!)

I just hope that Brown and Wannamaker continue to improve with the increased playing time. If that happens, the 21-win prediction should be good.

Does Brandin Knight have any eligibility remaining? 🙂

Comment by Sean 12.30.07 @ 5:39 pm

Also, how could Ramon possibly be injured? What does he do to injure himself? I have always been a fan of his but this is getting ridiculous. Since he came to campus 4 years ago he has had about 30 injuries. Yes, I know athletes get hurt but Ramon has gotten hurt at a higher rate than anyone.

Comment by Joey D 12.30.07 @ 5:41 pm

Uhm…the sky is falling. If you don’t think they’re utterly and completely screwed, you’re an incredible optimist or a moron.

With their current line-up this team could easily struggle to get 7-8 more wins. They’re a mediocre to poor (or very poor) team without Fields and Cook (and with Ramon playing so poorly and potentially injured).

Basically…this is worst case scenario time. As Owen Wilson says in ‘Armegeddon’, “Worst environment imaginable. That’s all you had to say: Worst environment imaginable.”

Comment by CG 12.30.07 @ 6:10 pm

My first post was about this year, i was just pointing out about next year…no reason i can’t look at both.

Like i said, we need to find a way to win the games we should, and pull out 2 tough ones, and get one amazing upset and keep our NCAA tourney streak alive. And get some real experience for a run next year.

Comment by Stuart 12.30.07 @ 6:10 pm

We’ve won with little talent in the past, with low scoring, brutal defense. That’s what the coaches have to get out of these guys. To go out and play the most pestering, brutal defense they can every game, and win 53-52. We’ve done it before and have the coaching staff in place to do it again. We’re done with this transition shit. The sky has fallen on that, but nothing prevents us from playing like we used to. We just need to go back to ugly ball.

Comment by Stuart 12.30.07 @ 6:14 pm

the sky is not falling, we will be okay. We still have young and blair we will patch it together and be okay. Fields will probably be back for the BE tourney and we could win it. We will make the dance this year

Comment by dan 12.30.07 @ 6:46 pm

Losing Cook hurt, but was semi-replacable. Losing Fields is devistating because we have no one who can run the point. Ramon running PG is as good as one of us running it. We will be lucky to be .500 in the BE. I also believe Cook is still eligible for medical redshirt, but Dixon wouldn’t decide that till after the season.

Comment by matt 12.30.07 @ 7:04 pm

About yesterdays game:

What the fuck could we have done different? It was another D Wade game. That kid was taking tough shot, after tough shot and they were all falling. Those were the shots you wanted them to take. I just finished re-watching what part of the first half was shown, and 90% of their offense was that kid pulling up with a hand in his face taking deep 3’s or 2’s. He made one real tough shot over sam young off the glass. I think i saw video of ONE shot where he was actually open. What can you do against that? Double him every time? Trap off the screens, and instead of recovering, make him give up the ball? 100% deny him from even having a chance of receiving the ball?

In all, they had THREE guys take more than 3 shots. That one kid just destroyed us. Couple that with piss poor shooting from three (of all the threes in the first half i saw, ONE was guarded, a pull up by fields) and it was the perfect storm. Are we supposed to pass on all those open shots if they’re giving them to us? It didn’t help they got all the calls from the refs either (several were absurd non-calls of our guys getting destroyed while shooting, others were all the shitty calls being called on us – what a fucking joke) – but we should be able to play above that.

And maybe they could put their fucking cheerleaders on the court instead of only 2 feet away.

Watching the second half, more of the same. WIDE OPEN 3s, no one within 10 feet on some, and we shoot airballs at times. They were sagging off our guys by 5 to 7 feet at some points, hoping we’d put up another airball. Roberts putting up TOUGH shots with hands in his face, or amazing acrobat shots.

Our help D needs some work too – when someone was getting beat, we’d have help, but no one would pick up that man, getting us killed over and over again.

But it comes down to we need to finally come up with a plan against a kid who can’t miss a thing. I’m tired of losing that way…

On a bright note I did see some decent vision and passing from Wannamaker (and he can handle the ball well), and it gives me some hope that maybe he can come around on the point – they say if he’s going to make it to the NBA, that will be his position anyways. We know Ramon will never cut it…

Comment by Stuart 12.30.07 @ 7:37 pm

shouldn’t fields be back for the tourney if we make it there?

they will definitely take a hit but i dont think the #6 team in the nation turns into an NIT team after losing 2 players. yes it hurts. but we will win games and make the ncaas. and then shouldnt levance be back? we could be ok.

Comment by bmac21 12.30.07 @ 8:17 pm

It seems the biggest problem this team has is that it lost the 2 players who could make their own shots. Say what you want about Cook but he could handle the ball and create. Levance obviously. Everyone else? That answers that.

Comment by Joey D 12.30.07 @ 10:07 pm

Yes this was a big hit but I definetely think their season is not going to be a total failure now. We are just going to need some players to step up, which i believe benjamin and wannamaker will do and this team will get through the fields injury and be ready to be a force in march.

Comment by max 12.30.07 @ 10:49 pm

here is some medical information from an Orthopaedic journal that seems to be on point for Fields condition. this seems to support the dokish view of 6-8 weeks. let’s hope levance heals like TO. Can we get him a hyperbaric chamber!!

“DeLee et al7 also reported successful outcomes in 10 athletes treated with percutaneous screw fixation, with clinical healing evident at 3 to 6 weeks. Mindrebo et al24 recently reported clinical results of nine Division I collegiate athletes treated for Torg Type I fractures of the fifth metatarsal. These patients were allowed full weight-bearing 7 to 10 days after surgery in a boot brace, with progression to bicycling, swimming, and Stairmaster at 2 to 3 weeks. The average return to running was 5.5 weeks after surgery, with return to full competition at an average of 8.5 weeks.

Comment by TMGPanther 12.30.07 @ 11:01 pm

Let’s get real and just start focusing on next year and keeping the program going. Dixon has to start proving he can recruit……..right now they have guards coming in which is not going to cut it and keep this program at the elite level where they’ve spent the last few years.

He has to bring in big men. Blair fell in his lap, partly because he grew up 200 yds from the Pete and partly because other programs were sketchy on a 6’6″ big man (boy, we were lucky and I’m psyched we got him). His other big man recruits are Wallace and Hudson and Diggs, Biggs and McGhee……all I can say about them is OUCH.

Comment by billly c 12.30.07 @ 11:29 pm

Changing the subject, ESPN Classic is replaying the 1982 Sugar Bowl (Pitt vs. Georgia) on Tuesday at 3am. Set the TiVos!

Comment by Ann 12.30.07 @ 11:44 pm

Billy C – this shouldn’t change your outlook on the season at all cause Fields was just “short and slow” and wasn’t “elite” at all. We can just plug in another short and slow PG and we’ll be fine, right?

You forgot to list Aaron Gray. And i don’t know too many programs that are have an embarassement of riches at the center position. Most teams have 1 good one, if that.

Comment by Stuart 12.31.07 @ 3:11 am

As some of my colleagues would say, TMG, small numbers in those studies, and an average of 8.5 weeks means there were some beyond that, which brings us back to potentially 10-11-12 weeks. Not to be negative, but should probably not get our hopes up. If he’s back in 8 weeks, we’ll be very lucky.

The truly disappointing thing for me is Ramon’s absolutely horrid play. From that perspective, we’ve lost 2.5 starters, because his contribution over the last several games has been almost nothing. His defense even seems to have gotten worse.

For this team to salvage the season, shooting and defense have to improve. Part of the shooting problem has to be to stop taking so many 3s. A 15-foot jumper doesn’t even exist any more in most of these players’ minds, Young being the exception. Heaven fucking forbid Ramon or Brown or Benjamin pump once with a guy running at them to disrupt a three attempt and either step in for a shorter shot or, gasp, penetrate to the hole. Ramon, even though he is slow, has shown that he can do it, usually about once a game. Benjamin and Brown both have the speed and athletic ability to do so as well.

The half court offense has not looked good the last few games, including against Duke. Even with Ramon running the point, that’s something they have got to rediscover, and quickly.

Comment by Carmen 12.31.07 @ 8:57 am

Stuart — there was never any doubt about how valuable Fields was to this team. He’s the only consistent ballhandler they had, even though you’re right, I think the adoration on this site for him is out-sized.

Gray was a Howland recruit, I think, as was Kendall. By the way, big men doesn’t have to imply center-position/5-spot. I’m just talking front line in general.

Comment by billy c 12.31.07 @ 10:24 am

have thad matta ship us a big man, he seems to recruit 2 top ones a year. regardless of the injuries, i have season tickets to Pitt basketball, and anyone that actually goes to the games thought Pitt was the 6 th best team in the nation is even more delusional than I am. I was at msg and that win was a miracle! even with cook and fields, we don’t play man to man defense, how many lay ups and 2nd shots did dayton get? Duke ate us up on back door cuts, georgetown does it every year, and, yes our only non conf loss at the pete, Bucknell killed us on the back door. JD ever hear of zone being used to protect your only post player. and his recruiting of big men is plain ugly. noone wanted gray (we beat out st penn amoung others) Kendall was a fluke, JD was recruiting someone else. Wannamaker was supposed to be the answer at 1 & 2, we will find out sooner than later. I can tell you this. Huggins would find a way to win with this roster. I was at the game in richfield coliseum when his Akron team, 4 6-7″ centers vs probably Pitts best team ever J-lane Charles Smith, only lost by 4 due a Huggins technial in 2nd half. Pitt made the 2 fts and the bucket. one thing i hate is getting 2 of the other teams starters in foul trouble early in 2nd half and letting them play 15 minutes of 2nd half and all of ot (duke game) without ever challanging them by sending a guard in. i see other teams don’t waste any time on d. blair, once he is in foul trouble. I would certainly let wannamaker get the majority of time at the point, ramon has had his chance and just is unable to do it. Pitt still has many weapons, benjamin needs to be turned loose on o & d. Wannamaker and brown are taller and longer on d, Young needs to touch the ball on every possesion, and when the oportunity presents itself, go hard to the hole and draw some fouls. shootin 30-40 3’s a game ain’t getting it done. I think we should run even more. we obviously aren’t overpowering anybody in the post. losing to Dayton isn’t the worst thing, not being competitive and getting blown out is. 80 points is crazy. your shots may not fall, no excuse not to play solid d. we will soon see if JD is half the coach we pay him to be. he is a great face of the program, questionable recruiter an soso game day coach. lets see what happens.

Comment by Kurt 12.31.07 @ 10:57 am

Huggins did well against Oklahoma the other day…Let’s withhold judgment on Jamie until we see what he’s able to do with a diminished lineup…man we have some bandwagoners on this blog.

Comment by tdemps 12.31.07 @ 11:19 am

They should be able to get to 22 wins this year, which will get them into the tournament. As bad as they played on Saturday night, that is not representative of what the team will be here on out. You’re not as good as your best day, you’re not as bad as your worst day. Saturday was no doubt Pitt’s worst day in the past 7 years.

There can be no hiccups as in past years (@ St. John’s, against Seton Hall at home, etc.), meaning they must get these 7 wins (@ USF, vs/@ Cincy, vs Seton Hall, @ St. John’s, vs Rutgers, vs DePaul), then get 2 more out of: Providence, Syracuse, Notre Dame, WVU (2), Villanova (2), UConn, GTWN, Louisville, Marquette. That seems to be do-able.

So a win vs Lafayette, 9 conference wins, hope Levance is back for Big East Tourney to get 1 win, and there is a 22-11 season heading into the NCAA tourney, most likely a 8/9 seed or lower.

I’m not packing it in for this year just yet. Let’s see how Dixon can lead a less-than-their-best team.

Comment by MVK 12.31.07 @ 12:43 pm

Billy c. your comment regarding zone defense solidifies the fact that you know nothing about basketball. A zone defense does not mean that you have to shoot threes all night. It means you have to move the ball, be patient and hit the boards. Teams don’t play 2-3 zone versus Pitt because we kill it every year (see the games versus Syracuse). In fact, Boeheim even came out in man-to-man against Pitt a few times in the last few years. I hope teams start playing the 2-3 against Pitt with a superior post passer like Blair it will be a bloodbath for the opponent. Many coaches show tape of Pitt when they are going to face a team that plays a lot of zone.

Keep talking shit on Fields even though he killed a guy you said was better (Paulus). Why diss a kid who worked his ass off and got hurt two nights ago? You are a complete moron and should never talk about basketball again the rest of your life. You know nothing about the game.

Kurt go to hell. I hope you choke on Huggins cock. Pitt was the sixth ranked team because they played a tough schedule and were unbeaten. Huggins had teams that were way more talented than any Dixon had and he made it to one final four. Yes, he is the country’s best coach. Let’s give Dixon a chance. I’m sure there will be some short-term pain, but I have complete confidence in his ability to rally the troops.

Comment by Omar 12.31.07 @ 2:26 pm

How did Feilds get hurt? Someone said he fell over a cheerleader. What is the real PooP

Comment by Buzz 12.31.07 @ 2:39 pm

He got hurt by stepping on the foot of a Dayton Cheerleader. Thats the truth. And what I would like to know is tat going to be investigated? There is a designated area those stupid skanks are supposed to be sitting in and obviously they were closer than allowed. Dayton has got to be punished in some way. Theres no excuse for that.

Comment by Jake 12.31.07 @ 5:18 pm

Omar – OK, I’m finally descending to your level. You’re a moron. Boeheim extends his zone and always has………what would beat Pitt is just packing it in and daring Pitt to shoot. Pitt always beat the ‘Cuse zone because of good interior big man to big man passing because Syracuse guards cheat out too far and leave the high post open and that’s what guys like Lett were so good at exploiting. All Boeheim would have had to do was pack it in.

I never mentioned Paulus in any post.

Hey -Kurt– thanks for the realism. You don’t know how many guys have been checking in with me with similar opinions.

That team Huggins has this year just doesn’t match his personality. It will be interesting watching him struggle to coach a differently skilled team.

Comment by billy c 12.31.07 @ 5:36 pm

If you like Huggins so much…go root for WVU…hey if you think Huggins would win with two of our best players hurt like Kurt said, how far was he able to get without Kenyon Martin in 2000?? I’ll answer that for you…they lost in the second round as a 2 seed to number 7 Tulsa…but you’re right he’s a miracle worker. I almost feel like some of you are now rooting against Pitt so that some of your points are validated.

Comment by tdemps 12.31.07 @ 6:28 pm

I bleed Blue & Gold, but I do not wear rose colored glasses. I would never root for anyone against Pitt. even when the backyard brawl cost Pitt Millions of bcs money. Everyone who knows me, knows I go nuts at every Pitt loss. I have pretty much made 4-5 home fb games(4 kids and working every other w/e gets the rest) and 7-8 basketball games a year. I once had a car break down on the way to Pitt/Cuse game a few years a go, rented a car, paid $180 a ticket to a scalper and still made opening tip. I’m just trying to be realistic. when is the last time you saw a Pitt b-ball team cut , pick and roll and move like a Duke or G-Town, or even Bucknell team? that’s coaching! can you believe that Bucknell was more talented than Pitt was that night? what about Kent State? Bradley? Was possibly the difference coaching? even with Fields, they were getting killed, even with Blair they were giving up offensive boards, Again, look at the shooting percentages, who got the best looks? who made the most layups? as a player, you always like to get a couple easy (layup) baskets to start, it seems the basket gets bigger, your confidence level rises, and the game is easier. I really would like to see us run mor of a motion offense (for those of you that are about to say Pitt does) where the players actually move and set picks, gray and kendall would have been huge weapons on a staggered screen such as duke runs, diggs and blair should be hard to get around, that would get some of our opponets in foul trouble for a change and provide some easy looks. sinc we have no consistant 3 point shot (see rr 0-8) then maybe our bigger guards cutting down the lane on a staggered screen could give us a little offense. as far as d, why not 2-3 match up zone? quit giving up the bunnies! Like I said, JD is great face on the program, Xos haven’t been his strong point, Now it has to happen. if he dosen’t have the talent to plug in, who do you blame? You can’t tell me dayton had better talent, just were better prepared. went right after blair. you get a guy thats hot like roberts, you make him play d, you run his legs out fron under him, guys with tired legs don’t shoot in the last 10 minutes. I hope Pitt & JD rally up the troops, win every game be tourny and are kings of march madness, but they & Dixon must undergo a radical change of philosophy. a zone d also helps a short bench. like i said I live and breathe Pitt, but i think I am realistic here.

Comment by Kurt 12.31.07 @ 7:54 pm

Billy c. What team that runs a zone has been effective against pitt? You come back with a flimsy argument everytime. You mentioned Paulus before the Duke game as a better point than Fields. Numerous collegiate coaches have mentioned how well Pitt plays against zone defenses. Packing it in isn’t going to do a damn thing. Basically you suggest that teams do not defend the perimeter. That doesn’t mean you still can’t get a lay-up by attacking the zone. Pitt got homered against Dayton. That game was tied or Pitt had a lead before Blair went out with his second foul in the first half with maybe 5 minutes left. How is that having your team more prepared. And then your point guard goes down at the beginning of the second half and the problem is coaching? Are you fucking serious. How does that make sense? What could Dixon have done to prevent Fields from getting injured or Blair from getting horrible calls? Please explain this to me.

Comment by omar 12.31.07 @ 8:17 pm

Howland coached against Kent State by the way. Secondly, Dixon can’t recruit and doesn’t know x’s and o’s. Why did Howland keep him around for so many years?

Comment by omar 12.31.07 @ 8:19 pm

name the top 50 recruits on pitts campus. ok, pick out games where Pitt took apart a higher seeded or higher ranked team like dayton did to Pitt? ok, so maybe i have a point. you should have an offense (motion) that you can run with interchangable (duke, Bucknell, Gtown) parts, using motion to break down the other team and get mismatches. of course i’m assuming that all Pitt’s players w/ th exception of rr can make the quick passes necessary. after all according to omar , JD passed on higher ranked players (he is such a great recruiter and gets his boy eveytime) to get players to fit his system(not sure what system they fit). I, personally feel that having a Mike Beasley right now would really take a load off the panthers, but i’m sure omar thinks differently. Nothing could prevent the injuries, Pitts cheerleaders sit right on the floor also. But other teams lose players. we have rr who has 4 years in the system, has played point guard and has in seasons past led th BE in 3 pt shooting. we have other weapons. just the wrong weapons for JD’s stand around and wait for the clock to run down and have biggs jack up a 3. again, look at how Pitt has won in the past, much of Mike Cook injury articles speak of him being on of the few to “create his own shot” why cant a team offense create some shots? If dixon is such a great coach, Please tell me why biggs isn’t either parked under the basket or parked on the bench until he parks himself under the basket? Howland never won big until he hit la and got a couple mcdonalds all Americans. Kenyon Martin wasn’t he a first team all American? little bit more significant loss than a guy who might have been 2nd team Big East, although he is integral to the Pitt teams sucess. If wannamaker was truley Philly’s best, then he needs to step up. If Pitt played well vs zone defenses, it was because they had individuals who could take their man one on one. If they are going to try that this year, why not some motion w/ sam young more involved in the paint and blair cleaning things up? surely the great cassin Diggs can at least rebound and use his 5 fouls effectively. otherwise why did the great recruiter bring him in? omar, you don’t have to get all hot and bothered, i’ve seen you second guess dixon plenty of times on this very same blog. I’ll buy you a beer at primanti’s in oakland next time im down for a game.

Comment by Kurt 12.31.07 @ 9:00 pm

You didn’t answer my question. Pitt does not run an offense where players sit around and wait for an individual to create his own shot. Bilas even said during the duke game that Pitt runs more sets than any team in the country. I never said Dixon passes on highly recruited players that fit his system. I don’t know who made that comment, but it simply isn’t true. Dixon goes after the best player available and if the top-20 player doesn’t sign he goes for the next best player. Blair, Young and Brown were all top-50 by the time they signed and Fields, Biggs, and Wannamaker were top-75. Dixon isn’t the country’s best recruiter but he isn’t the worst either. I would love to meet up with you at a Pitt game. It would be fun to put a face to all of the people that post on the blog.

Comment by Omar 01.01.08 @ 11:41 am

Believe me, there are a lot of folks that feel the same about meeting you face to face. Anytime I see somebody in rose-colored glasses at the Pete, I think it must be Omar.

The Howland/Dixon offense (whatever it is) has always been ugly. It got them by when they had those big men that could pass, but it’s been getting progressively uglier the last few years. The strangest was last year when they ran some sets that brought Gray out far from the basket…..I’m still trying to figure out what JD was after then. This year there has been a ton of standing around and waiting for one-one-one from Fields or Young as the shot clock winds down.

I’m not looking for the Princeton offense, but it would be nice to see some easy buckets resulting from well-timed cuts or screeners rolling to the hoop (like the layups Singler got against Pitt at MSG.)

I also hope they survive these unfortunate injuries and salvage a decent season. My point was that everybody should temper their nutty optimism (there were the same posters crowing about Pitt belonging in the Top 5 last year)and realize that this team was seriously flawed before Cook and Fields went down. To wit:

They beat a bad Washington team (barely), a bad OSU team (at home) and won a rugby scrum against an unproven Duke team on a neutral court. Big effin deal.

*They only have one rebounder, who’s a 6’6″ freshman who’s going to spend many games on the bench in foul trouble. Even when he’s in there, he gets abused by average 6’11’ whiteys because they have half a foot on him.

*No one on this team is a reliable shooter. Ramon might be a reliable shooter alone in a gym, but unfortunately for him that’s not the way the game is played. How the heck is Dixon expecting to beat anybody with Benjamin and Brown throwing up airballs from 3? I don’t understand why they persist, year after year, to ignore outside shooting when they recruit.

*They only have one guy who, when healthy, can dribble the ball well enough to actually penetrate an opposing defense. And it’s lucky that guy has a nice handle, because he’s slow.

*Their bench is weak, which really matters when Blair’s out with fouls and when you already lost the only offensively talented swing player you had on the squad. We all know how bad Biggs is (but he consistently impresses me again and again with just HOW BAD), and Benjamin stinks.
(I’ve tried before to say he’s OK off the bench in spurts, but I give up. When he missed the rim on an another open 16 ft jumper against Dayton, I had to re-assess. He’s simply in the wrong level of college hoops.)

*I have yet to see Brown do anything that would make me think he’s ready to contribute now or anytime. OK, he had an ESPN replay rebound dunk against Dayton. Great. I’d like to see him take somebody off the dribble or shut somebody down on D or hit a mid-range jumper……..any of the things I’d expect from a good swingman. So far, he’s another example (like Biggs) of just how wacked the whole recruiting analyst trade can be. Those two are Top 50 or Top 100? Are you kidding me? I guess none of those recruiting wizards ever wrote in his notes….”Gilbert is a nice athlete, but he holds the ball funny and shoots sideways, so he can’t play more than 10 feet from the basket.”

*Their leading scorer is a head case with a bizarre game. I used to think he was a reliable scorer in the lane, but he hasn’t done any of that recently. Then I thought he was going to amaze us with his healthy knees this year, but I haven’t seen too many athletic plays either. I’ve seen him miss some perimeter shots, though, so it’s good to know he can do that. The only thing I’m sure of is that he’s under-sized and can’t hold his own on the boards at the 4-position. It never mattered before because Pitt had Gray and Kendall owning the lane and the glass. Now it matters. I’m also tired of seeing him pout and the fact that Dixon never gets in his face about it.

I hope JD really inspires them to win as many games as they can with the depleted roster and I’ll be rooting even harder than before to see them salvage this season. These are the kinds of situations that could make Dixon grow as a coach.

But I’m also a bit worried about where the program is heading, mostly because I’m not real impressed with some of Dixon’s recruiting. Don’t misunderstand me, though….I don’t want the Michael Beasley Top 20 type guys that probably aren’t coachable and are leaving early, but I also don’t want Biggs, Benjamin or Gilbert Brown, Doyle Hudson and Austin Wallace. I want the happy medium that put the Pitt program where it is — tough, solid players (Fields is one of those) who can fill roles and learn to play within a system. Howland’s staff was good at getting those guys (Brown, Page, Lett, Zavackas). I’m worried Dixon isn’t getting the same type guys and when you combine that with an unproven Xs and Os game coach approach, it just scares me.

I personally don’t care if Pitt ever ascends to the the level of the elite programs like NC or Kansas……..but I do want to maintain the incredible consistency and winning ways that Howland and Dixon have built. I feel like if Dixon hadn’t of had Blair land in his lap, Pitt would already be taking a step backward this year. Let’s all thank our lucky stars for Blair and hope JD finds a way to win a few games without a PG or a swingman.

Comment by billy c 01.01.08 @ 7:29 pm

Billy you are a negative jerk. I am done responding to your pessimistic posts. I have watched every game this year, most of them in person including Duke, and Gilbert Brown is playing phenomenal defense and has hit more than a few open jumpshots. He is going to be a GREAT player for Pitt. You are simply a negative person. I’m sure after Pitt loses a few games you will come by and say I told you so.

Regarding last years team, they were at least a top-8 team according to the selection committee’s decision to give them a #2 seed. They also made the sweet-16 and played very well against the eventual winner of their bracket in a hostile environment in California. It was an excellent season.

This year started out spectacularly well and you still dog these kids. Your opinion is baseless considering Pitt has a top-10 RPI and is doing very well in the Sagarin and Pomeroy ratings. They must have been doing something right. Dixon is an excellent coach and Pitt is lucky to have him. You and Kurt can continue to salivate over the great Bob Huggins, the worlds best coach.

Comment by Omar 01.01.08 @ 8:12 pm

I hate Huggins. I just said it will be interesting to watch him coach a team that doesn’t fit his normal style.

I too thought last year was excellent — just about right for what I thought was a Top 15 team. I’d be happy with that every year; I just haven’t seen the right indications that the success will continue.

There’s no desire here to say “I told you so”. I waste too much mental energy worrying about Pitt hoops to get caught up in that. I honestly hope I’m wrong and Dixon has the right stuff (recruiting and game strategy) to keep this program where it belongs.

Comment by billy c 01.02.08 @ 12:03 pm

I hate Huggins too! but, you gotta admit, once he gets his players (thugs) playing his style, Pitt is going to have to drastically upgrade their recruiting, or become the 4th best team in the BE.

Comment by Kurt 01.04.08 @ 6:43 pm

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