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January 9, 2008

Scrappy Bulls

Filed under: Basketball,Big East,Conference,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 12:30 pm

Regardless of Pitt’s injuries, they are still a ranked team, and teams like USF dream of knocking off ranked teams.

“When you beat a ranked team at home, it goes on your resume for the NCAA Tournament committee,” Gransberry said. “It’s possible to get there with nine nonconference wins and I think 18 wins is possible to get a bid to the NIT or NCAA.”

Gransberry and point guard Chris Howard said the Bulls expect more.

“It’s going to take a win against a nationally ranked team to gain the respect from the analysts,” Howard said.

And Gransberry said the push for the postseason begins tonight.

“This is the starting point for the rest of the season,” Gransberry said. “Playing a ranked opponent and protecting the home court.”

The Bulls have played two Big East games. Beating woeful Rutgers and losing handily at Syracuse. There should be a good match-up inside between DeJuan Blair and Kantrell Gransberry.

Gransberry is a taller, more experienced version of Blair. One season after being the only player in the Big East to average a double-double, the 6-foot-9, 270-pound Gransberry is averaging 15.1 points and 11.6 rebounds. The former LSU transfer is a projected late second-round NBA draft pick.

“He’s a big, physical guy,” Dixon said. “He’s an inside force for them. He’s a good rebounder. He has great hands. Anything he touches he seems to hold onto. He’s a presence.”

The guy who scares me, though, is one of the players who will be right there with Blair for Big East Newcomer of the Year — guard Dominique Jones.

The Bulls are a better team than last year. With some improved talent and a better coach. USF got extremely lucky when their coaching search completely floundered with targets like Gregg Marshall refusing USF in favor of Wichita State. It looked only retreads were willing to consider the job. That was until Akransas decided to toss Stan Heath over expecting to be able to land then Texas A&M and now Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie. Whoops.

USF was able to swoop in and get Heath, who after some early struggles and injuries has looked a lot better. Really, though, who is saying Pitt despises him?

South Florida coach Stan Heath laughed over the phone yesterday when he was told that he was still despised at the University of Pittsburgh six years after he handed Pitt a devastating defeat in the NCAA tournament.

“Let it go, Pittsburgh,” Heath said good-naturedly. “I’m at South Florida and the other coach [Ben Howland] is at UCLA.”

In March 2002, Heath was the coach at Kent State when he and forward Antonio Gates spoiled Pitt’s hopes of reaching the Final Four in an NCAA third-round game in Lexington, Ky.

The game is on ESPN2 at 7:30, here are Pitt’s game notes (PDF).

I thought the Stan Heath is despised comment was preposterous too, glad to see some agreement there. There are a bunch of people that know Gates was on that team because he’s made it big, and Pitt fans remember Trevor Huffman because he was the school’s all-time leading scorer and his 17 that night were HUGE in the upset. But does anyone really even think about the fact that Stan Heath coached that team? Does anyone think that somehow Stan Heath out-foxed Pitt? Sure he coached a good game, but isn’t the bitterness more general than to fall on Heath? KSU won 21 in a row that year, obviously Heath had them playing well, but if there’s any bitterness wouldn’t it be on OUR coach for losing to a 10 seed? For the record, I see no reason to be bitter about that either…KSU was a good team and as mentioned above, won 21 in a row. I wish we had won too, but I certainly am not naive enough to say we’d have then beaten IU. Sure, MAYBE, but they did go to the title game, so obviously they were playing pretty well. This type of nonsense is way out of line. Despised?!? Come on.

On another note: win this game. Its time to get over the losses of key players and get back to winning basketball games.

Comment by Maz 01.09.08 @ 1:01 pm

As long as we can control the ball we should be ok. I really think it’s just a matter of gaining confidence and running with it- we have the personnel to achieve great things. Plus.. if you haven’t noticed, Pitt likes to play the role of the underdog.. hopefully the chip on our shoulder will give us the edge we’ve been waiting for!

I’ve still got my eyes on the prize!

Comment by Caroline 01.09.08 @ 2:15 pm

“The Continental Basketball Association named Xplosion forward John DeGroat as its American Conference player of the week. The 6-foot-6 DeGroat, who played at Pitt, scored 27 points and had seven rebounds in a loss to Albany, and scored 26 points to go with 11 rebounds in a victory over Albany.”

Comment by Stuart 01.09.08 @ 3:49 pm

Ramon continues his stumbling ways, Bulls in an upset by 3!

Stuart are you sure it wasn’t Dick Groat?

The John DeGroat I remember couldn’t focus for more than 3-4 minutes while on the court at Pitt!

Comment by Ace Rothstien 01.09.08 @ 5:17 pm

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