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March 22, 2008

Not good so far this evening for the Big East with Notre Dame and Marquette falling.

Hopefully that was just a Pac-10 aberration.

9:27: Okay, just ugly shooting so far. Neither team looks particularly comfortable. There’s a good amount of bumping and physical activity. Pitt down 4-2 but Sam Young shooting foul shots after the break.

9:39: Pitt down 13-12, 10:20 until halftime.

Pitt 6-6 on free throws. Shooting struggles continue. Pitt forced a short flurry of turnovers and that resulted in Michigan State starting to hold onto the ball a bit more rather than trying to move the ball more. Right now the Spartans are hitting shots and Pitt is not.

9:47: Right now, the question is whether Pitt can shoot above 25% from the field before halftime. On the stunning side, Pitt is 8-8 on FTs.

9:55: Crap, but Neitzel is shooting well tonight. I guess on the positive side, MSU has been hot while Pitt is cold this half. Yet it is still quite close.

10:08: Fields did nearly everything in that half. That steal was tremendous, and he finished this time. Of course, the rest of the team stood there and watched as Kailan Lucas took it all the way and right to the hoop.

Pitt down 30-28. All told, Pitt should be happy to be down only 2. 9-29 shooting and being outrebounded. MSU shooting fantastic. 12-25 shooting, 4-5 on 3s.

Pitt has stayed close because of getting turnovers and shooting 8-8 from the line.

The team has to shoot better in the second half.

10:35: How can Pitt still be missing these shots? More activity on defense, but no conversions on offense.

11:32: Sorry, Pitt finally went on a run when I backed off any posts, so I went with it.  That didn’t last. Kiddie stuff then interfered with any more posting.
So the season comes to an end. Looked like the legs were finally giving out on the players. So many shots that just seemed to hit the front of the rim.

Michigan State made the tough shots. Have to give the Spartans credit. Neitzel had the hot shooting game, they needed. Kalin Lucas was able to attack off the dribble and was simply faster.
Pitt missed the open looks. Unbelievable number of open looks — especially from the perimeter — that Pitt left short.  Pitt shot 2-17 on 3s, which was somewhat offset by shockingly good FT shooting — 18-19.

DeJuan Blair struggled with too much size inside from Michigan State, and being the only Pitt player inside all too often. When Levance Fields is the second leading rebounder, that never bodes well.
Hate to see Ronald Ramon and Keith Benjamin go out like this. Neither of them able to do much on offense.

This says it all, Young was 4 for 12, including 1 for 5 on 3-pointers. DeJuan Blair was 4 for 11 and missed layups he normally makes. Ramon was 1 for 9.

If Sammie has dreams of going to the NBA, last night showed he is not ready.

I too went to the game, in short they laid an egg over the last 9 minutes of the game.

They had open looks, they beat themselves by shooting poorly

Comment by Ralph 03.23.08 @ 7:52 am

hate to break it to you all, but that GD dickie V. absolutely nailed it in his preview prediction. he just absolutely nailed it.

link to

…it’s not my intention to rub salt into our wound, but FCS the guy sounds like a GD prophet.

Comment by Neil 03.23.08 @ 9:15 am

in retrospect, of course.

Comment by Neil 03.23.08 @ 9:15 am

Hey – we got the Big East Championship this year – which is a lot better than I thought we’d do a couple months ago. I think this team should be better next year. Here is a listing of the top basketball players in the Philly area and south Jersey – Nasir Robinson is ranked #5 and looks like we’re going after his teammate Rahlir Jefferson (#7) and a 6’9″ guy (Aaric Murray) from Glenn Mills (#2 overall). Of course we’re not in the running for the #1 prospect Tyreke Evans, who happens to be a McDonalds All American. We’re also on the list for the #8 guy (a guard).

The site says this about Robinson “Slightly undersized, Robinson does not appear to be a low-post terror. Watch him in action, a different opinion will form. Despite playing against players at least two inches taller, he is a rebounding machine. Averaged 17.1 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.1 blocked shots heading in the PIAA Class AAAA state playoffs.”

Comment by Dishman 03.23.08 @ 10:14 am

Take a look at Ramon’s stats this year. They say a lot about his season.

256 more minutes
3 more FG made
7 less 3s
16 less points

His defensive stats improved, but he was brought onto the team to be a pure shooter. He never provided the offense this year that we thought he would.

Then again, he was invaluable in some games. If not for him, we may have been swept by WVU.

Nevertheless, I don’t think he met expectations.

Comment by matt 03.23.08 @ 10:39 am

I can’t knock this team. Of course, I am not ecstatic about the result, but I don’t think it was for lack of effort. Bottom line is that we get to hang a BET banner early next season, presumably in full view of blue chip basketball and football recruits/commits. When you look at the expectations that the “experts” had for them early this season, they undoubtedly overachieved and that’s a testament to their heart, balls, and solid coaching by Jamie and staff.

I’m already looking forward to football and hoops 2008-2009.

Comment by johnny 03.23.08 @ 11:22 am

What a great year for the Panthers! We thought we’d be rebuilding and ended up winning the BE Tourny and even won a game in the NCAA’s. And the team played the right way. Quit whining and try to remember what it was like when the NIT was a good season. GO PITT!

Comment by Jason Maile 03.23.08 @ 12:46 pm

Two things only. Out rebounded and we were tired. No questions. Short on every shot and didnt get the rebounds. Pitt wins by outrebounding teams and making some of there shots. Thats it for me until next season. BOO HOO and Go Pitt

Comment by Buzz 03.23.08 @ 12:52 pm

And now Nova goes to the sweet 16 as well. MFing NOVA!!!! I’m sorry, but man for man we’re a better team than Nova and WVU, and they get a chance to go on. That’s what the sweet 16 means – a chance, however slim, to move on. This is so frustrating. I can’t imagine how the guys are feeling.

Comment by Carmen 03.23.08 @ 2:30 pm

Is Dixon working on the one or two recruits who will make a difference in the NCAA tourney? For the past few years we’ve been knocking on the door to the basketball elite, now we need to break it down. Many thrills this season and for those long-timers like me, do you remember the “thrilling” season in ’89-’90 when we beat Penn State by two at State in the NIT and finished 18-16? We have come a long way – but we are not there yet.

Comment by TonyinHouston 03.23.08 @ 2:34 pm

It’s all match-ups in the NCAAs and when I saw the brackets come out I was worried because Pitt just doesn’t match up well against a front-line like that.

People talk about physical play in the BE, but nobody in the BE puts that many big bodies on the court at Pitt faced last night. G-town has Hibbert and Pitino plays Padgett OR Caracter, and Adrien plays alongside Thabeet, but nobody has a front line like Izzo put out there.

Suton could have posted Young all night and Blair had a ton of trouble shooting over whoever was near him. You combine that with some hot Neitzel shooting (which has been missing most of this year) and Pitt was in trouble.

I’ll take a BE championship any year, though, so I consider it a very successful campaign given the team Dixon had.

I’ll give him a ton of credit for winning as many games as they did with Blair basically playing alone inside. I mean, what were Young and especially Benjamin supposed to do in the lane last night with all the big bodies around them?

He needs to get some front-line recruits in to support DeJuan now. He got desperate with Diggs and McGhee and they’re not the answer, but I can see why he had to do that because Biggs and Wallace have been disappointments.

It’s no fun playing against a bigger, stronger team……..and I doubt Dixon wants to find himself in that situation again.

I certainly believe Pitt could have won more games in the NCAAs this year had they gotten a different 2nd Rd matchup, but eventually they were going to come up against a team that doesn’t have a 6’7″ center, a 6’6″ PF and a 6’1″ 3-man.

Comment by scottie columbo 03.23.08 @ 2:54 pm

For those of you who know more about the X’s and O’s of b-ball can you help me out?

Looking at last night’s game in retrospect could Dixon have done some things different.

I know we are a man to man team but having your outside scoring threat (Ramon 50% from 3-pt range) cover their little gnat nietzel man to man after playing 6 games in in 10 days seemed to be a bad call.

It appeared to me that once the outside perimeter threat appeared non-existent the MSU team collapsed the inside and made a very good defensive team look great.

Could Dixon have implemented a zone to give Ramon some rest?

Could they have decided to man up Nietzel with someone else? If so who?

It seemed like a tactical decision…

btw, do you think Sam Young’s poor performance bought us one more year?


PS…wow what a lousy night to make matters worse during the game I am eating dinner and I was getting so frustrated I nearly bit my tongue off…talk about adding salt to the wound 🙂

Comment by DaveD 03.23.08 @ 3:01 pm

matt, remeber ramon had to play point guard for 12 games or so. that clearly impacted his production this year and has to be factored in to the numbers. all in all Ramon had a very good year for us and step up big time when Fields went down.

Scottie, nice post.

Comment by TMGPanther 03.23.08 @ 3:40 pm

One word. Conditioning.

I hope JD spends the rest of the spring and summer getting these guys into shape. 4 games in 4 days should not be a factor going into the NCAA’s. These are 18-21 year-olds who grew up playing 4 games in one day in AAU ball.

Just look at AG all of last year or most of his Pitt career for that matter. “Lumbering” comes to mind. Then he gets himself into phenomenal shape to enter the NBA draft.

We didn’t get beat by a better team yesterday. We got beat by a better conditioned team. They had their legs, we lost ours. It’s not like we even had a full practice on Friday. They watched film and had a shoot-around and obviously worked on their free throws.

All of our losses in the NCAA’s the past few years we’ve been flat and slow. This has to stop and if JD wants to make a run prepare the players to run a marathon by training to run 2.

Great season however. BE Champs is great for this team and they should hold their heads high.

Spring practice here we come.

Comment by MelbaPlace 03.23.08 @ 3:47 pm

We lost because we do not have a consistent 3 point shooter who can shoot with someone all over him.

Being the BE champs is nice but a deeper run into the tourney is something we all want.

Nietzel worked for his shots and he converted with someone in his face, also we had poor shot selection, wait until next year…..

Hell I went to the game, talk about a rocky mountain let down….

Comment by Ralph 03.23.08 @ 5:14 pm

A day later and a few things stand out:

1. Thank you Keith and Ronnie for believing in PITT…great careers, thank You!

2. Michigan State put a lot of people on the floor and they hit the boards hard. They wore us down, plus the altitude (and playing only 7 bodies) all add up to a team that played hard, but just ran out of gas. The shots that continually hit the front of the iron are usually (not always) indicative of not getting the jump in the legs. Regardless, they never quit.

3. We had 4 assists, not a hallmark of a passing team. Too often, we had little motion in the offensive flow…again, that might be just due to tired legs.

4.I do look forward to next year for the men, and wish the women all the best the rest of the way.

5. It was a good year, filled with great highs, and tough lows (the injuries and last night’s loss)….but in the end, these are our Panthers, and I love them!

6. Again, thank you Ronnie and Keith..and best wishes in whatever you do in life…you are always PITT Panthers!

Hail to PITT!

Comment by Oregon_Panther 03.23.08 @ 5:29 pm

Tough to be too hard on Ramon. He was playing with two injured shoulders all year. Gutsy player who evolved into our defensive stopper. I’m not sure he was cut out for that role, but he gave it everything he had and that’s all you can ask.

Comment by Dave in Orlando 03.23.08 @ 6:03 pm

DaveD – I agree about Izzo collapsing the defense. Also, in the 1st half they fouled us and we got points, and in the second half with their collapse they weren’t allowing the dribble penetrations.

A zone defense would not have worked for us- Neitzel would have shot all over it, and we would have been outrebounded worse. I was thinking the switching defense we ran against Vaughn in the BE tourney, but that may not have worked with Neitzel zipping in and out. I think we just played the best D we could and weren’t tall enough to rebound and not big/deep enough to box them out.

Great run though, team. Thanks!

Comment by Kevin 03.23.08 @ 7:35 pm

Everybody has to cut out all the crap about tired legs and conditioning…….thats total BS.

These kids grow up playing multiple games a day in AAU. The fact is, demanding practices should always be tougher physically than games. Games are the fun part where the exhausting practices pay off.

These tournament games are 40 mins of ball broken up by about 25 interruptions for TV timeouts, coaches timeouts and halftime. Unless you’re playing a team like Tennessee, it’s hard to break a sweat during one of these half-court games.

Comment by scottie columbo 03.23.08 @ 9:38 pm

The recruiting link I promised previously did not seem to go through – It lists the top 50 in the Philly area and south jersey with a few considering pitt and Nasir Robinson #5 (he’s committed to Pitt).

link to

Comment by Dishman 03.23.08 @ 10:19 pm

DaveD – Regarding your comment about playing a different defense, like Kevin said, a zone never would have worked because Neitzel would have been raining threes all day. But I think Jamie could have switched up who was guarding him throughout the game. Ramon is definitely not quick enough to be guarding him the entire time. Gil Brown is 10 times more athletic than Ramon and with his length, he could have disrupted a lot more of his shots.

For everyone who thinks that being tired had something to do with it, were they tired every other game where they couldn’t hit any of there threes? I doubt it. I just think we don’t have good enough shooters to be consistent game in and game out when it comes to knocking down shots. I could be wrong, but it seemed like most of our losses came when we couldn’t hit our shots.

Going 18-19 from the line doesn’t seem like they were too tired either. And it’s extremely difficult to hit your fouls when you’re tired.

Comment by jtads14 03.24.08 @ 12:59 am

DaveD is right, Kevin explains why. They started laughing after we missed all but 2 three pointers in the first half. They packed it in down low, dared us to shoot wide open shots, made sure to stay several steps away so as to not get driven on, and let us hoist up unguarded jumpshots all night. Until you start making some, they’re not changing their D. 4 men in the lane, 1 on Fields, they just sit there and rebound all our bricks. You can’t drive, you can’t have interior passing, nothing. Congest the lane. And its hard to outrebound a team when you miss 15 threes, and they miss 4. Do the math on how many we got outrebounded by.

Im not sure what all this talk about “big men” and crap is. They had 4 guys in the lane bothering Blairs shots – thats why he was missing “layups.” The problem is the lack of making a single jumpshot the entire night.

I think our two biggest problems next year are A) a repeat of this performance cause we have no shooting guard as far as i can tell, and B) no depth after our front line. Who here wants to see a McGhee, Wannamaker, some freshman, and a JC transfer as your bench?

We better pray our starting 5 are ready to play 40 minutes a piece. They will be as good as any other starting 5 in the nation, but after that…ugh.

I’m just pissed off we went out this way. Why couldn’t we just get beat by a memphis or a UCLA? I sure as hell wasn’t pissed off like this last year. This game was just disgusting. Miss 800 open shots…awful…we beat ourselves to death.

Comment by Stuart 03.24.08 @ 7:09 am

I rewatched the final 9.30 of pain. Pretty much, without exception, they would just foul us as soon as we started driving, and make us earn it from the line. We had 4 WIDE OPEN looks from 3 (Young, Ramon, Ramon, Brown), all missed, and 2 of them led to fast breaks the other way because the shot was so poor (and an and-1). They had ONE open shot, a three for neitzel, and he drained it. He also drained a 3 with Ramons hand in his face, and a deep 2, off balance falling sideways with Benjis hand in his face.

They packed in the lane, fouled us if we drove, and let us shoot wide open jumpers (except fields). We just sucked ass.

Maybe we should have switched Fields to the 2 and had Ramon run the point…he’s the backup PG anyways, and was worthless at shooting…other than that, i have no idea how to deal with what we saw. You just don’t get better looks than we got all night. You just don’t…

Comment by Stuart 03.24.08 @ 7:40 am

people, these are young student athletes…they played with heart and effort….they did a great job…it is easy to be a critic, we lost to a team that had a good game…MSU played well, did what they had to do……and i agree with the one poster, the breaks, tv timeouts give a team plenty of rest. Also they did play others on neitzel on defense, including brown, watch the tape.

Comment by DRGAGS 03.24.08 @ 10:31 am

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