masthead.jpg, U3dpdGNo-a25, DIRECT, 14766, RESELLER, 30666, RESELLER, 5d62403b186f2ace, 1117, RESELLER, switchconcepts, RESELLER, switchconceptopenrtb, RESELLER, switchconcepts, RESELLER, 560031, RESELLER, 3160, RESELLER, switch, RESELLER, switchconcepts , RESELLER, 1934627955, RESELLER, switchconcepts, RESELLER, 59, RESELLER, 1356, RESELLER, 96786, RESELLER, fafdf38b16bf6b2b, 180008, RESELLER, 52853, RESELLER, 1058, RESELLER, pub-3515913239267445, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0
February 2, 2009

Robert Morris comes to the Pete tonight in a non-televised game. Robert Morris is in a stretch of a lot of games in not a lot of time.

The Colonials have taken on several Top 25 teams this season, losing 78-57 to then No. 22 Xavier and then No. 25 Miami 70-62. The Panthers, though, have been particularly vexing to Robert Morris. Pitt has won all 26 games in the series, and they have not lost any of their 64 games against the Northeast Conference.

Then there is the whole timing issue. Not only are the Colonials large underdogs to the Panthers, but the contest is the middle game of a grueling five games in ten days.

“It’s a very odd spot on the schedule,” said Robert Morris head coach Mike Rice, a former Pitt assistant. “Pitt has almost a week off after the game, whereas we have two and a half days. The timing isn’t great for us.”

The Colonials began the stretch with home wins over Bryant and Monmouth and will finish it off with road games at St. Francis (N.Y.) and Central Connecticut State. St. Francis is the only team to beat the Colonials in conference play this season.

The storyline is not that Robert Morris has never beaten Pitt. It is another assistant that worked for Pitt and Coach Dixon who moved on and coming in for a game.

Rice, in his third season at Robert Morris, was instrumental in recruiting nearly one-third of Pitt’s roster — Brad Wanamaker, Nasir Robinson, Travon Woodall and, to a lesser extent, Ashton Gibbs.

“I’m excited about playing Pitt,” Rice said following Saturday’s 75-62 victory over Monmouth. “I’m a fan of Pitt just like everyone else, especially because I recruited some of those players. I spent a lot of nights with Jamie Dixon and the staff. I’m excited to see where we match up against one of the top 5 teams in the country. I’m excited to go back to a place where I worked tremendously hard for a year.”

This is the first meeting between the two schools since a 67-53 Pitt win on Nov. 29, 2006, a game in which Rice was an assistant for the Panthers.

The Rice hire, surprisingly brief, was meaningful not just for the recruiting work that Rice did to help reopen Philly area. First, it was Dixon’s first real hire for a new top assistant with Rohrssen moving on to Manhattan. It showed that Dixon could identify quality assistants and get them. The following up with Herrion and even moving up with Brandin Knight, only made that clearer. Then, Rice after only a year landed an improving mid-major job helped make the Pitt assistant position even more attractive.

This is the start of a slight decrease in Pitt’s schedule intensity.

Up next is a non-conference game tonight against Robert Morris. When the Big East schedule resumes Saturday afternoon, the Panthers travel to Rosemont, Ill., to face DePaul, which is still looking for its first conference victory. After that there are home games against Cincinnati and West Virginia.

Of the remaining nine Big East games, the Panthers will only play three games against teams that are currently ranked.

I expect a pretty good game from Robert Morris. The kids there have played Pitt in the summer leagues. They know them, and they will be hyped.

Plus, I just expect a little let down from the Panthers in at least the first half. It’s not conference. It is a clearly inferior team. It is natural.

Powered by WordPress ©

Site Meter