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February 27, 2009

I mean, it would have been nice, but nothing has been accomplished yet.

A planned story was scrapped after Tuesday’s 81-73 upset loss at Providence. The magazine planned to do a lengthy story on the Panthers for early March and, according to Pitt media relations director Greg Hotchkiss, there was a “95 percent” chance it was going on the cover.

Pitt basketball has made regional covers of SI, but never the national release.

Not that there isn’t an excellent story on Sam Young to read. Sure there’s the usual stuff about his poetry, gymnastics and work ethic. Yet, this really fleshes things out a lot more including a quite a bit more insight into his generally loner stance.

Upon receiving his poetry assignment, Young doesn’t roll up his sleeves per se, but he locks in all the same. After spending nearly an hour staring at his computer screen, he has mustered just a few lines of verse, but they offer a window into how he views both the promise and perils of unfinished success:

Having yet to meet our potential, I love my team’s current credential
Not any team can do it; we fought in the fire to finally get to it
Pitt is on a mission and it’s no mystery, we only halfway done and already made history
We’re giving the university faith and gave hope to this town, it ain’t no way we can let them down

Yet, it is off the court where Young continues to make his biggest strides. These days he lets his playful side show more readily for his teammates, who still crack up when he does back-flips during practice or in his hotel room. He has even become something of a media darling. During a preseason photo shoot, Young picked up a sombrero and struck a goofy pose, and he hounded Greg Hotchkiss, Pittsburgh’s sports information director, for weeks until Hotchkiss got him a copy of the photo.

Even at a program that has long been defined by the hardscrabble ethos of the Steel City, Young has carved out a unique and lasting legacy. “We’re always going to use him as an example as a guy who improved and did it by working,” Dixon says. “Even today, I’ll ask the guys, who works the hardest in our drills? Who’s our best perimeter scorer? It’s always the same answer. It’s Sam.”

It’s well worth reading the whole thing.

Looks like the general view of the Providence loss, is indeed along the lines of, “these things happen.”

Just looking at a couple power rankings and Pitt only drops to #2 in both the FoxSports and Luke Winn’s at

The term “consistency” gets thrown around by every coach and commentator, but there’s actually a stat to measure it on Ken Pomeroy‘s ratings site. There, consistency is determined by the standard deviation of a team’s scoring margin, and Pomeroy says, “Highly rated teams that are inconsistent [statistically] tend to look beatable more often.” While Pitt won’t hold on to No. 1 this week because of Tuesday’s loss at Providence, Panthers fans can take solace in the fact their team is at least the most consistent (or least vulnerable) of the top eight in our Power Rankings…

Kind of weird. It’s almost like the punditry might be giving Pitt some real respect or something.

And with the way the #1 ranking has been passed around like a hot potato, it seems like it is hard to hold it against Pitt this year.

Seth Davis at lists Coach Dixon as his second choice for coach of the year.

Coach Wannstedt did a Q&A with Brian Bennett at Most of the conversation centered around the offense.

Let’s talk about your quarterback situation. Is Bill Stull still your starter, or will there be an open competition this spring?

DW: Billy is going to be our starter. We went 9-3 in the regular season with Bill Stull. It was the best record that Pitt’s had since Dan Marino was here. So people have a tendency to lose sight of that a little bit, too, because of the bowl game. Now, did Billy play at a level that we need him to play at to win a championship? No. Can he get better? Yes. He understands that.

Pat Bostick is looking for an opportunity, Tino Sunseri is looking for an opportunity and we have Greg Cross on our team, he’s looking for an opportunity. So I think that with a new quarterback coach coming in, a new offensive coordinator, it’s going to create a real natural sense of urgency on offense in addition to the quarterback position, which I think will be healthy.

All three quarterbacks will get equal opportunities in practice and scrimmage situations and we’ll see how it unfolds. I think we know these kids well enough that we can expect someone to surface and we can hang our hat on someone and say, “OK, this is the way we’re going into the fall.”

So Stull is the starter, but the other three quarterbacks will get equal opportunities — to be the back-up? Whee.

I can’t say I’m really surprised by this. Coach Wannstedt is not going to open up the QB competition. Like a starter doesn’t lose his job to injury, a position doesn’t re-open just because the OC is new.

Wannstedt seems very high on Dan Mason, even suggesting he could make the two-deep as a freshman. Not too surprising, I suppose given the depth issues at linebacker.

He also talks a little about LeSean McCoy going pro. According to Mel Kiper (Insider subs), he sees McCoy falling to the start of the second round (but the 3d back taken).

No one in this group comes remotely close to the talent and depth we had at this spot last year. I expect only two running backs, Ohio State’s Chris “Beanie” Wells and Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno, to go off the board in the first round. They probably won’t be selected until the mid-to-late portion of that round.

Pitt’s LeSean McCoy has first-round ability but more than likely won’t come off the board until the second round. That’s the same scenario I see for Connecticut’s Donald Brown, who could end up being one of the more productive rookie running backs in the NFL because of his all-around skills and tremendous character.

He puts Conredge Collins at the top of the fullback list.

Although this position basically has been phased out in the NFL, I like several prospects, beginning with Pitt’s versatile Conredge Collins and LSU’s experienced and highly skilled lead blocker Quinn Johnson.

Over on defense, he sees Scott McKillop going sometime in day two.

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