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May 28, 2009

Looking for QBs in NC

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 2:28 pm

One of many things I have not gotten to. Pitt offered a pro-style QB from NC (maybe Bill Cowher will toss a peace offering to people in the ‘Burgh by helping with the recruiting).

Pittsburgh football coach Dave Wannstedt gave the green light to a scholarship offer for Tuscola junior quarterback Tyler Brosius on Tuesday.

The Panthers came to Waynesville last week to watch Brosius throw, and have now become the fifth Division I program to offer, joining Central Florida, Elon, Maryland and Western Carolina.

Brosius is a 3-star QB on Rivals.com (24th ranked pro-style QB) and Scout.com has him as a 1-star. Arkansas, NC State and Wake Forest might also be watching him. Here’s a quick YouTube highlight from 2007 (if you can make a judgment from jsut that, you are either a liar or a far better talent evaluator than I). The ESPN.com/Scouts, Inc. evaluation (subs. req’d)of him makes me wonder if Coach Wannstedt is really serious about the kid.

However, while you love Brosius’ style, his gunslinging mentality is also evident in his throwing mechanics. He whips and slings the ball, carries it low, pats the ball and has somewhat of a street-ball style. He does not always set his feet and can get a bit erratic as a result. He moves around a lot in the pocket and has that Brett Favre feel of just trying to make plays. At times he is polished and sharp and others he is risky and mechanically very unsound. Must sharpen his overall discipline and fundamental footwork and delivery.

They also use “riverboat gambler” in the evaluation. This would make him a big project if he chose Pitt. Coach Wannstedt wants a game manager at QB. The evaluation would suggest a poor fit with Brosius’ game.

Draft Mocking NBA Stuff

Filed under: Basketball,Draft,NBA — Chas @ 9:45 am

Rumors and speculative mock drafts are the main thing at this point.

DeJuan Blair is getting plenty of positive vibes as he is rising in the weak draft. He did an interview with Chad Ford of ESPN.com.

And Ford gushed over what he saw.

Last week, when I listed the prospects I’d see on my pre-draft workout tour, I got a number of calls from NBA executives with the same request: “Let us know how Blair looks.” NBA GMs want to love this guy. They need players like him. But they’re scared off by the physical limitations he has.

I’m happy to report that the news is good. Blair looks closer to 6-6 than 6-8, but he has a huge 7-foot, 2-inch wingspan that makes up for his lack of height.

As far as his weight goes, Blair looks considerably better than he looked at Pittsburgh. He has lost about 15 pounds during the first two weeks of training. His physique is much more chiseled. And most importantly, his athleticism has improved greatly because he has lost that weight and improved his conditioning.

Where that should help Blair the most is on the defensive end of the floor. A lot of teams are concerned that Blair won’t have the foot speed to defend the pick-and-roll in the league. What I saw at his workout suggests he does.

Blair looked much quicker and more explosive than he looked at Pittsburgh. His quickness and leaping ability were impressive for someone his size. He went as hard as anyone in the gym that day and didn’t slow down toward the end.

Perhaps most telling was a drill in which Blair and others had to throw the ball hard off the backboard, leap up to catch it, come back down and then leap again for a dunk. Blair repeatedly exploded up and finished strong above the rim. A few times, it seemed as though Blair would pull it down.

On the skills portion, Blair is a work in progress. He still doesn’t have much of a face-the-basket game. His shot mechanics are inconsistent, so it’s unlikely that he’ll be a good pick-and-pop guy early in his career. His ballhandling also could use much work. But then again, NBA teams aren’t drafting him to shoot 3s and handle the ball.

In a draft with just one dominant, physical big guy — Blake Griffin — Blair may move up to fill that gap. Last year, a number of NBA guys had Kevin Love ranked as a mid-first-round pick because of his perceived lack of size and athleticism. He wowed in workouts, then delivered as a rookie in Minnesota. That could help Blair’s case, as could the NBA success of players such as Paul Millsap and Carl Landry.

That belief was reflected in how Ford moved Blair to #11 in his latest mock draft. Of course, with Chad Ford, there must be interperetations. Read this on how to read Ford.

DraftExpress also has Blair at #11 going to New Jersey.

As far as Sam Young goes, his highest spot is from SI.com’s Ian Thomsen who has him going at #20 to Utah. Thomsen also has Blair at #12 to Charlotte.

Most of the mock drafts, though, put Young in the late 20s (Ford has him at #27 to Minnesota and Draft Express goes with #25 to Oklahoma).

Young is getting some love as a looming “sleeper” pick for the late 1st round. Someone who will help right away.

Young may not be a 20-year old with loads of potential, but he will be a 24-year old rookie who will have the maturity and experience to step in immediately and contribute as a rookie in the NBA. Young is very strong and athletic, but he doesn’t try to be flashy. He is a smart player who knows how to score points and will his team to victory. Young’s patented move is his pump fake that nobody can seem to resist, even though everybody and their grandmother knows that he’s going to pump fake every time he touches the ball.

Then there is this, that I know I didn’t even expect to read in highly speculative, heavy rumor disinformation time that are the workouts.

One of HOOPSWORLD’s favorite fringe players is really seeing some interest. Tyrell Biggs is a 2nd round draft pick at best, but two very strong workouts have generated some buzz for the 6’8 Biggs. The Pacers recently had Biggs in for a look and his “all over the court effort” got him praise from the Pacers and a couple of stitches above his eye after the workout. Biggs had his best workout of the week with the Chicago Bulls. Sources near the situation say he thoroughly dominated UNC’s Tyler Hansbrough in almost every drill and has now landed himself a spot on the Bulls’ board in the second round. A lot of thing have to break Biggs’ way for him to be a draft pick, but considering how far on the outside the process he was four weeks ago things are looking up for Biggs.

Lots of qualifiers and hedging on the hype, but good for Tyrell Biggs. Weird, but good.

Devlin Comes to Pitt

Filed under: Football,Recruiting,Transfer — Chas @ 9:01 am

Sorry, offline matters and family traveling has been brutal for the last week.

Andrew Devlin makes it official that he’s transferring to Pitt.

Devlin left the Cavaliers because coach Al Groh fired his offensive coaching staff and brought in a new set of coaches who implemented the spread offense. Tight ends do not have a big role in spread offenses.

The coaches switched Devlin to defensive end and he tried out his new position for a month during spring drills. Giving away 50-plus pounds against offensive tackles was an eye-opening experience for Devlin. He knew it would be a struggle to add the necessary weight to compete for playing time on the defense next season, so he decided to transfer to a school where he could play tight end in a traditional pro-style offense.

“I want to stress that I really liked my time at Virginia,” Devlin said. “I loved my coaches. My teammates were great. But I couldn’t be unhappy on the football field for three more years. Virginia runs the 3-4 [defense]. The two defensive ends who played last year were 290 and 285 pounds. I was playing a full 30 pounds lighter at the position. If you’re light and you’re going up against 330-pound tackles, it’s not good.

“They tried to find a place for me to fit in, but I wanted to be happy playing football. I probably wouldn’t have seen the field next season because of my weight. It didn’t bother me to transfer because if I went somewhere else, I’d be sitting out anyway.”

Devlin’s mom will be happy. The article does a bit more than suggest that she was still giving him a hard time about choosing UVa.

As expected, he sees the opportunity to compete for the TE position after sitting out this year. Pitt keeps stockpiling some talented and highly sought TEs. Hopefully they will be used a lot more than just for blocking.

Tony Clemons, a WR from the area, who left Michigan’s program is heading to Colorado. It appears by the list of teams he also considered that Pitt never really entered the picture. I’m assuming it was his lack of interest in Pitt or wanting to leave the ‘Burgh, but who really knows for sure.

May 20, 2009

Football Notes, 5/20

Filed under: Coaches,Football,NFL,Wannstedt — Chas @ 2:19 pm

Scott McKillop was one of the first draftees to sign his contract. In his second camp with the Niners he’s stood out for grabbing an interception off of Alex Smith.

Dropping into coverage, McKillop picked off a pass and returned it to the end zone.

It probably goes with out saying for those who do fantasy football, but do not select Alex Smith for your roster. Not only does he suck, but he’s actually running the Niners second team offense in camp. Shaun Hill has passed him.

Last week, Coach Wannstedt was in the Lancaster area for the rubber chicken circuit. That meant highlighting and plugging the local kids on the squad.

At a press conference prior to his serving as the guest speaker Tuesday night at the 11th Annual Manheim Touchdown Club Awards Banquet at the Lancaster Host Resort, Wannstedt said that the position of Pitt’s starting QB for the 2009 season will go to “who moves the team (in spring drills) and makes the fewest mistakes.”

Bostick, a junior, will compete with senior and returning starter Bill Stull, redshirt freshman Tino Sunseri and sophomore walk-on Andrew Janocko.

Wannstedt said he told Bostick recently that one thing he shouldn’t lack is self-confidence.

“We’re very proud of Pat and the success he’s had,” Wannstedt said. “It was an unbelievable situation (in Bostick’s freshman season). We were getting ready to open our season and I told Pat he would be the third quarterback. All I asked is that he learn our offense.

“First game of the season, we lose our starting quarterback. Within 14 days, things had changed. I said, ‘Pat, you’re our new starter, and we have no backup.’ ”

Bostick started eight games his freshman season and appeared in six games as a sophomore, including an historic four-overtime win over Notre Dame, the longest game in either team’s history.

Wannstedt also praised walk-on and Penn Manor grad Chas Alecxih for earning a scholarship and a spot on the depth chart at defensive tackle, and former Comets’ star Jordan Gibbs, who is competing for a tackle spot on the O-line.

And at the same time, everyone knows it is Bill Stull’s job to lose. The question continues.

Stull was happy to provide positive quotes on Derek Kinder to the Chicago Tribune.

Further proof of Kinder’s resurgence came during Pittsburgh’s Pro Day prior to the draft. Stull was a witness.

“Derek told us he was going to run in the 4.4s at the Pro Day, and we all kind of laughed,’’ Stull said. “Sure enough he ran in the 4.4s. I don’t think he even wore a knee brace.

“His hands have always been extremely good. He’s a competitor. When it comes down to it, he’s going to get it done. He’s just a great athlete and a great teammate. And I think he’s a steal for the Bears.’’

It’s not like you would expect something like, “he sucked and we are glad he’s gone.”

Back home in upstate NY, Kinder was there to throw out the first pitch… at a midget league game.

Kinder learned about performing under pressure as a 10-year-old, when much bigger hitters took their swings against his pitches. Kinder learned to keep his cool, and not back down while playing for the Actives and then St. Mary’s in the Midget League.

“It takes a strong young man to step out there and be in the spotlight,” Kinder said about Little Leaguers, especially the pitchers. “In football, you share the spotlight.”

Even now, at age 23 and about two weeks into what he hopes is a long career in the National Football League, Kinder said those early days in Little League helped lead him on a path to a professional athlete.

“The main thing I learned from Little League is just to have fun,” Kinder said before throwing out the first pitch Saturday during a season-opening celebration for about 200 players in the Midget League.

Kinder signed baseball caps, footballs, scrap paper — whatever the players pushed in front of him — before the season opener at the field behind Albion Town Hall.

His former coach Greg Bennett introduced Kinder to a crowd of several hundred people. Bennett called Kinder “a good role model” who epitomizes hard work and practice.

Nothing like going back home, I guess.

This week, Coach Wannstedt along with other coaches and administrators were down in Florida for Big East meetings

Looks Like a Transfer

Filed under: Football,Recruiting,Transfer — Chas @ 12:45 am

I had to go back and check about the name. Andrew Devlin — once a local top TE recruit Pitt wanted but chose Virgina — is apparently desirous of transferring to Pitt (behind subs. paywall).

Devlin would be a redshirt sophomore at Virginia. While he played in all 12 games last year, he had a total of only 3 catches. Ultimately, UVa moved him to defensive end.

If he is actually transferring to Pitt, I’m assuming it will be to play TE. Pitt seems rather set at DE, plus he doesn’t strike me as the kind of athlete Coach Wannstedt wants at that spot. At TE, there would be opportunities after sitting out as a transfer. With Dickerson and Byham graduating, the main competition would be Mike Cruz and Brock DeCicco.

May 19, 2009

It is disturbingly stark at the moment. Any story regarding Pitt basketball is filled with puffery and positive vibes. Pitt football stories at this point, well just a little less upbeat.

Trying to get some things caught up.

Coach Dixon gets some more love from his time in NYC.

Dixon wants more. He wants to see Pittsburgh accomplish what Connecticut did. And he believes everything is in place to make that happen.

“The one thing we haven’t done that the elite programs have is win a national championship,” Dixon said Wednesday at Garden, where he was the featured speaker at the Frank McGuire Annual Coaches Seminar. “We’re at the point now where kids like to say they’re being recruited by Pittsburgh.”

According to Scout.com, Pitt ended up with the 14th best recruiting class in the country and 3d best in the Big East behind Villanova and UConn.

Shocking to learn that UConn skimps on academic compliance staff. Pitt has the largest compliance dept in the Big East.

Redshirting freshman Dwight Miller talks to his hometown newspaper in the Bahamas about his first year.

Journal: In terms of your skills, since leaving The Bahamas what areas have you improved mostly?

Miller: I think I have improved on my on the court IQ and I know more about what is gong on during the game and what I need to do to help my team. I have also been working a lot on my outside game because of the system we play at Pitt. It is one based around forwards and I most likely will be playing the four (power forward) that would require me to be able to play inside and outside.

Journal: Do you think you will be in the starting line up this year or would you be willing to come off the bench?

Miller: I feel pretty confident that I would be in the starting line-up, but then nothing is guaranteed. You have to go and work for it. We lost four starters this year, so pretty much that’s four open spots to be filled and you just have to go in there and play hard for the spot.

He’s got a lot of work ahead of him to have a shot at starting. He’s going to get minutes, but starting still seems like a stretch.

Meanwhile, Pitt’s solitary recruit for 2010 might spend a year of prep school fairly close to Pitt.

Epps will be 19 in August and too old to play his senior year in New Jersey. He is seriously considering attending Kiski School, a prep school in Saltsburg near Indiana.

Anthony Cheatham, recently hired as Kiski School’s new basketball coach, said “there is a strong chance” Epps will enroll at Kiski. Cheatham said Epps is expected to visit the school tomorrow, along with Shaquille Thomas, a standout 6-6 junior forward at Mountain State Academy in Beckley, W.Va. Both Epps and Thomas are ranked among the top 100 players in the country for 2010.

Of course the article also says that Kiski doesn’t do scholarships (only financial aid) and costs around 36K for a year. So, that could be a factor.

A little love towards the local Pittsburgh hoops scene on the upswing.

Part of the reason for that is in fact the success of Pitt basketball, which has helped raise the sport’s profile in the city. DeJuan Blair was the team’s first homegrown star in 20 years. And his high school teammate D.J. Kennedy has been a two-year started at St. John’s.

But you’ve probably never heard of another real driving force behind what I hope is a budding hoops renaissance in Pittsburgh: Daryn Freedman, who two years ago brought the venerable Hoop Mountain National Exposure Basketball Camps to town and also began running the Basketball Stars of America AAU program.

Freedman, a disciple of John Calipari’s, spent nine years as a Division 1 Assistant at UMass, University of Memphis, Northeastern and Duquesne, and four years working in the NBA with the New Jersey Nets and Philadelphia 76ers. Now he is back in Pittsburgh running camps and building the city’s grassroots AAU program, which had been seriously lacking. His NCAA experience also provides him with a network of college basketball coaches around the country, giving his players a higher recruiting visibility as well as access to better instruction.

No mention of J.O. Stright and his AAU team. I’m guessing there might be some, uh, friction between them.

Paying for Delaying

Filed under: Admin — Chas @ 4:31 pm

Procrastination has always been my strong suit. Why rush to do things, when it is inconvenient? Better to put it off until it hits crisis stage. I’m good at it.

In this case, my laptop has a defect in the motherboard that eventually killed the wi-fi and could cause the computer to fail to start-up. It’s a defect the company apparently knew about and is willing to repair for free. Including free shipping to and from the repair facility.

Well, the wi-fi went in October. Rather than send it right in for the couple weeks it would take with shipping and the repairs, I just bought a USB wireless card to get through college football and basketball season.

By March, it would occasionally have the computer not start. So, we went out and picked up a little netbook to get by just in case it wouldn’t work at a key time. Oddly enough, we can’t get the thing to connect to our home wireless. It connects fine elsewhere, but it won’t get onto ours. I’ve played around with all the settings on the network. Even took down all the security. Still nothing connecting. Naturally, I just haven’t had the time during the business hours to call the help line for the wireless set-up.

That meant, still putting off sending in the laptop. Until, of course, it finally just won’t start at all. That putting things off, though, also applied to backing up the harddrive on the laptop. Something I neglected to do for the past six weeks. Now with it not starting at all I have to do it the hard way.

That means getting a external enclosure to take out the hard drive to plug in and back it up.

All this has meant going back to a desktop and having to share computer time with the wife and kids for the time being. They don’t like to share with me.

Finally, I’m tentatively dipping a toe in the social media thing with Twitter. I’ll find out if I can handle a 140 character limit.

May 14, 2009

NBA Workouts Getting Underway

Filed under: Basketball,Coaches,Dixon,Draft,NBA — Chas @ 10:36 pm

And this is why the NCAA rule starting next year that mandates that underclassmen only have until May 8 or so to decide whether they are staying in the NBA Draft or not is all about the coaches and programs, and have nothing to do with the players.

Most NBA teams just are not bringing in the kids for workouts until the first week or so of May. Add in that for underclassmen to keep their eligibility they can’t just take off for workouts in April when classes are still going — it’s one thing to be excused for a basketball game or tournament but no excuses allowed when it is an NBA workout.

Sorry, getting off-topic before even starting. The intent was to get to the circumstances of Sam Young getting injured in his very first NBA team workout.

“It will be OK,” Young said Wednesday. “It’s not going to affect anything, not even a little bit.”

Young, who is preparing for the June 25 NBA Draft, required a brief visit to a Toronto hospital but is expected to return to workouts later this week.

He was hurt while being tested for his vertical leap. He twisted his body as he leapt, and a screw on the vertical-leap pole pierced his arm. Rather than risk tearing any muscle, the Raptors personnel removed the screw from the pole, left it in Young’s arm and took him to the hospital to have it dislodged.

“They didn’t want to rip the screw out of his arm,” said Young’s agent, Lance Young (no relation). “They said to make sure he takes his antibiotics for infection.”

Lance Young said the injury didn’t require any stitches and currently is protected by a small butterfly bandage and medical tape. Young was told to avoid overexerting the arm for about a week.

Young was cool about it but another player there for a workout was less so.

“I didn’t know what to expect and the first thing that happened is a guy got his arm stuck in the thing (measuring device),” Pendergraph said. “I thought, ‘this is going to be a long one.'”

Coach Dixon is also encouraged about any opportunity for Levance Fields.

A lot of people say it’s almost better not to be drafted than to go in the second round. Then you can pick your team and see who has a need,” Dixon, the Naismith National Coach of the Year, said Wednesday.

Keith Glass, Fields’ agent, said several teams, including the Orlando Magic and Chicago Bulls, have expressed interest in having Fields join their summer league teams if he is not drafted.

“There’s been a lot of interest,” Dixon said. “A lot of maneuvering to figure out which teams he’s going to be with, what days, when they’re bringing in guards.”

“We want to get him in the best shape that he’s been in,” Glass said. “He’s not been able to be in great shape because of the injuries. Every team in the league loves the way he plays, but their concern has always been his conditioning and the shape that he’s been in.”

“He’s been hurt the last couple of years,” Dixon said. “If he’s not injured, I think he shoots a higher percentage.”

Dixon believes that if Fields can drop some weight and get a little quicker, he could contribute to an NBA franchise. If not, he mentioned that several of his former players — Ronald Ramon, Antonio Graves, Levon Kendall and others — were making a healthy living overseas.

Realistically, Fields is heading for Europe or Israel. Still, at least he is getting enough interest from teams to get a look — or be fodder for the draft prospects.

Coach Dixon was in NYC for a coaching clinic (I guess) which explains this seemingly random tweet. Adam Zagoria has a slew of stuff from Coach Dixon. Ranging from the confirmation of Pitt now being Nike, to the NJ guards expected to be a big factor next year, to Isiah Epps prepping somewhere, the Big East being open for other teams this coming year, holding the open scholarship for someone else for the 2010 recruiting class, to his lack of interest in Arizona.

Dixon said people shouldn’t be surprised that he stayed at Pitt instead of taking the Arizona job, which ultimately went to Sean Miller.

“I think only the people that don’t know our university and don’t understand what we have there [were surprised],” he said. “We have a great place and there’s a sense of loyalty to the kids and the school on my part.”

He added: “Sean’s going to do a really good job there.”

Given Tim Floyd’s days suddenly look numbered, hopefully he means it.

Adam Gunn has had his preliminary hearing continued for a week. It was scheduled for today, but it will be next Thursday instead. Austin Ransom’s hearing was continued as well.

The extra details of the event — from the police report — don’t make it any worse than expected. Just a lot more embarrassing for Gunn.

Gunn and a group of other men were attempting to cut the line at Club Zen late Saturday night. Police officers escorted the group away from the line and threatened to arrest them if they came back.

Gunn then circled around and got in front of one of the officers. When the officer tried to arrest him, Gunn “pulled away and spun around swinging” before he took off running through the Station Square parking lot. Police caught him when he tripped on a chain in the parking lot.

As one officer was trying to handcuff Gunn, Ransom ran up and swung at the officer. Ransom then fought with two other officers before they arrested him.

While that was occurring, one of the other men in the group – Anthony Coleman – challenged one of the officers to a fight. He also resisted arrest and broke one of the officer’s badges off of his shirt. Coleman was Tasered and arrested.

It also seems that Gunn got the taser as well.

This is not “kick off the football team” worthy. It’s a safe bet to assume that the final disposition will be lower. Small comfort right now.

May 13, 2009

He apparently started serving the suspension a couple days earlier. Of course, Pitt was not going to voluntarily release the information until the story got out there.

“On Monday morning I met with Adam Gunn to discuss his involvement in a weekend incident that occurred off campus,” the cooach said in statement issued by the university. “At the conclusion of our discussion, I told Adam he would be suspended from our team pending the resolution of this matter.

“This incident is both surprising and disappointing. Adam has always been a strong representative of our program and his involvement in this type of situation is very out of character. However, he knows and respects the fact that every member of our team must be accountable for their actions.”

What? No Twitter update from Coach Wannstedt on this?

Of course, we know what the “incident” was. Mildly surprised no mention of former Pitt players being involved is ignored in both stories.

“Resolution” of course could come quickly with the hearing tomorrow. Or it could take a few months. It just has not been a good May for Pitt football.

Coach Dixon Now Tweets

Filed under: Basketball,Coaches,Dixon,Honors — Chas @ 2:30 pm

Yep. Him too.

Hopefully he’ll be tweeting updates from New Zealand. The Pitt Athletic department issued a press release on Coach Dixon being the head coach of USA Basketball’s U-19 squad. Dixon in the statement speaks of it being a good for the school and program.

“It is a tremendous honor for the university and our program,” Dixon said. “Working with Coach Painter and Coach Lowery will be an outstanding experience. They are both good friends and have had great success coaching at their respective schools. I’m excited about the tournament, the entire process and the challenge of winning. I want to thank Coach Jim Boeheim, Jerry Colangelo and the Board of Directors, Jim Tooley and Sean Ford, along with the entire USA Basketball organization for this opportunity. I am definitely looking forward to July.”

There’s a good chance that Coach Dixon will get an early start on coaching Dante Taylor who is expected to try out for the squad.

Tryouts for the Under-19 team will be in mid-June in Colorado Springs, Colo. One of the invitees is Taylor, a 6-foot-9 power forward from Fort Washington, Md.

“I think I’m going to go,” said Taylor, who will be among 20 or so players auditioning for 12 roster spots.

Last year, players on the silver medal-winning Under-18 team included point guard Kemba Walker of Connecticut, North Carolina recruits Travis and David Wear and Villanova-bound Dom Cheek.

Dixon has input on the roster, but the selection committee has the final word, according to USA Basketball’s Craig Miller.

There’s a surprising amount of politicking and effort in getting players placed on the squad. So, I’m guessing one of the roster spots will go to a Duke transfer.

Duke is hoping Liberty transfer Seth Curry will be on the U-19 team competing in New Zealand this July so he can get game experience. Curry will sit out next season as a transfer and will likely be the starting lead guard on the 2010-11 Blue Devils.

Let’s see, Duke’s Coach happens to have been the USA Basketball gold medal winning coach last year. He might have some pull with USA Basketball on that.

The person that recommended Coach Dixon take the gig after Bob McKillop pulled out of it was Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim.

The coaching selections were made by the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Committee, chaired by NCAA representative Jim Boeheim (head coach, Syracuse University) and approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors.

“This is an exceptional young coaching staff,” Boeheim said. “Matt (Painter) has done a great job at Purdue retooling that program and what Chris (Lowery) has done is remarkable. Jamie Dixon has won more games in the Big East Conference than anybody in his first few years of coaching, and there have been a few good coaches in the (Big East) conference. They’re young guys who have had a lot of success and I just think it’s really a tremendous coaching staff.”

Coach Dixon is also looking forward to the opportunity to take a paid trip back to New Zealand.

Dixon will be getting back to his coaching and playing roots in New Zealand. After his college playing career at Texas Christian, Dixon played professionally for two seasons in New Zealand and became somewhat of a star in the country. He averaged 42 points per game in his final season as a pro.

In addition to being a star player in the country, Dixon started his coaching career there. He helped coach boys’ and girls’ high school teams.

“It’s really a beautiful place,” Dixon said. “I have very fond memories of playing there for two years. It was a very good period of growth for me, basketball-wise and culturally. I really wanted to experience New Zealand in every possible way. I didn’t just want to play basketball. I made an effort and took great pride in coaching the little kids and working with the younger players.”

It’s even drumming up interest in New Zealand at Dixon coming back (even if they keep calling it Pittsburgh University).

PEOPLE who want to make it big in basketball don’t exactly have New Zealand in the equation.

But one man who swam against the tide to build his playing career at a humble Centennial Hall gymnasium in Napier has made it big in the coaching arena in the United States.

Not only that, former US Hawk import Jamie Dixon is at the helm of the Stars and Stripes under-19 team to compete in the World Championship to be hosted in Auckland in July.

The 43-year-old Californian is the head coach of the University of Pittsburgh, a role he has filled with aplomb since 2003.

His former coach and current Easy LPG Hawks general manager, Curtis Wooten, tells SportToday the guard, averaging 42 points a game in the National Basketball League (NBL) in the 1989-90 seasons, was a class act.

“His highest score was 63 points against Auckland. He was simply the best total package we ever had, both on and off the court, as a human being,” he says of Dixon who etched his name on the silverware of the most outstanding guard, leading individual scorer, the leading assist and making the All Star Five teams each season. Retired Hawk Willie Burton, a former Palmerston North player then, was in the All Star teams too.

Wooten says of Dixon: “He shot a three well, was competitive, had a great mind and was very instinctive.”

Wooten, who was named the NBL coach in 1989, said he was very coachable and had a magnetic trait for milking fouls off the opposition.

“He had a great cross-over and head fake (the ability of a player to raise their chin up and hoodwink the opponents into thinking he is going to shoot only to continue dribbling).

“We’d be 14-2 points down and he’d come to me and ask, ‘So what do you want me to do now, coach?’. And I’d say, ‘Just start shooting, man’,” Wooten reminisces with a laugh.

Apparently it was a bit of a run-and-gun team with little defense. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that concept and Coach Dixon.

And this is why I don’t gloat too much over the offseason embarrassments at other programs.

Adam Gunn got the rare 6th year of eligibility.  He’s coming back from a freak injury that broke his neck. He has big plans for the future.

He’s on track to earn his master’s in public administration this December and is already working to start his own charitable foundation for underprivileged children. He envisions a Make-A-Wish type organization where kids who show promise and responsibility get to live out their sports dreams, which will hopefully in turn inspire their peers to pursue the right paths.

“I hope it turns into something national,” Gunn said. “I’m in a position in my life now where I can impact lives, and I want to take advantage of that.”

And late Saturday night/Sunday morning he was entered into the court system as a defendant.

The charges listed:

  • Resisting arrest
  • Failure to disperse
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Public drunkeness

According to the docket sheet, Gunn’s preliminary hearing is Thurday, May 14th.

I can only imagine the fun at the Gunn house on Sunday morning for Adam. Especially with a hangover

This has been a less than stellar offseason for Pitt football. Lots of little, stupid crap that just adds up.

I guess after the judicial process runs its course we will find out how Coach Wannstedt addresses this latest hit.

UPDATE: It was not just Gunn. Former Pitt player (graduated) Austin Ransom is involved. He has the same charges, but also  Aggravated Assault tacked on for good measure.

The other name that is apparently involved in the same altercation is Kashif Henderson. I can’t say I knew that name. Turns out he is another former Panther who graduated in 2008. Even was honored for his good grades that year.

May 12, 2009

It may be the rubber chicken circuit, as opposed to sitting down with media to discuss the team for 2009, but Coach Dixon is not in the mood to sell Pitt short for next year.

So Dixon, whose team went 31-5 last season and reached the Elite Eight for the first time, isn’t about to throw in the towel after losing senior point guard Levance Fields, forwards Sam Young and Tyrell Biggs and sophomore center DeJuan Blair.

“Every year we’ve lost two or three starters,”?Dixon said before speaking at Sunnehanna Country Club on Tuesday night. “This year we lost three or four. Every year it’s a challenge. Our players may have made it look a little easier than it is.”

Dixon is hoping that his returning players, along with an influx of young talent, can make the transition even easier this time. That 20-win season in 2003-04 was Dixon’s worst, which says something about how far the Pitt program has come in the past decade and even more about how it has been able to replace quality players year after year.

Dixon is also coming out and saying that the front court will be starting freshmen. Not even pretending otherwise. He’s also putting expectations squarely on Gilbert Brown’s shoulders.

“We’re going to be playing freshmen on the front line,”?Dixon admitted. “We haven’t done that as often, but our perimeter is very experienced. That’s something that you like to have.”

Guard Jermaine Dixon returns after starting all 36 games as a junior transfer. Brad Wanamaker and Ashton Gibbs also saw quality minutes in the backcourt.

But the key to the how Pitt responds next season could be junior Gilbert Brown. The 6-foot-6 swingman has shown flashes of his extraordinary athleticism, but he hasn’t been able to consistently produce in 72 career games.

“He’s got to get healthy,”?Coach Dixon said. “He’s had three years of being injured throughout. You can only accomplish those things when you’re healthy and able to play throughout, not in bits and pieces or short stretches.”

The Pitt coach reiterated that message to Brown a few weeks ago at the team’s year-end banquet. But it didnt quite have the impact Dixon had hoped it would.

“He turned his ankle after the banquet, when I talked to him about not getting hurt anymore,”?Coach Dixon said. “He turned it the next night. He’s had every injury known to man in his three years. We’re looking forward to him healthy.”

I would question laying this on Brown, except that Brown will be a redshirt junior. Coach Dixon has had him around for 3 years, and has shown in his time that he has figured out what works to motivate each player. Whether it is privately talking and trusting the players (Fields, Ramon, Graves), trying to keep humble/motivate (Blair) or letting people know that he’s going to be the “man” (Young).

He must know the psyche of Brown at this point. Clearly he believes that Gilbert Brown needs to publicly hear that he will be the man on this team. Probably as much to reassure him that the young frontcourt won’t be the focus or other wing players coming in are not going to supplant him.

Dixon is also proud of the players leaving after this season, and the fact that they are all going to play professionally somewhere.

“Sam, there’s a real buzz about him because of how he played at the end of the year and in the NCAA?tournament,”?Dixon said. “There’s a lot of excitement about him, no question about it. And DeJuan, the same thing.”

Dixon said seniors Levance Fields, who was an AP?All-America honorable-mention pick, and Tyrell Biggs also have the opportunity to play professionally.

“All four will be in NBA?camps,”?Dixon said. “All will have opportunities to play at the next level. That’s what our guys – they come to graduate, get better players, grow as people and play in the NBA. We’ve put those guys in a position, with their hard work, to have the opportunity to reach that dream.”

Blair has been down in Florida at the IMG Academy working out and getting ready for the draft. Going to IMG for training, also means more chance to be hyped. As the IMG blog does light interview pieces on each player down there.

On his infamous shoulder toss of Hasheem Thabeet… I see the picture almost every day. It was funny to me because of how he landed. The way he flipped over was incredible. I didn’t think it happened until I saw the replay. I think I would have broken his arm if he would’ve kept standing straight over me.

On Barack Obama and March Madness… It was great when Barack said my name and Dwyane Wade picked us to win on SportsCenter. I’m going to get that video of Barack. But it didn’t help us. You know how people say their life passes before their eyes, well, the whole season flashed before my eyes when (Villanova’s) Scottie Reynolds hit that shot. We didn’t fulfill our dreams. I  guess in a way it was a successful season and it wasn’t.

Sam Young has really not been heard from since the season ended. He’s been getting ready for the draft and workouts are getting underway. Unfortunately, Sam Young was scratched from a workout in Toronto.

The team hoped to work out six players yesterday in advance of the NBA draft, but the two headliners, Terrence Williams of Louisville and Sam Young of Pittsburgh were held back until today, because Young was injured while taking a physical.

What kind of physical do they give in Canada?

May 11, 2009

Did Jonathan Baldwin think he was in a Rat Pack movie or something?

…charged with indecent assault for allegedly slapping then groping the behind of a female student, but campus officials aren’t commenting on the charges.

A criminal complaint obtained by The Associated Press shows 19-year-old Jonathan Baldwin is charged with indecent assault, harassment and disorderly conduct. Campus police say the woman complained of the alleged assault April 18 and charges were filed the next day. Baldwin faces a preliminary hearing May 27.

That was good for 4 points in the Fulmer Cup — at this time. If this gets resolved, I think Baldwin should be required to wear this t-shirt for the first week of practice in August.

May 10, 2009

It was much better when there was no real news to report. This is not.

Pitt sophomore wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin was charged with a misdemeanor indecent assault as well as summary harassment and a summary disorderly conduct after an alleged incident on a campus shuttle bus involving a female student on April 19th.

Baldwin, who is an Aliquippa graduate, will have a preliminary hearing on May 27th.

This took a while before any charges were made. So naturally, the reaction from Pitt is just as predictably measured.

Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt was not available for comment on the matter, and Pitt associate athletic director for media relations E.J. Borghetti released the following statement: “The matter is currently under investigation and until that investigation reaches a conclusion we will decline comment.”

Not exactly an unexpected response. The charges may be misdemeanor, but the words “indecent assault” and “female” are involved. So, I’m not sure how open my mind is at the moment.

It would be much better if the extent of the Pitt offseason updates were boy scout events and recruiting.

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